The Tech Team encourages those who need a bike worked on before a big race to get it in asap — we fill up fast prior to big events!
Anyone who rides knows that a comfortable saddle is one of the most important parts of the bike. Finding one that is “comfortable” though, is not quite as simple as it sounds. For years, saddles remained relatively unchanged…hard, narrow, black, made for European tough men for whom saddle sores was just one more discomfort to be dealt with while riding endless miles. As cycling became more popular among recreational riders, and doctors started talking about problems related to the pressure in the crotch area caused by hard bike saddles, manufacturers eventually started looking at new designs and new materials. Now, there are hundreds to choose from in literally every shape or form.
If you look at a group of ten triathletes, you will probably see 5 or 6 different saddles being used. Nevertheless, there is one saddle that has consistently drawn positive feedback from our customers, and that I find that is the most comfortable saddle I’ve ever used with a tri bike: the Fizik Arione Tri 2 Saddle.
The characteristic that pops out first when you see the Arione Tri 2 Saddle is its length. It is approximately one inch longer than most other saddles in the marker. Based on the Arione “Road” Saddle, that was developed when the UCI relaxed its saddle length rule allowing for 30 cm, the Arione Tri 2 ,now on it’s second generation, again makes full use of the allowable length. Although this allows for more positions on the saddle and increases the sweet spot to distribute the pressure a more even, the fact that allows for longer rails is the main benefit. Longer rails can be extremely important during bike fits, especially with triathletes wishing to get further forward in bikes that have geometry limitations. They also allow for a little more flex which further absorbs some road shock and the fact that they are unobstructed in the rear, they allow for most behind the saddle water bottle holders to be installed easily. The feature however that is unique to the Fizik Arione Saddle is the WingFlex, or tiny slots on the shell, midway on the outer edge, where the cyclist thighs would come in contact with the saddle. These flex slightly during the pedaling motion to provide unrestricted thigh movement while still supporting the rider. A microtex cover is both durable and breathable, but most importantly, the Arione Tri 2 saddle also has just enough additional foam padding on the nose to increase comfort when riding on the aerobars.
Triathlon saddles should be slightly different from road saddles. The weight distribution changes as the rider’s body is pivoted forward due to the aerobars and the desired more aerodynamic position. Not only the pressure increases as the rider’s upper body is lowered, but it also shifts a little more forward in the crotch area. This requires the sweet spot in the saddle to be more forward and a little more padded. Some manufacturers use holes to create softer and less restrictive areas. The problem lies when the holes are simply in a place where it helps a triathlete very little. I’ve seen triathletes sit at the front edge of a saddle hole, which in some cases is harder and sharper than the rest of the saddle.
I first tried the Fizik Arione Tri 2 four weeks before an Ironman race and immediately liked it. In fact, I went ahead and used it for the Ironman with great results. At the time I was able to eliminate the padded saddle cover that I was using in conjunction with a more conventional road saddle. What I really liked about this saddle was the padded and yet firm and narrow nose. I had tried other “triathlon” saddles but found some supper padded noses to be bulky and not as comfortable as expected. Too much padding seemed to compress into the sides of the saddle thus increasing the bulk. Some soft gel saddles seemed to loose its shape and cause additional discomfort while riding. Although I called the Arione Tri2’s nose “narrow”, it is really more or less the same width as most road saddles. It is however, narrower than most other tri saddles, which proved to work better for me. The WingFlex seemed to do its job in terms of allowing for greater thigh movement. In addition, it helped the saddle to mold to my body and pedaling style much much quicker than other saddles. After riding the Arione Tri for 6 months, I could definitely see how much it had molded. Recently, I started test riding a different tri bike than and since it came with a different saddle, for convenience I decided to leave it as is. At first, the saddle (a triathlon specific one) seemed OK and I was somewhat got used to it on two to three hour rides. However, on my first four hour ride, I experienced quite a bit of discomfort. I then changed the saddle to the Fizik Arione Tri 2. After not having ridden the Arione for four weeks, the difference was quite noticeable. I am now back to four hour rides with no discomfort Remember, a comfortable saddle is critical to enjoying cycling, especially on long rides. If you are a triathlete or time trialist and you are struggling to find a suitable saddle, I highly recommend that you try the Fizik Arion Tri 2.