The saddle: one of the most crucial parts of the racing bike. But certainly not the first thing us non-professionals talk about when we’re raving about our bikes. For some reason or another, a new saddle doesn’t have the same sensation as, for example, a new pair of cycling shoes. Or a new hi-tech shirt. Yet saddles are crucial to our comfort, and therefore our performance — pretty important aspects of cycling, in our opinion. Furthermore, for the stylists among us, the look of a saddle can round off the overall aesthetic of a bike. So, time to break through the saddle taboo. We give Fizik’s latest version of its well-established Arione saddle (the Fizik Arione Versus Evo 00) a trial run.
Fizik Arione, Aliantes and Antares
Hard-core cycling fans will already be familiar with the brand Fizik (fi’zi:k). The company makes a variety of bicycle parts and clothing. It is most well-known for making saddles and shoes. Their products are known for lightweight comfort, which they achieve through technology and innovation. This appears to have worked well with the Arione Versus Evo 00. You may be thinking, “Hey, the Fizik Arione, I’ve heard of that before.” And, indeed, the saddle model names Arione, Aliane and Antares have been around for a while.
The difference between the three models is determined by your position on the bike. If you have flexible hips, the Arione is the model for you. If you are less flexible, then you’d be best off opting for the Aliante or Antares models. There’s plenty of information about the distinction between the three types on the Fizik website. Oh yeah, and all of these saddles are also available in either ‘open’ or ‘solid’ varieties. The ‘open’ version has a groove down the middle, aimed at improving weight distribution. But there’s a new addition to the family: the Versus Evo 00 series.
Versus Evo 00
The Versus Evo is a variation of the Arione, Aliantes and Antares models of saddle. This means you can now choose between ‘open’, ‘solid’ or ‘Versus Evo 00’ versions of each model. The Versus is unique. It has a groove down the middle and at the back (see photo above). This means that only your sitting bones bear your full weight. This is achieved while keeping the overall stiffness of the construction. In short: everything you would expect from a good saddle.
Theory versus practice
That’s enough theory. It’s time to give the saddle a run for its money. And that starts with replacing the old saddle. I’m an enthusiastic rider. I’ve simply kept the saddle which was delivered as standard on my (mid-range carbon fibre) bike. It was perfectly ok, and comfortable too. I must admit though, when I unpacked the Arione Evo 00 and felt the padding my eyes began to water. If this is what passes for comfort these days…
When fixing the saddle to my seat post, it quickly became apparent that the saddle’s base is made from a closed loop of carbon fibre. This not only saves weight but also helps to redistribute the rider’s weight. It’s an impressive design, weighing in at a mere 166g.
Fearful of the painful first few km, I got on my bike. I could hardly make a dent in the padding (the only non-carbon fibre piece of the construction) with my fingers. But once you’re sitting on it, it’s actually quite surprising how comfortable it is. This is true of both riding on the drops, or otherwise with my hands on the handlebars. It’s also obvious when riding that the whole construction is made of carbon fibre. My previous saddle had a metal support, and you can feel how much stiffer carbon is under you. In my opinion this is an advantage as you get more feedback on how the bike is on the road, without it ever becoming uncomfortable.
Fizik keeps its promises with this piece of kit. This lightweight saddle is stiff and comfortable. And again, this shows that it’s difficult to choose a saddle without having ridden on it. When unboxing, the Arione Versus Evo 00 didn’t feel like it would reduce suffering on the bike. But riding with it on feels excellent. It’s clear the company has a lot of experience making such products and employs professional teams at the highest level. So, if you take your cycling seriously, and you’re looking for a saddle which will (literally) support your ambitions, it’s really worth checking out the latest Fizik range. There is, however, a price tag on quality. This saddle will cost you €350. This sounds like a lot for a saddle, until you realise you’ll benefit from it 100% of the time you are riding your bike.