As cyclists, our comfort needs and priorities can change from one ride to the next: whether through changing seasons, different terrains or simply because of the variety of options that our sport offers us - from short and sharp racing circuits, to longer endurance rides, or even commuting in work clothes.
If you find yourself saddle-sore after a long sportive, or ride a variety of cycling disciplines over differing terrain and duration, then this innovative new saddle system from Italian brand Repente may be the answer.
Their unique proposition is a modular saddle, comprising a separate base with carbon rails onto which you can attach your choice of three saddle covers, each with different shapes and properties.
The covers range from the lightweight, race-oriented Aleena - which weighs just 130g including base and cover - to the more comfort-focused Kuma. In between is the Comptus, with an ergonomic design and evenly distributed padding to offer comfort across the seat for long days in the saddle.
The Comptus weighs 135g and even with its thicker padding the Kuma is extremely light at 145g. The carbon railed base is a key factor here, but apart from low weight the rails have differential cross-sections designed to achieve the right mix of rigidity and flexibility. Flattened rear ends provide more homogeneous support, say Repente, meaning that the pressure applied to the seat will always be under control.
The covers attach to the base using what Repente call RLS - 'release locking system' - and switching between covers is a very straightforward procedure. Simply unlock the three pins under the pad base, change to one of the three covers available, and lock again the three pins - all in a matter of a minute or less.
I tried Repente's Aleena and Comptus saddles on the beautiful, steep, winding roads of Gran Canaria shortly before Christmas.
After a number of test rides I soon gravitated towards the featherweight Aleena as my preferred choice for the challenging climbs on this beautiful outpost on the Canary Islands.
I've been trying for some time to address a specific problem of comfort on my rides. I'm an endurance rider, who loves climbing. But after 8-9 hours in the saddle, especially when pushing myself on the bike, I used to have quite remarkable discomfort when getting off the saddle.
I found that the Aleena cover, with its anatomical channel along the longitudinal axis, really helped to ease pressure on the prostate area.
I have now been using the saddle for a couple of months, and the step up in comfort is incredible. I no longer need to move and look for a pain-free position when I pedal, and once I'm off the bike, I don't have to rest and wait for posterior pains to go away.
As well as the performance aspects, the general appearance, construction and finish of the Repente saddles are top quality, befitting the premium price tag. The microfibre covers are easy to wipe clean, while a scuff guard on the base helps protect the cover from accidental damage.
The question is, having decided on the Aleena as my preferred perch, how much practical use will the interchangeable cover system be? For some cyclists - especially those who stick to a single discipline, e.g. road riding - there may be limited value in the ability to swap saddles in a matter of seconds from day to day.
Not only that, but flexibility comes at a price: the saddle base alone retails at €199, while the covers - or 'pads' - range from €119 for the Comptus and Kuma to €129 for the Aleena. At €318 - €328 for a complete saddle the Repente is priced at the very top end of saddles; you'll have to decide for yourself whether the benefits justify the outlay.
But, with a growing number of cycle commuters, and the increasing popularity of gravel/adventure bikes, both of which mean cyclists can be facing very different terrain and comfort needs on the same bike from one ride to the next, I can imagine the versatility of Repente's modular system holding considerable appeal.
And even if, like me, you find that one cover is perfect for 90% of your needs, it's always nice to have options!
The quest for the perfect saddle remains a highly subjective one, but if your checklist includes fresh design, light weight and the ability to dial in your saddle for comfort or speed as each day demands, then this clever new concept from Repente is well worth a look.