Fi'zi:k is keeping the distinctive two-toned covers that have quickly become a hallmark of the brand across much of its 2011 range but is abandoning conventional stitched seams on the upper-end models in favor of a more advanced thermowelded construction.
According to fi'zi:k marketing manager Alberto Fonte, the welded seams reduce friction – and thus, chafing – thanks to their smoother surface while still allowing the company to continue producing the trademark look. Because the welding is more expensive than conventional stitching, though, fi'zi:k will limits its use to more critical areas such as the nose on the new Tundra 2 and Aliante Gamma.
In addition to the newly welded cover, the Tundra 2 mountain bike saddle will sport a slightly flexier shell and softer padding to yield better long-term comfort than the original, rock-hard Tundra.
For high-end mountain bikers, fi'zi:k has introduced a new Tundra 00 saddle with a true carbon fiber composite base, braided carbon rails, Wing Flex sides, a smooth Microtex cover and an expected feathery claimed weight of just 140g.
To go along with that ultralight Tundra 00, fi'zi:k has added a carbon fiber variant of its Cyrano seatpost, which will use the same low-profile, two-bolt head as the original Cyrano but with a sleek carbon fiber shaft for lighter weight and a slightly smoother ride. The Cyrano Carbon will come in 27.2 and 31.6mm diameters in lengths ranging from 270 to 410mm.
Red is the new black for San Marco
San Marco is betting on red with an entire collection of saddles featuring the passionate hue in the lineup for 2011. The aptly named Red Edition encompasses virtually every saddle shape in the company's catalog and includes eye-catching deep, blood red accents adorning the ends and edges of the synthetic covers – similar to what the company has provided to its sponsored riders.
Fancy graphics aside, though, the Red Edition saddles are actually intended as mid-range offerings with San Marco's proprietary Xsilite rails instead of far pricier carbon ones. As compared to titanium, San Marco claims Xsilite is just as strong but 10 percent lighter.
San Marco is also capitalizing on its lengthy heritage – the company has been around since 1935 – with a vintage range that includes such classic shapes as the Rolls, Concor Supercorsa, and Regal. In addition to the throwback perforated real leather covers, San Marco will also offer the saddles in smooth brown leather and even some brighter colors, along with a synthetic vegan-friendly option for the Concor – all with budget-friendly carbon steel rails
Expect to see lots of red detailing from Selle San Marco for 2011.
Prologo adds women's-specific and flatter-profile models for 2011
Prologo's new women's-specific Scratch Pro Dea and Nago Evo Dea saddles will offer similar features as on the standard versions but with tweaked shapes that are claimed to better fit female anatomy. Among the changes are slight central depressions and dipped shells to help relieve pressure on soft tissue, smoother edges up top, and generally wider, shorter, and flatter dimensions throughout.
Both saddles are built with the carbon-reinforced nylon bases, solid titanium rails, and synthetic microfiber covers. Claimed weights range from 212-227g.
Prologo will also add a new shape for riders that prefer flatter saddle profiles called Zero – though in our eyes it bears strong resemblance to the company's original Nago range that was discontinued a couple of years ago. Relative to more hammock-shaped profiles, the Zero will offer a greater range of seating positions for riders that like to move around more while also concentrating more pressure on the sit bones instead of distributing the load more evenly as Prologo usually prefers to do.
Prologo will offer the Zero shape in both ultralight Nack and Ti 1.4 versions with carbon fiber and solid titanium rails, respectively. For even more soft tissue relief, there are also Pas variants of each with central cutouts. Claimed weights range from 161-228g depending on model.
More sizes and padding options from Selle SMP
Selle SMP's distinctively radical saddle design will gain a few new sizes for 2011 and even a collection of altered shapes aimed at more casual riders.
Like the current Full Carbon racing model, the new Full Carbon Lite again uses a unique, unpadded split carbon fiber shell and carbon rails but with 6mm more width and 10mm of extra length to suit riders with more broadly spaced hips. Claimed weight is just 119g – only 14g heavier than the standard version.
If your budget doesn't allow for the full composite version, there's also the more attainable Carbon Lite version, which uses the same shell and dimensions as the Full Carbon Lite but paired to tubular stainless steel rails. Selle SMP will offer this model with a gloss white finish for those that want a little more flash than just clearcoated woven carbon fiber. Claimed weight is 175g (the white version is likely to be slightly heavier).
Further down the line is the new 205g Dynamic, which uses the same hull shape as the Full Carbon Lite but in carbon-reinforced nylon and covered in thin padding and either real leather or Lorica microfiber. Selle SMP has even added a Lite Junior model for 2011 with smaller dimensions all around to suit riders aged 8-14.
The unpadded Selle SMP Chrono is designed for UCI-regulated time trials where the shorter nose may help riders achieve a legal position.
Go organic with Brooks
Brooks' latest Select range of leather saddles is designed to appeal to the hardcore – but not vegan for obvious reasons – environmentalist with certified organic hides sourced from Sweden and vegetable-based tanning compounds. According to Brooks marketing spokesperson Suzette Ayotte, buyers interested in the Select saddles should bear in mind however that the more environmentally friendly manufacturing does yield a much harder saddle than usual with a feel similar to the company's older models before it began pre-softening them. As such, Select riders should expect to take more time to break their saddles in but on the upside, they should retain their desired shape and feel longer, too.
Consumers who admire Brooks' classic aesthetic and consistently high quality but want something a little more hip can instead look to the limited edition Vans model produced in cooperation with the popular skate shoe company. Brooks will produce just 500 copies of the striking black leather saddle – and Vans 1000 copies of the matching shoes – and both will sport matching embossed skull patterns.
Brooks' leather accessory and bag lines look to be on a continuing tear as well with a number of new styles for 2011. Among the highlights are the new Islington rucksack with its waxed cotton body and interesting crisscrossed shoulder straps, the Brixton waxed cotton shoulder bag, the Soho full-leather shoulder bag, and gorgeously detailed Devon rear panniers, plus new smaller-profile leather grips, leather double toe straps, and chromed steel toe clips made with resurrected tooling from the 1930s.
Selle Royal looks to its past
Selle San Marco and Brooks aren't the only saddle companies who are drawing on its history as Selle Royal (close cousin of fi'zi:k) is also releasing a heritage collection for 2011 called Origins.
Origins will include a pair of old-school styles – the traditional Contour and plastic-hulled Aeroyal – both of which should be readily recognizable by cyclists who have been involved in the sport for a while. Selle Royal will offer the Contour with either leather or Microtex covers in three colors each while the Aeroyal will come in black or white.