Fizik has gone with the whole 'less is more' ethos with its Arione 00 Versus Evo saddle. Stripped back to a mere 167g with minimal padding and lashings of carbon fibre, it is still surprisingly comfortable with a great balance of stiffness and flex. You're going to have to pay for such performance, though.
Fizik's '00' range is its showcase of what is achievable in terms of design with top end materials. The Arione 00 Versus Evo has a shell made from high modulus carbon fibre which is unbelievably stiff considering how thin it is, with the central channel literally just about a millimetre thick. Even the main sections either side of the channel are just 4mm thick too.
Though the whole shell feels stiff, it does a decent job of allowing just enough flex to take out any harshness or road vibration. This is helped by the Mobius carbon fibre rail. Rather than having two rails plugged into the front and rear of the saddle, the Arione 00 uses a single rail which makes up a complete loop around the base of the saddle. It adds stiffness front and rear but allows the shell to flex around the sides, so the saddle can move with you a little as you pedal.
It looks cool but does make the fitting of some saddle bags a bit of a faff.
For pressure relief, most saddles use a cutout in the middle but Fizik has gone for a different approach with the Versus Evo models; there is an Arione Open model, if that's what you are after.
The Versus Evo has two sections of padding either side of the central channel. They are firm and did take a little bit of breaking in over the first hundred miles or so. When softened up, the padding offers plenty of comfort while the edges next to the channel maintain their firmness and shape to stop sagging and maintain that pressure relief.
When it comes to saddle shape, Fizik designs its range around the Spine Concept, which takes spine flexibility and pelvic rotation into account. They are split into three categories: Snake for the most flexible of riders, then Chameleon, then Bull.
The Arione is part of the Snake range with its flat profile, and is ideally suited to hard and fast riding especially in a flat backed racing position.
Three to four-hour rides were carried out in plenty of comfort on my own race bike, and I really enjoyed the balance of plenty of stiffness under heavy pedalling efforts and shock absorbance when the road surface was far from ideal.
The Arione's 299mm length gives you plenty of area to shift your body weight around on; for instance, when climbing I like to push myself further back to the rear of the saddle as I am more efficient.
At £324, it's one hell of a lot of money for a saddle, but for high-end products like these, value for money is very rarely high on the list of reasons to buy. A similarly constructed carbon fibre saddle (albeit with some modularity) is the Repente Aleena 40, which costs £295.
Or there's Rapha's Pro Team Saddle at £295; you get a full-carbon shell and rails, although I don't think it has quite the aesthetics of the Arione.
If you wanted the Versus Evo design of the Arione but without the 00 price tag, the standard version costs £189.99 (we tested the Antares version here); you only get a carbon-reinforced shell and standard carbon rails, but it is only about 20g heavier.
On the whole, the Arione 00 Versus Evo is one of the best race saddles I've ridden. If you're happy to shell out the extra over the non-00 version you won't be disappointed; I'm not sure I could justify it.
A showcase for what is achievable in terms of performance and comfort, but at a price
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road.cc test report
Make and model: Fizik Arione 00 Versus Evo saddle
Size tested: 299 x 130mm
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, "Arione Versus Evo 00 is a full carbon performance racing saddle that delivers stiffness and light weight in a full channel design.
In this 00 edition of the Versus Evo construction, the benefit of pressure relief on the soft tissue is combined with a high module full carbon shell tuned for maximum power transfer.
The single carbon rail offers extremely stiff and seamless support in a Mobius configuration, a proprietary closed loop design that delivers better weight distribution and eliminates any pressure hotspots on the ischial bones.
The cover is applied to the padding with a vacuum process that enables a more progressive cushioning, while a surface texture provides additional grip for a more secure interface with the bibs.
Spine flexibility and pelvic rotation are inextricably linked to saddle comfort. The Spine Concept Evo fitting system helps determine which of the different Fizik saddle shapes fits you best. Arione is a flat profile saddle designed for Snakes, riders with high body flexibility and no pelvic rotation whilst pedalling."
I found the shape and padding of the Arione spot on for performance road riding.
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?
Fizik lists these features:
Arione: flat profile saddle designed for Snakes, riders with high body flexibility and no pelvic rotation whilst pedalling
Versus Evo: full channel design for pressure relief on soft tissue area '
Vacuum applied texturized cover: progressive cushioning with added grip '
Mobius carbon rail: closed loop design for a balanced weight distribution '
High module full carbon shell: ultimate stiffness and light weight
- Length: 299 mm - Width: 130 mm - Weight: 166 g
- Height at 75 mm width: 48 mm
- Length from nose to 75 mm width: 151 mm
Pretty good but there are lighter.
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
When it comes to riding hard and fast in a race position you can't really fault the Arione for comfort.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
Impressive comfort levels.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product
Massive price tag.
How does the price compare to that of similar products in the market, including ones recently tested on road.cc?
There are a few other saddles on the market at the £300 mark with a similar construction. Saddles like the Rapha Pro Team are lighter too.
Did you enjoy using the product? Yes
Would you consider buying the product? I probably couldn't justify the huge outlay over the non 00 models.
Would you recommend the product to a friend? Yes
Use this box to explain your overall score
Excellent comfort for such a minimalistic saddle, but its massive price will be a sticking point for most.
About the tester
I usually ride: This month's test bike My best bike is: B'Twin Ultra CF draped in the latest bling test components
I've been riding for: Over 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
With 20 years of road cycling and over 150,000 miles in his legs it's safe to say Stu is happiest when on the bike whatever the weather. Since writing his first review for road.cc back in 2009 he has also had a career in engineering including 3D-CAD design and product development, so has a real passion for all of the latest technology coming through in the industry but is also a sucker for a classic steel frame, skinny tyres, rim brakes and a damn good paintjob.
His fascination with gravel bikes is getting out of control too!