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Fizik's Antares R5 Kium Road Saddle is surprisingly comfortable for speed-orientated road riding, and the build quality is top-notch.
The Antares R5 sits in Fizik's Chameleon family of contact points. This is the mid-point of a three-category range created according to different levels of rider flexibility, which also includes handlebars (the other two are Snake/flexible and Bull/rigid). It's 275mm long and 142mm wide and Fizik describes its shape as 'wide and slightly curved in profile, which is ideal for riders with medium spine flexibility'.
The shell is a carbon/nylon reinforced composite – much like you'd find in race shoe soles. It incorporates 'Wing-Flex technology', which refers to the sides that theoretically yield to prevent chafing under effort. This is thinly padded and topped off with a synthetic and seemingly hardwearing Microtex leatherette cover.
Continuing the lightweight, springy theme are Kium rails, another clever composite in-house titanium alloy. I'm used to titanium being matt grey, so the rich lustre with lazer-etched detailing for easy alignment initially threw me off the scent. Following the trend for integration, these are fully compatible with Fizik's clip system range of accessories.
For the most part the saddle lives up to the hype. My Holdsworth TT build usually sports a 143mm Specialized Toupe, so was an obvious candidate. Swapping over to the Antares also shaved a few grams.
Coming from the Specialized, the Fizik felt a little harsh to begin with, though several 20-mile outings later and, for the most part, any reservations largely evaporated.
Hunkered low on said machine's pursuit bars and concentrating on maintaining 100rpm throughout, the subtle flex from the sides genuinely seemed to improve comfort. This compensated for the thin-pile padding, which led to some saddle sores with low-rent shorts. Reverting to mid/higher end garments addressed this, regardless of machine or road surface quality.
The Microtex cover's texture strikes just the right balance, allowing easy, intentional movements without constantly slipping around, or feeling like you're attached to a strip of flypaper. That said, 70-mile rides are pretty much my limit on minimalist designs, even allowing for those flexible sides and springy hollow rails.
Despite regularly being leant against walls and the like, the saddle seems pretty rugged, showing no signs of distress.
When all's said and done, contact points are incredibly personal, so comfort is always subjective. The Antares isn't outlandishly expensive given the specifications, and I'd recommend taking a closer look if you were seeking to shave a few grams from a race/TT bike. However, for me at least, there are better options for endurance events.
Impressive lightweight saddle for racers and middle distance riders looking to shave a few grams
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road.cc test report
Make and model: Fizik Antares R5 Kium
Size tested: Length: 275mm Width: 142mm
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 says: "The special alloy K:ium features a high strength-to-weight ratio and advanced corrosion resistance. It's 8% lighter than solid titanium.
Antares R5: the Antares shape is wide and slightly curved in profile which is ideal for riders with medium spine flexibility.
The Antares R5 benefits from improved weight distribution and a strong, supportive Carbon reinforced nylon shell and alloy K:ium rail, with Wing Flex technology which enables flexibility where your thighs meet the saddle. Made for Chameleon."
Impressive minimalist design for racing and middle distance road riding.
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?
Shell: Carbon reinforced nylon WingFlex™
Cover: Black Microtex
Thigh Glides: Black / Red Microtex
Dimensions: 275x142 mm
Integrated Clip System compatible
Very well made. Some form of scuff bumpers to protect the cover when leaning bikes up against walls etc would be welcomed.
Comfort is extremely personal but, for the most part, it has been compatible with my derriere – up to around the 70-mile mark.
Good value for a very well made saddle that uses high quality materials.
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
The R5 Kium is a very long, narrow design perfect for those of us with relatively narrow sit bones. The combination of carbon composites and titanium rails gives a surprisingly compliant ride and compensates for the minimal padding. As you'd expect at this price point, standards of construction are very high, although some sort of "scuff bumper" system would be welcomed, just to offer an extra element of protection when leaning bikes up against walls etc.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
Surprisingly comfortable for a minimalist design, excellent build quality.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product
Nothing given the design brief, but not my first choice for a century ride.
Did you enjoy using the product? Yes
Would you consider buying the product? Yes
Would you recommend the product to a friend? Yes, for best/race bikes on calorie controlled diets.
Use this box to explain your score
Well made and surprisingly comfortable minimalist saddle for middle distance work. Not cheap but well worth considering for best/race bikes on calorie controlled diets.
About the tester
I usually ride: Rough stuff tourer based around 4130 Univega mountain bike frameset My best bike is: 1955 Holdsworth Road Path and several others including cross & traditional road
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: cyclo-cross, commuting, touring, fixed/singlespeed, mountain biking
Shaun Audane is a freelance writer/product tester with over twenty-eight years riding experience, the last twelve (120,000 miles) spent putting bikes and kit through their paces for a variety of publications. Previous generations of his family worked at manufacturing's sharp end, thus Shaun can weld, has a sound understanding of frame building practice and a preference for steel or titanium framesets.
Citing Richard Ballantine and an Au pair as his earliest cycling influences, he is presently writing a cycling book with particular focus upon women, families and disabled audiences (Having been a registered care manager and coached children at Herne Hill Velodrome in earlier careers)