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I've previously tested Repente's top-end Aleena saddle and I got on well with it. The Prime, overall, is better: I found it more comfortable, it's better value and it's still very light.
The Aleena is a very, very light saddle at 130g, and you pay a handsome price for that. The Prime is over £100 cheaper but it's still impressively light at just 166g. Other similarly priced saddles we've tested recently – the Selle San Marco Mantra Full-Fit Carbon FX and the Fizik Antares R1 Versus Evo for example – are within a few grams of this Repente seat, so it's pretty much bang on the money.
The Prime is cheaper mostly because the materials used to produce it are. Instead of the full-carbon construction of the top-end saddle, the Prime uses a thermoplastic composite base. The rails are still unidirectional T700 carbon, and they're still taller than they are wide, so they won't necessarily work with seatposts that clamp side to side.
Repente's USP is the Repente Locking System. The base and the cover are two separate units; the cover locates into three holes in the base and is held in place with circlips. It's easy to unclip the cover and remove it, and because all the Repente saddles use the same system it's possible to swap the Prime cover for one of the others in the range. The base stays in place on your bike, so there's no need to fiddle about with your saddle position if you swap between covers.
It's a clever system. Currently the five covers offer a range of levels of padding with and without a cutout, but at the moment they're all quite similar in shape. Repente is obviously tied to using the same mounting positions for every cover, but it'd be possible to build up the sides of the cover for a flatter profile; some people prefer that.
I'm not one of those people. I found the Prime saddle, with its gently curved profile, a very comfortable place to sit. The Prime cover is more heavily padded than the more expensive Aleena, and has a similar cutout to keep the blood flowing to your undercarriage. It did that better than nearly any other saddle I've tried, most noticeably on the indoor trainer where you're holding the same position for a long time. That often leaves me feeling a bit numb, but it was never a problem with the Prime.
Out on the open road the Prime's padding is firm enough to feel racy with enough give in both the padding and the base to keep you comfortable on longer rides. It's nicely positioned in terms of comfort, and doesn't feel compromised for either racing or endurance riding.
Repente offers a 60-day return period for its saddles if you buy one and then don't get on with it. I won't be sending mine back in a hurry, though. Generally test saddles get fitted, and then after testing I take them off and stick a tried-and-tested seat back on the bike. This one's staying on the race bike, though.
It's still an expensive saddle, but the build quality and comfort levels are right up there with the best.
Excellent lightweight race saddle that's comfortable enough for endurance riding too
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road.cc test report
Make and model: Repente Prime saddle
Size tested: 275 x 132 mm
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?
Pressure relief as main characteristic.
Prime's main characteristic is the wide anatomical cutout, that helps to ease pressure on the perineal area.
A COMBINATION OF HIGH-TECH MATERIALS
The rail is completely in unidirectional carbon T700, while the main base consists of TEPEX®, a carbon fibre fabric in a thermoplastic matrix. The structure offers an exceptionally high resistance, together with a very low weight.
This saddle offers a perfect mix of rigidity and comfort, in order to satisfy both racers and those who prefer long rides. With its streamlined, minimal lines and 165 grams it is one of the very special articles in its segment.
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?
UD Carbon Fiber T700
275 mm x 132 mm
WEIGHT (+/- 5%)
All Black, All White, Ghost Arrow, Titanium Arrow
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
It's an excellent saddle for racing or longer rides at speed.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
High build quality, comfort.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product
Still expensive, currently all the covers are a similar shape.
How does the price compare to that of similar products in the market, including ones recently tested on road.cc?
There are plenty of saddles of a similar weight in this kind of price range, so the Prime isn't exceptional.
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
This is an excellent performance saddle. The changeable cover is the USP, but the level of comfort is the stand-out really.
About the tester
I usually ride: whatever I'm testing... My best bike is: Kinesis Tripster ATR, Merida Scultura
I've been riding for: Over 20 years I ride: Every day I would class myself as: Experienced
I regularly do the following types of riding: road racing, time trialling, cyclo cross, commuting, touring, club rides, sportives, general fitness riding, fixed/singlespeed, mountain biking, Mountain Bike Bog Snorkelling, track
Dave is a founding father of road.cc, having previously worked on Cycling Plus and What Mountain Bike magazines back in the day. He also writes about e-bikes for our sister publication ebiketips. He's won three mountain bike bog snorkelling World Championships, and races at the back of the third cats.