Reverence: Fi’zi:k Aliante

Reverence: Fi’zi:k Aliante

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The saddle has got to be the most important piece of equipment for the cyclist when it comes to comfort and performance. If your ass is rubbing the wrong way, causing chafing and sores, or all circulation is cut off rendering you unable to locate vital organs for nature breaks, then it’s fair to say you don’t have the right saddle. And just as it is with significant others of the human kind, finding ‘the one’ is usually a trial and error process that can take years before you hit on the perfect companion for your nether regions.

Most pros will have a favourite saddle they will use throughout their career, and despite sponsorship commitments will often go to great lengths to ride the same model, perhaps disguised to try and fool the fans or appease said sponsors. Or they’ll just insist that their new team gets on board with the seat supplier to keep them happy. It’s that vital. Rumour has it that Mark Cavendish insisted on Sky teaming up with fi'zi:k when he joined them for the 2012 season. And having been riding on their Aliante for the last month, I can see why.

I’d had an early version of the Aliante on an old Giant TCR back in the mid 2000s, and it was a great fit for me. The curvy shape seemed to work with my riding style and/or body shape pefectly. I did a long road tour of Tasmania on it, riding 2500 kms in ten days with nary a grumble from downstairs. Then they released the Arione, longer, flatter and firmer, and I was attracted to it and switched over. While I never hated it, we just didn’t seem to get on as well and I consequently moved on to many more relationships, most not very long lasting and ultimately unsatisfying.

When the Keepers Tour partnership with fi'zi:k was in its conception, I was excited about their new shoes, but a touch apprehensive about the saddles; I checked out the website and looked into their Spine Concept, where you can enter information about your body type and riding style and be recommended one of the three shapes on offer. All my characteristics pointed me back to the Aliante, as I’m apparently a ‘Bull’. The shape and profile of it also was most compatible with the older school styling of my Profetta. I requested a black cover with braided carbon rails, as the weight weenie in me influenced my decision. But how would it handle the cobbles and long days ahead in Flanders and northern France?

Well, I think if I ever find the perfect woman, she’ll be a lot like the Aliante. Shapely, sexy, reliable and great to sit on. Ok, maybe not the last one. This sadlle is awesome. To be able to ride for over five hours in a sitting (pardon the pun) on the roughest ‘roads’ in Europe and still be able to tell what’s going on down there at nature breaks is all you can ask for. I didn’t get a hint of a saddle sore or any chafing, even without chamois cream. The carbon rails survived the constant pounding and the cover endured some pre-tour crashes with flying colours. When my seatpost head loosened and slipped a cpuple of times on our second Roubaix ride, our mechanic Matthias was leery of cranking up the bolt onto the rails. He asked what the torque was, and not knowing I replied “as far as you can go”. It was torqued so hard that when I tried to loosen the bolt to fix the seat clamp, it took an extra long allen key with a pipe on the end to budge it. That’s some serious torque, but the carbon wrap didn’t even have a mark. Impressive.

I think I’ve found my perfect match in the Aliante. At least that’s what my boys are telling me, and in this case it’s better to be doing the thinking down below than up top.

// Accessories and Gear // Product Review // Reverence

  1. I changed from a normal Arione to the Arione Vs model which fits my body much better. I’ve never had any numbness though, only sore sit bones and soft tissue during and after a long ride, with the Vs, soft tissue pain nearly totally gone.

  2. Watchoo talkin bout… I am looking at a two year old Swift and a four year old Team Pro, both with identical copper riveting at front and back.

    If anything I would say the Team Pro is slightly more cut away in the mid section, but otherwise identical, with most of the screw exposed.

    Copper rivets, yes, but an exposed screw ? I am suprised. None of Brooks current road saddles have this.

    http://www.brookssaddles.com/catalogue-and-shop/saddles/road+&+mtb/

    Perhaps you were able to get your hands on some old stock, in which case good for you.

