Fi’zi:k Antares Saddle

IMG_0423

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.

IMG_0424

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.

IMG_0425

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.

, , , , , ,

7 comments

  1. Sophrosune

    I use the Aliante Gamma X/M saddle, which is supposedly for mountain bikes, but I use it on my road bike. It’s perfect for me and I like knowing there’s a little extra padding on the nose for “on the rivet” pedaling.

  2. Larry T.

    For original design I have to nominate SMP. I still remember saying with some hint of sarcasm when I first saw ads for them a few years ago in Bicisport, “THAT’s original!” After trying a whole bunch of different saddles after my regular seat just didn’t seem very comfortable anymore, I tried SMP last as they were the most expensive. Once I (via trial and error) found the right width and did a few rides on their Glider model I was sold and have installed them on most of my bikes, both here and in Italy. Disclaimer: After this exhaustive and expensive project I convinced the SMP importer/distributor Albabici to become an “official supplier” to our tour company CycleItalia. We have some test models installed on our rental fleet so our clients can try ‘em out.

  3. Biggsie

    Being 6’3″ with wide-ish hips (blush), I’ve reverted to the modern update to the Regal:
    http://www.probikekit.com/display.php?code=S0060

    That Big Tom still rides it allows me to ignore the heckling of the minimalist crowd. That said, the Antares is just different enough to be tempting and the width probably nets out to the same. I’ll give it a go next spring.

  4. The D

    This is one of the few informative saddle reviews I’ve read in awhile. Thanks! Tried the Aliante, which rubbed by thighs raw. I’m on my 2d Arione now, but have gone through periods where I can’t find the right weight distribution on it, leading to discomfort and a loss of form.

    I think my back gets tight over the course of a long ride. I think this may allow for that a bit better than the Arione.


    1. Author
      Padraig

      The D: Thanks for the kind words. There’s no point in writing a review if it doesn’t give readers something useful.

      When I visited Specialized and went through the SBCU fitting certification (my third such fitting school over the years), one of the things Josh, Scott and Andrew talked about is how the flexibility of cold muscles influences bar position because as you fatigue, your muscles get tight, particularly the hamstrings, which can limit how low you can get. So they encouraged us to always find out how flexible someone is before a ride, so we’d know how flexible they are after four or five hours.

      When you look at the new saddle, you might have your fit checked a bit as well. Good luck!

  5. Larry T.

    One of the less obvious things about SMP (and I suspect some others to be fair)is the large cutaway…IT’S certainly obvious but what it allows one to do is what the old coaches always drummed into our heads — roll your pelvis forward so you have a flat back! My favorite illustration for this is to think of your spine as a stack of checkers with a wire or string running through a hole drilled in the center of each one. When you sit upright with your pelvis straight up, your spine is like a stack of checkers..each shock or bump is transmitted through all of them. If you can roll your pelvis forward you can change your spine to more like a hammock, the checkers are suspended by the wire but hang sort of slack so each bump actually stretches your back rather than compresses it. The tough part of this idea has always been rolling the pelvis forward which quite often squashes the”tender vittles” down there. SMP’s design with the large cutaway and sloping nose allows one to roll the pelvis, grab onto the drops and get that euro flat-back position we all crave — without any pressure on those “tender vittles”. It’s one of those things you have to try to believe so SMP has set up a lot of their retailers with test models for that purpose. If you’re not happy with what your currently sitting on, I suggest at least giving one of these admittedly odd-looking saddles a try.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>