It’s common when you go on a ride to find your cadence following music. It may be generated by your mindset (Summertime Blues on a scorching day in Santiago Canyon, for instance), or by the last song you listened to before you started. More often than not it ends up being something catchy and probably thoroughly obnoxious working its way through your thoughts, and maybe resonating with whatever is going right or wrong for you at the time.
So, as we breeze through the holiday season, it’s easy to imagine that there are lot of cyclists out there, some stuck in the looping Little Drummer Boy’s mindless thrumming rhythm line, and others perched uncomfortably, riding gingerly, probably hearing (and otherwise experiencing) the “Nutcracker Suite.”
And to think that they may just be a saddle away–a Fizik Kurve, specifically– from “Hark! The Herald Angels Sing!” lighting up their mental playlists. That, or the Hallelujah Chorus.
Hyperbole? Not in my book…these saddles are a cut above the myriad other choices out there.
Fizik’s Kurve models are another step in the evolution of the company’s top three road saddles, the Aliante, Arione and Antares.
If you’ve been cycling for a while, you may remember the debut of the Aliante, one of the first road saddles to include Kevlar and carbon as rail and shell materials: you may also recall that reviewers were impressed by the saddle’s “all day comfort” and sub-200 gram weight, including padding and top skin.
The Arione followed, flatter and narrower than the Aliante, and incorporating “Wing Flex,” designed to give the saddle more compliance and not inhibit the rider’s thighs. Rounding out the triumvirate was the Antares, with the Aliante’s width and the Arione’s flat shape (and a variation with Wing Flex, the Antares “OO,” built per pro rider Ivan Basso’s request, as the story goes).
Along the way, Fizik created a sort of Island of Dr. Moreau-inspired lineage to explain the saddles, based on spinal flexibility, assigning the Aliante rider (less flexible, and tending to find a position and power the crank) the animal avatar “Bull,” the flexible Arione cyclist was christened “Snake,” and the in-between Antares aficionado dubbed “Chameleon.”
Last year, each of the saddles was produced in a “Versus VS” variation, with a channel to relieve perineal pressure. Baby steps, in terms of what was to come.
Maybe it’s a disservice to use the word evolution, mutation is more accurate, as Fizik has essentially fused the DNA of their line with parts of the genetic makeup of sister company Brooks.
(Cue a cackle from Dr. Moreau, please).
Not the heavy part, or the short rails, but traits of suppleness and the ability to tune the saddle’s flex.
The new Kurve saddles, at least the one I’ve been riding and from rider reports, distribute pressure like a well-broken in leather seat.
You can get the full technical and features-benefits story about the Mobuis one-piece rail system and the multi-part and density shell at Fizik’s Kurve micro site. Arguably, the Tuner may be the most eye-catching item.
The Tuner system allows you some latitude in setting stiffness. According to Fizik, the original prototypes had three options: soft, medium, and hard. The production saddles have soft and hard modules, as most of the testers felt the medium Tuner wasn’t perceptibly different from the other two.
The saddle I was loaned, a Chameleon mirroring the Antares OO I’ve been using, had the soft Tuner installed (and from what I’ve seen that’s the way they are packaged). I intended to ride it that way for a week and then switch.
I didn’t. The saddle was too damn good. Finally, after three weeks, I broke down and changed to the hard Tuner (not as intuitive as it looks at first, but there’s a nice video tutorial available).
At first I really didn’t feel much difference, but after an hour I felt the saddle was less forgiving, mostly through the nose. Still, better than most. I went back to the soft one the next ride.
But I don’t think the Tuner is the star of the system: it’s just one of the elements that, combined, make the Kurve series exceptional saddles.
Are there any cons? Well, the saddles aren’t cheap. You can have any color, to quote Henry Ford, “as long as it’s black.” And the Fizik people really do keep track of their demo saddles. And they want mine (“Precioussss!) back. A pity.