When Same Isn’t Same

When Same Isn’t Same

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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14 comments

  1. jh

    I went from Toupe Gel 143, to an Alliante VS and ordered another one last year for another road bike. They’re definitely not the same. The new one is 2mm narrower and has a slightly different downward curve. I put the new one on the old bike, which is slightly lower and longer and it seems just fine now. I suppose saddles are like a good pair of wing tips. They’re just never the same. Bummer about such a good looking saddle.

  2. TomInAlbany

    I’m on my second Selle Italia Flite. I’ve considered changing to something that ‘takes the pressure off.’ At this point, though, I’m rarely over 35 miles in a ride, given my other obligations. On those rare turns, though, where I can set off for more than three hours, it’s not as comfy as it used to be. I don’t think it’s really wear either. I think it’s me. So, as I’m moving ahead in my saddle journey, I’m going to have to break up with my Selle Italia and drop that cop-out-but-true line, “It’s not you. It’s me.”

  3. AG

    Four. Hundred. Dollars. I think the 2 or 3 mm width differences would be the least of my worries with this saddle. More so my sanity.

  4. Les.B.

    Is the 00 made in China? This situation is so reminiscent of MiC stuff I’ve experienced. It’s made to do a certain function without the background development we expect from onshore makers.

    If American suppliers are not extremely specific about the build of something from China (or anywhere else) as is done with the iPhone, then what one gets is not the same, generally, if made in the US.

    That is simply my experience. Not meaning to be flag-waving or anything like that.

  5. Dave

    Bummer.

    I learned long ago not to fix it if it ain’t broken.

    Back in 1992 I bought my first Selle Italia Flite and have ridden nothing else sense. My current is circa 1993 that’s been recovered more times than I care to admit.

    1. Dan

      The perfect saddle. I have tried others but I always go back the the Selle Italia Flite. I always have a spare on hand in case the rails break.

  6. Scott G.

    Consistent availability is one reason Brooks is still making saddles,
    in Britain. Learn to ride a Brooks and you are assured being able
    to buy another, just as uncomfortable as the one you already own.

    1. Sbarner

      My first Brooks was the Pro that came on my 1972 Paramount. It was love at first sit. The Pro is still my go-to saddle for anything over 100 miles, even as god-awful heavy as they are. I can’t ride 50 miles on a narrow, rounded saddle like a Unicanitor, Concor, or the like. I had an Ideale 2000 on my Fat Chance for years before realizing that life is just too short to put up with that much unnecessary pain. I envy the guys with skinny posteriors who can ride the narrow, plastic saddles, but my butt likes a Brooks best.

  7. Bruce Mackey

    Ditto on the Brooks comment. Been using them for almost 40 years. Own two, one fairly new (15 years old) and my original that was repaired. Properly broken in they are wonderful and mold to your body.


    1. Author
      Padraig

      I’d rather get another vasectomy than sit on a Brooks. Hugely uncomfortable for me. I dig that they work for other people, but I don’t want a saddle that isn’t comfortable the first time I sit on it.

  8. Jay Price

    I adore Fizik, but …. and you’re touching on one of their quirks… They treat the whole idea of cutouts as an afterthought. It should be a primary feature. Instead it’s on their secondary lines, and they just don’t try to do it right…
    The cutout versions always lag on rollout, they don’t do the all right styles with cutouts, just some etc.
    If they had a light, carbon-railed Aliante cutout I would never buy another saddle.
    I make do with Specialized, which are good, but not as long-lived as Fizik. They have really well-made products.

  9. Shane

    Saddles AHHHHHHHHHH well they used to make me scream.
    Read reviews and have a cupboard full.
    Round, anatomical, narrow, wide, but not till I got a flat as a tack with a channel did i forget I was sitting down.
    Syncross by Scott.

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