The titanium-railed version of the X-LR Superflow struck a real chord with me when I reviewed it last year, and it’s a saddle I often go back to. Not just for racing - though its lightweight, slim cushioning, and massive freedom of movement make it one of the best mountain bike saddles for competition in XC and cyclocross. There’s also an attractive purity about its minimalism and its just-enough cushioning. Its hand-assembled form is rather beautiful too.
Though light at 176g, that titanium version wasn’t exactly cheap, at $215/£160/AUD 270. So how will its super-premium carbon-railed sibling measure up for value, at an eye-opening 133g and an eye-watering $300/£225/AUD $380.
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Design and aesthetics
The X-LR, and the cutaway Superflow variants especially, invite strong reactions. Some people reckon it’ll be like riding on a razor blade (like the dad in the old British TV advert). Others are fascinated as to whether it feels as radical to ride as it looks. Most people will guess from its looks that it’s pretty light and built with faster-paced riding in mind.
The saddle has a long classic shape, with a very slender but distinctively dropped nose, a long diamond-shaped cutout, and steeply curved sides, which give the feeling of contact with mainly the inner parts of your sit bones.
That dropped nose is to help with remounts and to make climbing in a forward position feel easier - it’s relatively flat from side to side, and more softly cushioned than the rear of the saddle, and the cover of this section has a low-friction finish. And at the rear, the plastic shell of the saddle extends slightly outwards under the cover at the widest points to act as scuff protectors.
I don’t want to sound as if I’ve fallen for the mystique generated by the Selle Italia PR machine, but there’s a distinctive elegance about this particular perch. The lean shape, the taut, hand-stretched cover with its dimpled finish and slight organic texture, and the balance of its logos, all works nicely.
‘Kit Carbonio’ is Selle Italia-speak for carbon-railed, and those rails are the only difference between this and the Ti316 version of the X-LR Superflow. They share the same carbon-infused nylon shell, the same two-density grades of cushioning, and the same Fibra-Tek cover. The carbon rails are ovalized (so they won’t work with side-clamping seat clamps without an adaptor), and they allow a normal 50mm of fore-aft position adjustment.
The X-LR comes in two width options, and there’s a filled-in, non-Superflow variant of each, though it doesn’t seem widely available. The wider version adds about 15g and the infill adds about the same.
The two main feelings you get from the X-LR saddles are an unparalleled sense of freedom and connectedness with the terrain.
I’m not using ‘connectedness’ as a euphemism for lack of cushioning though. The padding is thin and in the right places, for me, it has a well-judged firmness too. Like good handlebar grips, It takes the edge off the terrain and reduces fatigue while retaining a feel for what you’re riding on. I’ve used both the X-LR saddles on a hardtail MTB with an alloy seatpost, a carbon cyclocross bike with 33mm mud tires and 38mm gravel tires, and a little flex built into the carbon seatpost, and they’ve been surprisingly companionable for multi-hour rides.
I probably wouldn’t pick them for a multi-day bikepacking trip, and if you already feel the ride of your bike is a bit harsh, they possibly wouldn’t be the upgrade for you.
The sense of freedom comes partly from the rear of the saddle, where the steeply curved edges let the bike move easily under you. But also from the front of the saddle, where the fabulous narrowness of the long nose means there’s nothing to interrupt your cadence but there’s security there when you need it.
Did the carbon rails make a difference, apart from saving weight? If pushed, I might say they felt a little smoother than the titanium ones, maybe taking a little more buzz out of small unevenness. I’d certainly pop the carbon one on for a long marathon race for instance, just in case that made a difference, but I’d be lying if I said I was 100 percent sure it wasn’t psychological.
If you’ve shaved most of the obvious weight from your bike and you’re onto the final, more expensive rounds, the Selle Italia X-LR Kit Carbonio SuperFlow is a surprisingly comfortable way to pluck a few more tens of grams from the scales. It won’t suit everyone, but faster riders who enjoy freedom of movement may find it a perch they really look forward to being out on.
Tech Specs: Selle Italia X-LR Kit Carbonio SuperFlow
- Price: $299.99 / £225 / AUD 380
- Colors: Black
- Sizes: S 131 x 266 mm (tested) / L 145 x 266 mm
- Lateral profile: Curved
- Weight: 133g (as tested)
- Key materials: Rails: carbon fiber; shell: carbon reinforced nylon