Micro matrix (faux leather to you and me) coverings and indexed Cro-moly rails might not set pulses racing but the Pro-Lite Cles CrMo saddle's superb build quality, innovative design, competitive pricing, and unique “full zone” cut-out could be a big hit with those looking for a minimalist racing saddle at a price to match.
Pro-Lite claim that their full-zone cutaway is genuinely unisex, fully supportive to a woman’s pelvic region while greatly reducing pressure and maximising airflow to the prostrate for men- eliminating the need for gender specific design. A sceptic might wonder whether this is simply a great marketing gimmick serving to keep production costs low or double the potential market. Either way, attention to detail is superb for the price, the synthetic cover neatly screwed into a resin base, classy silver detailing reflects when struck by car headlamps and the suede scuff guards are more than up to the job but might not suit those like myself who enjoy a little freedom of movement.
Cro-moly rails might well be poor man’s titanium but are very robust and uniquely arched to provide a more supple passage over rougher surfaces and seem effective enough for moderate trail riding. For all this, our first outing wasn’t terribly favourable, traditional, heavily padded short inserts contorted uncomfortably in the cutaway amplified further by the scuff guard which gave the impression of sitting atop fly-paper. Higher end shorts with less pronounced padding transformed the ride and while the cutaway wasn’t as prostrate perfect as some, I churned away cheerfully for several hours on my road bike without discomfort.
It’s better suited to traditional road bikes as the slightly more upright positioning of my rough stuff tourer saw my Ischial Tubersity (sit bones) sink into the base thanks to softer padding, leading to discomfort after an hour’s bridle path blasting. Attacks from masonry and foliage alike have made negligible impression on the cover suggesting it will retain its good looks for a few seasons and 258g is pretty good going for a budget model.
Saddles are arguably the most intimate of contact points and despite getting along very well with the Cles, I’m not completely sold on the idea of a universal cut-out and firmer support would broaden the appeal to cross/similar disciplines. That said those looking for a lot of bang for relatively modest buck should take a closer look.
Good budget perch offering innovative design but needs firmer padding.
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road.cc test report
Make and model: Pro-Lite Cles CrMo saddle
Size tested: n/a
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?
The Cles is marketed as a unisex race saddle at a very keen price and in most regards it meets the design brief.
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?
Micro Matrix covering, unique cut-away is designed to provide support to a woman's pelvis on the one hand while equally releiving pressure on the prostrate. Arched, indexed cro-moly rails keeps costs down and weight respectable.
Very well made for a budget model.
Generally very good but would benefit from firmer foam padding.
Better than I've come to expect at this end of the market.
258g is pretty good going for a budget model.
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
Generally very well constructed and comfortable but I'm not wholly convinced of the inserts universal appeal.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
Great build quality, modest weight and attention to detail.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product
Nothing particularly but the padding could've been a touch firmer in places.
Did you enjoy using the product? Yes
Would you consider buying the product? Yes
Would you recommend the product to a friend? Quite possibly
About the tester
Age: 35 Height: 1m 81 Weight: 70 kilos
I usually ride: Rough Stuff Tourer Based around 4130 Univega mtb Frameset My best bike is: 1955 Holdsworth Road Path and several others including cross & traditional road
I've been riding for: Over 20 years I ride: Most days I would class myself as: Experienced
I regularly do the following types of riding: cyclo cross, commuting, touring, fixed/singlespeed, mtb,
Shaun Audane is a freelance writer/product tester with over twenty-eight years riding experience, the last twelve (120,000 miles) spent putting bikes and kit through their paces for a variety of publications. Previous generations of his family worked at manufacturing's sharp end, thus Shaun can weld, has a sound understanding of frame building practice and a preference for steel or titanium framesets.
Citing Richard Ballantine and an Au pair as his earliest cycling influences, he is presently writing a cycling book with particular focus upon women, families and disabled audiences (Having been a registered care manager and coached children at Herne Hill Velodrome in earlier careers)