  3. @Marcus

    @minion
    So your point is that of three choices one still should get a saddle that fits – and I have never done the bread thing. I just like perpetuating really stupid activities. By the way, how far do one’s sit bones move laterally when ones body moves the few inches between being on the drops or on the top of ones bars? Millimeters? Which brings me to your question about “AFL” – the sport you refer to is actually Australian Rules Football. The greatest ball sport in the world. But I won’t bother trying to convince you of that.

    Mini, we would never throw you in a ditch – you would just end up working in one if you came over here. You are just another well balanced kiwi (chips on both shoulders) who would fit in with all your other countrymen over here who perform menial (your name is spot on) tasks in Australia. To paraphrase Judge Smails, our country needs ditch diggers too.

    It’s like you couldn’t decide if you wanted to play cricket or rugby so you combined the worst of both.
    BTW, fuck digging ditches in this place it’s be full of snakes and kill you. Seems like there’s plenty of well balanced career minded Aussies willing to take on that task though.

  4. @Marcus
    @minion
    Both of you could attempt to do some research concerning sit bones — on your own merit. And then apply to your saddle as you see “fit” ((pun intended here)) and avoid sounding petty.

  5. @Vin’cenza

    No no, I like watching them fight about which island is better.

  6. @Vin’cenza

    @Marcus @minion Both of you could attempt to do some research concerning sit bones “” on your own merit. And then apply to your saddle as you see “fit” ((pun intended here)) and avoid sounding petty.

    Calm down Champ. You obviously haven’t been around these parts long enough to understand the symbiotic relationship that Minion and I share. Our “petty” exchanges are a key part of this website.

    And on that score things have been too nice around here for a long time. I couldn’t give a fuck about a bunch of losers’ having some shit trip to the bowels of Europe. I would like to argue with people about cycling matters. To that end I say that Australia is now the finest all-round cycling country in the world.

  7. @RedRanger

    @packfiller
    Dude!!! how did we not know about your new interview with Frank? interview!!!

    Uh….because I’m an idiot and never mentioned it! In my defense, we did it on the spot and I’d had a wee bit o’ beer by the time we did the interview. Those are a total blast and @packfiller and I are currently discussing how we might collaborate more regularly. Stand by.

  8. I have been through a bunch of saddles in the last few years before finally settling on a Kurve Snake. I tried all of the sit bone measurement tools etc but have found that the sit bone position is less than half the story. Some worked well climbing but were uncomfortable on the flat, others fit the bones but rubbed the inside of my legs etc. for me the only way to choose a saddle is find a shop that lets you try out a variety of saddles on training rides to find the one that suits.

  9. @Marcus

    @Vin’cenza

    @Marcus @minion Both of you could attempt to do some research concerning sit bones “” on your own merit. And then apply to your saddle as you see “fit” ((pun intended here)) and avoid sounding petty.

    Calm down Champ. You obviously haven’t been around these parts long enough to understand the symbiotic relationship that Minion and I share. Our “petty” exchanges are a key part of this website.

    And on that score things have been too nice around here for a long time. I couldn’t give a fuck about a bunch of losers’ having some shit trip to the bowels of Europe. I would like to argue with people about cycling matters. To that end I say that Australia is now the finest all-round cycling country in the world.

    Well touché then — and fuck off !! Mate !

  10. @frank
    No worries. Totally enjoyed the interview. Thanks again for the translation. I have a
    Rather strange question about setting up a saddle, namely the Arione, when setting it up level how are the rails oriented? I ask cause any time I see a pro bike with the Arione it looks like the rails are actually close to level but that leaves the actual saddle tipped down. Maybe it’s just a trick of perspective but it has me wondering.

  11. like this

  12. or from the cdale site itself

  13. @Clips and Straps

    Watchoo talkin bout… I am looking at a two year old Swift and a four year old Team Pro, both with identical copper riveting at front and back.

    If anything I would say the Team Pro is slightly more cut away in the mid section, but otherwise identical, with most of the screw exposed.

