Fizik have added an all-new saddle to their range for 2014 - the Volta, which draws on classic saddle shapes but realised in high tech modern materials. The Volta isn't the only new product in Fizik's 2014 lineup their range of Cyrano handlebars and stems, which we had a sneak peek of earlier this year and then saw being used by the AG2R team will also be hitting the shops. The Cyrano handlebar offered in three shapes uses the spine flexibility fit system - snake, chameleon, bull, which is arleady an integral part of their existing road saddle range.
Volta saddle added to range - classic shape, modern construction
Despite already offering a range of saddle shapes, Fizik decided there was room for another, and developed the Volta, which will be out in 2014. The shape, rounded with a flat nose and deep sides, echoes classic saddles such as the Selle San Marco Rolls with a bit of the Selle Italia Turbo thrown in. Both are classic saddles that have been around for years and favoured by many professional cyclists right up to the present.
The Volta has been a long time in development, Fizik told us they first came up with the idea four years ago. The goal, says Fizik, was to bring back the old shape of saddle (similar to the aforementioned Rolls and Turbo) which was hugely popular back in the day. Fizik reckon this shape has been forgotten because aesthetics, the desire for a saddle that has a very slim and svelte side profile, has mean saddles with deep sides like this have been passed over in favour of more modern designs such as their own Arione. In many respects what they've ended up with is a saddle that looks, to our eyes at least, a lot like an Arione with sideskirts… so quite good then.
To design the Volta Fizik first analysed the shapes of as many deep sided saddles as they could find, including those from competitors, parent company Selle Royal, and including the Brooks B17 from sister company Brooks, saddles. They also made a point of looking at no longer available deep-sided performance saddles. What they found when they studied the scans was that 95% of the saddles shared the same side shape, with the same two contact points between the saddle and body. Despite variations in shape, width and length, the important finding was that they located the sit bones in the same place on the saddle too. All of this fed into the design of the Volta.
One problem Fizik say they identified with such classically shaped saddles is the perception that they’re heavy, the deep sides making them look weighty. The Volta has a very modern construction aimed at keeping the weight of the saddle as low as possible. A base made from thermoformed composite carbon and injected with nylon achieves the low weight and offers flexibility, for comfort. The padding is the same as that used on their other saddles such as the Arione and the Aliante. A one-piece carbon rail design that wraps around at the nose and five small bolts secure it in place, so you can replace it easily, to increase the lifespan of the saddle (along similar lines to a Brooks saddle). Fizik were at pains to point out that the bolts in the prototype we saw at Eurobike would be replaced with something more elegant looking on production versions. The colour scheme might change too.
There’s clearly a demand for traditionally shaped saddles, despite the plethora of modern hi-tech designs. The Selle San Marco Regal, which has a similar shape to the Volta and was likely one of the key saddles Fizik had in mind when penning the new Volta, was first introduced in 1984 and was the favoured choice of Greg LeMond, Mario Cipollini, Tom Boonen. Boonen, despite sponsorship agreements, until recently still used old Regal saddles covered over to remove any identifying features.
Fizik's reasoning in developing the Volta is that there is a generation of cyclists who grrew up with deeper sided saddles on their road bikes and who got on well with them, but who can no longer find such a classically shaped saddle that will also look good on their latest bike, or whose original saddle has now reached the end of its lifesapn. Fizik reckon the Volta will look good on any peforformance bike whether it's a much loved steel machine with a few seasons under it's belt or the latest top end carbon fibre. That's the idea anyway.
Handling it there's no doubting it's a very handsome bit of kit, it's certainly light too, on a par with other performance saddles we'd say. Ironically though the saddle it put us most in mind of was Fizik's own mould-breaking Arione with the sculpted side cutaways filled in.
There isn’t the Wingflex feature from Fizik’s other saddles, but the company says there’s enough natural flex in the saddle sides that such a feature isn’t required. There will be two versions of the saddle, the R1 with the carbon braided base and rails, and the R3 which features alloy rails to keep the price a little more affordable. Fizik expects availability very soon, no word on UK prices yet, but we’ll let you know when we get them. There’ll be four colour options.
Cyrano Spine Fit handlebar range officially launches
The new Cyrano handlebar and stem, which we first saw at the start of the year means it's mission accomplished for Fizik in their quest to have a product range for ever rider/bike contact point (unless they've got plans for pedals too). We first reported on the Cyrano bars, stems and seat post back in January, stems and seatposts. We then spotted them at Paris-Roubaix where AG2R were putting the kit through its paces and got a sneak peek that same month at Fizik HQ.
At Eurobike Fizik were showing of their complete range of Cyrano R1 carbon bars matched up with R3 aluminium stems - we'd guess there will be an R1 carbon stem at some point, but as yet it hasn't broken cover. The R3 version of the bars - which are aluminium rather than carbon weren't on display in Germany but we saw them at the sneak peek back in the spring.
Like their saddles, both R1 and R3 bars fall into three flexibility designations, the aim, hopes Fizik, to make choosing the right handlebar shape easier. Anyone who has shopped for a handlebar will know there is a huge choice of widths, drops, reach and shapes. It can all get very confusing.
The R1 Snake handlebar
Using spine flexibility, Fizik developed a fitting system and split their three road saddles into the Bull, Chameleon and Snake: the Arione, Antares and Aliante respectively. So in the handlebar range at one end you have the Bull handlebar with a 130mm drop and 80mm reach and traditional bend, while the Snake handlebar has as longer 85mm reach and deeper 140mm reach and an anatomical bend shape. The Chameleon bars sits somewhere in the middle. There’ll be three width options across the board, 40, 42 and 44cm.
The R1 Bull handlebar
The R1 bars pictured here are the mid-range carbon fibre offerings. There's also a more affordable aluminium R3 range and a superlight carbon 00 lineup, with the same shapes offered at each price point. No R2 yet, maybe that’s one for the future.
There are of course matching R1 and R3 stems and seatposts so you can give your bike the matching finishing kit it deserves. There’s no 00 carbon stem, yet. There’s plenty of length and rise options on offer as well to help everyone get the correct fit, from 70 to 130mm and 7° and 20° rise options.
More at www.fizik.it/en/
David has worked on the road.cc tech team since July 2012. Previously he was editor of Bikemagic.com and before that staff writer at RCUK. He's a seasoned cyclist of all disciplines, from road to mountain biking, touring to cyclo-cross, he only wishes he had time to ride them all. He's mildly competitive, though he'll never admit it, and is a frequent road racer but is too lazy to do really well. He currently resides in the Cotswolds.