Takeaway: At only 70g, the Italian-made Alpitude Gardena saddle can shave a ton of weight off your road bike. For a full-carbon saddle, it has a surprising amount of comfort and an undeniable amount of cool factor. The downsides are the high price, a four-week wait time, and a 187lb rider weight limit.
- Obscenely lightweight,
- Handcrafted in Trentino, Italy.
- Provides a lot of comfort considering it lacks any padding.
A small Italian maker of fine carbon bike parts, Alptiude produces lots of small things you wouldn’t think need to be made extra light. From computer mounts to top caps, they’ve got you covered. Specializing in beautifully handcrafted carbon components that can elevate your ride. If your greatest joy is getting to the top of that climb faster than ever before, Alpitude makes those products that will appeal to you. Sure, training will get you there but who doesn’t like a lightweight bike and sure it can’t hurt right?
The most exciting product in Alpitude’s lineup is its Gardena saddle. As any good weight-weenie knows, you can save a lot of weight in this department, but often at the sacrifice of comfort. Saddles are often an overlooked component for shaving weight. But for road bikes, you can save up to 150 grams simply by swapping out your saddle for a lighter one. For example, the Specialized Power Pro weighs around 215g; our test sample Gardena weighed in at 70g.
Alpitude components are the handiwork of Italian frame builder Andrea Sega (Werking Handcrafted Bicycles). Each saddle is meticulously handcrafted in a small shop in the Dolomites of Italy. The focus on fine craftsmanship is abundantly clear once seeing the saddle in person. It is the kind of craftsmanship that you can tell comes from the hands of someone with a passion for excellence. This saddle is built with purpose.
The Gardena is not just a light saddle for the sake of weight either. Alpitude worked with Cycling Pro Care, a bike fitting specialist out of Italy, to be anatomically sound and offer a modern short shape that focuses on rider comfort. Much of that comfort comes from a generous relief channel and subtle shaping to match the contours of the rider. The focus on a good fit is clear as there are no harsh lines or sharp edges to create unwanted discomfort. The length of the saddle is 245mm long putting it right in line with other popular short saddles like the Bontrager Aeolus (250mm) and Specialized Power (240mm). Offered in 128mm,140mm, and 150mm widths it will fit a variety of riders.
The saddle is offered in a 3k twill, 1k, 6k, UD finishes and features a standard 7mm x 9mm carbon rail shape, like that found on most carbon-railed saddles. It’s worth noting that 7×9 rails may require special clamps for some seatposts. The finishes are cosmetic but the 3k twill is the lightest of the finishes, saving a claimed 5g over the other options. The Gardena does have a listed maximum rider weight limit of 187 lbs, which is nothing too shocking in the lightweight component industry, considering superlight framesets like the Factor o2 VAM are rated at 198 lbs.
The Gardena can be purchased directly from Alpitude’s website or several online retailers. In the US it can be purchased from Fair Wheel Bikes as well. However, ordering direct from Alpitude will get you the most options in terms of looks, size, and accessories. At the time of publication, the lead time is 4 weeks to shipping. If you do end up with one of these saddles you are also getting a 2-year warranty against defects. If you were to crash, a 3-year crash replacement program gets you a 35% discount in year one, 30% in year two, and 25% in year three.
The Gardena is by no means cheap—starting at $300—but is in the price range of other range-topping saddles from much larger brands. For example, the lightest Bontrager Aeolus saddle weighs 170g and costs $250, the Pro Stealth Superlight is $350 and weighs 140g, and the S-Works Ronin Evo at 134g will set you back $325. Other similar saddles to the Gardena can see prices above $500. However, if you’re into shaving every last gram of weight off your bike, and still want a comfortable, short saddle, consider giving Alpitude a look.
The Gardena has a modern saddle shape, sharing a very similar profile to my favorites, the Pro Stealth and Bontrager Aeolus. So even with a lack of padding, I found it comfortable enough to tackle longer days on the bike.
In my testing, this saddle was plenty comfortable, even with its lack of padding. A lot of the comfort of a saddle comes from its shape, not the padding alone. If you tend to get along with short-nosed style saddles with cutouts you will likely get along with this saddle. However, if you want some extra cush you will need to look elsewhere as Alpitude currently does not offer its padded version.
Again, at $300 the Gardena is certainly a pricey saddle, especially one without any padding. If you’re seeking comfort with a pretty reasonable price tag check out the Selle Italia Green Shortfit. If you want a premium level of comfort combined with cutting-edge 3D printed tech, check out the S-Work Romin Evo Mirror or Specialized Power Pro Mirror saddles recently reviewed by Dan Chabanov.
So, if going fast up steep grades is your idea of fun, or if you simply just want to brag to your friends about how light your bike is on the weekend coffee ride give this saddle a look. With a price-to-weight ratio that blows away many other lightweight saddles from the big brands, it’s a product that will appeal to anyone who spends as much time counting grams as they do riding. Whether you’re trying to trim your new disc road bike down to the elusive 15lb mark or building up a climbing bike to nab some of the most coveted local K/QOMs, the Gardena will help you on that journey and doesn’t skimp on comfort.
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