It might be expensive but the new Fizik Arione R1 saddle is lightweight and very, very comfortable.
Fizik released the first Arione back in 2002 and it has become a modern classic loved by many. It's a little risky, then, to redesign it, but Fizik have released three new models: the 00, this R1, and the R3. For details on the range, check out our previous story.
The R1 comes with a carbon themoplastic composite WingFlex shell. WingFlex? Essentially, the shell is designed so that the sides will bend a little when your thighs push down so as not to impede your pedalling. The nose is just the slightest bit wider than previously and there's a little more padding there.
The cover is Microtex – a synthetic material rather than leather – while the rails are carbon braided – 'a sleeve of braided carbon fibers filled with unidirectional carbon fibres' in Fizik's own words. They support the whole of the shell from nose to tail. In terms of weight, our review saddle hit the road.cc Scales of Truth at 148g – just a smidge higher than Fizik's claimed 145g.
That's light. If you want a lighter saddle you can find one but Fizik say they weren't willing to compromise comfort here - and they haven't. This is the most comfortable Arione I've ever used.
I'm recovering from a broken elbow at the moment (I know, tragic) and so when I'm riding I've been unable to get out of the saddle as much as usual. My arm isn't that strong yet so I'm spending a lot of time sitting down. Despite that, I've been really comfy on the Arione.
I find the amount of flex in the shell and the degree of padding to be bang on. The Arione softens the bumps and checks vibration just enough without isolating you totally from useful road feedback. I have an Arione here from way back that I've always found a little too harsh for long-ride comfort. The R1 is more forgiving; the padding on the nose is more effective. If you don't really notice the saddle too much on a long ride, that's always a good thing, and I've found that to be the case here.
I've got on well with the shape too, particularly the nose width. I'm never totally sure why the Arione needs to extend that far to the rear – it's 30cm long and I never use the whole thing – but it's there if you want to shift your weight all the way back there.
The Arione is intended for riders with a flexible spine. Fizik's Spine Concept is designed to put you on a saddle that's right for your level of flexibility so go to the website and see what they reckon is best for you.
Lightweight and extremely comfortable – the only downside is the price.
road.cc test report
Make and model: Fizik Arione R1 saddle
Size tested: White
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?
Fizik say this is a saddle for those with good spine flexibility. Go to www.fizik.com to find out all about that.
They say, "The new carbon Thermoplastic Composite WingFlexTM provides the best performance with optimized stiffness-to-weight construction.
Shell: Carbon Thermoplastic Composite WingFlexTM
Rail: Carbon Braided 7x9 mm
Cover: Black Microtex
Thigh Glides: Black Microtex
Weight: 145 gr
It's very high quality – no doubt about that.
I don't see any reason for this saddle to be less durable than a more meaty one.
You can get lighter saddles, of course, but you'll probably take a hit on comfort.
Fizik are more about high quality than cheap prices. They don't really do entry level products.
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
Really well. Comfort is always a personal thing – you might not necessarily find the same as me – but I've found this an incredibly comfortable saddle.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
The level of comfort on offer at such a low weight.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product
The price is a tricky one to swallow.
Did you enjoy using the product? Yes.
Would you consider buying the product? Yes.
Would you recommend the product to a friend? Yes.
About the tester
Age: 41 Height: 190cm Weight: 75kg
I usually ride: My best bike is:
I've been riding for: Over 20 years I ride: Most days I would class myself as: Expert
I regularly do the following types of riding: time trialling, commuting, club rides, sportives, general fitness riding,
Mat has worked for loads of bike magazines over the past 20 years, and been editor of 220 Triathlon and Cycling Plus. He's been road.cc technical editor for seven years, testing bikes, fettling the latest kit, and trying out the most up-to-the-minute clothing. We send him off around the world to get all the news from launches and shows too. He has won his category in Ironman UK 70.3 and finished on the podium in both marathons he has run. Mat is a youthful 45-year-old Cambridge graduate who did a post-grad in magazine journalism, and he is a past winner of the Cycling Media Award for Specialist Online Writer.