The Specialized Ruby Expert saddle is 'made for superior performance on long rides' and comes with what Specialized calls 'level 2' padding. Saddle comfort is highly subjective, but I found it very comfortable/unnoticeable on shorter rides of two or three hours, a little more 'telling' towards the end of all-day outings.
I have less than two weeks to find my perfect saddle – that's when the bike transport people are coming to pick up my bike ahead of the Deloitte Ride Across Britain, nine days riding Land's End to John o' Groats, 100ish miles each day. Is the Ruby Expert The One? I'm not absolutely totally convinced, but I think it's pretty near.
First off, I think it looks really good. It's slim and racy looking, and I really like the smooth matt cover – water-resistant Micromatrix. It's also very well made, with every bit neatly finished. It's made with a carbon-reinforced shell and hollow titanium rails and is a decent if not superlight weight: 256g for the 155mm width, 254g for the 143mm. That does mean it's put on weight from the previous (or previous to the previous) version, which Lara reviewed back in 2011 – 49g to be precise.
It's available in a 168mm width as well, but I've been testing the narrower two. Why two? Well, I sat on the 'assometer' in Specialized dealer Total Fitness in Bath and found I was right on the cusp of the two. (The assometer measures how wide your sit bones are, which determines which saddle width will suit you best.) How to decide which to go for? In my case I've been sent both to test, but in the real world you also get the option of trying them out to see which suits best, which is a great idea. Other shops/saddle makers also offer such services, so it's worth asking at your local bike shop.
Slimmer equals 2g lighter, but I think – and it's actually been quite hard to tell – I think I get on very slightly better with the wider one. It might be partly that it's what I'm used to, having been using a 155mm Specialized BG Ariel for years.
The Ariel certainly has more squish, and I'm not wholly convinced there's quite enough squish in the Ruby Expert's foam and strategically placed gel for nine consecutive all-day rides (there's even less in the Ruby Pro – if you prefer less padding), but what the Ruby does have is a nice lack of stitching around the edge – something that could become irritating on the Ariel.
I'm not sure why the design includes a tape line across one side, though – surely the completely smooth cover of the previous iteration would be preferable? The fewer potentially intrusive elements the better? Having said that, I haven't been able to feel it – even when riding without padded shorts on quick rides between car and office. (The previous model is still available to buy – there are buying links below this review – but be aware that it has lighter 'level 1' padding.)
At £115 the Ruby Expert isn't a cheap seat, but if the general idea appeals – a racy, slim look, a little but not too much padding, a good weight, a central cutout – and, more importantly, you try it out and find that it's COMFORTABLE, that price tag will very quickly be forgotten. You could, of course, seek out cheaper options – Siobhan got on well with Fabric's Scoop and that's £50, and the Selle Italia Diva Flow Gel, which is £95, is a popular choice. I have one on my custom-made Paulus Quiros; it's closer in squish-terms to the Ariel than the Ruby, but also has a similar number of stitched seams...
Otherwise, it's too soon to be able to comment on the Ruby Expert's 'Adaptive Edge technology' – which Specialized explains as 'base construction technology that allows the saddle's outer edge to adapt to the shape of the body'. If it does accompany me to the north of Scotland, I shall report back...
A very well made saddle that balances good looks, weight and comfort, though maybe just a tiny bit more padding would be nice
road.cc test report
Make and model: Specialized Ruby Expert saddle
Size tested: 155
Tell us what the product is for, and who it's aimed at. What do the manufacturers say about it? How does that compare to your own feelings about it?
Specialized says: "The Ruby Expert features Adaptive Edge base construction technology that allows the saddle's outer edge to adapt to the shape of the body. With hollow titanium rails, a carbon-reinforced shell, and Body Geometry shape, the Ruby Expert is made for superior performance on long rides."
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?
Specialized lists these features:
Women's Body Geometry cutout is scientifically tested and ergonomically designed.
Stiff, carbon-reinforced shell with flexible Adaptive Edge technology.
Super-light padding with gel inserts for comfort and support on longer rides.
Lightweight and durable, hollow titanium rails.
Tough, lightweight, water-resistant Micromatrix™ cover.
Level 2 padding: Medium density foam with Gel for additional cushioning.
SWAT™ compatible mounts molded into the saddle base allow for sleek and integrated storage solutions.
Size 143mm / Weight 252g
Size 155mm / Weight 253g
Size 168mm / Weight 260g
I wasn't completely without numb-bum syndrome on longer rides, but it was bearable. Unnoticeable on shorter rides of a couple or three hours.
The saddle has a matt finish that might show up scuffs, but I've been careful and so far it's (they're) looking good.
On shorter rides I've found it extremely comfy and unnoticeable; on some longer rides it's become noticeable, more so the narrower width model – though how much that's down to shorts, chamois cream and riding conditions is hard to say. I think ideally I'd like just a little more padding.
You can buy cheaper saddles, which might suit you well; that's not to say this is too expensive or not worth it. I'd pay £115 for a comfortable bottom.
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
It performed well, is a good weight, and looks nicely understated.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
The comfort, at least on shorter rides – and the look: the matt finish and subtle branding.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product
Why put a 'line' across it when it could just be completely smooth? And I think I'd like just a little more padding.
Did you enjoy using the product? Yes
Would you consider buying the product? Maybe. I'm not fully convinced it's my ideal saddle, but it's a good contender.
Would you recommend the product to a friend? Yes
Use this box to explain your score
Rating a saddle is quite hard, given how subjective comfort is. It's a really well made saddle, looks great and is a good weight – so on all those I'd say it's an 8. I'd love it to be exceptional or perfect on comfort, and cheaper would be nice... but overall I'd say it's 'very good'.
About the tester
I usually ride: Vitus Venon My best bike is: Paulus Quiros
I've been riding for: Over 20 years I ride: Most days I would class myself as: Experienced
I regularly do the following types of riding: commuting, sportives, general fitness riding
Tass is our production pedant, who boldly goes hunting for split infinitives, rogue apostrophes and other things up with which she will not put. She's ridden off-road but much prefers on, hasn't done half the touring she'd like to, and loves paper maps.