A 3D-printed saddle that not only looks provocative but offers a supremely comfortable and supportive platform too
- Superb comfort and support
- Exceptionally lightweight
- Space-age fabrication
- Polarising aesthetics
Fizik has employed an altogether different tact in its bid to create the best road bike saddle. The company's futuristic 3D-printed saddle garnered polarising opinions when it was first revealed to the cycling press in September at Eurobike 2019.
And while it's not the first manufacturer to embrace the 3D-printed saddle concept, the Italian company has beaten all its rivals to the market - including Specialized and its Mirror saddle.
The Italians are known for their emotive approach to design, having utilised the notion of form follows function in a variety of industrial creations over the past six decades including cars, bicycles, couture and even architecture. And of all the cycling manufacturers, it's Fizik that continually pushes the limits of conceptual design rhetoric - the Fizik Antares Versus Evo 00 Adaptive saddle is a case in point.
Unlike regular foam-moulded saddles, the Antares Versus Evo 00 Adaptive saddle has eschewed traditional manufacturing processes in a move that has helped speed up its development five times faster than what was previously achievable.
The result is nothing short of otherworldly - boldly provocative in terms of aesthetics yet functional when it comes to providing support and comfort on the bike.
Design and aesthetics
There's no disputing the visual allure and holding power of Fizik's latest saddle creation - just look at the honeycomb, colander-like padding. It's very much unlike the traditional saddle aesthetic and while its polarising appearance might not appeal to all it will certainly find favour with early adopters, particularly those looking for something to differentiate themselves from the rabble.
We spotted the Antares Adaptive saddle at Opening Weekend on the Canyon Aeroad of Movistar Team's Gabriel Cullaigh who was no doubt using the cobbled Omloop Het Nieuwsblad and Kuurne-Brussel-Kuurne races as a testbed for product feedback and analysis.
Fizik partnered with Carbon, a 3D printing specialist based in California, to fabricate the 3D-printed lattice structure. Twinned to a carbon-fibre Antares Versus Evo 00 chassis, the complete package tips the scales at a scant 153g (on our scale).
The Antares Adaptive saddle is a culmination of pressure mapping data collected over the last nine years which Fizik has used to identify key areas of attention. The 3D-printing process has allowed Fizik to preside over the key areas of the saddle's cushioning and performance, tailoring such attributes as density, dampening and elasticity.
The lattice structure or cushion is created using a Digital Light Synthesis (DLS) printing method. This space-age manufacturing technique uses digital ultraviolet light projection, oxygen-permeable optics and programmable liquid resin composites which are melded to produce the exquisite web-like surface you see here - with tailorable mechanical properties.
For now, this technology will feature exclusively on the Antares Adaptive saddle but Fizik has not denied that the Carbon’s EPU 41 material and technology will be used on some of its other products and model ranges down the line.
Owing to the coronavirus and social distancing measures, testing has been relegated exclusively to indoor use for now, but initial impressions are positive nonetheless - tests have included innumerable interval sessions comprising sprints as well as 3x10 minute zone 4 sets and even Zwift races.
And, is it any good? Well, so far we're impressed. Cushioning and support are great and no pain and numbness have been reported. I've personally always been a fan of the Antares platform and the Adaptive model has taken things to another level thanks to the combination of low- and high-speed compression areas dialled into the saddle's lattice structure.
Fizik calls this 'zonal cushioning' and it works. You can clearly feel the difference in shock and bump absorption - it is softer on the outer areas and firmer towards the middle. Furthermore, the saddle returns to its original shape instantly with no indentations and has shown no signs of wear just yet.
I'm a sucker when it comes to new technology - especially when it's combined with an already class-leading product. Fizik hasn't overthought things here - nope, instead, the company has taken a blue-sky idea and executed it perfectly.
While the visual interpretation may take some time getting used to, it's foolish to dismiss it based purely on appearance. Besides, this is the initial production run and we expect more colourways to become available sometime soon.
Overall Fizik has improved the Antares recipe by dialling in extra layers of performance and comfort without comprising weight. While I haven't had much opportunity to take it out for some 'real-world' testing just yet, what I have experienced thus far is impressive, to say the least.
Tech spec: Fizik Antares Versus Evo 00 Adaptive
- Price: £369.99
- Weight: 153g (actual)
- Dimensions: 274x139mm
- Rails: Carbon
- Shell: Carbon
- Cushion: Digitally printed polymer lattice
- Colours: Black/green
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