The Selle San Marco Mantra Full-Fit Carbon FX is the company's answer to the flat-profiled, aggressive, racer's saddle. It's surprisingly comfortable considering how firm it is, and the carbon fibre construction brings the weight right down.
- Pros: Comfortable despite its firmness
- Cons: Central channel isn't the most effective
Taking the Mantra CFX out of its box, I had some trepidation about how I was going to get on with it. A prod of the padding with my thumb and it barely moved, and looking at the pretty much dead flat profile, I had images of me spending a lot of time shuffling around.
Out on the first ride, though, all of that was completely unfounded.
The padding has just enough movement to take the sting out of the road while being totally supportive to your bodyweight. It doesn't sag or let you bounce around, and for me at least offers a great compromise.
Biofoam is what San Marco calls it: 'This padding has a biodynamic structure that follows the movements of the pelvis during pedalling, this guarantees comfort, reduces weight, and provides lasting resistance and ideal support. The 'closed cell' surface ensures the water repellency of the padding.'
The flat profile is designed for riding hard and fast, being aimed at the type of rider who has plenty of flexibility and is therefore crouched over the handlebar with little unwanted movement at the pelvis.
This kind of spirited riding is when the Mantra feels at its best, but taking things a little steadier and sitting up – adding a bit more weight on the saddle – still results in a good degree of comfort, even after four hours or so.
The Full-Fit part of the name is in relation to the central channel that runs through the saddle to provide some pressure relief. It is quite shallow, and as far as I can tell doesn't really bring a whole lot to the party.
Numbness isn't really something I suffer with, regardless of the saddle, so it was no big deal for me, but if you do need some relief there are various Mantras that have full cutouts, such as the Supercomfort model that Dave recently tested.
The Mantra CFX is pretty light at 164g for this narrow model (you can get a wider version too) thanks to a carbon-enhanced nylon shell and full carbon fibre rails.
Both of these add to the stiffness as well and Selle San Marco says that the crossover design of the rails at the front of the saddle resists spin and torsion under pedalling.
The rails are quite long, too, and offer over 60mm of fore and aft adjustment.
Money-wise the Mantra CFX costs £179.99, which when you have a look around at some of the current opposition is about on the money. Both the Astute Star Lite VT and the Fizik Antares R1 Versus Evo are about the same, and come with full carbon fibre rails and a carbon-reinforced shell.
Overall, the Mantra CFX is a great shape and offers plenty of comfort, especially if you are the type of rider who likes to spend a lot of time on the limit.
Comfortable race saddle with a great shape and firm padding
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road.cc test report
Make and model: Selle San Marco Mantra Full-Fit Carbon FX saddle
Size tested: Narrow (S1)
Tell us what the product is for and who it's aimed at. What do the manufacturers say about it? How does that compare to your own feelings about it?
Selle San Marco says, "The Mantra Full-Fit Carbon Fx Saddle boasts advanced carbon rails, a race-orientated shape, aggressive styling and is designed to optimise your performance.
"Created using ergonomic studies, this saddle has a flat platform that provides you with the ideal balance of efficient power transfer and comfort that lasts all day. This is thanks to the combination of Selle San Marco's light, strong and twist resistant carbon rails, Bioflex padding and its 'Full Fit' design."
For riders who want a firm and flat saddle for high speed riding, the Mantra delivers.
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?
Selle San Marco lists these features:
Cover: Microfeel & Carbon
Shell: Carbon Fibre Reinforced
Saddle Profile: Open / Flat
Narrow: 278x136mm (ID-Match Ref: S1)
Wide: 278x146mm (ID-Match Ref: L1)
Rail Material: Alloy
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
It pretty much delivers on its design spec as a lightweight racing saddle.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
Flat, narrow shape is great for hunkering down and smashing the pedals.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product
Pressure relief channel doesn't really feel like it does much.
How does the price compare to that of similar products in the market, including ones recently tested on road.cc?
For what you are getting, it is very similar in price to a lot of the big brands.
Did you enjoy using the product? Yes
Would you consider buying the product? Yes
Would you recommend the product to a friend? Yes
Use this box to explain your overall score
It's a well-made race saddle with plenty of nice touches, with a firm yet comfortable ride.
About the tester
I usually ride: This month's test bike My best bike is: B'Twin Ultra CF draped in the latest bling test components
I've been riding for: Over 20 years I ride: Every day I would class myself as: Expert
I regularly do the following types of riding: time trialling, commuting, club rides, sportives, fixed/singlespeed
Stu knocked out his first road.cc review back in 2009 and since then he's chucked the best part of seventy test bikes around the West Country, a couple of them quite literally! With three alloy and two steel bikes in his fleet he's definitely a metal man (that'll be the engineering background) but is slowly warming to that modern carbon fibre stuff along with fat tyres & disc brakes.
It's not all nostalgia though, after spending the last few years in product design Stu keeps banging on about how 3D printing is going to be the next big thing and he's a sucker for a beautiful paint job too.