From a Brooks B17 to Fizik Arione
This isn't a long distance-specific question...but I'm posting this here because this crowd is more likely to have ridden a Brooks than the 'Road' crowd, plus I've posted here before and you are some good people While I do ride 100km distances 5-10 times a year, I'm not truly a long distance cyclist like some of you.
I have three drop bar bikes and two of them have a B17. I love the support and firmness of this saddle, and the fact that after 100km+ of riding my butt is always comfy. However, despite a lot of fiddling, fitting, etc., I find the contour of the saddle not to my liking as it seems that I always end up with sore arms/shoulders (where my sit bones rest, the saddle angles down, so I have to change to nose up drastically to flatten this section...and it's not working). On the same bike, at the same distances, a flatter profile saddle solves this problem easily (albeit my butt is a bit sore).
I tried a Fizik Arione and after getting the fore/aft correct, with the saddle level I'm pretty happy. But I do find the base model a bit squishy. So my question (at last) is whether other Arione models are firmer, like a Brooks...or if what I'm after isn't out there because no Fizik will feel like a Brooks. Have you ridden a Brooks and an Arione and what's worked best for you?
My third bike has a B15 Swallow, and while it is much flatter than the B17, it's angled enough that I feel it still isn't ideal (I like FLAT).
Shorts and saddles are very personal things. You just have to keep trying different ones until you find one that works for you. Have you tried other saddles besides Brooks & Fizik?
And just because you find one particular saddle to be the most comfortable you've ever ridden, don't expect it to be the same for everyone! Example: I cannot tolerate a Brooks saddle, I just hate them! I use a San Marco Regal, which I have found to be comfortable (when used with thick top-end Adidas shorts) for over 40 hours straight on the bike. But I don't expect anyone else to feel the same way (I would be very surprised if my view was shared by even one or two others!). Chacun a son gout.
Sorry for not giving a direct answer, but my view is tainted by my hatred for Brooks saddles!
First of all, I loved Regals when I rode them and I knew several cyclists who preferred them. I'm referring to the steel rail version, not the titanium version which didn't ride at all like the steel did. I moved away from Regal when I got into ultra distance, but may have stayed with it if I had experimented with using chamois cream.
I've also ridden B17's for years now. I recently moved away from them because they tend tend to deform too much for my liking. I'm riding a Berthoud touring saddle now. It's much narrower and much firmer than the B17. It's so firm that just now, after 1500 miles of "break in", does it feel good on a 50 miler. I don't know how much of the improvement has come from leather stretch and how much from the development of my gluteus muscles. I'd been off the bike for 3 years, running, and that area had atrophied. It IS firm and gives me the feeling of being flat. I set it up level. Again, how can you recommend a saddle to a stranger, particularly one that is so expensive. I will say that most vendors who sell this saddle honor the manufacturer's 6 month unconditional guarantee. I believe that means you can return with no explanation. (Certainly confirm that with the vendor.) I prefer it's design to the B17's and it's providing the type of ride I'd hoped for. However the jury is still out on how comfortable it will be on multi-day distance events.
The B17 and Arione are very different just in their widths alone. I use a B17 on one bike and a Specialized Romin 167mm(close enough to the B17) on the other. I get the same support but with less weight, no nose up, and more leg clearance on the sides. And I don't find it squishy at all even though it has some gel cushioning. They are a little hard to adjust because they have this squiggly shape that throws off the eye. I used the Romin saddle on both of my brevets without a problem.
Last edited by hairnet; 09-04-14 at 09:15 PM.
I've tried many saddles over 10+ years. A few years ago I tried a B17 and liked it, but was always aware of the slope and the effect on my riding posture. But to me it was more comfortable than previous saddles I had tried.
I'm only 140 pounds and have a skinny ass...so I don't need all of the B17 for support. It was the firmness and long ride comfort that was of benefit for me. Like I said, I tried an Arione and found it equally supportive (I guess the B17's excess wasn't necessary for me), without the posture issues. I was on it again today and found it less squishy (maybe getting more use to it). So it seems like it's nearly perfect for me...but I'll keep trying.
My original question (bolded) was whether other Arione models are firmer, and whether folks could say they moved from standard Arione model to another Arione model and found it 'better' (I know the scenario is quite specific...but you never know). Of course this is all subjective...it's the internet But I'm not asking "what saddle is right for me?"...
I'm another fan of Gilles Berthoud touring saddles compared to B17 (have one of each). It is distinctly flatter both front-back and side-side. Less nose-up tilt required, no chafing from the skirts flaring out, thick and firm leather that looks like it will last a very long time (and easily replaced when that's needed). Mine was broken in at about 500 miles. Like a Brooks, a two-bolt seatpost will help to get the angle dialed in "just right".
FWIW, I also have a Fizik Aliante VS, which seems like a very nice saddle, but isn't nearly as long ride comfy as the leather saddles, at least not at my level of fitness. I'm learning (all over again after decades of cycling) that when I ride harder, the saddles and bars get more comfortable because I'm putting less weight on them compared to the pedals.
Last edited by Dfrost; 09-05-14 at 01:03 PM.
I currently have the following saddles on three different bikes; a Brooks professional, Arione Cx, Arione VS. Additionally, I have put a few hundred miles on a friends bike with a B17. Maybe I'm weird or my butt just isn't as picky, but I like them all. I did a 200 mile ride on the Arione CX in July. My butt was the least of my concerns on that ride.
I find my Ariones pretty much interchangeable, I don't feel the channel in the VS offers any great improvement in comfort or blood flow to vital areas. While the saddles all work well for me they are all used on different style bikes with different riding positions. My Ariones are on my carbon road bike and cross bike. I would not use one on a bike with a more upright position as they would not be comfortable in such a position. MyBrooks professional just got moved from my single speed with a position similar to my carbon road bike to a bike with a more upright position. It is not as comfortable with the upright riding position. It will be moved back to the SS and replaced with a B17 on that bike. I find a B17 ideal for me with a more upright position, but that is just me.
If you want an Arione with a little more cushion, try the latest version of the VS. They have a deeper channel and seem to have a bit more padding than mine.
Saddles are so very personal. All of my experiences above may be completely opposite of others. Unfortunately the only way to figure it out is to try. Not just a few miles either. My preferences have been developed over 1000s of miles and several different saddles.
I had never heard of Berthoud saddles until I asked this question. I checked them out on the internet (wall bike website) and can quickly see they're much flatter than a Brooks. I had also googled the Regal and it looks flatter as well. Maybe one of these are the answer, for me. Unfortunately living in Canada there is 'less' access to some of these saddles than the US. I'll continue to investigate, thanks!
Originally Posted by Dfrost
As a last resort, you could take the Fizik you like - or a cheaper used one off ebay - and send it to a saddle restorer with a request to use firmer foam - assuming the saddle uses foam - when they recover. Or do it yourself:
How to recover an old bicycle seat