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Specialized Toupe Gel



High end perch combines low weight and comfort

At every product is thoroughly tested for as long as it takes to get a proper insight into how well it works. Our reviewers are experienced cyclists that we trust to be objective. While we strive to ensure that opinions expressed are backed up by facts, reviews are by their nature an informed opinion, not a definitive verdict. We don't intentionally try to break anything (except locks) but we do try to look for weak points in any design. The overall score is not just an average of the other scores: it reflects both a product's function and value – with value determined by how a product compares with items of similar spec, quality, and price.

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No, Specialized have not branched out into hairpieces, rather the Toupe is a high end minimalist perch brimming with space age materials and surprising levels of comfort.

Available in a choice of durable black or white the micro-matrix weather-resistant faux leather covering, hollow titanium rails and carbon fibre reinforced shell combine low weight with durability. The patented BG cutaway, designed to relieve pressure on the prudendal nerve, improving blood flow to the genital area is further supplemented with a very thin gel layer and the availability of three widths (130,143 &155mm) – the width of saddlle that's right for you is determined by the width of your sit bones (rather than the size of you rear end) and to some extent your style of riding.

Traditionally saddle choice has been based upon word of mouth or trial and error whereas the body geometry concept is concerned with tailoring an anatomically perfect rider fit. Our 143mm test model, far from randomly chosen was based upon my own measurements taken at an earlier BG consultation- a very thorough, holistic analysis of rider dimension and corresponding component sizing.

This is pivotal to getting the best from the Body Geometry range (shoes, saddles, gloves, shorts) and whilst £125 for a 90-minute analysis does seem expensive, it ensures precision and therefore maximum comfort if you were going to buy something from the complete Body Geometry range doing otherwise could be considered false economy especially if you consider the cost of experimenting with high end components.

That said, if you don't want to go the whole hog and you are just after a saddle, your Specialized dealer should be able to measure you up for one (for free) with the Specialized Assometer – a pad of memory foam you sit on which leaves an impression of your sit bones with a chart on the back relating the resulting measurements to saddle sizes.

The Toupe’s low profile demanded I raise my seat post by an inch or so, nearing the limit mark, which might demand a longer seat post for some- especially taller riders aboard compact frames. In contrast to my old BG comp, the toupe felt very firm but as the rides and mileage racked up it has proven immensely comfortable and very supportive-even after several continuous hours.

The titanium rails and carbon reinforcement provide welcome damping over uneven surfaces - I even took it off road with no problems – and I'm no off-roader – which suggests it might be a viable option for ‘cross. The micro-matrix cover is more durable than it looks, shrugging off accidental brushes with brickwork and street furniture.

Water repellence is excellent, minimising any likelihood of slippage, but by the same token it doesn’t present the restrictive sensation of being anchored to a sheet of fly-paper.'s founder and first editor, nowadays to be found riding a spreadsheet. Tony's journey in cycling media started in 1997 as production editor and then deputy editor of Total Bike, acting editor of Total Mountain Bike and then seven years as editor of Cycling Plus. He launched his first cycling website - the Cycling Plus Forum at the turn of the century. In 2006 he left C+ to head up the launch team for Bike Radar which he edited until 2008, when he co-launched the multi-award winning - finally handing on the reins in 2021 to Jack Sexty. His favourite ride is his ‘commute’ - which he does most days inc weekends and he’s been cycle-commuting since 1994. His favourite bikes are titanium and have disc brakes, though he'd like to own a carbon bike one day.

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DaSy | 15 years ago

with the Toupe, I was measured and all that palaver, but still it caused me all sorts of grief.

It was fine for the first few weeks, I'd even say it was comfortable. But it seems to put too much emphasis on the sit bones, and after a few hundred miles it seemed to build up to the point were I became really sensitive to it.

I finally ended up with a condition called Ischial Bursitis which was pretty unpleasant, a switch back to a different sadlle (Fizik Arione) and a fair bit of rest, ice and ibuprofen eventually made it better, so for me the Toupe was not a good fit. It seems good as long as you don't spend hours on end on it, which I do unfortunaltely.

Saddles really are a very subjective....errr...subject.

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