Specialized's Toupe Comp Gel is a very comfortable saddle that allows you to move around yet still gives support for an aggressive position. The extra gel does add a bit of weight, though, and there are cheaper alternatives.
- Pros: Very comfortable, well made and durable
- Cons: There are some very good cheaper alternatives
I'll start off by saying that I've been using Specialized's Romin and Toupe saddles on my various bikes for around six years now. The shape has always worked for me and they've survived a lot of abuse. I tried the saddles on Specialized's test scheme, which wasn't that common back then. Now, many brands are offering some kind of test period on their products.
Currently, I've got the 2017 version on my cyclo-cross bike and this new version has been given both aesthetic and technical updates.
The central channel has been extended to the very end of the nose which is meant to improve comfort; for me, the only time I'm on the nose of the saddle is when I'm chasing a wheel, so any discomfort is masked by screaming legs.
As Specialized has gone for a full cutout, I'm not surprised to see it using carbon fibre to reinforce the base. You can lose a lot of stiffness, creating a soft saddle that can sag over time. The Toupe feels solid, which is a good sign for its lifespan.
What hasn't changed is the ability to move around a little on the saddle. Where the Romin fixes you in one position, I find that the Toupe allows me to shift back, ideal for weight balance in tight corners on the CX course. On longer road rides, this is also great for staying comfortable and I've found the new Toupe to be capable on the longest rides that I do, around 5 hours.
The Micromatrix cover has stood up well to the abuse of CX remounts and two pretty decent crashes. It cleans up well and looks quite smart on the bike. The older version developed a little spot on the nose where the cover started to peel from the base, but that has taken many miles to occur and this latest edition doesn't seem to be suffering the same rub.
In terms of padding level, Specialized ranks this as level 2. That gives you a medium density foam with gel for additional cushioning. For a road saddle, this leans towards the more padded end but it's not one that you'll sink into. Having the gel padding will either work for you or it won't. Personally, it's a welcome addition for me when I'm riding on poor roads or the rougher surface of CX. But if you like a hard saddle, this won't be for you.
Around the rest of the saddle, the construction is good. The glue and screws used to fix everything into place all seems solid and I've detected no creaks from the saddle.
The hollow chromoly rails keep the weight down to 242g for this 143mm wide version. That's not too bad, although you can drop it a little by going for the titanium-railed Expert (221g) or significantly by going for the carbon-railed, non-gel Toupe Pro (159g). (I have to say, I'm less worried about cyclo-cross remounts on this than I would be on a carbon-railed saddle.)
I've had absolutely no issues or feelings of discomfort while using this saddle for two months now. For me, it's a very comfortable option, and it's not hugely expensive. Okay, at £80 it's maybe a little too much, but I'd say you'd be spending your money well. It handles the rough treatment of cyclo-cross racing while also being perfectly at home on long road rides.
If you want better value, though, there are cheaper options that are also very good and about the same weight. Fabric's Line Elite, for example, will set you back just £54.99, with a claimed weight of 250g, while BBB's Echelon saddle comes in at £14 less for similar construction, though it's a little heavier at 276g.
For me, I know that the Specialized shape works, so I'd be happy to spend the extra money.
Comfortable and supportive for a range of riding positions, and durable too
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road.cc test report
Make and model: Specialized Toupe Comp Gel
Size tested: 143mm
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?
From Specialized: "The Toupé Comp Gel has been tuned for an outstanding fit, with a flat profile and Level 2 gel padding that's perfect for both explosive efforts and all-day comfort. Adaptive Edge technology allows the its outer edge to conform to the rider's body, and the Body Geometry design maximizes blood flow."
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?
Patented Body Geometry design is lab tested to assure blood flow to sensitive arteries.
Stiff, carbon-reinforced shell with flexible Adaptive Edge technology.
Lightweight and supportive PU foam with gel inserts for increased comfort on longer rides.
Light, durable, and hollow Cr-Mo rails.
Tough, lightweight, and water-resistant Micromatrix™ cover.
Level 2 padding: Medium density foam with Gel for additional cushioning.
The saddle is very well made and probably the reason that I'd pick this over the cheaper options. There have been no squeaks from either the rails or the shell.
It delivers a very comfortable ride for many hours.
It's been great, withstanding lots of mud, grit and scrubbing.
It's okay, but the gel does add a little bit of weight, especially at this price point.
Spot on for me whatever the distance.
It's not bad value, and it is well made and very comfortable, but there are much cheaper options out there from the likes of Fabric, whose Line saddle is also very comfortable and only £54 for a loss of just 8g.
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
Really well. It got loads of abuse on the CX course and withstood it well. Out on the road, it's comfortable on long rides.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
The comfort on longer rides.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product
There's nothing that I particularly dislike. It's a really well-made saddle.
How does the price compare to that of similar products in the market, including ones recently tested on road.cc?
BBB's Echelon saddle features a similar construction with a slightly shorter nose. The Echelon beats the Toupe on price, but I know the Toupe works. If you're looking to save some cash then check out Fabric's saddles. Its Line range is very comfortable, and a similar weight saddle costs just £54.
Did you enjoy using the product? Yes
Would you consider buying the product? Yes
Would you recommend the product to a friend? Yes
Use this box to explain your overall score
It only really drops points for being on the pricier end of the scale. I'd pay the extra cash as I know the saddle works for me, but I'd recommend heading to your local dealer if you've not tried Specialized before. The try before you buy scheme is great when it's across a range as large as Specialized's.
About the tester
I usually ride: Cannondale Supersix Di2 My best bike is:
I've been riding for: 5-10 years I ride: Most days I would class myself as: Expert
I regularly do the following types of riding: road racing, time trialling, cyclo-cross, commuting, club rides, general fitness riding, I specialise in the Cafe Ride!
Son of a Marathon runner, Nephew of a National 24hr Champion, the racing genetics have completely passed him by. Liam spends his time plodding his way through cyclocross races, very busy not winning. As an advocate for perfectly clean chains, he can be found cleaning his bike instead of training. A shop mechanic, Liam has many helpful skills, such as being able to identify 'cross tubs by the tread pattern alone. If you bump into him, he'll probably be eating.