The Fizik Arione VSX saddle has a significantly different feel to the Arione and may not suit those who use the standard version if the experience of this reviewer is a guide.
There are few areas of the bicycle to which the adage ‘try before you buy’ is more appropriate than saddles, and given our significantly different experiences of the Arione’s two forms, we would certainly recommend taking advantage of the demo models Fizik issues to its dealers, and heading along to your local bike shop to conduct a test of your own, if you’re considering the VSX as your next perch.
The Arione in standard form is among my favourites: pan flat, narrow, and one Fizik recommends for riders with good flexibility. While I can’t claim much of the latter, its table top level, super slender profile suits me just fine. The VSX is a different kettle of fish, however.
The relief channel, some 20mm at its deepest, and intended to offer a pressure-free haven for the soft tissues, significantly changed the feel of the saddle for me, turning a cherished perch into an object of discomfort. At this point, it’s perhaps worth reiterating the personal nature of a rider’s response to a saddle – what doesn’t work for one may suit another to a tee.
In all other regards the Arione VSX is a match for its conventional cousin. Its vital statistics – 300mm long and 132mm broad at its widest point – are the same, and the silhouette is almost identical. The construction of the VSX speaks of another high quality affair from a brand that lists almost the entire UCI WorldTour among its clientele. The chromoly Ki:um rail offered good purchase within the Easton EC70 pillar on our test rig, and has so far proved impervious to the road spray that has been ever-present on our test rides. It’s remained securely moored in the carbon-reinforced base, too.
The synthetic cover, glued rather than stitched, has shown no signs of detaching during our short acquaintance, and has proved sufficiently robust to resist abrasion from the café walls that have provided a mid-ride mooring for the RCUK test rig. It’s been grippy too, allowing us to hold station during tests in legwear with fabrics as different as those deployed in LOOK’s Excellence bib-tight and Endura’s Stealth-Lite offering.
The Fizik Arione VSX saddle is well made, stylish, and, unless you’re already rocking the supremely stylish Arione 00, likely to improve the appearance of your bicycle. Buying it on the basis of satisfaction with its conventional, ‘unrelieved’ sister model, however, without first trying it would be a mistake, in our experience.
The relief channel may be a blessing for some riders, but the edges created by the sharp depression running from nose to tail on the VSX may not suit everyone. The importance of trying before you buy is one recognised by Fizik and putting in a few miles aboard a member of its bright yellow demo fleet, courtesy of your local bike shop, is a recommended course of action.