    Copper rivets, yes, but an exposed screw ? I am suprised. None of Brooks current road saddles have this. http://www.brookssaddles.com/catalogue-and-shop/saddles/road+&+mtb/

    Perhaps you were able to get your hands on some old stock, in which case good for you.

    Since all those photos are taken from the rear and above its hardly surprising you don’t see the screw at the front beneath the nose.

    Here is my Swift – a thing of beauty and comfort.

  14. @Vin’cenza

    @Marcus

    @Vin’cenza

    @Marcus @minion Both of you could attempt to do some research concerning sit bones “” on your own merit. And then apply to your saddle as you see “fit” ((pun intended here)) and avoid sounding petty.

    Calm down Champ. You obviously haven’t been around these parts long enough to understand the symbiotic relationship that Minion and I share. Our “petty” exchanges are a key part of this website.And on that score things have been too nice around here for a long time. I couldn’t give a fuck about a bunch of losers’ having some shit trip to the bowels of Europe. I would like to argue with people about cycling matters. To that end I say that Australia is now the finest all-round cycling country in the world.

    Well touché then “” and fuck off !! Mate !

    Excellent

  15. We were first introduced when I was just 19. I didn’t realize at the time that we were made for each other. Within a few short months, and following our first good rides, it became clearer – the fit was perfect. A decade of near bliss ensued. And then, although nothing had changed, I noticed I began to look at other saddles. Worse still, sometimes others men’s saddles too. I knew it was wrong, but it was so easy and felt exciting. There was nothing wrong with mine, deep down I knew this, but I began to think that another one could be better – they looked younger, racier, and faster. It wasn’t long before my pain began, but I kept going back for more. Saddle number 1 was discarded.

    Now, a further ten years on, I have realized my folly. A saddle is for life. And, actually, comfort is everything. Today I’m without a saddle at all, unless you count the cheap plastic ones I use from time to time. Most days it is just me and my seatpost.

    I’d give anything for the return of saddle number 1.

    My name is Monty. And I’ve been a completely selfish idiot.

  16. @Marcus

    @Vin’cenza

    @Marcus @minion Both of you could attempt to do some research concerning sit bones “” on your own merit. And then apply to your saddle as you see “fit” ((pun intended here)) and avoid sounding petty.

    Calm down Champ. You obviously haven’t been around these parts long enough to understand the symbiotic relationship that Minion and I share. Our “petty” exchanges are a key part of this website.

    And on that score things have been too nice around here for a long time. I couldn’t give a fuck about a bunch of losers’ having some shit trip to the bowels of Europe. I would like to argue with people about cycling matters. To that end I say that Australia is now the finest all-round cycling country in the world.

    On that note, Cobo > Cadel, mate!

  17. @RedRanger
    I think all of those are Antares, which has a bit of a kick up in the back. One from the site looks pretty level. On the others it’s hard to say; judging by the perspective it’s shot with a wide angle lens which can warp the perspective.

  18. P.S. The Swift has Ti rails so it is a modern version.

    On the Rolls, I used to have one of those. I believe Stuey O’Grady used one for a long time too.

    Personally I didn’t find it that comfortable – the San Marco Rolls is a formed shell covered with leather, so it doesn’t mold the way that the Brooks does, which has no backing or shell underneath.

    It is hard to see in photos but my Brooks are so molded to me they are shaped differently on left and right, as I have one leg slightly longer than the other. Because my right leg comes down more the saddles are noticeably lower on that side.

    And for anybody who is wondering why that screw is there, it connects to a sort of frame supporting the leather. You turn it slightly every year to keep the tension in the leather and stop it from sagging. You used to need a special tool from Brooks but in a radical innovation they now use a standard bolt.

  19. I chose to ride fi’zi:k on three bikes, and I’ve never looked back. They each have a different shape and contour, but I have a slightly different position on each bike. My road bike has the Antares, ‘cross bike has the Tundra, and my single-speed rigid 29er has the Arione CX.

  20. @Marcus

    @Vin’cenza

    @Marcus @minion Both of you could attempt to do some research concerning sit bones “” on your own merit. And then apply to your saddle as you see “fit” ((pun intended here)) and avoid sounding petty.

