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Specialized S-Works Power with Mirror saddle first ride review

Specialized joins the 3D-printed party with its revolutionary new S-Works Power with Mirror saddle - a refined option that looks set to upset its rival from Fizik

Specialized S-Works Power Mirror saddle
(Image: © Aaron Borrill)

Our Verdict

Specialized's S-Works Power with Mirror saddle is as stealthy and comfortable as it is refined

For

  • Class-leading rear-end support and comfort
  • Exquisite design
  • Stealthy colourway that's easy to clean
  • Refined build quality
  • Tried-and-tested Power platform

Against

  • Heavier than expected

Specialized may have been pipped to market by Fizik but the Big S was working on its 3D-printed saddle long before the Fizik Antares Versus Evo 00 Adaptive was in the works - in fact, planning had started back in August 2018. 

We first got word of this ground-breaking 3D-printed Mirror saddle last year, a full month before Fizik announced its version at Eurobike and the two companies have been playing a game of oneupmanship ever since. Naturally, we've been itching to get our hands on both saddles - at the same time - so you can imagine our delight when the new Specialized S-Works Diverge arrived with one clamped to its dropper post. 

Over the past 20 years, Specialized has mastered the Body Geometry concept with Retül and believes it has fabricated the ultimate saddle in terms of comfort and performance thanks to the implementation of a revolutionary 3D-printed polymer, the density of which can be infinitely tuned. 

Having spent innumerable hours riding the new Mirror saddle back-to-back against its Fizik rival on the same roads, trails and bikes, we've reached a verdict as to which of the two is the most complete saddle of its 3D-printed kind. 

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Specialized S-Works Power Mirror saddle

To the untrained eye Specialized's new 3D-printed saddle will be difficult to tell apart from its Power siblings (Image credit: Aaron Borrill)
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Specialized S-Works Power Mirror saddle

The outer sheath comprises hundreds of little dimples that help promote better grip when seated (Image credit: Aaron Borrill)
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Specialized S-Works Power Mirror saddle

The design is intricately layered - something which adds depth and refinement to the package (Image credit: Aaron Borrill)
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Specialized S-Works Power Mirror saddle

Bar the subliminally placed 'S' logo under the rear 3D webbing, there's no real Specialized monikers scattered about so the Mirror saddle should find favour with those who ride different bike brands (Image credit: Aaron Borrill)
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Specialized S-Works Power Mirror saddle

A closer look at the hidden 'S' logo (Image credit: Aaron Borrill)

Design and aesthetics

Like its rival, the S-Works Power with Mirror saddle takes on a rather intriguing appearance but looks more like a finished product with a refined and stealthy design language that should find favour with all cyclists regardless of the bike they ride - no in-your-face Specialized monikers here. Instead, a white 3D-printed 'S' takes residence at the rear of the saddle under the centrally arranged honeycomb webbing.

There's no lime green colouring here either but that wasn't always the case. During the initial run of prototypes, the 'green' polymer was the only option available at the time from Carbon, the 3D-printing company that also produced the Fizik Antares Adaptive. Specialized, however, managed to get permission from one of Carbon's other clients to use a special black pigment in its Mirror saddle - a move that subsequently worked in its favour.

Visually, it comes as no surprise that the Mirror shares a lot of its DNA with the Power and Power Arc models - a proven recipe when it comes to seated support and an even spread of pressure. It's only under close inspection that you can tell it apart from its stablemates and that's because, unlike the 3D-printed Fizik Antares Adaptive, the Mirror employs an outer sheath or cover that keeps it more traditional in look and feel while promoting better grip.

The saddle is constructed using what Specialized and Carbon calls CLIP technology (Continuous Liquid Interface Production) - a process that utilises light and oxygen to 3D print the lattice structure before a chemical reaction in a forced-circulation oven cures the material's final properties. This lattice structure takes the place of traditional foam which is secured to a lightweight, Textreme carbon base.

