Fizik launches One-to-One – a custom 3D-printed saddle service using riders' unique measurements

Personalised saddles with 3D-printed padding based on customers' biometric data to be offered via Fizik dealerships

‘Fizik gets personal’ says the Italian brand, borrowing the famous tagline from the fourth Jaws movie as it launches its new One-to-One bespoke 3D-printed saddle service. Coincidentally there was also a Jaws 3D… but thanks to Fizik’s new technology, shark-like saddles that bite you on the bum could be a thing of the past as it rolls out a programme that allows riders to have their own, unique, 3D-printed saddle.

Fizik already has a range of 3D-printed saddles, called Adaptive, but with One-to-One, which it says was four years in the making and brought together industry-leading experts and academics, customers can get a personalised saddle measurement session at selected Fizik dealerships and be paired with the most suitable Adaptive saddle model with a bespoke 3D padding structure.

A Fizik 3D printed saddle and a pressure mapped rendition

Key to the project was German company GebioMized, the developers of the pressure-mapping system used by bike fitters worldwide designed to complement a bike fit by supplying data relating to a rider’s contact with the saddle. The system Fizik uses is similar in that it too consists of a cover placed over the rider’s own saddle on their own bike that includes 64 sensors. These transmit dynamic information while the rider pedals in different positions. In a two-stage session, the ideal saddle shape is firstly determined and then the exact loading pattern is established, which is translated into 3D printing parameters for the elastomeric lattice honeycomb structure. The custom saddle is produced at Fizik’s HQ in Italy.

Veteran cyclists will no doubt smile at the ‘revolutionary’ idea of a saddle that fits its rider exactly. Before the advent of shell saddles and foam padding in the last quarter of the 20th century, saddles were made from leather and had to be broken in. After the requisite (and probably painful) number of miles, there it was – a comfortable saddle perfectly moulded to the shape of its rider’s sit bones. So Fizik has simultaneously turned back the clock and advanced saddle technology into the future. Leather saddles are of course incredibly heavy, generally weighing over half what an entire modern carbon frame weighs, but One-to-One promises the personalisation of leather with the latest tech and lightweight materials.

A 3D printed saddle

Fizik’s brand manager Giovanni Fogal says: “A traditional one-to-many saddle design can only provide an approximate solution to very specific problems. With One-to-One today we achieve what every saddle manufacturer has always dreamed of: bringing to life customised support available to every cyclist.”  

Is a 3D-printed saddle essential? Fizik’s Fogal explains why Fizik did it: “We know that the saddle is the most critical point of contact between the rider and the bike and we know also that the saddle’s fit plays an outsized role in the rider’s experience, comfort and performance. We know also that unfortunately in the worst cases individuals can quit cycling altogether due to saddle discomfort. We know that a good accurate fit depends on many factors: it depends on the rider, the bike that we use, the intended use, the saddle shape, the position of the saddle. And then, of course, we know that every rider is unique. Every rider has a unique experience, a different sensitivity, they could have a history of injury. We all have different body shapes and riding styles. So all these can affect the way we sit on the saddle. Throughout the years we knew that a traditional saddle can only provide an approximate solution to very specific problems. So it’s obvious that we always wanted customised saddles but we simply didn’t have the technology to achieve it.”

A 3D printed saddle next to the printer

He continues: “Just recently, through the use of 3D-printing technology, we introduced our 3D-printed line of Adaptive saddles. This allowed us to develop a new saddle without the constraints and limitations of traditional production methods and materials. What was possible for the first time was to identify multiple functional zones within the saddle, all joined progressively and seamlessly… different densities of foam that reflect what we need sitting on the bike. But if we go deeper we understand that’s not the only benefit [of 3D printing]. It makes it easier to make one-off products compared to injection moulding, which requires larger scale commitment and entails higher tooling costs. So without the constraints of batch production each 3D-printed saddle can be totally unique. Which leads to a logical question… What if the saddle padding was produced for an individual? And this was the true potential of the Adaptive saddle technology. When we started working with 3D we realised it would be a one-to-many saddle with some benefits we didn’t see before like zonal cushioning, but we knew the next step would be customisation. So with that as our goal, we spent the next four years researching and developing and testing and confirming the process with which we could capture, interpret and translate the rider’s personal pressure data and turn it into a 3D-printed structure.”

One-to-One saddle cover with pressure sensors

Fogal explains that the process was designed to work in the retail environment with a turbo trainer on which the customer’s own bike is set up. The pressure measurement sensor map is placed over the customer’s own saddle initially and then everything is processed through the usernet of an app. The session is guided by a Fizik trained dealer from first pedal stroke to final order placement.

During the press presentation, we saw a demonstration of a Fizik custom One-to-One saddle mapping session. The rider’s own bike was fixed to a Wahoo Kickr Rollr, which Fizik says is “the simplest solution, you don’t need to remove any part of the bicycle, and is one of the most reliable in terms of achieving pressure mapping data – very similar to what you would get on the road.” 

A Fizik fitter prepares the One-to-One system

The One-to-One app used by the Fizik dealer has a simple interface. It connects to the pressure mapping saddle cover via Bluetooth. Initially the customer’s riding discipline is selected: road, mountain, triathlon or gravel. First of all comes an ‘assessment’, which determines sensitivity, satisfaction with the current saddle shape, whether or not the rider has had a bike fit. This is scored on a sliding scale ‘not sensitive to very sensitive’ or ‘not satisfied’ to ‘very satisfied’. Fizik suggests a bike fit before the saddle analysis, obviously since a less-than-optimal bike position can lead to less-than-optimal contact with the saddle, even a custom 3D saddle. The saddle mounting information is input – tilt, position, height etc – using a jig positioned to measure saddle data.

Next the sensor map is set up and paired with the app. The measurement begins and the rider starts pedalling after a warm-up. For the road bike saddle measurement that we saw, hoods position comes first, drops and then tops, with pressure data captured and transmitted to the app. The app understands when the rider is stable and advises to move to the next stage.

A rider on a test bike with Fizik One-to-One display

The app suggests the ideal saddle from Fizik’s Adaptive range. The dealer removes the rider’s original saddle and fits the one selected by the app. They can of course override it and fit their own recommendation. With the ideal saddle on the bike, pressure mapping is restarted – hoods, drops and tops as before, but this time acquiring all the data for making the custom saddle. Carbon or kium rails are chosen depending on the customer’s preference or depending on the seatpost’s spec.

According to Fizik, printing the saddle in Italy can take a couple of days. Once the customer receives their saddle they can go back to the dealership, where the session history can be retrieved and another pressure mapping conducted with the new, custom saddle which compares the data against the original saddle. In Fizik’s words, this can objectify whether there are improvements, what and where exactly they are.

And finally the price? On top of the regular price of the Adaptive saddle there’s a $200 supplement. We are expecting to be able to test the One-to-One system for ourselves and will bring our full review.

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