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Incredibly light and surprisingly comfortable is how I'd describe the Bjorn Probka saddle. A blend of carbon and cork, it highlights the fact that you don't need a lot of padding for a comfortable ride on a race bike. And for such a low weight, it has a surprisingly sensible rider weight limit of 120kg. If you want to check out more options, though, read our guide to the best road bike saddles.
On appearances alone the Probka looks like a saddle for pro-level racers who spend most of their time out of the saddle smashing their way up climbs, or that it is designed to sit on a UCI-weight-limit-threatening build as a vanity project.
Neither is true.
The upper is made from 8mm thick cork and is very comfortable. Not only did I use it on the road bike, but the Probka also spent some time on my turbo bike where even on Zwift sessions of over 90 minutes I didn't suffer from any hot-spots or numbness.
A lot of that is down to the shape. It's 143mm in width at the rear (155mm is also available) with a narrow nose, and 250mm in length. The profile sees a slightly dropped nose, and the Probka kicks up at the rear giving you a platform to push against when on the climbs or getting the power down. The sides also slope downwards which means your thighs aren't restricted as you roll through the pedalling motion.
It really is a great shape, one that I got on with very well indeed.
As we always say, though, when it comes to comfort it's entirely subjective – what I find comfortable might, to you, feel like sitting on a bed of nails, or what is uncomfortable for me might make you feel like you're floating on a cushion of air.
Here, the cork has some natural shock absorbance which mutes a lot of the road buzz while still remaining firm enough to resist the power you are putting out. The carbon fibre hull, though, is rock solid unless you are really whacking the power out, which is impressive considering the minimal thickness of its construction. And any movement in it is barely noticeable while riding.
In contrast, the oval shaped carbon fibre rails do have a decent amount of flex, which also aids the comfort levels.
It's worth noting that should you require something specific in terms of the cork upper shape, Bjork does offer a custom option – something it's able to do because it CNC-machines the cork padding itself.
This construction weighs in at a tiny 107g on the road.cc Scales of Truth, which is very impressive, especially when that weight is backed up by a 120kg rider weight limit. You can also carry a saddle bag as long as it weighs less than 10kg.
The whole saddle is very well built; there are no remnants of excess glue or anything around the edges – which is how it should be for a saddle costing £260.
The cork has also been impregnated with a compound that protects it from moisture, salt and UV. Riding in the rain saw the upper remain bone dry.
The cork can damage easily around the edges, though, so you will need to look after it more carefully than you might be used to. It can get scuffed against a wall, or if your bike falls over. I did exactly that – I leant it against a wall and the bike moved, which pulled a small chunk of cork from the side.
It's not a cheap buy, either – although it's by no means as expensive as some saddles we have tested recently, though admittedly, not many of them use cork.
A saddle that I also reviewed recently and found to be exceptionally comfortable is the Specialized S-Works Romin Evo Mirror, whose upper is created by 3D printing a polymer lattice. It costs £390, and is heavier at 189g.
Overall, the Probka tips all of my initial preconceptions on their head. Its minimal padding provides a very comfortable perch, and just because something is very light and almost fragile looking doesn't mean it can't carry a big old rider without issues. It's a big chunk of cash, but it doesn't let anything down in terms of quality or durability.
Impressively comfortable, and very, very light
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road.cc test report
Make and model: Bjorn Probka Saddle
Size tested: 143mm
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?
Bjorn says, "The pad of Bjōrn Probka saddle is made of cork. The cork is a natural cushioning material with excellent damping properties, which translates into smoothing of the vibrations from the road and still great power transfer."
It's an impressive saddle that covers all the main aspects, weight, comfort and durability, well.
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?
Technical specification of the serial Bjōrn Probka saddle:
Weight: 105 grams
Width: 143 mm, 155 mm
Rail to saddle topper: 35 to 45 mm, depending on the position
Max rider's weight: 120 kg. You can secure a saddlebag under 10 kg.
Max torque: 5 N*m
The cork can be damaged relatively easily if you aren't careful.
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
It's shaped for performance, without sacrificing comfort.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product
Cork can be damaged relatively easily if you aren't careful.
How does the price compare to that of similar products in the market, including ones recently tested on road.cc?
It's not cheap, but for similar levels of weight or comfort you are looking at a higher price, like those mentioned in the review. And considering the small batch runs, it's understandable.
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 hard one to score… it's very well made and impressively comfortable thanks to the cork upper and the flex in the carbon rails. It's not cheap, though, even if it isn't extreme for the build quality and performance – and you'll also need to take more care with it than a typical saddle. It's excellent in many respects, but overall I'd say it's an 8 rather than a 9.
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,
As part of the Tech Hub here at F-At Digital, our senior product reviewer Stu uses the knowledge gained from putting well over a 1,000 products through their paces (including hundreds of bikes) to write in-depth reviews of a huge range of kit. After first throwing his leg over a race bike back in 2000, Stu's ridden more than 160,000 miles on road, time-trial, track, and gravel bikes, and while he's put his racing days behind him he still likes to smash the pedals rather than take things easy. Although, as he spends a fair bit of his time reviewing ebikes these days he's becoming an expert in letting the motor take the strain. He's also waiting for 23mm race tyres to make a comeback!