The new Specialized Power Arc Pro Elaston saddle combines the increasingly popular stubby nosed saddle design with an all-new foam padding to create a super-comfortable seat for performance-minded and racing cyclists, but it commands a premium over the already very expensive regular Power Arc Pro it's based on.
- Pros: Comfortable, looks good on a race bike, first class construction, light
- Cons: Price premium over the regular version
Short is the new long in the saddle market at the moment, with a trend for short-nosed saddles aimed primarily at cyclists who like to ride in an aggressive position. Aggressive? If you're concerned with going fast, average speeds, aerodynamics and spend a lot of time on the rivet, that is aggressive. If it sounds like you, read on, this might be the saddle for you.
An aggressive riding position means rotating your body forward over the bike, placing more weight on the front of the saddle and potentially increasing pressure on the soft delicate tissue of your undercarriage. A short-nosed saddle, and the Specialized Power Arc Pro in particular, removes pressure from that area while the wide rear section provides support for the sit bones.
Specialized's take on the short-nosed saddle also includes a wider cutout area and its ratio with the overall width of the saddle. This helps to further increase the comfort by eliminating any pressure buildup. The extra hamstring and thigh clearance is also a noticeable benefit of this saddle design.
Where this model differs is in the Elaston padding, an all-new type of foam padding we've not seen in a saddle before. But you might be more familiar with it if you've ever used Adidas Boost running trainers. It's the same foam technology, comprising a process that expands thousands of tiny beads into a foam. It gives a slightly bubbly texture, and its big USP is increased rebound which means it doesn't compress over time and springs back more readily. You're getting more cushioning with no increase in foam thickness.
Is it like riding a 'cloud of 1,000 pillows', as Specialized says in its marketing material? I've no idea what that would be like, but it's certainly very comfortable. I've previously ridden the regular and original Specialized Power saddle, a fashionably stubby nosed saddle and swapped this new Specialized Power Arc Pro Elaston onto the same bike. They have the same channel and length, but the Elaston padding improves seated comfort by a noticeable factor. Compared with other saddles from Fizik, Bontrager, Fabric and Rapha that I've been riding recently, it's just about got the edge.
I've always found Specialized Body Geometry saddles to be comfortable. To be honest, I get on well with most saddles, with only a few exceptions that just don't agree with me. The Specialized Power Arc Pro Elaston was immediately comfortable, with no breaking in or adjustment period needed. The only thing to be aware of is that you have to set it up a little differently because of its shortness, but Specialized provides a handy guide which removes the confusion. You basically set it 3cm further back from your current saddle position.
From short blasts to long rides, the Power Arc Pro Elaston has been a really comfortable saddle to sit on. You might think it's only suited to short rides and races, but I've carried out several rides in excess of four and five hours and not found myself squirming uncomfortably, so I wouldn't discount it for long distance riding if that is more your focus. It does make riding in an aggressive position for longer periods easier and more comfortable.
You feel really planted and secure on the saddle. There's no slippage on the synthetic cover material and you feel locked to it when doing intervals or hill repeats. There's a degree of flex in the base which contributes to the comfort, especially on really rough roads.
The shape works for me better than the original Power, but the padding also contributes to that feeling of wearing a really high-end bib short with a posh padded insert.
It's very nicely made, too, as you'd hope for the money. The foam is bonded to a FACT carbon fibre base with very smooth joins and no nasty glue residue or staples – all very clean. The rails on this model are hollow titanium – there's currently no carbon rail version with the new Elaston padding – but round rails are generally easier to fit to seatposts as you don't need any changes to the cradle to accommodate oval carbon rails. A pair of threaded inserts at the back are designed to work with Specialized's range of SWAT accessories.
Value-wise, the Power Arc Pro Elaston is cheaper than the regular S-Works Power, with titanium rather than carbon rails, but £200 is a lot of cash for a saddle and there's no shortage of decently comfortable saddles for much less of your wedge. At RRP it's £20 more than the Scicon Elan Power Ergo and £25 more than the Prologo Dimension Nack (previously £199.99), both of which offer a similar design and set of features, and both have carbon fibre rails. The new padding isn't a gimmick, though, and provides really good comfort so could well be worth paying the extra for.
