Saddles are pretty damn personal bike parts. This contact point between you and your bike needs primarily to be comfortable before anything else. With more than 150 years of combined mountain biking experience, our test crew can spot saddle marketing hype immediately. So when Specialized sent us the Power Saddle and the accompanying information, we were immediately skeptical. How can the same saddle be appropriate for men and women?
Well, our female testers agree that a saddle with a cut-out is the most comfortable for most women (not necessarily all women). And our male testers agree that a saddle that’s narrow and firm is the most comfortable for most men (not necessarily all men). The Power Saddle, developed in conjunction with Specialized’s vast array of pro roadies, triathletes and mountain bikers, was designed to improve comfort when riding in an aggressive (aero/forward-leaning) position. And for men and women alike.
We got sent the 143mm width option – the narrowest (it also comes in 155mm and 168mm widths) and first decided it’s too wide; then we decided it’s too short; and then we decided a cut-out is a women’s saddle thing, not necessary for men. Of course this was prejudicial decision making – before we’d actually fitted and ridden it.
Well we couldn’t’ have been more wrong. We felt immediately comfortable on our first ride. It was firm where it needed to be (where our sit bones connect with it) and it was comfortable on flats and climbs. On very steep climbs, where we needed to scoot right to the front of the saddle, we felt it was a little short. But then these are climbs that most wouldn’t be able to ride up. Initially, we noticed the wider ‘wings’ brushing our inner thighs, but after a couple of hours this never really felt unusual or uncomfortable. We thought that the shorter length might compromise handling on twisty descents (where you actually use your inner thighs to steer or achieve stability), but there was sufficient length for this to not be an issue.
We’d just come off riding a couple of thousand kilometres without any discomfort on the Fizik Tundra, a top-end racing saddle with massive global success. The Tundra is long and narrow and firm and has no cut-out. The two saddles are so different, but yielded a similar level of comfort for our male testers. The cut-out is obviously meant to minimise pressure and increase blood flow. We can’t say for sure if it increased blood flow, but Specialized claims it’s lab tests show it does. The cut-out didn’t feel obvious at all through bib-shorts padding, but it is a huge mindset shift in terms of men’s saddles.
We’re hoping to get our women testers onto a Power Saddle soon (this one was too narrow for them), to be able to give female-specific feedback too. We’re actually really impressed with the Power Saddle’s comfort for men and like that is light and stiff (carbon reinforced shell with hollow titanium rails) and, most of all, comfortable. Will our women testers agree? We’ll see.
It comes in four different ranges – Comp, Expert, Pro, S-Works – all with the same basic shape, but varying in padding density, carbon-fibre content and colour options.
SIZES: 143mm, 155mm, 168mm
COLOURS: Black, White
PRICE: R1 349.00
CONTACT: 021 808 7333; www.specialized.com
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*Originally published in TREAD Issue 34, 2015 – All rights reserved