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Specialized S-Works Power Mirror vs Fizik Antares Adaptive

Specialized has followed the same snub-nose design approach as its Power saddle range. It's notably shorter and wider than the Fizik Antares Versus Evo 00 Adaptive saddle (Image credit: Aaron Borrill)
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Specialized S-Works Power Mirror vs Fizik Antares Adaptive

Both saddles are intriguing objects to behold - the Specialized S-Work's Power Mirror saddle, however, looks the more polished of the two (Image credit: Aaron Borrill)

Specification

The implementation of space-age manufacturing techniques and 3D-printed materials has culminated in tuneability levels that go way beyond the limitations of regular foam saddles. In fact, over 70 different prototypes were printed and tested before the S-Works Power with Mirror saddle you see here was signed off. 

What makes the feat all the more impressive is the fact it went from an initial concept sketch to a rideable product in just 10 months. Specialized was able to individually tune the lattice structure by using variable density windows in the saddle's 'soft pockets' to craft a structure that cradles the sit bones aiding in decreased soft-tissue pressure and improved stability and comfort in both men and women - especially when the rider is in an aggressive position with hips rotated forward.

In terms of dimensions, Specialized offers the Mirror in the most popular width options of 143 and 155mm. The saddle weighs 192g (143mm).

Specialized S-Works Power Mirror saddle

The Mirror employs an outer sheath or cover that keeps it more traditional in look and feel while promoting better grip (Image credit: Aaron Borrill)

Riding experience

In terms of performance, the S-Works Power with Mirror saddle offers impressive support and cushioning. We've tested the saddle in nearly every setting imaginable given the current lockdown situation, from indoor racing on Zwift to gravel trails and extended road rides and our consensus remains the same. It's super comfortable.

While longer, narrower and flatter saddles are usually better-suited to my sit bone structure the Mirror took me by surprise - and in a good way. The short-nose, broad platform has never really worked for me in the past but the way Specialized has managed to tune and dial in different densities into the lattice - something which has created a very comfortable and supportive platform - has won me over as far as pressure performance and comfort goes.

The low-speed compression around the nose helps dissipate any pressure when riding in an aggressive position on the tip of the saddle, while the firmer, high-speed compression sections in the rear of the saddle help provide extra comfort when traversing bumpier more corrugated terrain.

It feels more supportive than the Fizik Antares Adaptive, too, offering a greater sense of shock absorption and pliancy regardless of your riding position. Like the Fizik the cushioning returns to its original shape when pressed and has shown no signs of excessive wear and tear just yet - and we've ridden on some harsh gravel terrain to date. Speaking of gravel, you'd expect something as intricately designed and with so many crevices, nooks and crannies to be a nightmare to keep clean but a simple spray down with a hose is all that's required to keep it clean.

Specialized S-Works Power Mirror saddle

The 3D-printed lattice structure takes the place of traditional foam which is secured to a lightweight, Textreme carbon base (Image credit: Aaron Borrill)

Verdict

The S-Works Power with Mirror is a superb first attempt at the 3D-printed saddle concept by Specialized. Yes, Fizik was first to market but its urgency to outsmart the firm from Morgan Hill has highlighted a few concerns that weren't very evident when we first tested it a few months ago.

While both offer superlative levels of comfort and support, the Mirror is by far the better of the two offerings in this respect utilising its 20 years worth of Body Geometry data and experience to stitch together some of the best support and pressure dissipation measures we've sampled to date. 

Another area the Mirror shines is when it comes to surface grip, a direct result of the dimpled outer cover which also doubles up a tasteful design addition. The aesthetic qualities of the saddle are also truly next level. 

If you’re the rider that enjoys lengthy stints in the saddle, the Power with Mirror is the way to go. Its broad shape and skinny, snub-nose design don’t provide much room to move around but the platform is stable and supportive. 

At £350, it's by no means cheap but, for what it's worth, it's nearly £20 less than the Fizik equivalent.

Tech spec: Specialized S-Works Power with Mirror saddle

  • Price: £350
  • Weight: 192g (actual)
  • Width: 143mm
  • Rails: Carbon
  • Shell: Carbon with plastic cornicing 
  • Cushion: Digitally printed polymer lattice
  • Colours: Black