Fi’zi:k Kurve Saddle

 

In the last 10 years a funny thing has happened with saddle design. Saddle shapes have become ever more diverse in an all-consuming quest to improve comfort and decrease the chances that your undercarriage will suffer any negative side effects as a result of logging long and/or frequent miles on a bicycle. As those shapes have evolved (gotten weirder) the number of saddles I can comfortably ride has dropped precipitously. There are whole manufacturers out there whose work I really can’t ride … at all.

The flip side is worth mentioning though. The saddles that I do find comfortable are more comfortable than anything that was available in the past. Case in point: The new Fi’zi:k Kurve. While a great many saddles are moving away from designs with an arched side-to-side profile, the Fi’zi:k Kurve saddles are a bit old-school in that regard. The amount of curve isn’t so great as, say, a Rolls, but when I first sat down on one, the sense was that the saddle all but disappeared beneath me; it didn’t draw attention to itself. I should note that Fi’zi:k says that the curvature you see when off the saddle disappears once you’re on it. Why that happens is one of the saddles best characteristics. More on that in a sec.

The Kurve is different from other Fi’zi:k saddles in that the design is based around a plastic body that can be easily seen at the edge of the saddle. The 2014 aluminum rail (not rails, as it’s a single piece of cast aluminum) plugs into that body at the very edge, creating more surface area beneath the saddle that can flex without being restricted by the presence of the rails.

Fi’zi:k refers to the plastic body as the “hull.” Integrated into the hull is the three-layer composite shell that supports the rider. The structure is meant to be the next generation beyond wing flex (which is the way the saddle flexes at its sides) and twin flex (which is the way the saddle flexes under the weight-bearing sections) into what they are calling re:flex.

The idea here is that this saddle should flex with the rider’s movement more naturally than any previous Fi’zi:k saddle. That’s a tall order. If you’re familiar with the Spine Concept of Snake (the Arione shape), Chameleon (the Antares shape) and Bull (the Aliante shape), then selecting a saddle to fit you won’t be difficult. I’d been riding an Antares previously, so I went with the Chameleon.

I should mention that I’ve ridden both the Arione and the Aliante. I like the Aliante a lot. The Arione always seems comfortable enough when I first get on it, but ultimately I do notice numbness if I’m on one for too long. While I think the Spine Concept works well to address a rider’s needs based on flexibility, I do think Fi’zi:k is missing another important aspect of fit, namely saddle width. I know big guys who are also really flexible, but the Snake just isn’t wide enough for them. And in my case, while I love the Chameleon, I suspect if it were 5mm wider, I’d be a tad more comfortable. It’s been said I have a big, fat ass.

And it’s true.

One of the most interesting features of the Kurve is the nose piece that allows the rider to select just how firm the saddle is. I swore up and down to myself that I’d ride it with both the hard and soft nose pieces, just to see what the difference is. But I never did. After beginning with the soft nose piece, I couldn’t come up with a single reason to stop using it. It may be that my comfort trumped my integrity. How do you like that?

This saddle has been—for me—a revelation in terms of comfort. It has been the sort of revelation that the old Flite was back in the early 1990s. But this saddle might as well be the Flite’s wilier offspring. I found that I was most comfortable with the saddle set up a few millimeters forward of where I initially thought I would need to be. Being comfortable when climbing requires you to sit pretty far back on the saddle. Again, if the saddle were 5mm wider, I think I’d have more ability to move around even while climbing seated.

Unlike a lot of saddles out there, the Kurve has almost no foam in it. There’s very little padding of any kind. The cushioning you experience comes from the flex in the hull. As a result, this saddle needed no break-in time. I know this for fact because it hasn’t changed a bit from when I first started riding it.

The hull design has an ancillary benefit. I hate seeing leather or Lorica or Microtex (which is what is used on the Kurve) or whatever get scuffed up at the edges of a saddle. The hull prevents that by having the saddle cover end before the edge. And of course, you can pop out the logo clip in the back to install a velcro-less seat bag. Why other manufacturers haven’t licensed this design or done something similar defies comprehension considering we live in a world populated with bib shorts that can run upward of $200 per pair.

My Kurve came in at 226g. The suggested retail is $270. Because everyone’s ass is shaped differently, I’m not fool enough to tell you that this saddle will work for you. What I can tell you is that if you’ve been having saddle trouble, you ought to try out one or more of the Kurve saddles. Fi’zi:k has a demo program going; there is probably a dealer near you participating in it.

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20 comments

  1. randomactsofcycling

    I have been wondering about the new Fi’zi:k saddles. About four years ago I moved from a Selle Italia SLR to an Arione. The difference was profound. I am a big cyclist. Not tall, but I carry a little bit more….’condition’ around my waist than a pure climber would and my thighs are not those of a Kenyan marathon runner. I find the Arione to be very comfortable and the only numbness I get is from prolonged periods on the nose (on the rivet!). But my ass goes numb in a reclining chair if I sit still too long. I was hoping to trial a few different saddles when this one is due for replacement.
    Thanks for the review.

  2. Troutdreams

    When I was looking for a wider saddle to fit my sit the Fizik line caught my attention with their saddle bag clip in system. Any swing in my saddle bag drives me absolutely nuts. Just never mastered long term snugness with Velcro straps. And the snap in system makes any seat adjustments- a snap.

    The Antares was just wide enough for long ride comfort but I wouldn’t mind trying, as you said, something 5mm wider on my next Fizik.

  3. Scott G.

    “There’s very little padding of any kind. The cushioning you experience comes from the flex in the hull.”

    Mr. J.B. Brooks figured this out over one hundred years ago.
    Looking forward to trying a Kurve. A Brooks Pro like Kurve
    would be interesting, wider, rounder shape.

  4. Wsquared

    I really like my Antares for the reasons given. The Kurve sounds interesting, but at $270 my big butt will have to wait until the Kurve goes on sale for 50% off before I give it a try. What’s the “hull” made of? Unobtainium? As you say, saddle fit is highly personal. I found the original Flite good only for pounding nails. $270 is a lot to risk on something that might end up in my box full of discarded wonder saddles.


    1. Author
      Padraig

      Scott G: It’s true the Brooks saddles lack padding, but in my considered opinion I think it’s also true that Brooks saddles lack comfort. I’ve yet to ride one that gave me any inclination to ride it more.

      Wsquared: Don’t forget that there’s a saddle demo program in place. Even if none of the retailers near you are playing along, there are (gasp) online retailers who can help you try a Fi’zi:k … and maybe find the right one for you.

  5. Eric

    I have not been in the saddle market for some time. Years ago, I found that I really like the Fi’zi:k Pave (the old style before they used the same name with the wing flex design). When I found out they were no longer going to make it, I went on a hunt and bought up every one of them I could find. Several years on, I am on my last one. I was happy to see that my LBS does participate in the demo program. Once it is time, I will give this saddle a try.

    One question, I tend to ride knees in and this causes some amount of rub between the thighs and the nose of the saddle. On the Pave, over time, this would result in wearing through the material on the saddle. I am concerned that with the Kurve material there being plastic, I will simply start wearing through bibs more quickly. Any noticeable wear on the bibs from any contact with the plastic edge during your test Padraig?

    Finally, with respect to, “It’s been said I have a big, fat ass.” The correct answer is, “I’m not fat, I’m big boned!” Thought you would remember that.

  6. Wsquared

    Thanks Padraig – I’m currently quite satisfied with my Fizik Antares. If my butt starts telling me otherwise or I get an uncontrollable itch to upgrade, I’ll take your advice and arrange a demo through a local shop.

  7. Gal

    Nice timing for this, I got mine about ten days ago.
    my ass I guess is fatter then your and I opted for the Bull.
    I have by now about 6 or seven rides on it and still no verdict for me, it didn’t changed my life like I hoped it will but somehow it’s getting better with each ride and also with little changes with the seat location and angle.
    I am also not too sure why they make the wider models shorter… and why by so much.
    I’ll keep using it for a while hoping I’ll find my position on it, or I’ll give the Ergon SM3 a try…

  8. dstan58

    I rode Turbos for many years. A few years back, I went to a Specialized Toupe. This being Michigan, winter means rollers for many months, which means I don’t get out of the saddle too often. Getting a bit of numbness at 52, I switched to an ISM Adamo. Three days later, I was back on the Toupe. The nose of the ISM was so wide, it forced my knee out and created unbearable riding pain. This fall, I opted for a Selle SMP Evolution. It fits so well, I now feel like I am sitting “in the bike.” And no more numb bits. Brilliant.

  9. Champs

    As the best investment-grade contact point, it’s a rotten shame that saddles are such a deeply personal preference.

    Worse yet, that taste seems to have changed over time. Break-in and break-down certainly don’t account for it all. Maybe those centimeter-here, centimeter-there position tweaks have added up.

