03 January 2006

The Selle Italia Turbo Special

The Turbo is the original classic race saddle by Selle Italia. Favoured by Bernard Hinault and Miguel Indurain, the Turbo was the last great saddle of the pre-Filte era. That is, the Turbo is not a lightweight saddle, where the rails can be seen from a side profile. The Flite was the first widely available saddle to lose the sides of the saddle, the portion of material obscuring the rails from view in a side profile. The Turbo, then, wieghs in at something like 350 grams, The Flite is more than 100 grams lighter.

But as far as luxury and comfort, it's pretty hard to beat the Turbo. Pictured is the Turbo Special, resplendant with it's gold panneling at front and rear, copper rails and, in this version, white perforated leather:

The newest incarnation of the Turbo (though not all that new since it came out in '90 or '91m about the same time as the Flite) is the Turbomatic, or the currently available Turbomatic 4. This saddle was a favorite of Laurent Jalabert and is still used by Dario Frigo (when he's not in dopers' appeals court), Jan Ullrich and many other top pros. It's a lighter version of the Tutbo. It retains the same top profile of the Turbo, but also adds a vibration-dampening ride by inserting the rails into carbon-fiber sections on the saddle body.

The Turbomatic 4 Genuine Gel:

30 December 2005

The Selle Italia Max Flite

The Max Flite uses a sort of suspension by having the railss insert into “wings” located on each side in the rear. It's now available only as a Gel Flow (with the anatomical cut-out and gel cushioning around the cut-out) or a Genuine Gel (with gel, but no cut-out) version. In the past it was available in a no-frills plain black version, as well as in several different colors.

Today, outside the United States, colored versions of the Genuine Gel Max Flite are available (I've seen red and blue versions for sale in Germany). Also, the Pro Signature series of Selle Italia saddles included at least two Max Flites that I know of: the Richard Virenque "scorpion" saddle and the Tinker Juarez version pictured here.

The original Max Flite is used by Bobby Julich, exclusively, and by some of his CSC teammates in the cobbled classics. Andrea Tafi was also regularly seen riding a Max Flite in the cobbled classics, though new sponsorship arrangements seem to have him riding something else currently.

Julich's bike with Max Flite:

I cite the Max Flite saddle as my all-time favorite saddle for comfort. One can easily find a lighter saddle, but the weight penalty in minimal compared to that of opting for a Turbo or a Rolls.

Has anyone else ridden this saddle? Let's hear your thoughts.


Thanks for checking out my Vintage Italian Saddle Museum. My name is Steve. I'm an avid cyclist, a USCF Cat 2 racer, a shop mechanic, and a bicycle saddle fetishist. Pretty weird stuff. This site, I hope, will serve as an exhibit of the world's finest high-performance race saddles. I use the word "exhibit" because a fine leather saddle is like a work of art. Functional art, though, because anyone who's spent 6+ hours in the saddle knows that comfort, design, weight, and style serve as criteria that separate the wheat form the chaff. It's those few world-class saddles I wish to showcase and discuss here.

And I do hope discussion will ensue. I'd love to hear what people think of each saddle. If pro riders that you respect use a particular saddle, let everyone know. Feel free to pontificate on the nature and essence of fine bicycle saddles.