Review: Specialized Power Pro Saddle
Saddles come in so many shapes and sizes yet finding ‘the one’ can be a lengthy (and expensive) business. Over the years, I reckon I’ve tried somewhere in the region of twenty-five different seats on my various bicycles and in doing so I’ve discovered that appearances can be deceiving – what looks comfortable frequently isn’t and vice versa. I also found that what works for one person often really doesn’t for another so it’s worth canvassing opinion far and wide rather than taking advice from just one woman. Better yet, just demo saddles yourself.
I know that comfort on the saddle is important to men as well as women but though I may be biased, it seems to be that many more women than men are actually in significant pain down below and therefore constantly searching for a solution. Friction, numbness, soreness and pressure in the wrong places are a real issue and can have an impact on our enjoyment of a ride (and other non-cycling things too!).
Personally, I like a saddle with a cut out or a deep channel as that ensures that no pressure is put on our most, ahem, delicate part so I was drawn to the Specialized Power Pro partly for that reason, even though it’s not a women’s specific saddle. I’ve long been considering trying something such as an ADAMO but was put off by the fact the two ‘ends’ are separate, having heard they can move independently and that they’re a bit too far apart for some people. Also, they look dreadful! What also stood out about the Spesh was it looked wide, short and had a closed cut out.
Would all these design features be of help? There was only one way to find out so I asked Specialized for one to try.
A new shape and fit
I measured my sit bones beforehand as the saddle is available in two widths – 143mm and 155mm – using a primitive method of sitting on a piece of paper as I was unable to get to a Specialized stockist. Opting for the narrowest saddle I was surprised when it arrived that is looked quite wide at the back (even though I was kind of expecting it) but I think that’s just because the nose is so short and the sides are sort of winged.
The packaging bore a sticker instructing me to position the saddle 3cm further back than a regular saddle but I’d already taken my old one off and therefore had to just guess where to situate it. It seems that I somehow managed to get the position right but speaking to fellow users of this saddle I’d consider that rather lucky – many friends have mentioned that it took a lot of adjustments to get the position spot on.
Once on, I wondered whether I’d miss the nose of the saddle, recalling that I sometimes shuffle forward a bit when putting power down and kind of perch on the end of my seat. But I can honestly say that at no point have I ever missed it, I think because the superb shape of the saddle means you are already in an affective position and don’t need to move. The lack of a nose turned out to be a real positive – it simply means there’s less saddle to irritate you.
The saddle comes in four different specs, the Pro that I tried being one down from the top S-Works version. The carbon shell is really stiff and It’s minimally and firmly padded so that you don’t lose power.
You might think that the lack of padding would make it hard on your backside but for some curious reason it actually doesn’t, which I think is because the shape is so good. Those gently sloping shoulders supported my bum perfectly and the light padding’s relative lack of squish or ‘give’ meant I wasn’t rocking or moving around as I pedaled. The edge of the saddle where the upper meets the shell is quite hard and in my opinion could do with being slightly more rounded.
Weight and other features
When it comes to weight, well considering the price it’s not as light as I’d like. With a carbon shell and titanium rails (as opposed to the S-Works’ all carbon shell and rails) the Pro comes in at 211g. But having said that, I could probably drop 50g by going to the toilet before a ride, so who cares.
Another pretty cool feature is the SWAT integrated mounts on the rear of the saddle for neatly attaching a bottle cage or tool roll. I haven’t used them as you need a specific cage/roll, neither of which I have but I might buy the tool roll as I like the way it looks.
A bit of a game changer
In the time this saddle has been on the market it’s gained a cult following and I can see why. It might not be for everyone but those that like it, love it. It’s a really comfortable, high performance saddle and a bit of a game changer. In fact, it’s now my favourite race saddle as it works so incredibly well when you’re riding on the hoods.