I’m probably more of a ‘chameleon’ than a ‘snake’ when it comes to Fizik saddles, to use the Italian manufacturer’s own jargon.
I generally prefer Fizik’s Antares over the Arione model. Indeed, a carbon-railed Antares 00 is the new perch of choice on the Test Rig, taking over duties from a Specialized Toupe.
However, I have been very happy on an Arione in the past, on an old race bike, so I was more than happy to test the Italian company’s new flagship model: the Arione 00.
For a detailed description of the saddle’s features, read our ‘first look‘ article. Here we’ll focus on it’s performance, comfort, and appearance.
Let’s start with the aesthetics. The Arione 00 is a beautiful object, in my view. Saddles can often look like ugly appendages on top of beautiful machines. Not so with the Arione 00, whose almost aptly-named mobius rails and carbon base are very close to modern sculpture. This is a seriously elegant perch.
It is also a seriously pricey one, costing just one less than three hundred of your hard-earned pounds. In fairness to Fizik, they make no bones about the fact that the 00 is designed for professionals, and I guess is therefore more likely to be seen on a sponsored rider’s rig than your average race bike. Such items are known in the trade as ‘halo’ products: ones whose influence is expected to radiate beyond a limited commercial impact.
That, however, is something of a shame as a beautiful bike needs a beautiful saddle. However, the curse of saddles is that they have to suit you, or at least be a little comfortable so you can, metaphorically speaking, wear yourself and the saddle into each other. Fortunately, in this case I found the Arione 00 rather comfy; indeed it has been out on pretty much every long winter ride I have completed since the start of December.
I’d imagined that the Arione 00 in this minimal, 135 gram form would be unforgiving, but I was proved wrong. The composite carbon shell and the now-familiar Wing Flex moniker given to the design worked extremely well in providing a firm but well-damped platform for my sit bones over potholed and roughly surfaced country lanes.
The twin-finish microtex material seems resistant to abrasion and is the right side of grippy; you can sit comfortably without sliding around, but can also move forward or back easily without rising from the saddle.
The yellow stripe on the black version marking it out as the top of the range 00 is a subtle flash and will no doubt work with pretty much any machine. The white saddle comes with a black stripe and will look a little more ‘bling’ on your ride if that is what you crave.
The composite carbon shell seems to flex a little more readily than my Antares’ Rilsan Carbon Reinforced shell, but is certainly robust. I did notice the saddle a little more with certain shorts on, and found that some pairs, specifically those with a slightly smaller chamois, were a little less comfortable.
There is a natural and interesting correlation between saddle and chamois selection, which should be considered alongside Fizik’s own indications for rider flexibility. The upshot? If you do feel the need to splash £300 on a beautiful saddle, see if you can get a test version first, and make sure you are in your favourite bibs. If you get a good match, then go for it – this is a beautiful object.