We’re always on the lookout for tech exotica here at Cyclingnews and recently stumbled upon Gelu Carbon Creations, a boutique carbon composites company founded by Anghel Ivanof in 2013. The Portuguese company boasts an array of lightweight carbon components ranging from handlebars and seatposts to saddles – just like the one pictured here. Despite the outrageously light items on offer, Gelu prides itself on creating products to go the distance, in fact, many cyclists use its components during competition. While comfort is always going to be the first thing affected by pushing limitations of weight reduction, the notion behind Gelu’s rhetoric is to retain functionality at all times or so the company claims.
Design and aesthetics
Few can dispute the beauty of Gelu’s K-3 saddle, it’s a work of art. It’s handmade from carbon pre-preg weave fabric – a recipe known for its aesthetic merit but also lightweight properties. This particular layup is proven to be slightly more resilient than unidirectional carbon fibre and should help it withstand any jolts and road imperfections.
Minimalist on all fronts, the lack of any clear coat or varnish is evident, a measure that further keeps weight to an absolute minimum. I guess, the matte finish also adds a sense of refinement to the package, besides clear coats do have a propensity for showing up scratches and imperfections.
Looking at the design characteristics there’s nothing that points to comfort – the carbon shell is appreciably thin yet impressively stiff. Like many contemporary saddles, it features a large central cutout – granted this is more of a weight reduction than pressure dissipation measure. There’s also a series of 26 drilled holes (13 on each side) which – we’d argue – add to the visual drama. The embossed Gelu and K-3 logos are barely visible but that’s part of the stealthy design philosophy, with the only brazen advertising coming in the form of a white logo on the rear bridge area of the rail configuration. Gelu does offer a level of saddle customisation where buyers can personalise it through the use of various colour combinations, names and personal logos.
In terms of presentation, the saddle comes in a Gelu-logo-adorned orange carry bag complete with an instruction booklet. The booklet comprises eight tips to ensure you install it correctly and provides insight on how to look after it – unlike conventional saddles the lightweight nature of the Gelu K-3 makes it prone to damage if neglected.
Object of Desire series
Let’s get down to the baseline number you all want to know – the actual weight.
Gelu quotes that this particular saddle can weigh anything between 38 and 59 grams. Put to the test on Cyclingnews’ scale of truth, the saddle came in at 39g. Impressive indeed. To put things in perspective, the Selle Italia SP-01 Boost Tekno Superflow saddle we featured last year, tipped the scales at 117g – that’s a 78g disparity. The Selle Italia is, however, a little chunkier and, dare I say, more ‘utilitarian’ when compared to the K-3.
In terms of specifications, the saddle is exceptionally narrow measuring 122 x 242mm. Again, to keep weight down, the ovalised carbon rails also take on quite a diminutive shape – 6 x 7mm, something that will undoubtedly affect the ride quality. A saddle of this nature, however, will make an alluring case for itself in the hill climb scene where attributes such as ride quality and comfort play second fiddle to mass reduction. The Gelu K-3 has already been spotted on the Cannondale SuperSix Evo of two-time British hill climb champion Dan Evans – a nod to its featherweight reputation.
There is some fine print worth noting, particularly when it comes to max rider weight. According to Gelu Carbon Creations, the K-3 has a maximum weight limit of 80kg, which is in line with other superlight saddles such as the Selle Italia SLR C59. As a matter of fact, the SLR C59 was considered the lightest road bike saddle in the world at 61g. Not anymore I’m afraid…
It’s worth putting things in perspective before making any rash decisions here. This isn’t something you’d purchase for long-distance riding or any type of Gran Fondo-style race or event. It serves a particular purpose and will undoubtedly be employed by the hill climb brigade given the discipline’s shorter duration and focus on weight reduction.
Despite what it says on Gelu’s website, the K-3 and its flat and narrow dimensions are not going to work for everyone. While it’s achingly beautiful to look at and admire, it’s been stripped of all comfort and compliance but that’s also a large part of its appeal. It also represents a brag-worthy statement piece, especially for the gram counters among us.
Then there’s the price. With anything this exotic and artisanal in execution, the price is always going to be greater than something that’s mass-produced for broader consumption. As a result, the Gelu K-3 saddle will set you back £430 / €495 / $590.
That’s a monumentally expensive £11.02 / €12,69 / $15.13 per gram.
Tech Specs: Gelu K-3 carbon saddle
- Price: £430 / €495 / $590
- Weight: 39g (actual)
- Dimensions: 122 x 242mm
- Rails: Carbon
- Shell: Carbon
- Colours: Black. Custom colour combinations, names and logos are available