The Bike List

Fizik Antares K:Ium Saddle £140

Tested by Oli Laverack, tester for The Bike List

Are you sitting comfortably? Then you can stop reading now. But if you find yourself constantly shuffling your position on the bike or you finish rides with, ahem, numb nuts or even a numbness that means you can't match your passion for cycling with passion in the bedroom, then you need to find a solution.

Sitting on a chair you distribute your weight across both buttocks, which takes the pressure off your perineum (the area of your body that runs from your sex organs back to your anus). It's a zone packed with the nerve endings and veins that supply your vital organ, so to speak, and these can be compressed when you sit on a bike, leading to numbness and even temporary impotence if the saddle is too narrow and rests between your sitbones.

Saying the Fizik Antares will solve the problem and prove to be a comfortable perch is as shortsighted as suggesting that a pair of shoes is comfortable. What fits one rider may be agony for another, and vice-versa.

Some manufacturers have designed saddles with a cutaway mid-channel to avoid pressure on your perineum, but the cut-out can lead to greater flex in the saddle, while the long nose of a performance saddle provided additional control and a perch for when you're pedalling quickly in the tuck position - important if you're racing. Narrower saddles also allow your hips to stay in a natural position and are consequently popular for longer distance riders, while wider saddles generally feel comfortable at first but the comfort progressively declines as the miles increase.

For Fizik, the comfort solution lies in the flexibility of your spine, and the saddle specialist's Spine Concept is based on the biomechanics of the bendiness of your backbone, because this determines where your sit bones rest on the saddle.

This results in saddles designed for three categories of rider. Those with the greatest flexibility, especially in the lower spine, ride with their sit bones carrying most of the body's weight and little pressure on their perineum. As a rule of thumb, if you can easily bend over and touch your toes then you fall into this category, and your Fizik saddle is in the Arione range (you're in good company, as Mark Cavendish and Ivan Basso both ride on Ariones).

The Fizik Antares is designed for riders who adjust for comfort interchangeably, sometimes relying on their sit bones and sometimes their genital area to bear their bodyweight when changing hand positions on the tops, hoods, and drops. To work out if this is you, bend over and if there's a decent degree of flex, but your fingers perhaps only reach your ankles, then try an Antares.

Finally, for the least flexible riders, there's the Aliante range of saddle. These riders have less flexibility and find it difficult to tuck into an aero cycling position. To reach this position their pelvis rotates forward dramatically, forcing the hips back, and this pushes your weight on to the perineum, so you need to find relief for your genitalia in the pocket of the saddle. As a rule of thumb, if you find that when you bend over your torso remains roughly at a right angle with your legs (so your fingers reach only to your shins) then you're destined for an Aliante.

It pays to be honest in deciding what type of body you have, because when you find the Fizik saddle that best suits your shape, the results can be miles of comfortable riding. After months on board an Antares, I no longer notice the saddle - like a favourite pair of shoes I just take the comfort for granted.

But what I have come to appreciate is the magnificent build quality. The Microtex (leather-like) material provides a non-slip surface in the wet yet creates no thigh-friction, and the shell and rails have developed non of the annoying squeaks that have blighted other saddles I've tried. What's more, the modest cushioning has proved to be deceptively soft compared to the ironing board ride of some saddles, taking some of the buzz out of a stiff framed road bike.

Different models exist within the range, some shaving grammes off the overall weight by using carbon or titanium rails, but unless you're an absolute weight-weenie conscious of every last miligram, the choice is one of budget, from £270 for the 135g carbon saddle with carbon rails to £140 for the 189g version. That 54gramme difference is less than one-tenth of the weight of water in a large bottle on your bike, so the difference is negligible. But sitting comfortably? That's priceless.

Buy from www.evanscycles.com

At a glance

Verdict A light, performance saddle for long days on the road
Value
Performance

Fi'zi:k says:

Antares is the latest addition to our road range. It is the third 'A' between Fi'zi:k's two other premium A's: Aliante and Arione. It's a new dimension embodying all essential Fi'zi:k elements: comfort, flexibility and the incredible lightness of being.

Spine Concept

Spine Concept is the fi'zi:k guideline to the right saddle choice. It realizes that cyclists have varying degrees of flexibility and human flexibility affects riding behavior when cycling in a high performance position.

Specification

  • Shell: Rilsan Carbon reinforced - O.M.D.
  • Rail: K.ium
  • Cover: White Microtex
  • Thigh Glides: Anthracite Gummy Microtex
  • Weight: 189 gr

Supplier: Extra (UK) Ltd, +44 (0)1933 672 170, www.extrauk.co.uk