    Calm down Champ. You obviously haven’t been around these parts long enough to understand the symbiotic relationship that Minion and I share. Our “petty” exchanges are a key part of this website.
    And on that score things have been too nice around here for a long time. I couldn’t give a fuck about a bunch of losers’ having some shit trip to the bowels of Europe. I would like to argue with people about cycling matters. To that end I say that Australia is now the finest all-round cycling country in the world.

    Can’t win a a team pursuit or match sprint to save your freckly country though can you.

    Keep up princess, I AM in your country, residing in the retirement village you call Canberra, tuning your women and bludging off your social welfare.

    Yeah Australia would be a good place to ride if New Zealand wasn’t better. And there was a fucken hill within 200km of anything including other hills.

  21. @Monty

    We were first introduced when I was just 19. I didn’t realize at the time that we were made for each other. Within a few short months, and following our first good rides, it became clearer – the fit was perfect. A decade of near bliss ensued. And then, although nothing had changed, I noticed I began to look at other saddles. Worse still, sometimes others men’s saddles too. I knew it was wrong, but it was so easy and felt exciting. There was nothing wrong with mine, deep down I knew this, but I began to think that another one could be better – they looked younger, racier, and faster. It wasn’t long before my pain began, but I kept going back for more. Saddle number 1 was discarded.

    Now, a further ten years on, I have realized my folly. A saddle is for life. And, actually, comfort is everything. Today I’m without a saddle at all, unless you count the cheap plastic ones I use from time to time. Most days it is just me and my seatpost.

    I’d give anything for the return of saddle number 1.

    My name is Monty. And I’ve been a completely selfish idiot.

    Alright all, I’ll deal with the elephant in the room that is this post.
    I was smiling away when I read the first few lines, knowing where it was going, but enjoying it anyway.
    Then.
    “Today I’m without a saddle at all, unless you count the cheap plastic ones I use from time to time. Most days it is just me and my seatpost.”
    WTF??
    Too much info, Monty, too much. I really hope you can act on some of the recommendations above and find a good saddle, cos you are definitely in a bad place right now.

  22. @minion
    Canberra?!? Great choice. Hope that it’s a really special guy you have chased there.

  23. @ChrisO
    Jeepers, I’d be tightening that tension screw quickly before your sag is irreversible!

  24. @Oli

    @ChrisO
    Jeepers, I’d be tightening that tension screw quickly before your sag is irreversible!

    But if that happens he could just go back to the guys he bought it from and claim warranty:

  25. @Blah
    Ahahahahaaa! BRILLIANT!

  26. @minion

    @Marcus

    @Vin’cenza

    @Marcus @minion Both of you could attempt to do some research concerning sit bones “” on your own merit. And then apply to your saddle as you see “fit” ((pun intended here)) and avoid sounding petty.

    Calm down Champ. You obviously haven’t been around these parts long enough to understand the symbiotic relationship that Minion and I share. Our “petty” exchanges are a key part of this website.
    And on that score things have been too nice around here for a long time. I couldn’t give a fuck about a bunch of losers’ having some shit trip to the bowels of Europe. I would like to argue with people about cycling matters. To that end I say that Australia is now the finest all-round cycling country in the world.

    Can’t win a a team pursuit or match sprint to save your freckly country though can you.

    Keep up princess, I AM in your country, residing in the retirement village you call Canberra, tuning your women and bludging off your social welfare.

    Yeah Australia would be a good place to ride if New Zealand wasn’t better. And there was a fucken hill within 200km of anything including other hills.

    Two things:

    Canberra is not in Australia. It exists in a parallel plane known only as satans bottom. Anything of any nature that has anything or anyone to do with it does not really exist. There is simply no excuse for living there – none – bar the fact it is 1.5 hours drive from the tallest mountain ( kosciusko ) in Australia – and some spectacular cycling country. But you knew that.

    Carry on.

  27. @Marcus

    @minion

    It’s like an antipodean Jerry Springer show.
    Can’t wait to see who knocks over the furniture to bitchslap the other first.

