The Specialized Power Arc Expert saddle is a comfortable and accommodating seat that's capable of keeping you supported over even really long distances without trouble. With a pressure-relief cutout and available in two different widths to suit your body, this really can keep you riding all day without discomfort.
- Pros: Comfortable over longer distances, relatively light, looks great
- Cons: The aesthetic finish wears off relatively quickly
Right off the bat, we should deal with an important caveat: saddles are quite a personal issue and what suits one person might not be ideal for another. In particular, I can only comment on what it's like to ride this with male anatomy (it's a unisex design).
I should also mention that I tested two very similar Specialized saddles at the same time: this Power Arc Expert, and the Power Expert (review to come). The only difference in name is the word "Arc". The two saddles are subtly different and are intended for different styles of riding, but also have a lot in common, so you might want to read both my reviews before making a choice.
The main difference between the two models is that this saddle, the Power Arc Expert, is intended for people who want the flexibility to move back and forth on the saddle while riding. The Power Expert is for people who like to stay in one optimal position during their ride. The difference in shape between the two that facilitates these different patterns is subtle, but definitely alters how the saddles feel compared to each other.
Having tried both, I can say that the two models work as advertised thanks to squarer, blunter edges and surfaces on the Power Expert version and more rounded edges and surfaces on this Arc. You might want to ask yourself how you ride, and whether being able to move back and forth in the saddle matters to you. Some riders like being able to shift back and forth to engage different muscles, for example, or to drop down onto aerobars.
With that difference between the two models explained, let's now focus on the Power Arc Expert itself. The saddle is shorter in the nose than a lot of other saddles and has an obvious cutout to reduce pressure. It's got a little padding ("Level 2" according to Specialized), and it's definitely possible to ride without cycling shorts, but I wouldn't want to go too far without a chamois to soak up some of the pressure. The surface is smooth and rounded, even at the edges, which is what permits the easy repositioning while riding.
The other thing that is immediately apparent from looking at this saddle is that it is available in a stunning iridescent finish – which is the model I was sent to test. This finish looks mostly grey but, when it catches the light, shimmers with colours like a dragonfly's wing. The photos here will give you an impression of the effect, but still don't capture its full appeal. It was a really bold and arresting design choice and I immediately loved it. It was just a shame that the finish started to wear away after a few hundred kilometres of riding. This was the only real disappointment I felt with an otherwise excellent saddle.
Out on the ride
The Power Arc Expert saddle is intended to provide long-distance comfort, and I can say that I tested this to extremes and found it delivered. I've put thousands of kilometres on the Power Arc Expert and am finishing this review having just done a 1,200km ride on it.
Out on that really long ride, I'd be lying if I said I didn't experience a bit of pressure and discomfort on my sit bones after a lot of hours – but I have to acknowledge that this emerged after far more hours than most people would ever ride and could presumably be fixed with more padded shorts. On a performance bike, it's not the saddle's job to provide all the padding, and so I can't hold that against this model.
More importantly, a good saddle is supposed to provide proper support so that it doesn't harm your body. And I can report that the Power Arc Expert performed wonderfully for me here. Thanks to how the saddle supported my sit bones and thanks to the pressure-relieving cutout, I've just ridden those 1,200km in one go with no tingling or numbness in the old "chamois sausage". I've really struggled with this issue in the past, and finding a saddle that prevents it is a big relief – in more ways than one.
Its price of £105 isn't pocket change, but it's less than a lot of other saddles out there. Selle San Marco, for example, makes some saddles that are very similar in style to this one (short and with a cutout) and which are also lighter, but they also cost a bit more and from my experience definitely feel different on longer rides. Its Shortfit Racing saddle is 180g but £134.99. For me, the Specialized was more comfortable when I tried both back-to-back.
If I were buying a long-distance saddle right now I'd plump for one of these without hesitation. I'd perhaps go for a more standard black finish, to avoid the surface wear issue, but otherwise this is now my saddle of choice.
A comfortable and accommodating saddle, even for all-day rides
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road.cc test report
Make and model: Specialized Power Arc Expert 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 Expert saddle expands on the success of our original Power saddle. It features the same channel, length, and hollow titanium rails as the original and Pro Arc, but where it differs is in its shell and padding. But this means that it still features a stiff composite shell and supple, Level 2 PU 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 numbness and pressure on unwanted areas"
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?
Patented Body Geometry design is lab tested for both men and women to assure blood flow to sensitive arteries.
Lightweight and supportive PU padding for comfort and support on longer rides.
Lightweight, durable, and hollow titanium rails.
Level 2 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.
Size 143mm / Weight: 243g
Size 155mm / Weight: 256g
The saddle is really well constructed. The only issue I had was that the finish wore quickly on the model that I tested. I suspect the more standard black model would be better in this regard.
The saddle was really comfortable, even over long distances, and didn't induce any numbness or other such problems.
I've docked a couple of points for the surface finish issue, but structurally the saddle has held up well.
It's not bad – although there are certainly lighter saddles out there.
Great – all-day comfort can be achieved here.
The price is about what I'd expect for a product like this. It's a little cheaper than some similar Selle San Marco saddles, but it's also a little heavier.
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
I was able to ride all day – or even longer – without problems. The saddle really does seem to provide effective support without cutting off vital blood supplies.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product
The degrading surface finish.
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
The saddle delivers the all-day comfort that Specialized aims for. It's solidly built and not too heavy. I've docked one point from the overall score because I had to acknowledge how the amazing surface finish didn't last very long. But for comfort I can't seriously fault it.
About the tester
I usually ride: Cannondale Synapse My best bike is: Whyte Wessex One
I've been riding for: Over 20 years I ride: Most days I would class myself as: Expert
I regularly do the following types of riding: road racing, commuting, touring, club rides, sportives, general fitness riding, mountain biking, audax and long-distance riding
A research psychologist by day, Ian spends quite a lot of time on bikes, particularly commuting between Bristol and Bath or doing audax rides. For years he was an ultradistance runner, but this came to an end when he realised getting back onto a bicycle offered the chance to race over much more preposterous distances. In recent years he has ridden in the Transcontinental Race, the TransWales and the North Cape 4000. He has even finished first in some of these.