The Volta R1 is Fizik's take on what it calls 'the classic saddle shape', and is designed to let you move around and sit in any position. With all the anatomical saddles out there with dips, curves and cut-outs, is the Volta more than just a retro gimmick? Well, as someone who suffers with lower back pain – something the Volta is meant to combat – it didn't really have much effect, but I don't tend to move around in the saddle much. If you do, it might suit you well...
Fizik saddles have always tended to be at the forefront of design and innovation, like the Arione when it came out over a decade ago, with its increased overall length compared with more standard saddles to allow riders more movement. The Volta R1 continues in that vein, having a completely flat upper to allow plenty of rider movement.
The idea is that you can sit wherever you like on the saddle without the hindrance of the usual raised tail section or dropped nose, and by moving about, you'll avoid lower back pain from sitting in one constant position. A lot of riders also like to slide back when climbing, so it can also work here.
Fizik breaks its components down into ranges depending on your flexibility, and if you can touch your toes then basically you're what it labels a 'snake' – and the Volta R1 is for you.
On my Kinesis Aithein I have a saddle to bar drop of 125mm on the tops, or 250mm if I'm in the drops – and it's when you are in a position like this that the Volta makes sense. The deep sides of the new U-shaped design mean there is plenty of saddle hull to push against when you really want to get the power down.
Fizik says this new shape – an upside down U when you look from the front or rear – means the saddle doesn't move or flex at all when you are riding, keeping you in a static position. I found there is some flex in the carbon thermoplastic composite hull, which aids comfort, although it's very little.
The lack of a dropped nose doesn't seem to make a difference when you're tucked into the drops, which wasn't what I was expecting. I was waiting for the front end to be unforgiving and uncomfortable when the effort increased.
The overall shape of the Volta wasn't quite right for me, though. As I said earlier, I suffer with lower back pain, especially when climbing for long periods of time, but I found it hard to take advantage of the variety of riding positions possible on the Volta; I find I kind of have my position on the bike and stick with it.
One consequence of not moving about on the Volta was that I tended to get hot spots around the perineum area, which wasn't that pleasant. I liked the Volta for rides up to about two hours, but then I started to get uncomfortable.
If it suits you, though – or you can train yourself to move around more – it's a well-made saddle and a good weight. Considering its carbon fibre construction, 191g is pretty much what you'd expect for a saddle of this size, making it a lightweight addition to your bike.
The carbon fibre rails are box section for added strength, with a height of 9mm but width kept to 7mm, so it'll fit into the standard cradle of a seatpost (most saddles use 7mm diameter round tube rails).
The rails themselves are a one-piece construction which is then Torx bolted to the main hull. In theory this means they should be replaceable if damaged.
When it comes to value, the cost is high but on par with carbon fibre competitors, and if the shape works for you then it could be justifiable for your lightweight racing steed.
The glued finish of the upper could be a little neater, but that is really my only criticism.
Overall, the Fizik has a great shape width-wise for racers using that crouched aero position, but it just comes down to whether or not the flat top section is for you. If it all works then it's a top notch pro-level saddle with a price tag to match.
A well-made, lightweight saddle for those who like to move around a lot
If you're thinking of buying this product using a cashback deal why not use the road.cc Top Cashback page and get some top cashback while helping to support your favourite independent cycling website
road.cc test report
Make and model: Fizik Volta R1
Size tested: 300x140mm
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 new Volta is the latest take on the classic saddle shape made fi'zi:k. A saddle on which you are always moving, where body and saddle make contact.
This is achieved by having a curved transversal section and flat profile.The first U-shaped saddle designed for snakes, reinterpreted and redesigned for you.
The Volta has been designed for riders who experience some lower back pain, due to their static position on the bike and the flat seat area.Volta is ideal for cyclists who prefer to move and slide along while pedalling and those who enjoy changing contact and pressure points."
It's an interesting concept that works reasonably well; but you do need to move about on it as intended, otherwise you suffer from 'hot spots'.
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?
Shell: Carbon Thermoplastic Composite Twin FlexTM
Rail: Mobius Carbon Braided 7x9 mm
Cover: Thermowelded Microtex Design
Dimensions: 300x140 mm
A little bit rough around the glued edges of the fabric but other than that very impressive levels of manufacture and design.
A stiff, supportive saddle that lets you get the power down in a racing because of the good thigh clearance.
The carbon fibre rails are beefed up in height for structural integrity. I've been running plenty of Fizik's carbon fibre-railed/bodied saddles for a couple of years with no issues.
Impressive considering its levels of padding.
The flat top shape won't suit everyone and I certainly found I had to move around on it fore and aft to stop hot spots.
For a carbon fibre constructed saddle it's in the same ballpark as its competitors.
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
Not bad; I suffer with lower back pain and it didn't make much difference to that, but probably because I didn't move about on it as much as it's designed for. Its shape does suit a high-saddle, low-bar racing setup.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
The deep sides of the U-shape give you a good platform to push against.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product
Hot spots if you don't move about on it.
Did you enjoy using the product? Yes, for short, hard blasts
Would you consider buying the product? No, the shape isn't quite right for me.
Would you recommend the product to a friend? Yes
Use this box to explain your score
I'm a big fan of Fizik saddles, I run them on all of my bikes, but the Volta R1 didn't quite suit me and I reckon it has a pretty small marketplace. But, if you are the type of rider who really likes to move about a lot, forwards and backwards, then it could be just right for you.
I like the new 'U'-shape design as it feels good to have a platform to push against when you really want to get the power down.
Overall it's a very good saddle that isn't quite the design classic that some of their previous models have been.
About the tester
I usually ride: This month's test bike My best bike is: Mason Definition
I've been riding for: 10-20 years I ride: Every day I would class myself as: Expert
I regularly do the following types of riding: time trialling, commuting, club rides, sportives, fixed/singlespeed
Stu knocked out his first road.cc review back in 2009 and since then he's chucked the best part of seventy test bikes around the West Country, a couple of them quite literally! With three alloy and two steel bikes in his fleet he's definitely a metal man (that'll be the engineering background) but is slowly warming to that modern carbon fibre stuff along with fat tyres & disc brakes.
It's not all nostalgia though, after spending the last few years in product design Stu keeps banging on about how 3D printing is going to be the next big thing and he's a sucker for a beautiful paint job too.