Selle Italia is one of the longest running businesses producing bicycle components. We are not talking last century, but the one before that! They started making saddles in 1897.
Early bikes were used for mass transportation before cars became available and affordable to the average person. Most people travelled by bike, the bike market was huge with lots of different manufacturers based in Italy. Because of this, there was a huge market for Selle Italia to produce saddles for those home market bikes.
Sitting through the Years
If you started riding road bikes in the 1980s you more than likely spent some time sat on a Turbo saddle. If you rode a lot in the 1990s, you may well have perched on a Flite. Selle Italia have truly dominated the saddle industry. Mass-market bike saddles were the core business until the Bigolin family took over the. The Bigolins set the business on an upward trajectory with saddles for leisure and performance bikes. They evolved from making just 40 saddles per day using ancient machinery, to a state of the art production plant, producing carbon, titanium and gel inserts – all to keep even the pickiest of riders more comfortable.
Selle Italia had the best riders using their saddles. Bernard Hinault had his own branded ‘Turbo’ saddle in the 1980s, Marco Pantani had his ‘Flite’ in the 1990s.
Selle San Marco was Selle Italia’s main rival through this period, however, their ‘Rolls’ and the ‘Concor’ saddles found it tough to compete, the two companies between them pretty much had the market for leisure and performance bikes sewn up. Selle Italia bought Selle San Marco in 2016.
Saddle technology has transformed bike rider comfort in recent years. Shapes, widths, lengths, cut-outs and grooves have brought comfort to many. Catering not just for the different sexes, but also widths and lengths of sit bones, weights and type of usage. Catering for the wide variety of people who ride bikes has been a key aspect to their ongoing success.
See all Selle Italia saddles at Merlin here
Check out the 120 years anniversary video from 2017 below: