When it comes to saddles, I have a bunch of go-tos. There are saddles I know will work, provided I set them up properly. The Fi’zi:k Aliante and Antares, and the Specialized Romin and Toupé are trusty as a pair of Levi’s jeans. They aren’t the only saddles that work for me, but they are saddles I’ve returned to over and over and been comfortable. I can go a year or more without riding one and the first ride back will contain no surprises or discomforts.
Except this once.
I’ve been riding the Fi’zi:k Aliante 00 of late. I’ve got more than 1000 miles on it. It takes the Fi’zi:k wing-flex design and hews it from a carbon fiber shell and rails. It sticks with the durable Microtex cover and includes only the most minimal padding. The standard Aliante, with its nylon base and K:ium rails is something of a pig. I’ve got one that weighs 270 grams. This Aliante 00 registers only 167g, a big improvement.
For reasons I’ve never understood fully, there’s always been a bit of a fudge factor in Aliante widths. Some are 143mm wide, some 142mm. They also offer a large version now (though not in the 00) that measures a consistent 152mm in its two versions. However, the 00 measures just 140mm. Why is an unknown.
Now, let’s be real; 3mm isn’t a big difference. But combine 3mm with increased curvature side-to-side and what you arrive at is a saddle that doesn’t feel like an Aliante. It’s a bit like landing in San Francisco when you were expecting San Jose; they are both in the Bay Area, but it’s just not the same thing.
The quality of this product is unquestionable. I’ve found Fi’zi:k saddles to be long-wearing, if often heavy. The Aliante 00 feels more like a Rolls than an Aliante. And that brings me to a surprising question: All of the major saddle companies are moving to a design that takes pressure off of the perineum, either with a channel or a cutout. I only see Rolls saddles on “vintage” bikes these days. So why would anyone release a saddle that is high in the middle and low on the sides?
From a design aesthetic, the lines of this saddle are beautiful. There are bunches of really ugly saddles out there. This one is gorgeous like something from the house of Pininfarina. Whether viewed from above or the side, this thing evokes an idealized organic form.
At $400, this is no trifling investment. And while it is possible to try out saddles from many shops, I doubt anyone has a demo unit of this, which means if someone tries an Aliante and then expects to ride this and experience the same fit, boy will they be surprised.
I’m beyond bummed that this saddle is a miss for me. And while I almost always think a bad review isn’t helpful to readers, the brand or even the publication, I think as a matter of reader service it’s important to note how this saddle simply isn’t shaped the same as other Aliantes. This isn’t a bad saddle; it’s just not in keeping with an established shape that has worked for many riders.
Final thought: From styling to materials this thing is great, but the shape needs a do-over.
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