  28. @mouse

    @Marcus

    @minion

    It’s like an antipodean Jerry Springer show.
    Can’t wait to see who knocks over the furniture to bitchslap the other first.

    The Aussie will. Kiwis Butchslip.

  29. @frank
    Sorry! I am not the one to post on someone else’s site all my junk…

    To give @Frank some credit, he does a better interview ‘lubricated’ than most do ‘dry’!!!

  30. @smithers
    Bwahahahahhaa! That does seem an apt description as far as I know. @Blah

    @mouse

    @Marcus

    @minion

    It’s like an antipodean Jerry Springer show.
    Can’t wait to see who knocks over the furniture to bitchslap the other first.

    The Aussie will. Kiwis Butchslip.

    Damn straight. I’d rather be bitchslapped than slapped by Butch.

  31. @smithers

    @minion
    I think you sell Canberra (aboriginal word for fucked place equidistant from Melbourne and Sydney where we shove all our politicians) short. It is the nation’s capital in not only politics, but also Porn and Fireworks.

    Minion, seriously, what the fuck made you move there? Although you should go riding with Stephen Hodge’s bunch (he can tell you what it was like to be JaJa’s domestique).

  32. @Marcus

    @smithers
    @minionI think you sell Canberra (aboriginal word for fucked place equidistant from Melbourne and Sydney where we shove all our politicians) short. It is the nation’s capital in not only politics, but also Porn and Fireworks.
    Minion, seriously, what the fuck made you move there? Although you should go riding with Stephen Hodge’s bunch (he can tell you what it was like to be JaJa’s domestique).

    SWMBO is a rather well paid public servant who works for the Federal govt, and so can’t work in the other big cities. We have a handful of mutual friends here, and teh cycling round here sold itself.
    My best mate lives in Melbourne, he’s a debauched fucker so I can nip down there quite frequently to stock up on the heroin and live kittens that make my existence here tolerable.

  33. @minion
    We needs a Melbourne Cogal.
    Dandenongs climbing fest.
    Yell out when you’re in need of more kittens.

  34. @mouse

    @minion
    We needs a Melbourne Cogal.
    Dandenongs climbing fest.
    Yell out when you’re in need of more kittens.

    Make it some time late June or in July and I’ll be in town, too. School holidays are awesome. Get to visit the home town for six to eight weeks a year.

  35. @Blah
    Hmm, yes.
    The weather should be suitably shit by that stage as well to really make it properly Belgian.
    Hands up any other Velominati interested.

  36. @mouse

    @Blah
    Hmm, yes.
    The weather should be suitably shit by that stage as well to really make it properly Belgian.
    Hands up any other Velominati interested.

    Crap weather indeed. One of my hesitations when buying my Melbourne bike was that it’s white. Oh well.

  37. @Blah
    Yeah, don’t worry. It’ll be raining hard enough that no dirt will stick to it.
    Had some absolute cracker rides this year through some deluges up there. Had on one ride an inch and a half of water running down the road I was climbing up.
    Good times.

  38. @mouse
    You know, I am actually looking forward to coming home over the break so I can ride in the rain. Rain here in Singapore is so ridiculously heavy so often that you (I) just don’t go out in it, and I’ve had to pull over an wait out the heavy stuff when caught out over 5km from home. Motorbikes pull over and wait it out under overpasses. Just can’t see anything, and I know through experience that drivers can’t see anything either.
    In Melb, though, different story. Last July I remember heading out into the Dandenongs in drizzle and just keeping on going when it got a bit heavier. It really is a bit of fun. Looking forward to wet and cold weather gear, too. Knicks and short sleeves here all year ’round. My rain jacket just leaves me wet through sweat as the temperature is 30 when it’s raining. Rather be wet with water.

