Berk Lupina Carbon Saddle
Berk Lupina Carbon Saddle
Finally, Josh gets a chance to talk about the Berk Lupina Carbon Saddle.
There have been a few, rare, occasions when I have not had a chance to talk about a product I have tested. This is one of those instances, but it’s finally time to share my absolute favourite saddle. It’s actually one of the most commented on pieces on my bike, and as I start to get really serious about planning a summer ride of around 450 miles in three days, it’s a piece that I have no doubts about. The Berk Carbon Saddle is not just a pretty piece of carbon that’s good for grabbing attention, it’s also really comfortable. So comfortable that it works just as well on short rides as it does on multiple days of century plus riding.
Jure Berk is the name of a 26-year-old ex-racer from Slovenia. He raced at the national level from around 2009 to 2014, and his results were middle of the pack. What’s interesting is what he did after his primary racing days were done. He got passionate about carbon fibre, and started immersing himself in cycling forums. In fact, when I first found references to him online, it was just in casual conversations on cycling forums, and you can see his early designs evolve through those conversations. He tries stuff, he discusses it, and he makes changes.
This is how I’ve seen some of the most focused, and interesting, products that cater to very specific groups of interest get formed. It tends to produce products that fill a very specific need for a small group of people, and that’s exactly what seems to have come about here. Not everyone is going to be interested in a full carbon saddle, but for those who are, this is the best of the best.
Let’s walk that statement back just a little, though. There’s an assumption there, and I want to point out that it’s an unnecessary one. The reason this is a part of my bike that gets tons of comments is because no one thinks it can be comfortable. Cyclists, of all stripes, tend to have it in their minds that a full carbon saddle, with no padding, can’t be comfortable. The assumption is wrong, though. The extremely minimal padding that’s present on most high-end race oriented saddles does very little, if anything, and the Berk Lupine has taken that a step further by just eliminating the unnecessary excess.
The result is a saddle that weighs only 79 grams, in the 132mm width version, and is still extremely comfortable. Jure Berk has expertly exploited the way that carbon behaves as a material. The inherent carbon flex means that the same effect can be achieved as you would get from a softer saddle with less flex. This isn’t just hyperbole either. I’ve done a few 150 mile days with this saddle, and last year I did my longest ride, so far, at around 210 miles and a bit under 12 hours of pedalling. There were many things that were uncomfortable on those long rides, but I never desired a different saddle.
Because of the nature of a custom-built full carbon saddle like the Berk Lupine, there are also a few other advantages you might not initially consider. A big one is that it can be repaired. At €260.00, it’s not a small investment, but unlike other, similarly priced, high-end saddles, if you were to drop your bike in such a way as to create surface damage, someone who is familiar with working with carbon could repair it. It might not be impossible to replace the covering on other saddles, but it’s significantly more involved.
The other big advantage is that every Berk Lupine saddle is custom, so you can spec out exactly how you’d like it to look. I went with 3k gloss, however, there are 11 different variations of size, 132mm or 150mm, and styles of carbon on offer. The one question that I do occasionally get which is worth discussing is how slick the surface is without some kind of fabric. Basically, does it cause you to slide around? My answer is no.
It all comes down to fit. When everything fits the way it should, your position should be pretty locked in, so even though the surface of the saddle is slicker than something with fabric, I haven’t found it to be an issue. If anything, I actually prefer the ability to move around a bit if I want. There are times when I find myself farther up the nose of the saddle and sliding to the rear is a good way to slightly change up the muscles I’m using. The slick surface of the Berk Lupine makes it really easy to move back when I want to.
As I get farther down the rabbit hole of planning this coming ride, I have a lot of worries. Multiple days of around 150 miles, and with significant climbing, means I have to be prepared. On the other hand, my plan is to ride light and carry the absolute bare minimum. You will likely see a lot of that play out on these virtual pages, and hopefully you will all benefit from me testing equipment in a way that most people will never need to. All that aside, though, one thing I feel rock solid about is my saddle. I’ve ridden over 12,000 miles on the Berk Lupine saddle and it’s never let me down.
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