Road bike saddles are subjective. Tons of factors impact comfort -- weight, height, body proportions, tailbone structure, fitness level, style of riding, bike frame, fit, geometry, wheels, tire size / pressure, etc.
Even small changes in a saddle angle, position, and seatpost height can turn the best riding saddle into the worst and visa versa. To provide an objective comparison, I tested three 3D-printed saddles on the same bike with the same wheels, tires, and fit.
Here are the parameters:
- Rider weight: 230 lbs (approx.104 kg)
- Rider flexibility: average
- Miles per year: 5,000
- Climbing per year: 300,000 ft
- Bike: Pinarello Dogma F12 Disc
- Wheels: Zipp 404 Firecrest
- Tires: Schwalbe Pro One Evo 28mm tubeless - 65-70 psi
- Test terrain: Mixed - from very smooth to decent asphalt to severely broken asphalt to gravel to offroad / double track MTB road
All four saddles took a good amount of road vibrations out and made the road smoother - akin to what a good carbon frame does versus a good aluminum one. After using these saddles for over a year, I would find it very hard going back to non 3D-printed saddles.
All four saddles are comfortable, but for an XL/XXL rider, Fizik Antares Versus Evo is the best one for performance road bikes and aggressive rides, while S-Works Romin with Mirror is best for endurance road bikes, like Specialized Roubaix or Trek Domane.
#1. Fizik Antares Versus Evo R1 is the best saddle for performance bikes, long rides, big climbs, and any whether. I think it looks the best among all saddles reviewed here as well.
With Fizik Antares, it was not love from the first ride though. I didn't get immediately impressed when I sat on it. It didn't wow me at slower speeds. It didn't "dissolve" under me like S-Works Power or Romin did.
However, it started winning me over after I crossed 15 mph threshold. I started liking it as I went over imperfect asphalt. I started loving it during long rides.
You can sit and climb at the edge of it with a great comfort. You can power through sitting in the middle. You can sit back, while going fast, being comfortable, and being able to rest. The comfort is very consistent in any position.
I have put over 7,000 miles on this saddle between different bikes. At least 10 centuries. This has been the best and go to saddle for my Dogma F12. It was really good on Colnago C64. It was pretty good on S-Works Roubaix.
Durability has been really good so far. 1.5 years and 7,000 miles with very little wear. There is a minor mesh breakdown at one spot in the saddle nose area, but nothing impacting the ride or integrity.
#2. Specialized S-Works Romin with Mirror. This saddle is the most comfortable for shorter rides and for endurance road bikes.
It impresses you from the get go. It smoothes rough surfaces right away. It makes you feel comfortable even when riding in jeans.
It starts feeling a little squishy after 5 miles though. After 10 miles, it feels a bit too squishy and disconnected from the way rest of the bike feels and handles.
When the asphalt gets a little more imperfect, the saddle still mutes vibrations really well, however at high speeds it makes the bike feel unbalanced, where the front of the bike feels completely different from the rear - sort of like early Trek Domane bikes felt with a decoupler in the back and nothing in front.
It gets tiring and unpleasant after a while. This saddle begs for a bike with a more compliant front end. It could be accomplished with wider tires + lower pressure or a suspension like Specialized Future Shock.
Indeed, this saddle is absolutely amazing on my 2018 S-Works Roubaix. Much better than any other saddle I rode and reviewed - traditional or 3D-printed.
On the Roubaix, the saddle dissolves under you, leading it to an amazing riding experience.
In terms of appearance, S-Works Romin with Mirror looks really good on road bikes.
It is also easy to mount and maintain, as the there is a good amount of vertical space between the carbon rails and the body of the saddle. This is a clear advantage, as Fizik Vento Argo provides almost no space, making it nearly impossible to work on certain bikes, like Pinarello Dogma.
#3. Fizik Argo Adaptive did not work for me. The ride on it started fairly well, but no matter how I adjusted it, I hated the way it felt. It caused pain and numbness without muting road vibrations anywhere close to the other two, especially at the front area of the saddle. The ride became tiresome after 10-15 miles of hard riding. It was one of rare occasions when I could not wait to end the ride and get home.
In my opinion, it is also looks ugly on a road bike with a race geometry.
Finally, as I mentioned earlier, it is very hard to mount and adjust due to a very small vertical space between carbon rails and the overhang of the saddle body.
Specialized S-Works Power with Mirror. I did not test this saddle on my Pinarello Dogma F12. I used it for 300+ miles on a 2020 Roubaix S-Works a couple years ago.
It was a love/hate relationship with this saddle. I got it from a Specialized dealer after they did a Body Geometry fit and recommended a particular size, but it never felt right. It felt too small to sit on, yet it was cutting into legs, causing discomfort.
The saddle was pretty decent on short rides. However it felt prohibitively squishy on climbs, which may have to do with a heavier weight of the rider (me). I have spoken to several lighter riders, including pros, who absolutely love this saddle.
In conclusion, I think 3D-printed saddles represent the future and are here to stay. I don't think traditional saddles will go away anytime soon -- as traditional watches are not going to disappear due to popularity and convenience of smartwatches.
3D printed saddles are pretty expensive to compare with traditional saddles, making them more of a niche category for now. As they become more mainstream and prices go down, more people will switch and there will be more choices.
Big kudos to Specialized and Fizik for being pioneers and investing in R&D and innovation!
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