  39. …and less heels too

  40. Just replaced the Antares on the ‘cross bke (a temporary measure) with an Aliante. Nice to see direct comparison and that the Aliante is probably more comfortable

  41. Aliante gets kudo’s from me.. 127 miles on Saturday on my new Aliante.. not as comfy as the other setup – Brooks B-17, Steel CoMotion, Fat Tires, and 95psi, vs Giant Defy Advanced, 110psi, and the Aliante, I’ll take it for a 15% speed improvement, and a setup that’s 10 lbs lighter.

  42. @RedRanger
    Most things are okay with those CDALE photos except those piece of shit FSA seatpins. Shit.

  43. Just popped a rather fine looking purple Antares on my bike. I haven’t gone mad, it’s a test saddle from my local, ahem, tritard shop. £30 gets me three weeks and as many saddle changes as I want and the money is discounted from any purchase I make at the end. The Cannondale branded saddle on my CAAD 8 tends to leave me numb on longer rides so I thought I’d try to find something that didn’t. It’s not bad but could be better.

    In terms of fitting/positioning, when people talk of a level saddle do you mean from front to back (over the whole length) or are we talking about the front portion only – the Antares is long and flat to the point where the sides flare out then it tilts up slightly. Level from front to back has the nose pointing up a bit.

    How does the white microtex covering hold up in terms of longevity and cleaning, is it as good as the bar tape? Is the 00 Wingflex version that much better or comfortable than the braided rail version?

  44. @Chris

    Due to shape and construction of Antares saddle when properly levelled the nose of the saddle should be pointed up slightly.Most people I know who uses this saddle say that’s the best way it works for them.Arione for example can be perfectly levelled cause it’s a flat saddle.If for some reason you’re not used to ride on a saddle with the nose pointed up then maybe it’s not the saddle for you.However I know many who said with this particular saddle nose up is the most comfortable set up even though the previous saddle they used were flat and levelled.Few test rides will give you the answer.Take a multi tool on a ride and play with the tilt adjustment a bit to see what works for you.

  45. @Chris

    Yeah, what @TT said.  Some saddles are ‘flat’ along their central axis, some are more ‘saddle’ like.

    For me, level saddle means level based on the mean horizontal line taken from the top of the front to the back.  Just use a spirit level, or use a countertop or brick courses to check.

  46. @TommyTubolare@mouse

    Thanks chaps. At the moment I got it flat front to back using a spirit level as suggested. My wife’s away with work so a good bit of the testing process will be done on the rollers which brings on the numbness quicker than when I’m out on the road so I soon know whether I’m on the right track or not.

  47. This is harder than I thought. The Antares was good but not entirely pain free so I’m testing the Aliante at the moment which seems to be slightly easier on my backside in what I call my primary position but it’s more of a one psotion saddle. With the Antares, there were several positions, the primary plonk-yer-‘rse-down-in-the-middle. on the rivit TT style and slide-to-the-back-climbing. The Aliante does offer that sort of freedom of movement.

    The testing has been a mixture of road rides (38-56 miles) and sessions on the rollers up to 1:15 hours although that feels like more as there is less moving around and no out of the saddle work.

    I think it may be a step in the wrong direction but I think I’ll give the Arione a go next.

    Also turns out that the test deal isn’t three weeks long but three weeks with each saddle.

  48. @Chris

    Have you checked out fi'zi:k’s website?  They suggest choosing the saddle based on how flexible you are (i.e., can you touch your toes?  If not, how close can you get?)  I think it’s a reasonable starting place — I’ve been on an Arione for the most part, and I can usually touch my toes.  I’ve all leg, so I think that means I’m pretty flexible.  I tried an Antares last summer, and something about how it’s shaped encouraged me to have a bit of bend in the lower back, whereas the Arione for me encourages a flatter back.  The kink the Antares put in my back was no good and I’ve been back on the Arione for the last year, more or less satisfactorily.

  49. @Nate I did look at their website before starting the process but may have underestimated my flexibility. if you were to randomly ask me to touch my toes I come short by about 1 cm but when I’m warmed up I an do it no bother. That suggests that I’m probably more flexible when I’m on the bike. We shall see next week when I put the Arione through it’s paces.

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