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Repente saddles are handmade in Italy and craft proper top-end pieces with some really neat features and that’s certainly true of its new best gravel bike saddles and best bikepacking saddles, the GL and GLM. Although they look frighteningly minimalist they’ve proved as impressive on multi-day trail and rough road rides as they have on the scales too.
Design and performance
The Artax GL uses a distinctive three-piece design starting with a single-piece carbon fiber rail section. This attaches onto a carbon-reinforced shell and a separate top layer of thin EVA padding under a microfibre cover using red anodized Allen key bolts. That means all three pieces can flex under load separately for cumulative comfort and you can replace the cover section (€93) if it gets damaged.
The multi-section carbon rails have a rectangular 7x9mm clamping section and flexed ‘spoons’ at the rear end. The shell section has a keyhole slot all the way to the back edge where a 3D ‘weave’ textured bridge connects the two halves back together. The padded section just peels off to the sides though, leaving the center well ventilated and pressure-free.
The missing center, carbon rails, and minimalist padding under the leatherette microfibre tip the scales at 164g. This is basically a bullseye in terms of Repente’s claimed weight and light even for a grimace and bear it race shell. While the GL we tested has a rear width of 132mm, broader-based riders can choose the 145mm wide GLM at the same weight. Repente also offers shorter saddles if you don’t need the full 275mm length.
We’re always apprehensive about fitting superlight saddles in case they crucify us or crack a rail under impact but we needn’t have worried about the Repente. The triple-layer design vanished off our ride radar as soon as we started riding and it stayed utterly trouble-free even on multiple, all-day route recce sessions. The sloped shoulders and unobtrusive flat nose keep out of the way of legs even when spinning like a fool on a single speed. The slightly raised saddle rear kept us well centered and the microfibre cover is slightly textured with printed sections to stop it from getting slippery when wet. We’re currently running it on an XC hardtail without a dropper post where we’ve regularly slapped some serious Gs into the saddle without any creaks or cracks afterward.
You will need a seatpost that can take 7x9mm carbon rails not just standard rails though. You can also get mud creeping up between the shell and the padded section on really filthy rides but it’s not caused any issues yet and it can be blasted out with a washer or poked out if you’re patient.
Saving weight with a saddle normally comes with some level of implied masochism. The Repente Artax GL has been nothing but a joy to sit on across several bikes from gravel to MTB though. Low weight and the replaceable cover feature are obviously big wins if you’re a high mileage racer/efficiency enthusiast too. That means while saddle comfort is always a very personal thing we’d certainly recommend the Repente from our experiences with it and we’ll be keeping it on the go for as long as we can.
If you’re in the UK, Repente’s distributors Upgrade even offer a 30-day demo program with all saddles in the range if you want to try before you buy.
Tech Specs: Repente Artax GL saddle
- Price: £165 / €169
- Weight: 164g
- Materials: Carbon-reinforced shell and carbon fiber rails
- Sizes: 1275 x 132 or 145mm (GLM)