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The new Selle San Marco Aspide Short Open-Fit Racing saddle is a shorter version of the very popular standard Aspide, and features an open channel designed to reduce pressure. It's very well made, but the comfort of any saddle is subjective and for me this model of the Aspide was fine on shorter rides but had me less impressed as the mileage increased.
The standard Aspide has to be one of the most popular saddles created within the road market, with multiple iterations that take the name, offering various fit options. This Short Open-Fit is 28mm shorter than the standard Aspide, measuring 250mm in total length. The Open-Fit aspect refers to the open channel down the centre that many makers and models now use, with the aim of reducing perineal pressure.
As with any saddle review, 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.
There are four levels of saddle within the Aspide Short range, all available in two width options. They vary in the materials used, with this Racing model sitting one from the top, below the Carbon FX.
That top-level saddle features carbon rails, as opposed to the Stealth Xsilite on the Racing – metal rails that San Selle Marco says have 'a high percentage of silicon, combined with titanium and carbon particles'. They're a standard round design and will fit all seatposts that accept traditional railed saddles.
The rails on the saddle are quite short, with the hatched section for attaching it to a seatpost clamp being just 5cm in length. With the FSA SL-K seatpost I was using that took almost the full length, leaving barely any room for adjustment fore and back. There is a little extra space either side of the hatched area, which increases the clamping area to 7cm if you need it.
The saddle has a carbon fibre reinforced shell, with Biofoam closed cell padding material and a breathable Microfeel cover, which feels soft but not slippery.
As I said above, all versions of the Aspide Short range are available in two widths: 139mm and 155mm, which I'm testing. Sizing follows the Selle San Marco idmatch system which aims to give you the most suitable width based on three measurements of the body: intertrochanteric distance (sit bone width), a comparison of thigh width and intertrochanteric distance, and finally pelvic rotation. Ideally you'd get these measurements taken at a shop or dealer with the correct tool.
The saddle has a slight curve in the length, and a slight arc across the width from the pronounced wings. The open central channel runs almost the full length of the saddle.
After ensuring that the Aspide Short matched the setup of my previous saddle, with the widest part at the same place, when I first sat on the Aspide Short I found it to have a very definite 'sit' position, where it holds you in place. The curved shell is likely the main factor, but the non-slippery material also helps.
The open central channel does seem to make a difference, reducing pressure to the perineum area. My typical riding style means I am often out of the saddle pedalling, especially on climbs, yet with the Aspide Short I was staying seated more than usual. For riders who might prefer to be seated more often, it could have an even bigger impact and comfort benefit.
However, on longer rides of three hours or more, the comfort did diminish; the edges of the cutout channel are quite abrupt and seem to create a pressure point of their own. So early on, being seated was fine, with no power loss, but on longer rides I could feel that section. I think it's because of how far back the channel extends – further than other similar saddles I've used.
Another factor could be the amount of flex in the saddle and where. The central area of the saddle moves easily – when pushing down you can almost get the shell to touch the rails – but at the rear there is almost no movement, the saddle feels extremely firm.
The appeal of short-nosed saddles has grown rapidly in recent years, with almost every manufacturer now having such a model, and many bikes coming fitted with one as standard. They won't suit everyone, though, with the main disadvantage being for those who like to sit really far forward, right on the nose, usually on steeper climbs. The nose isn't completely removed, here, though, and I did find myself occasionally sitting further forward without an issue.
The saddle weighs a reasonable 190g, which is quite competitive compared with similar styles of short saddles that also have an open channel, at similar price points.
The Specialized Power Expert is £115 and is available in three widths, with the 155mm a claimed weight of 235g. The Prologo Dimension 143 CPC Tirox rail saddle is £135 and a little heavier at 200g. Within the same price range Fizik has the short-nosed Argo R3 at £129.99, which was 244g on the road.cc Scales of Truth.
Ultimately, saddle comfort is extremely personal, and what might not suit me might be perfect for you. George tested the slightly cheaper Aspide Shortfit Dynamic Saddle model and found it really comfortable. For me, despite having used many different short-nosed and open designs before, this is the first time I've had an issue with fit and comfort.
Overall, if you are looking for a short-nosed saddle with an open channel, this particular Aspide is worth trying, if you can. The open central channel had a noticeable effect on comfort – on shorter rides at least – and I found myself staying in the saddle more than usual. The abrupt shape and padding around the open channel might be an issue, though, and could impact overall comfort, especially as the miles mount up.
Competitive weight and well made with open channel design that can have a noticeable effect on seated riding ability
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road.cc test report
Make and model: Selle San Marco Aspide Short Open-Fit Racing Saddle
Size tested: W 155mmxL 250mm
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:
Comfort, versatility and performance.
The new Aspide Short Open-Fit Racing takes up the unmistakable style of a great classic like the Aspide and makes it even more modern and captivating. The Aspide Short represents, in fact, the new era of Aspide, for almost 20 years one of the spearheads of the Selle San Marco house: the new 'Short' version will be the first ever with 'visible body', so as to enhance the value of the technical and stylistic details is completely new and complete.
The Aspide Short Open-Fit Racing is also equipped with a large central hole (Open-Fit) which, together with its compact shape (250mm, 28mm shorter than the previous Aspide), allows you to increase the level of comfort and find more easily the ideal seat, thanks also to the range of sizes (S3 – Narrow or L3 – Wide) provided by the idmatch system.
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?
Selle San Marco lists the following:
Rail : Stealth Xsilite
Shell : Carbon Fiber Reinforced
Foam : Biofoam
Cover : Microfeel
Dimension : 250 x 155 mm
Weight : 190 gr
Level : Racing
idmatch size : L3
Excellent construction with a clean look, no exposed sections or stitching that might affect comfort.
Initial comfort was OK and I found the open channel seemed to encourage me to ride in the saddle more than usual. On longer riders over 3 hours I did find the saddle started to become more uncomfortable. The lack of rail adjustment might be an issue for some, depending on their current saddle placement.
Lighter than many other similar shorter nosed saddles, if not exceptionally so.
I found the open section too pronounced, with firm edges, and the rear of the saddle is very firm.
The price is similar to other saddles of this style, short nosed with an open channel, and a form of carbon fibre used in the shell.
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
Initially I really liked the saddle – on short rides it felt comfortable, with the short nose having no negative effect. On longer riders, however, it did feel like the open channel was very wide and the edges are quite 'abrupt', which I found became less comfortable after multiple hours in the saddle.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
Initially comfortable, mostly thanks to the slightly curved shape.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product
Limited adjustment on the rails, and discomfort on longer rides, which is rarely an issue for me.
How does the price compare to that of similar products in the market, including ones recently tested on road.cc?
It's a similar price to saddles such as the Specialized Power, Fizik Argo and Prologo Dimension made using similar methods and materials.
Did you enjoy using the product? Unfortunately, no.
Would you consider buying the product? No
Would you recommend the product to a friend? Yes, although I would recommend testing one first.
Use this box to explain your overall score
Saddle choice is such a personal issue and what works for one person might not work for another, so I have tried not to be too critical, but I did notice that the open channel feels wide and the sides start quite abruptly; it's not something I have ever noticed on a similar design saddle. In terms of the materials, performance and cost it is on a similar level to other manufacturers.
About the tester
I usually ride: My best bike is: Cannondale SystemSix
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: road racing, cyclo cross, sportives, mtb, Lots of gravel style riding
Matt is an endurance nut who loves big rides and big events. He's a former full-time racer and 24hr event specialist, but now is also happy riding off-road on gravel bikes or XC mountain bikes and exploring the mountains and hills of Mid Wales.