As I mounted Fi’zi:k’s newest saddle on the seatpost of my bike, I tried to take it in. It wasn’t as flat fore-aft as their ultra-popular Arione, nor as curvy as my favorite, the Aliante. It was also flatter side-to-side than either the Aliante or Arione.
Just when I thought I’d seen just about every saddle shape someone could dream up without seeming completely derivative of other existing saddles, along comes the Antares. Aside from the flattish profile and wrap, the Antares has another distinctive feature: a big wide nose.
As it happens, that arm’s-width nose is no accident. Much of the saddle’s design owes to the influence of David Zabriskie who has a penchant for riding on the nose of a saddle whether on his time trial bike or his road bike.
The three road saddles that make up the Fi’zi:k line—Arione, Aliante and Antares—are united by what Fi’zi:k terms the “spine concept.” Each saddles responds to the sitting style of three broad classes of riders. Each of these classes is represented by a different animal, a bull in the case of the Aliante, a snake in the case of the Arione and a chameleon for the Antares.
The animals aren’t so important, but the underlying rationale has legs. For the Aliante, the idea is that the rider who will be most comfortable on this saddle is one who doesn’t move forward or backward, but rather will adjust his sitting position by rolling his pelvis. Relief is achieved by cradling the genitalia in the pocket of the saddle. For the Arione, the idea is that the rider has more narrowly spaced sit bones, is very flexible and uses the entire length of the saddle, and while Fi’zi:k doesn’t come right out and say it, the subtext here is that it is a saddle appropriate for lighter riders. Finally, the Antares is built around the idea that the rider who uses it isn’t restricted to a single shape that either works or doesn’t, but rather someone who can flex and shift position to manage comfort as necessary.
Fi’zi:k offers a simple test to determine which animal you are. The snake (Arione user) is very flexible and can touch his toes easily. The bull (Aliante user) isn’t so flexible and can’t touch his toes. The chameleon (Antares user) sits between these two, flexible enough to touch his toes.
To illustrate these points Fi’zi:k has implemented a very slick web site, and by the look of it may have been designed by the same team behind Specialized’s Body Geometry site.
Okay, but what does that translate to? The Arione, at 300mm, is the longest of the bunch. The Antares is 274mm long while the Aliante is but 265mm long. As a reflection of flexibility, this makes sense to me.
The Antares, like the Aliante, is 142mm wide, so riders with broadly spaced sit bones can really sit on the saddle either upright while climbing or with their pelvis rotated forward to get a flat back for hammering on the flats. That wide nose comes in handy for trips to the pain cave as you sit on what used to be a rivet. Why not put a little padding there? Hey, I like that!
Bias, bias, bias, that’s what all media seems to come down to these days. In my case, I flat-out don’t want to like this saddle better than my beloved Aliante. (Let the record show the my affection for the 143mm Specialized Toupé constitutes an affair, a fling, dare I say it—a tryst.) However, the more miles I put on the Antares, the more I like it. It may, in fact, be the more appropriate saddle to my riding style. The saddle itself flexes more than does the Aliante, due in part to the carbon fiber reinforced rilsan shell.
Fi’zi:k touts the saddle’s 171 cubic centimeters of padding contained beneath the saddle’s microtex cover. They claim that number to be 300 percent greater than its competitors; it may be, but I have no way of knowing. Similarly, Fi’zi:k claims the seating area to be 15 percent greater than other saddles and while, again, I can’t say for certain this is true, anecdotally, my ass says this holds water. The only flattish saddle I have ridden that seems to have anywhere near this much surface area—which is helpful for distributing weight over as broad an area as possible and thereby decreasing weight on each square centimeter in contact with the saddle—is the Specialized Toupé.
With carbon fiber braided rails, the Antares is said to weigh 145g and suggested retail is $229; my test saddle was equipped with the K:ium rails, weighed in at 177g and retails for $199.
Honestly, when I look at all the different saddles I’ve ridden over the last year, the Antares is the most original take on saddle shape that I encountered. Much of this has to do with how broad the saddle is side-to-side and the fact that it is 142mm wide. Most saddles that wide feature enough curvature that the widest portion of the saddle really supports no weight at all. The Antares gave my sit bones an excellent platform for climbing long grades and that nose was enough to sit on when the speedo ticked beyond 30 mph.
As always, I can’t say this saddle is right for you, but what I can say is that if you’re looking for a new shape, a different response to the saddles out there and if you might not be the most flexible guy on the block, Fi’zi:k’s Antares is worth a serious look.