Fizik Ares Saddle
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Fizik Ares Saddle - Tested 7-24-09


Fizik Ares Saddle

  • Specifically designed for to meet UCI regulations for time trials
  • Cost: $199 MSRP
  • Natural Leather Seat Cover
  • Made in Italy
  • ICS bag compatible
  • Cool black and white color scheme. However, the white is subject to grease and fingerprints.
  • Weight: Claimed 155 grams. Actual: 159.


This is a review of the Fizik Ares saddle, which is expressly designed for time trials. Fizik has been making some fantastic products and the Ares is the newest in the line. Fizik's most well known offerings include:

  • The Arione -- extremely popular and uniquely longer than most saddles (unfortunately, this saddle causes numbness for me)
  • The Aliante is perhaps the most comfortable saddle ever made; I can't recommend it highly enough for folks who commute. And it will make any "superstiff" bike a lot more tolerable.
  • The Antares, while not as comfortable as the Aliante, is an excellent triathlon saddle and provides a firmer ride than the Aliante that doesn't rob any power.
  • So I was really excited to test the Ares, thinking it could be the ultimate triathlon saddle.

I'm illegal!
The Ares was designed to meet a somewhat archaic UCI regulation. This regulation dictates that the distance from the tip of the saddle can be no less than 50mm from the center of the bottom bracket. And as I came to find out, this is a pretty dramatic limitation. In fact, in my typical (read: comfortable) triathlon position, using a first generation, 76 degree seat  tube Scott Plasma and Fizik Antares saddle, I found that my current position is just 27mm away from the center of the crank; 23mm in violation of the rule.

This rule explains why, in the Grand Tours, you sometimes see time trial bikes with cut nose saddles; it's to comply with this rule. This must also mean that TT bikes are different than Triathlon bikes; they need to conform to this regulation. My guess is that TT bikes must also shorten the top tube to make it easier to get into the "aerobar" position. Proof might be none other than Lance Armstrong. Did you see him in Stage 18, the final TT in the '09 TDF? His upper arms must have been bruised; he was continually hitting his kneecap into the upper arm. One can deduce that TT bikes compensate for the lack of forward angle of the seat post by pulling in the front end.

The Specs
So how different is the Ares? It is a significant 30mm shorter than a typical Selle Italia SLR or Antares. However, it retains the same width of the Antares in the rear, giving a large and stable platform to push off against. The weight savings is also significant, more than 10% less than the already light Antares.


 

How does it ride?
I've recently started to doing time trials to try something new and different. Unlike triathlons, where you do move around in the saddle a lot and change positions for climbing and motoring on the flats, the time trials I've been doing have been mostly flat with some rolling hills. The general guidance is to try and stay in the aero position as long as possible and simply turn over those cranks as fast and efficient as you can. It's turned out to be incredibly challenging and hard for me and I haven't had great results. For instance, in recent triathlons, I've continuously placed in the top 5-10% of my age group on the bike. However, with time trials, I'm decidedly mid-pack. In other words, TT's are darn hard. The Ares definitely serves it's purpose; it offers the support and relative comfort when pushed back in the saddle. But unlike the Antares, there really isn't that much room to come forward on the saddle for more of a "running" style stroke. You end up with the nose buried in parts you weren't meant to sit on. Obviously, this isn't super comfortable if you like/need to move around. For the dedicated time trialist, though, it's likely not an issue.

The verdict
Though this is very well crafted and reasonably comfortable when sitting back, it definitely does not work for triathlons r regular riding  when you creep out on to the nose of the saddle. On the flip side, I'm not experienced enough to really know the best technique for time trialing but it does seem that the rounded end is relatively more comfort than something that is abruptly sawed off. 

In sum, I don't think this is a great choice for triathletes, roadies, and especially not commuters. However, if you are a REAL time trialer, this could be the best there is.
Kudos to Fizik for creating a product that fits this niche.

Value: 4 stars
Overall: 4.5 stars


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