Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Fizik Antares Review

One of the cooler things Two Wheel Transit has at the shop, at least to someone like me who is exceptionally picky about my seat, is the stockpile of demo saddles they've been accumulating.

From Team Two Wheel
Just in for spring...isn't it sweet?

Because here's the thing. It's impossible to know which seat you'll like just by reading a review. You might be able to get a sense of what a seat will feel like, but unless you ride it for a while you're taking a gamble. And given the price of seats it's a big gamble.

I was in the shop the other day picking up some new cables and housing to replace my fantastically filthy and high-friction set, when I noticed three bright orange seats. A closer look showed that they were all marked "test."

Too cool.

I'm always on the lookout for the perfect saddle. For years I rode a San Marco Concor. Unfortunately age, or extra weight, or position, or something, made it less comfortable than it used to be. So a couple of years ago I switched to a Fizik Aliante. 

This is a good saddle for me. In general I like a swoopier seat--one you sit in rather than on. Before choosing the Aliante I rode around on a Fizik Arione for a couple of weeks. I wanted to like it, but unfortunately it didn't work for me. My taint still sometimes throbs when I think of our time together. And no, I didn't nickname the seat Anton.

The Arione, Aliante and Antares all have different shapes. Here's a pic of all three. I should have taken a better snapshot at Two Wheel, so apologies for the odd image.

The Arione is the longest and narrowest of the three. It's very flat front to back, but is relatively dome shaped looking at it from behind. the nose is narrow and barely padded, hence my throbbing taint. I promise, that's the last time I'll write taint. Sorry, did it again. The Arione also has a bit of a hammock-effect when you sit on it. That is, it sags in the middle, much like a Sella Italia Flite, and unlike something like a Concor that has a good amount of structure to it. If you're familiar with these seats you'll know what I mean. Critical dimensions don't tell you the story about how a seat feels when riding, but if you're interested it's 128mm wide, 302 mm long and 240 grams.

The Aliante has a bit of a "tail" at the back and a relatively narrow nose. Also, the padding is substantial and soft by performance-saddle standards. In fact it's one of the softest seats I've used. If I have a complaint about the Aliante it's that it's too soft. I'd like it to be just a bit firmer. In my experience the softer seat leads to funky hot spots and numbness. Everyone is different of course, but this is my experience. Critical dimensions are 135 mm wide, 265 mm long and 210 grams.

The swoopy lines of the Aliante

The Antares differs from both the Arione and Aliante. Sort of. It's right in the middle in terms of length, but wider than both and very flat side-to-side. It's relatively well padded (very well padded compared with say a Sella Italia SLR), but also extremely firm, and has the widest nose of the three. Critical dimensions are 140 mm wide, 275 mm long and 177 grams.

From Team Two Wheel
Like I say, it has a very flat cross-section

First impressions:

The biggest first impression? It's orange! How cool is that? Well, it could be cool on the right bike, but on my less than subtle red, white and blue Madone it looks hideous. Love that.

I had to raise my seatpost about 4mm to account for the difference in height between the Aliante. No worries there.

Riding on a firmer seat was immediately noticeable. Even more so because I was forced onto the trainer yet again thanks to 15 degree weather. The seat's width worked well to support my sit bones, but initially it felt weird, like the wide back of the seat transitioned too quickly to the narrow front. You might be able to see what I mean just from the above picture. It felt like there was only one place to sit on the seat, if that makes sense. 

As the ride went on though I started to feel more comfortable. I changed the angle of the seat a few times--something that eventually helped. And I didn't find my nether regions going numb, even after a pretty intense 90 minute trainer session. 

I put in another session on the trainer Friday, still feeling so-so about the Antares. 

Then Saturday I did a bit more than three hours on the road. It was a solo ride, tons of wind and a bunch of up and down, so to me anyway it was a pretty honest test. I did a series of hard efforts on the flat, and also some extended climbing. And I liked the seat. Did I love it? Not exactly, but with a bit more time I think I could definitely get used to it. This surprised me a bit because it's a much different seat than the Alliante, at least looking at the numbers. It's definitely firmer, but provides nice support. 

If you're in the market for a new seat, do yourself a big, big favor and get down to Two Wheel to demo a few options. And thank Steve and company for the program. I was surprised to learn that they have to buy all of their demo seats from the manufacturers so it's definitely an investment on their part, and explains why I haven't run across similar programs at other shops.


  1. i am interested in testing the saddle. Does Two wheel have a website?

  2. Two Wheel Transit's website is www.twowheeltransit.com. We will get a link up soon. You can also call them at 509-747-2362 or best, visit them at 1405 W. First Avenue in the Carnegie Square Neighborhood.
    Rider Three