Contact points are key to happy miles in the saddle. If we take hours poring over frame, wheel and groupset options, then we should spend even longer when it comes to pedals, shoes, bars, shorts and – of course – saddles.
We humans come in all shapes and sizes, as do our derrieres. And it’s the width of our sit bones, or ischial tuberosity to use the technical jargon, that has a bearing on what is going to work width-wise in the saddle department, not how much flesh is covering the backside. That said, some experts believe fit and position are more important factors for comfort. It’s a minefield, isn’t it?
And then there’s women’s experience in this area. A study conducted by British Cycling before the 2012 Olympics, spurred by Victoria Pendleton’s problems in the saddle department, discovered the uncomfortable truth that every single female member of the squad interviewed experienced issues similar to Pendleton’s, but had not felt confident voicing their concerns to the overwhelmingly male coaching staff. Every single one.
The issue was addressed and remedied, thankfully. But still, as the former BC bike fitting expert and physiotherapist Phil Burt told us for issue 18.2 of Rouleur: “Saddle health is the biggest loss of training days for women, and not far behind for men.” Quite a sobering statistic…
So, if you’re sitting comfortably, allow us to introduce the Antares Versus Evo 00 Adaptive saddle – quite a mouthful, you’ll agree, but worth your attention.
Fizik (fi’zi:k is the phonetic spelling of ‘physique’ – who knew?) have taken a massive share of the high-end saddle market since launching in 1996. Part of the Italian Selle Royal group, variations of Fizik’s Aliante and Arione saw widespread adoption by pros and enthusiasts alike from the early days of the company. Now, with a wide range of road saddles in varying shapes and sizes – including Antares, the short-nosed Argo and the women-specific Luce – Fizik has all bases covered for those in search of a quality perch.
And covered is the key word here, as the new version of their Antares is something we have never seen before. The extraordinary new Adaptive padding may well be the future of saddle technology. 3D printing has revolutionised production processes across the manufacturing world and Fizik have embraced the technique too with this unique covering.
Liquid resins form the saddle topper, with multiple functional zones giving specific cushioning and mechanical response properties according to the input from biomechanists, lab testing and widespread feedback from pro and amateur riders.
Fizik set great store in matching by rider ‘types’, more than sizing – although there are two widths of 139mm and 146mm of the Antares Versus available. In days past, they referred to the Spine Concept, divided into either snake, chameleon or bull. You can probably work out which is which…
They seem to have let the concept quietly drop now, but the principle holds fast. Flexible riders spending much of their time happily tucked down low or in the drops (the racing snake) are going to have different seating requirements to a less flexible person with reduced pelvic rotation (the bull, obviously).
The Antares range sits somewhere in the middle usually, so should cover all bases. Personally speaking, I use an Arione on my road bike and the Antares on the cyclo-cross machine, as I find the Arione more comfortable over longer distances, but it’s horses for courses. Try before you buy whenever possible.
Now to the nitty-gritty. Fizik has put this saddle through the wringer, testing for UV ageing, wear resistance and cleanability. It came up trumps, they say, in every aspect.
That look is going to split prospective buyers down the middle. We think it’s great though. If up-to-the-minute 3D printing techniques have been utilised on a piece of kit, we want to see it. Fizik could possibly hide it all under a plain cover, but why bother? Ride your technology with pride!
And the pricetag? For a saddle, quite big… That’s the price early adopters pay in this world. The Antares Versus Evo 00 Adaptive is currently the only model using this innovative design. We’d expect to see the Adaptive concept spreading across the Fizik range if the concept catches on. We rather think it might.
For more on Adaptive or to buy an Antares 00 Adaptive yourself, head over to Fizik.com
Desire Innovators is Rouleur’s exploration of the greatest developments in cycling technology. For more, follow us on social media and buy a copy of Rouleur Issue 20.4 to support quality cycling journalism.