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Blending 3D-print technology with a tried and tested shape yields a lightweight and comfortable performance saddle. The Fizik Antares Versus Evo R3 Adaptive saddle is expensive, yes, but for those who like the Antares shape, the high-tech construction has some real benefits.
As with every saddle review, when it comes to comfort it's entirely subjective – what I find comfortable might, to you, feel like sitting on a bed of nails, or what is uncomfortable for me might make you feel like you're floating on a cushion of air.
So... 3D printed 'Adaptive' saddle padding. What's the fuss all about? Well, to quote Fizik: 'The evolution of digital 3D printing allowed us to develop a new saddle without the constraints or limitations imposed by traditional production methods and materials. The Adaptive saddle padding is crafted by Carbon using its revolutionary Digital Light Synthesis technology. DLS is an additive manufacturing process which uses digital ultraviolet light projection, oxygen permeable optics, and programmable liquid resins to produce parts with excellent mechanical properties, resolution and surface finish.'
There's no doubt, it makes compelling reading – if you're into 3D printing and the latest technological advances in saddle manufacture. Since Fizik unveiled its original Adaptive saddle back at Eurobike 2019, it's been hailed in some quarters as the future of saddle design, because of how this kind of construction can enable more detailed variation of padding while keeping bulk down.
I have to say that I wasn't convinced by it at launch. As a seasoned Fizik Antares (and Arione) rider, I'd never had any issues with the padding or construction on those saddles, which have ranged from the entry-level R5 up to carbon-railed R1s. If it ain't broke, don't fix it, right? Especially when it comes to a such a critical element of your bike fit.
But, now that I've covered some real miles on the Antares Versus Evo R3 Adaptive over the past couple of months, and really deliberated over my opinion of it (apologies to tech editor Mat, who must've been wondering when I'd file my review), I'll admit it: I'm a fan.
The shape is identical to my existing Antares R5 (save for the centre channel cutaway), which meant that I immediately felt at home on it. Leaning forward in a more aggressive position on the drops, or sitting more upright on the tops, the sensations are very much the same.
There are some real differences, though. First, that cutaway aimed at relieving pressure on the more sensitive perineal area. This is common across all Versus versions of Fizik's saddles, but as I've not had an issue with this, I've never felt the need to switch to a saddle featuring a cutaway. Now, though, I can really appreciate the intended benefits: the absence of ANY pressure at all on the perineal area has proven to be a bit of a revelation that I didn't know I wanted. I never really suffered from numbness anyway, but there definitely is a feeling of reduced pressure – going to show that you often only notice something when it's no longer there!
Secondly, the construction (manufactured by specialists in this field, a company called Carbon) allows for more cushioning to be engineered into the bits that you are in contact with. The honeycomb-like structure includes the outer layer that you can see, plus the airspace underneath it, which takes the place of more traditional saddle fillers.
Comparing the saddle with my old – and quite worn – Antares, I can really appreciate just how much more give there is in the new model. That doesn't mean it feels like a sofa, but it's able to mould and depress really effectively when it needs to, and in all the key directions too.
That cushioning is zoned, as you might expect. But here, again when I compare it to my old saddle (which has become slightly more compliant with age, understandably), there's much more variation in depression. Towards the wings especially, the construction is far softer and squishier, which I think really does improve comfort when you're sat more upright.
If you're especially sensitive to millimetre changes in saddle height, which could easily occur given this variation in the construction, then you'll probably want to compensate for this, or have it as a point to discuss in your next bike fit.
This type of construction keeps weight down too. Airspace weighs nothing, and a 216g weigh-in in its 139mm platform width (you can also have a 149mm wide version) is plenty light enough for anyone but the most discerning weight-weenie.
The R3 comes with a carbon-reinforced body, but alloy Kium rails.
All in, I do think that the new saddle as a whole is a little better at reducing vibrations from the road too; there's not much in it, but put it this way: I'm not planning on switching back to a non-Adaptive version.
Any concerns about washing it have been allayed too. You might think, as I did, that the structure would effectively be a trap for grit and dirt – but as long as you rinse it down after every dirty ride (even just using the remainder of your water bottle), grit does seem to find its way out very easily.
Of course, the constant difficulty with choosing saddles is that everyone is differently shaped – so if you're not sure whether a 3D printed saddle (or one with a cutaway) like the Antares Versus Evo R3 Adaptive is the right way to go for you, and you want to be sure before investing, I'd recommend having a bike fit to address the question, or at least trying before you buy from your local Fizik stockist.
You'll probably want to do that too – because the saddle is a pretty punchy £250. That's not uncommon with this latest style of 3D-printed saddle (think Specialized S-Works Power with Mirror, which with carbon rails costs £100 more, while the carbon-railed R1 version is just shy of £300). But the reality is that you really need to be sold on the benefits of the new construction – especially when you can have a normal carbon-railed Antares R1 Versus for 'just' £190 – before committing to it.
The Antares Versus Evo R3 Adaptive combines the latest construction technology to produce a saddle that's comfortable and light. It'll cost you a fair amount, and you don't get carbon rails for your money, but as long as the shape fits you it could be a great upgrade.
Brilliant saddle made using the latest technology, though it's expensive and you don't get carbon rails
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road.cc test report
Make and model: Fizik Antares Versus Evo R3 Adaptive Saddle
Size tested: 139mm
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: "[The Antares Versus Evo R3 Adaptive saddle is a] 3D printed bike seat with a carbon reinforced nylon shell and a Kium hollow rail with high strength-to-weight ratio grade (R3)."
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?
- