The Silca Mattone is a compact, tidy-looking bag that absolutely doesn't budge once snugged up under the saddle.
I've never been one to adhere to the controversial Rule #29 ('No European posterior man-satchels') for the very good reason that they are extremely useful. Finding one that is the right size, fits securely, looks really good and doesn't swing about like a billy-goat's man-sack is not as straightforward as it seems. However, with the Silca Mattone, a good handful of right buttons have been firmly pressed.
The key selling point is the use of the Boa fastening system, more usually seen on race shoes. This is fitted to a broad, rubberised strap which itself slots through a strip of webbing on the top-side of the pack.
Fitting the Mattone is simply a matter of slipping the Boa button through and over one saddle rail, the other end of the strap over the opposite rail, and wrapping the strap around the bottom of the bag. The red nylon 'fishing line' is then easily looped around the hook and the whole assemblage made secure by winding up the Boa dial.
This is far-and-away the best fastening system I have ever tried. As well as being quick to fit and even quicker to remove, it allows the pack to be snugged up against the underside of the saddle – and there it stays for the duration of the ride, totally safe and without flopping about. The Boa system seems such a good solution that it's surprising it hasn't been seen before. Evoc uses it, but as a way of securing its pack to the seatpost.
I fitted the Mattone to three bikes, each with quite different saddle and seatpost combinations, and it worked equally well with all; the only slight issue was where the under-saddle clearance was a bit tight for the Boa button to go through, but it did work on all of them.
Silca says the pack is 'for the cyclist looking to carry a spare tube, CO2, Multi-Tool, and some cash in a discrete, water-resistant package'. That's pretty much what you get (though I'll return to the 'water resistant bit of that in due course). I filled mine with a Topeak Hexus X multi-tool (admittedly not exactly minimalist), Topeak Ninja inflator head and a standard, unused 18-28mm butyl inner tube. I was also able to fit in two CO2 cartridges, a quick-link and a credit card and cash. I always carry two tubes (hence the two gas bombs) so the other still has to go in a pocket, but this is a matter for personal choice. There are a great many riders who want a small pack, and that's what this is.
The interior is well padded, to the benefit of rattle-control but the slight detriment of space. Into the rectangular(ish) compartment is sewn a slim nylon pocket, which is where your cash and cards go. The whole arrangement opens out like a book. I found this practical when the pack was off the bike; in situ, it was less so. Despite Silca's claim that the Mattone allows 'easy access to the multi-tool and money/card slots when on the bike without risk of spilling all the contents of the bag', in practice, because the pack mounts with the lid facing down, the heavier contents of the main compartment can fall out if you use it this way. However, since the Mattone is quick to remove and refit, I just did that.
The other issue was the 'water-resistant' claim. There's no official standard for this, but a reasonable person might expect the Mattone to keep the contents dry even when exposed to spray from the back wheel, given this is where it has to spend its working life. The inclusion of a YKK waterproof zip also raises your hopes. In practice, a 50-mile ride over wet roads resulted in a soggy interior that took 24 hours to dry out.
The reason, it seems to me, is that while the main compartment is rubberised on the outside, the lid isn't. Since it's the lid that's pointing at the back wheel, it takes the brunt of the spray. Silca shows the pack mounted the same way up that we've done it in our pictures, but wouldn't it be better the other way up? This would also solve the problem of the contents falling out when the pack is opened while still on the saddle.
Although not cheap, the Silca Mattone is pretty good value. It compares price-wise with the Fidlock PUSH saddle bag that we tested recently, but that suffers from the rattle that the Mattone is designed to avoid.
The Piggy from 76 Projects will save you £20, has a similar compact look and also snugs up securely under the saddle, but you have to wrestle with Velcro straps to do that.
If you want the Boa system but not the Silca Mattone, you could look at the Evoc Boa. It's a rather different beast, being a roll-top closure, and uses the Boa to attach to the seatpost. It comes in three sizes and is more expensive, starting at £79.99.
Overall, the Silca Mattone's good looks and secure fitting are enough to convince me it's worth the money if the bag fits your requirements. It'd be better with the lid at the top, though.
Secure, good looking little pack, but having the lid at the top would surely be better...