  10. Cadenceminge

    I took a deep, wallet-lightening breath and bought one 2 months ago, having ridden on an Arione for 5 years.

    The Arione was ‘fine’ and I thought the occasional small saddle sore was just a result of 300km/week in tropical heat here in Singapore. But no, turns out it was the saddle after all. The Kurve has been – for me also – a revelation. Comfortable out of the box: almost eerily so. I have it on ‘soft’ setting and have not noticed any obvious flex under hard efforts, but then I am not a heavyweight (160lbs, 5’11”). It’s a strange feeling but it kind of ‘disappears’ under you. This lame description explains why I don’t write for cycling media, but it’s the best I can do

    I rode 187kms in Malaysia last week (35+ degrees C) and had no saddle soreness whatsoever by the end. It’s fair to say therefore that I have one less excuse

  11. Chromatic Dramatic

    Saddle choice is entirely personal.

    To get to my current road saddle (Fizik Arione), I think think I went through about 10 different saddles. I had never heard of saddle demo programs, so it was off to ebay to trial some 2nd hand saddles. Ending up making a few $’s on saddles I subsequently didn’t like…

    From my experience, saddle choice depends on a lot of factor, including the bike type.

    The saddle on my MTB (a generic Giant branded 190g Velo saddle), is wonderful. I can ride it for hours and hours. Put it on my road bike and it is horrible…

    For years I’ve been trying to find a replacement for it, as it doesn’t have much life left in it. Something like the Kurve may well suit.

    My Arione is great. Not perfect, but great. I’d be very reluctant to waste money trying something else.

  12. Ween

    Hi Patrick

    I went from the Antares to the Kure chameleon and after several rides I got it dialed in. I think because the frame holds the seat much farther back the sweet spot is farther back too. So I moved the saddle 1.5 cm forward so I’m seated farther back on it. Now it has disappeared under me. Several long rides and long grind intervals and perfection. Also get the benefit of a slightly wider saddle since you sit back on a wider section. Great saddle. Agreed. I did go with the hard insert in the end as I’m 185# and the saddle was rubbing on the möbius at the front.

    Going to buy a second for my long distance relaxed ride too.

    Thanks for the considerate review section and site in general.

  13. Vincere

    Scott G et. al.:

    Do you know who owns Brooks? And who owns Fizik?
    The concept is similar because they are the same company. You can’t really rip-off yourself, can you?

  14. Jim

    I love FiZik saddles. I’m a very big guy but have narrow sitbones and powerlifter thighs so the Arione is a perfect match for my road bike. On my mountain bikes, I run the Pave. I was getting horrendous saddlesores on the center/outsides of my sitbones with the WTB saddles – ergo cutouts, extra padding and all. So I switched to the relatively flat, relatively padding-free Pave just on a whim. Crikey! Fixed me up in no time. I can’t say enough good things about FiZik’s designs – not sure what I’ll try after the Paves wear out – some other relatively flat, narrow-nosed, square backed FiZik no doubt.

  15. intruder

    After all of the great reviews and comments from folks at my local shop about how great it is, I bought a Bull for my new bike. I have used the Arione and Aliante with great results. I can now say that the Bull is BY FAR the most UNCOMFORTABLE saddle I have ever ridden. I have probably 400 miles on it and it is just the worst thing I have ever sat on! Going back to the Aliante!!!


    1. Author
      Padraig

      Intruder: I think it’s important to understand that Fi’zi:k intends the Arione, Antares and Aliante for different riders, but the Aliante and the Bull are the same saddle. The point is that if the Arione works for you, the Aliante shouldn’t work for you. They are really meant to be specific responses to specific types of riders. Stick with the saddle that works for you. While I’ve enjoyed the Aliante, I’ve found the Antares is better for me.

  16. intruder

    Yeah…that is what I was told – that the Bull was the analog for the Aliante. I found comfort on both the Aliante and the Arione, so I disagree that it’s as simple as choosing one of these saddles from a matrix. I think that Selle Royale would love it if we all fit neatly in to the categories they have created for their products, but I am skeptical that it is that simple. All of the vagaries of design, manufacturing, marketing and PR hype can’t change the fact that the Bull does not work for me.

  17. Johannes

    Concerning Gal’s suggestion the Ergon SM3 is a good alternative. It’s lightweight and well shaped. I’ve ridden this saddle during a 5 day bike trip and it worked well for me.

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