Everyone is different when it comes to saddles, but if you're a performance-minded or racing cyclist I'm willing to bet the new Power Arc Pro Elaston will be a good choice. The shape is a little different to the original Power saddle, a bit more generous, and works in a wider range of riding positions, and the foam padding boosts comfort.
I did set out thinking it would be just for races and short rides, and no good on long distance rides with a far wider range of seated positions, but I was surprised to find it comfortable enough to replace my current fave trio of Fabric, Fizik and Bontrager saddles.
It's available in 143mm (tested) and 155mm widths, and colours include the distinctive chameleon (tested) or boring black.
Really comfortable saddle for short and long rides
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road.cc test report
Make and model: Specialized Power Arc Pro Elaston saddle
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?
Specialized says, "The new Power Arc Pro expands on the success of our original Power saddle. It features the same channel and length as the original and S-Works Arc, but where it differs is in its titanium rails versus the carbon fibre found on the S-Works. But this means that it still features a stiff, FACT carbon fibre shell and lightweight EVA padding. The shape of the saddle is also designed to provide ample sit bone support, and this has been coupled with a shorter-than-usual nose section to keep pressure off of soft tissue while riding in aggressive positions. We even took this ideology a step further via an extra wide and elongated Body Geometry channel that's been proven through blood flow testing and pressure mapping to reduce unwanted numbness and pressure.
"And while this all seems familiar if you're already a Power loyalist, this iteration features a curved Body Geometry shape that better contours to your body. What does this mean for your ride? It means that you'll feel as if you're 'in the saddle" and not on it. And ultimately, this equates to greater comfort and superior performance in all seated positions, whether you're a man or woman.
"We've also replaced the traditional PU padding for an Elaston foam construction that's made up of small beads that are expanded into the foam. The result? The feeling off sitting on 1,000 miniature pillows rather than one piece of foam. And to keep the comfort coming, we rely on our extra-wide, elongated Body Geometry channel and short nose to provide you with proper sit bone support."
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?
Specialized lists these features:
Patented Body Geometry design is lab-tested for both men and women to ensure blood flow to sensitive arteries.
Stiff FACT carbon fibre shell is tuned for support and ride compliance.
Elaston foam provides unrivalled comfort and support on longer rides.
Lightweight, durable, and hollow titanium rails.
Level II padding: Medium density foam for bike feel with additional cushioning.
SWAT™-compatible mounts moulded into the saddle base allow for sleek and integrated storage solutions.
It's reassuringly well made with a clean construction.
I found it really comfortable for all sorts of riding, from short blasts to leisurely long rides.
Not had any problems after several months of testing.
It's a competitive weight in this category of high-end saddle.
Saddles are very much a personal thing but as someone who tests a lot of saddles, I found it really comfortable.
Tricky one this; it's a premium over the regular version of this saddle but it does include some fancy foam padding that certainly does contribute to the comfort factor.
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
Provides really good comfort with no downsides.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
Comfortable and looks good on a race bike.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product
Potentially trickier to fit than a regular saddle.
How does the price compare to that of similar products in the market, including ones recently tested on road.cc?
The S-Works Power is more expensive, at £230. It's £20 more than the Scicon Elan Power Ergo saddle and £25 more than the Prologo Dimension Nack.
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
A surprisingly comfortable saddle that is a good alternative to traditional long designs, especially if you enjoy riding fast and racing. But £200 is a lot of cash for a saddle, and there's no shortage of decently comfortable designs for much less of your wedge.
About the tester
I usually ride: My best bike is:
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: road racing, time trialling, cyclo-cross, commuting, touring, mountain biking
David has worked on the road.cc tech team since July 2012. Previously he was editor of Bikemagic.com and before that staff writer at RCUK. He's a seasoned cyclist of all disciplines, from road to mountain biking, touring to cyclo-cross, he only wishes he had time to ride them all. He's mildly competitive, though he'll never admit it, and is a frequent road racer but is too lazy to do really well. He currently resides in the Cotswolds.