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road.cc test report
Make and model: Silca Mattone Seat Pack
Size tested: 13cm x 8.5cm x 5.5cm
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?
Silca says, "Mattone is for the cyclist looking to carry a spare tube, CO2, Multi-Tool, and some cash in a discrete, water-resistant package. Internal divider holds ID, credit card or cash while also protecting your tube from your multi-tool!"
It goes on to explain the design rationale:
"With Mattone, we designed a layout similar to a book, where the bag can fully open to hold the tube and CO2 cartridge on one side, separated by a padded ballistic nylon 'page' separating it from the other side where you can store an inflator head, multi-tool, contact lens case, etc. The 'page' also contains a slot for a credit card, ID, money, or house key. The unique off-center Aquaguard Zipper allows the case to completely open and lay flat when off the bike, while also allowing easy access to the multi-tool and money/card slots when on the bike without risk of spilling all the contents of the bag.
'A high friction Hypalon strap with BOA® Closure completes the package. Making more than 15x the power of Velcro®, the BOA® Closure uses a ratcheting mechanism that will not creep or loosen even under the most extreme vibration and impact. This ensures the Mattone will remain 'high and tight' under your saddle until you need to access it... no swinging, swaying, or rattling... ever.'
It certainly seems to fit the brief; as you can see the designers had a good think about the shortcomings of other designs and have produced a seat pack designed to solve them.
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?
From the Silca website:
Exterior - Sleek black finish with reflective graphics
Interior - Hi-contrast red material with separate ID, credit card or money flap
Interior Volume - Holds one inner tube, one CO2 cartridge, one tire lever (all of these components are sold separately and are not included)
BOA® Closure System with open guide release on Hypalon retaining strap
YKK Aquaguard® zipper
Outside Dimensions: 13cm x 8.5cm x 5.5cm
Volume: Approximately .61 L
Strap Measurements: 27cm x 4.5cm
The materials seem well up to the job. The stitching, while plain, is tidy and doesn't look likely to give way. There's a circular rubber flap on the back of the Boa button that sometimes got tangled up with the nylon line. Should this be stuck down?
Excellent from the point of view of carrying your essentials securely. There's no danger of this falling off and it doesn't move at all when you're honking up a hill. Weather resistance was fair.
As for manufacture really; I couldn't see anything that was likely to give way in a hurry.
Well under 100g.
Somewhat at the spendier end of the spectrum for a saddle bag; you're definitely paying more for a Boa dial than a Velcro strap, but since it does a good job I'd rate this as fair-to-good value. It's around £20 less than Evoc's Boa offering.
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
The pack is very stable, the Boa fastener allowing it to be snugged securely under the saddle. It can be opened without removing it from the saddle but beware the contents falling out. Since I always carry two tubes and CO2 bombs I still have to carry one of those in a pocket, but this is a matter for individual preference and, for what it's designed to carry it works very well.
"Water resistant" is a term with no formal definition. If you ride on wet roads and without a mudguard, the contents of the pack are liable to get wet.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
I really like the snug fit, made possible by using the Boa fastener. The shape is good, the pack looks tidy and it never moves until you want it to.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product
It let in water when subject to heavy spray. Easier to use off the bike than on.
How does the price compare to that of similar products in the market, including ones recently tested on road.cc?
The Silca Mattone compares price-wise with the Fidlock PUSH saddle bag that we tested recently, but that suffers from the rattle that the Mattone is designed to avoid.
It's £20 more than the Piggy from 76 Projects has a similar compact look and also snugs up securely under the saddle, but you have to wrestle with Velcro straps to do that.
The Evoc Boa comes in three sizes, starting from £79.99.
Did you enjoy using the product? Yes
Would you consider buying the product? Yes
Would you recommend the product to a friend? Maybe
Use this box to explain your overall score
I really liked this pack, for its secure, rattle-free performance, its good looks and compact design. I found the water resistance a bit disappointing (not an issue if you ride with mudguards) and I thought it would be easier to use on the bike if the lid was at the top.
About the tester
I usually ride: Cannondale CAAD10 My best bike is: Tomassini Prestige
I've been riding for: Over 20 years I ride: A few times a week I would class myself as: Experienced
I regularly do the following types of riding: touring, sportives, general fitness riding, mtb,