A Myth is born
Selle San Marco is a famous and historical handmade saddles italian firm. Based in Rossano Veneto, in northeastern Italy, this small town is famous in the world thanks to the production of racing saddles. Modern saddles, but with a glorious past. Luigi Girardi was the man who made Rossano Veneto the undisputed world capital of saddles by opening Selle San Marco here nearly 80 years ago.
It all began with a very simple need: the young Luigi noticed, in fact, that at that time the saddles were often very worn out and so he decided to give them a new life, through the production of seat covers made of cloth of the military coats, characterized by a considerable resistance.
In 1935 he parlayed a 100-lire loan into a business distributing bicycle accessories.
In 1940, Luigi Girardi set up a bicycle saddle factory with around forty workers. The war years were difficult, but Selle San Marco prospered at selling high-quality leather saddles and the comm. Girardi got a lot of satisfactions: his company became not only a point of reference for all the bicycle industry, but also a model of business to follow.
In 1950 the creation of new standard in the cure of the leather and in the production of metal components are signs of a future rich of successes. Interestingly, the more expensive saddles were the heavier ones since the weight indicated a better cut of leather. The contrary of today.
San Marco saddles became rapidly popular among the pro riders. In those years Fausto Coppi built his myth of Campionissimo, thanks to his legendary performances when the cycling was sweat and toil. The 1953 was the height of his career: he won the Giro d’Italia for the fifht time – memorable the historical climb of the Stelvio, when he pulled ahead of Hugo Koblet. In the same year, Coppi became also World Champion in Lugano, with another legendary performance: he take a solo victory with more than 6 minutes over his rivals in the final 30 km.
In the picture Fausto Coppi together with some San Marco employees at the show “Salone del Ciclo” in Milan.
In the 1970s, Girardi created, along with his son Antonio and daughter-in-law Giuseppina, the saddles that made today’s saddles possible. San Marco started to make specific saddles for the pro riders. The brand became the point of reference for cyclists, not only professional but also amateurs, who chose the handmade saddles produced by the Rossano Veneto company for the high quality, the comfort and the great performance.
In 1978 the first saddle in the world with a Bio-Anatomical shape is born. Its name is Concor and because of its revolutionary shape, this model was an epoch-making turning-point in the production of bicycle saddles. It started indeed the trend of shaped, narrower saddles with nylon bases, foam padding and leather covers. This saddle took legendary victories: the World Championships in 1980, 1981, 1982, 1987 with Hinault, Maertens, Saronni, Roche. Many cups, Grand Tour and Classic races with Battaglin, Baronchelli, Bontempi, Visentin, Argentin and many others.
Thanks to this revolution Selle San Marco became in the 80s the biggest handmade saddles company in the world. The Concor was indeed a worldwide business and or road success. Many of the most important International teams chose this model and so did the amateurs.
You did not even need to say Selle San Marco: Concor had become an iconic product. Its name was printed on the jerseys of the teams as “Concor saddle”: an example of the strength of a successful product.
In 1982 at the Tour de France Battaglin and San Marco showed a version of the Concor that had been considered the most elegant cycling saddle, with a new aerodynamics for a fluid pedalling. Later new variants will be created: Concor Comfort with more padding, Concor Supercorsa with lighter rail ( whole weight 240 gr.), Concor Max with a better support for pelvis bones, Concor Pista. There were also versions for junior and baby cyclists.
Goodwood, 1982. Giuseppe Saronni and his Concor became World Champions!
Besides the Concor, San Marco launched in those years models that will enter in the history of the brand – now revamped in the Vintage line. Among them there was the ROLLS (1983) with all its many versions: brown or black printed leather, coloured shiny leather, black or white with NO SLIP SYSTEM (without patches) embroidered leather.
It is the other model that together with the Concor and the Rolls belongs today to the Vintage line. The REGAL (1984) became popular in the second half of the 80s for its crocodile, snake, kangaroo versions, all with aluminium adjustable die-cast rail. It will be used by the most important pro riders as LeMond, Chiappucci, Cipollini, Boonen e McEwen. A saddle born to win: i twill triumph indeed in many great stage races and in the Classics.
Tour de France
The Champs Elysées crowns the Regal. Greg LeMond wins his third Tour de France. The american pro cyclist will achieve the yellow jersey on the penultimate stage: a time-trial, where he was one of the best specialist.
