This article originally appeared on BikeRadar
Specialized's new S-Works Power saddle is unquestionably strange looking, what with its radically clipped nose. But what's taken away isn't really necessary and what's left is supremely comfortable – provided you're not one to move around too much.
The new Power's shape is essentially a hybrid of several current Specialized saddles, borrowing the longer and wider cutout of the company's women-specific models, the broad and relatively flat cross-section of the MTB-focused Phenom, and the stubby length and nose of the Sitero.
Although the Power looks unusually wide at first glance, that's only because of its unusual proportions. In reality, its width matches up closely to Specialized's more conventional Romin, although it's a substantial 30mm shorter in length.
The shape looks unusual, but it works
Specialized is only now officially launching the Power, but BikeRadar has actually been testing an earlier pre-production sample for nearly seven months now.
Once you're settled into the saddle's sweet spot, you're treated to a firm yet supportive perch that quickly disappears beneath you and stays that way for hours on end. The relatively flat cross-section combines with the generously-sized central cutout to reduce pressure on soft tissue to nearly nothing, but without feeling like you're on an unforgiving slab of lumber.
More impressively, those comfort levels carry through even to extreme hip angles where unconventional saddles, such as the ISM Adamo, often hold an advantage. One tester who regularly experienced numbness on another saddle brand swapped to a Power and was able to go a full hour on aero bar extensions with no issues.
The clipped nose definitely won't suit everyone
That said, the Power's truncated form is nearly as polarising in practice as it is in appearance. Riders who are generally happy to find a comfortable position and stay there should get along just fine with the Power's stubby length. But if you tend to move around a fair bit – and especially if you're one to slide way forward at times – the Power simply won't work for you, since there's really nowhere to go.
Likewise, while we found the Power to work exceptionally well on aggressive riding positions with lots of bar drop, the shape doesn't work quite as well when sitting more upright. Though neither tester had any issues with chafing in those situations, we did find the very firm padding generated a little too much pressure on your pelvic bones. Keep in mind that although Specialized uses more padding in the Expert-level model, even that one is quite firm.
Long-term durability has been very good, however. Our pre-production sample has retained its original shape with no shell sag to speak of, and Specialized says the true carbon fibre shell on the production S-Works sample we switched to a few weeks ago should be just as good in that respect.
The carbon fibre shell and rails help keep the S-Works version's weight down to just 160g
The top-end S-Works version is expensive but there's no question that it's also light. Our 143mm saddle weighs just 160g and the wider 155mm model should be only slightly heavier. Alternatively, the Pro, Expert, and Comp versions will offer nearly identical feel at much more economical prices.
Specialized hasn't made much noise about this yet but the Power also ushers in the company's latest development in its handy SWAT (Storage, Water, Air, Tools) accessories concept. Two threaded holes on the back of the Power shell can accept the 'Reserve Rack' bottle cage holder, the 'Bandit' tool wrap, or even a rear-facing GoPro camera (along with anything else that uses the standard GoPro interface).
Two threaded holes at the back of the Power accept a new range of SWAT accessories
So is the Power for you? As always, saddles are a hugely personal item so the only way to find out is to sit on one in person. That said, if you're a flexible riding using a very aggressive position, you're already accustomed to firm padding, and don't tend to move around much, our bet is that the Power will be a good match for you.