Bringing back the Cycling Cap one Domestique at a time

Showing posts with label Saddle. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Saddle. Show all posts

Review: Selle SMP Composit

27 Oct 2015 -

Saddles take time to figure out. We all have our anatomic differences and personal preferences and finding the right one requires a fair bit of research and a little bit of luck. Once you settle on a certain saddle shape, it would usually take a lot to convince you to shift and move to another shape/brand.

Such was my current experience with the Fizik Antares. The shape such a good fit that I did not consider looking for another saddle.  At least not until a chance conversation with a cycling buddy brought to light a saddle which, according to him, gave his rear end less issue than the Antares on long rides.

Enter Selle SMP.

This Italian saddle maker has been in business since 1947 and their products are based on a unique shape. They have a wide range of products which cater to different pelvis widths and padding preferences.

Browsing through their catalog, I settled on a carbon railed, carbon bodied, leather wrapped contraption called the Composit CRB. My first new saddle in almost half a decade.


                     

The Saddle

First things first. The Composit, and most SMPs in general, are not as photogenic as a Fizik Antares. Where the Antares is looks very sharp and simple, the SMP is curvy and somewhat out of place on an angular, modern race bike. The look takes a bit of getting used to, but as previously mentioned, these design details give the SMPs their identity and their functional advantages.


Let's take them point by point:

1. The Eagle Beak nose - May as well be SMP's defining design detail. Their press materials state that this is supposed to prevent urogenital crushing. Yep, we certainly don't want our urogenitals crushed. Seriously, though, this feature is much appreciated on the drops as there is less pressure on the groin area leaning forward. Another observed plus is it's a lot easier to return to the sitting position coming from off the saddle standing efforts.

2. Curved Top - This is where the sitbones make contact. Depending on the amount of lean you take, the curve contacts different parts of the sitbones, offering relief where needed. The upward curve of the rear keeps you secure when pushing hard on the saddle.

3. Central Groove - Prevents nerve and blood vessel pinching and provides ventilation. More than anything else, this keeps you riding longer.

The Composit CRB is made with a carbon fiber body wrapped in leather. Padding is nonexsitent. Rails for our model are also in carbon fiber, saving 50 grams from the stainless steel version. The all carbon Composit CRB weighs in at 160 grams.

The leather cover is adorned with brand embroidery. While I prefer plain all-black, this is something we can with.



On The Road

What can we say? Those shape features combine to make one very comfortable saddle...shape wise that is.  One thing that immediately stands out is the lack of padding.  Of course, that is not the saddle's fault. Selle SMP offers a whole range of similarly designed saddles in different widths and different levels of padding.  If you're decided on getting the Composit, make sure you have a decent set of bibs with a great set of pads to take the sting out of road bumps.

Getting back on the subject of shape, the Composit's features really allow you to ride longer. It feels as if  only the sitbones make contact with the saddle as thigh rub is kept to a minimum and the sensitive bits have minimal contact thanks to the large groove in the middle.

As mentioned, getting your pelvic measurements is key as it will point you to  the right saddle model within the SMP range. The Composit range is suited for riders of Extra Small to Medium built.


Verdict

This curvy piece of handmade Italian goodness is definitely something to try. Saddles are a personal thing but in our experience, using the Composit CRB was rewarding. Make sure you have a decent set of shorts though.



That Made In Italy thing ain't going off anytime soon.






















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Review: Fizik Antares 00 Wingflex

I've always liked Fizik (Fi'zi:k) saddles. Started with the Aliante, then the Arione but settled with the Antares. Aside from the comfort generally associated with Fizik, they look pretty damn cool! 


Let's start with what all we cyclists know: My butt is different from your butt. And what fits my rear end may or may not fit yours.

With that in mind, here's the shape which my left and right glutes can't do without. I've been so pleased with the Antares over the years that when I had to get a new saddle, there was no doubt in my mind which one to get. 




Based on Fizik's Spine Concept theory (to which I do not agree with at all), the Antares should fit riders in the middle of the spine flexibility spectrum. Those riders who are neither snakes nor bulls...Chameleons. Mark Cavendish banners this saddle for Fizik.... and I am pretty much sure he's a Snake. Heck, I love the Antares and I'm a Bull. Oh well. Marketing will be Marketing. 


                                                                                  
Back to the topic on hand. The Antares shares quite a few features with its fellow Fizik Stablemates: the Snake saddle Arione and the Bull saddle Aliante. The slim nose section inherited from the former while the upward flaring rear comes from the latter. 

As with all Antares saddles, you get a few centimeters of fore-aft sliding room, but not anywhere near the sliding room possible with the Arione. This should give most riders enough positions to rest different parts of their butts during long rides. The wide, upward-curving rear secures you should you decide to move all the way back: a feeling which you will appreciate on seated climbs. 


BUT WAIT! This is no ordinary Antares! Carbon braided rails aside, the Antares 00 has two tricks up its sleeve. This gives this saddle extraordinary comfort but bumps the retail price to nearly TWICE that of normal K:ium railed Antares'.

First is 300% more padding. You can press the leather surface with your finger to verify. Yes, it's a lot more plush. Not saddle sore plush, but rather, noticeably plush enough. 


Second is Wingflex. This technology was first introduced in the Arione. But what exactly is it???Fizik markets it as the saddle is adapting to the rider as opposed to the rider adapting to saddle: Custom Fit. For the rest of us, it's a feature where the saddle's sides give way to the rider's inner thigh during a downstroke. In theory, this allows the rider to sit all the way back and not have to worry about his thighs having to hit the sides of the saddle. (The Wingflexing area is marked 'Wingflex' above. Those Fizik engineers must be A+ students)


The picture below shows the bottom part of the Carbon fiber sandwich which makes up the underside of the 00. This endows the saddle some give when sat upon, aiding comfort and enables the overexplained Wingflex feature. 



On the road, the Antares does what any good saddle will do: Stay unnoticed. The additional padding won't really be felt until hours and hours of riding, at which point you may start to notice that your sitbones still feel normal; no pressure points. The hammock effect afforded by the carbon sandwich soaks up small bumps but is still firm enough to provide support when powering up a hill. The added padding in the nose area makes sitting there a viable option.

Functionality wise, this saddle is hard to fault. At a scant 137 grams, gorgeous Italian looks and daily driver comfort, this is saddle is worthy of a recommendation and easily the best saddle ever to grace our buttocks.

Downsides? THE PRICE! Oh, and the lack of Fizik ICS compatibility. Your old ICS bags are now rendered useless with this saddle. 

[UPDATE 20 January 2013] - Changed my saddle to .... another Antares 00! This time in black. As tested, the black 00 is faster than the white model on matching bikes. ;-) 




Verdict

Extremely light and comfortable once broken in. Crazy expensive. 






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