The Concor Light and the Carbon
In 1990 another winning move of Selle San Marco happened: the launch of the Concor Light with titanium rail and then carbon rail (Concor Light KA that american megazines said to be “super seats” of the year 1993). With this saddle San Marco was the first saddles maker company to introduce the Carbon in the world of cycling. As usual it was innovative and anticipator of trend. The new version of this successful saddle will be the one used by champions like Armstrong, Bettini and Contador.
This line is dedicated to the world of Mtb. It came from the collaboration between Keith Bontrager and San Marco. They were because of their ergonomic design the first specific saddles for the Mtb pro riders. When the Mountain Bike was “just” Mountain Bike.
San Marco and Pirelli
In the 90s the design of models like Integra, Pirelli 600, Squadra HDP and Bertone SE (1990) turned the saddles into true objects of worship. In those years San Marco in collaboration with Pirelli created the saddle with active suspensions (SA) through the SUTUCO, the coaxial tubular support made of 60 Shore A natural rubber.
The New Millenium
San Marco enters the third millenium, with the plus of innovation and dictating new technological parameters with saddles as Era, Aspide, Rever and introducing new concepts as Open, Superleggera, Carbon FX.
2004 is the year of birth of the Rever. It was the saddle used by champions like Cadel Evans when he rode fot the Omega-Lotto.
In the picture: Giuseppina and Antonio Girardi with theri sons Luca and Luigi.
Nasce la Rever. La sella usata dai grandi campioni come Cadel Evans ai tempi della Omega-Lotto. Nella foto: Giuseppina e Antonio Girardi con i figli Luca e Luigi.
In 2005 the magnesium is tamed with the Magma, winner of many design and innovation prizes. A new frontier in the San Marco technological evolution, that attested again the courage and the passion, besides the skill to transfer the experience and appeal of the racing world to a product that will be designed also for amateurs. With its differed thicknesses of the special ergonomic design, it assures lightness and comfort..
2008 San Marco launched the Zoncolan. Evolution. The most extreme climb in the Giro d’Italia gives its name to an elegant product resulting from a technological and ergonomic mix. Derived from professional experience. Plain design, exclusive technologgy, great performance: San Marco spirit comes out from the design and dynamism that have always marked this italian brand.
The word mantra comes from a combination of the two Sanskrit words manas (mind) and trayati (to free). The mantra can therefore be considered a sound able to free the mind of worries.
The San Marco Mantra draws inspiration precisely from this: freeing the mind, without any worries about comfort or style, in order to focus entirely on performance.
In 2010 San Marco went back into the future. It is the REGALe, “e” means evolution of a model that doesn’t need presentations. Indeed, the new saddle is founded on the known REGAL, born at the end of the seventies and used by the greatest riders as Cipollini, Boonen, McEwen, LeMonde and Chiappucci. Classical inspiration then, but ultra-modern performances for a saddle developed together with the pro riders. Keeping and improving the excellent ergonomics that made it famous, thanks to its wide seat, the new model expresses at most San Marco technology.
New Concor – The legend goes on
The legend goes on. CONCOR. An icon. Now much lighter. San Marco revamps the CONCOR, presenting the evolution of the historical model. The new saddle keeps all the skills of the previous versions (the Concor Light and the Concor Supercorsa), but it considerably gains lightness, thanks to the use of innovative materials.
Great newness in the model carbon FX, that features the carbon DNA new system rail. It shows indeed a distinctive “X” shape, a crossing point where all the strains concentrate with the result to increase the rigidity and avoid spin and torsion.
After ten years, the best seller product of Selle San Marco range - already considered aesthetically and technologically perfect - is ready for a new challenge: to be even more so. Materials, production solutions, and ergonomy had been improved. The target was to make a narrow and waved seat, really comfortable but really light for excellent performance, as the Aspide Superleggera. The lightest comfortable saddle: 109 gr or less guaranteed, thanks to the use of new materials as the PEBAX® a new generation of featherweight foam and the 40T high modul carbon shell. Designed following the concept of the New Ergonomy: an in-depth study of the anatomic shape for a perfect balance between the support zone and the relief zone in the different situation of pedalling. The big hole offers support and comfort all day long in all the riding positions but a structural stability bridge prevents unwanted flex and twist.