Rapha's new Classic Saddle has landed at La Velocita. I've been riding around on one this last week... does it 'connect perfectly with your bike' as promised?
Your saddle is the most important contact point with your bike. Get your choice wrong and you won't enjoy your riding in any way, shape or form. I like to think that the saddle chooses you. When you get the right one you'll know right away.
A decade ago Rapha's bib shorts very quickly set a new bar for comfort and quality, and in an act of pure common sense, Rapha has today designed its saddles to work perfectly with their chamois. It has taken two years of development from some of the biggest propeller heads in the industry to design the Rapha Classic and Pro Team saddle to get the best result possible. Designing a saddle around the chamois makes solid sense and promises to deliver an unrivalled riding experience according to Rapha's created director Alex Valdman.
There's two models to choose; the Classic and Pro Team. Both come in narrow 130mm or standard 145mm widths. The Pro Team is also available with a centre cutout in both widths. If you are a RCC person you'll have extra colour options available to you.
Both variants are constructed from carbon, made by hand in Italy. There's also a one-piece carbon rail running the entire length of the saddle that provides flex and compliance for a more comfortable platform. The standard width Classic Saddle tipped the scales at 195g. There's no rider weight limit which is incredibly unusual for a carbon saddle.
Rapha has put together a nifty fit calculator that helps you find the best model for you. It takes into account your waist measurement, weight and style of riding.
ON THE BIKE
So what are they actually like? I had a chance to look at both the Classic and Pro Team variation and they both look beautiful, are finished perfectly and are clean, and minimal. There's the nice Rapha touches to, with the Pro Team variant having 'I WAS FLYING TODAY' printed underneath it. Love it.
The Classic Saddle is designed to be rocked with Rapha's Classic Bib Shorts II and be used for long days on the bike. It's curved profile is designed to provide comfort, rather than providing a platform for hard riding like the Pro Team Saddle/Knicks combo.
So how does it feel.... well very good indeed. I took the Classic Saddle out wearing the Rapha Classic Bib II, the Pro team Bibs, and even tempted disaster by wearing a couple of other brands of knicks and found that they all worked well. I usually rock a flatter saddle, more like the Rapha's Pro Team Saddle, so the Classic did feel different, but not bad different, just different. It's very rounded shape certainly provides comfort and support with a wide contact area between the Chamois and your bot. It also provides a stable surface that you can move around on and get comfortable as the hours build.
Carbon saddles give a very different sensation to their metal railed, plastic shelled brethren. There's a wonderful flex and plushness to a carbon fibre perch. They almost feel like a very short travel suspension under your rump. It doesn't flex much but it reduces the sting from the bumps and vibrations that can stress your lower back and tire you out over long rides.
Rapha's saddle are occupying a unique market niche; carbon but not light. 195g might sound like a wispy saddle but it's positively lumpen compared to offerings from Tune, AX Lightness, or Berk Composites. Even the similarly covered carbon Specialized S-Works Power saddle undercuts it by 30g. For reference, a bog standard Fizik Arione R5 will only set you back 225g. Rapha must have added quite a lot of reinforcement to have no weight limit.
In Australia you'll pay A$315 for the Classic Saddle and A$495 for the Pro Team Saddle and Pro Team Cutout Saddle.
If you'd like to try before you buy, the Melbourne Rapha Clubhouse has some tasty bright Rapha Pink saddles for you to try... and I expect that most of the other Clubhouses will to, so get down to your nearest one and check these little pieces of artwork out.
Disclaimer - This is not a paid review. We're independent here at La Velocita and are free to say what we think. Rapha did fix me up with a new Classic Saddle... and it looks very nice on my bike, thanks Pikey!