Hands-on Gear Review
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Pros: Comfortable, Versatile, Lightweight.
Cons: Very thick padding, Narrow Width
Best Uses: Road, Mountain, Cyclocross.
The Flite Gel Flow is an excellent choice for the rider who has narrow sit bones, and likes a lot of padding and an anatomical cut out. It is lightweight, durable and will be at home on many different types of bikes. Aesthetically pleasing, it will enhance the look of any bike, and likely help you shave a bit of weight compared to your OE specked saddle. It is narrower, a bit lighter, and offers more padding than the Editors choice Specialized Phenom.
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OutdoorGearLab Editors' Hands-on Review
The Flite Gel Flow is a very comfortable saddle. It offers generous padding, some of the thickest of any of our test saddles. The leather cover allows for easy movement. A full anatomical cut out provides pressure relief to sensitive areas. At 130mm in width, it is somewhat narrow. This was the only area that brought its overall comfort score down. Most of our testers preferred a slightly wider saddle such as the Phenom or the Top Pick Fizik Antares.
Overall we found the performance of the Flite Gel Flow to be very good. It does allow the rider to get into an aggressive position, and the anatomical cut out relieves pressure when down in the drops on a road bike. The Flite Gel Flow has very thick padding, which we found to be a bit of a performance determent, especially while climbing. There is a fine line between too much and too little padding when it comes to high performance saddles, and we feel that the Flite Gel Flow has a bit too much, as compared to a saddle such as the Specialized Phenom that strikes the perfect balance.
The Flite Gel Flow is a versatile saddle, excellent for road, mountain, and cyclocross use. We even liked it for commuting duties where its thick padding becomes more of an attribute than a detriment. The only feature which detracts from its versatility is the cutout, which allows mud and water thrown from the wheel a direct path to the shorts. But this is a draw back of any saddle with a cutout.
We generally ding saddles with exposed seams, especially on the top or sides of the saddle where they are exposed to the most abrasion from rider movement. Despite the exposed seams, the Flite Gel Flow has proven to be very durable, even with an extended stay on the cyclocross bike where it was regularly exposed to sand, water, and mud. Lack of side bumpers, or at least a tougher material on the sides, like the Specialized Phenom has kept it from the highest rating.
At 229g the Flite Gel Flow is among the lightweights of our test group. It benefits from Titanium Rails, and if it were not for the heavy padding, it would likely tip the scales closer to 200g. Regardless, it makes the cut as a featherweight racing saddle.
Selle Italia markets this saddle for road racing, and it shines as a racing saddle while offering substantial comfort in the way of thick padding. We also like it on the mountain bike, and Cyclocross rig. If using it for off –road pursuits, keep in mind that it does not offer scuff guards and may show some abrasion if it makes contact with a rocky trail. In addition, if you live or race in a wet muddy area, the cutout will allow mud and water direct access to your shorts which will shorten there lifespan.
Italian racing saddles are not cheap. You will likely pay over $150 dollars for the Flite Gel Flow, making it one of the pricier options in the test group. If you find this saddle to be a match made in heaven for your anatomy, then buy it. Otherwise there are numerous other saddles that offer many of the same attributes at a lower price point, including the Editors Choice Specialized Phenom and the Selle SMP Extra Saddle.
Selle Italia offers a myriad of saddles within the Flite lineup, including a newer model, the Flite Gel Max, $190, which has a wider profile in the rear. The Flite Monolink, $250, and Flite Kit Carbonio Flow, $280 are also available for road bike use.
If you are interested in a Selle Italia saddle the best thing to do is seek out a dealer within their ID Match network where you can test saddles and be measured for the ideal fit.
— Curtis Smith
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OutdoorGearLab Member Reviews
Most recent review: November 25, 2013
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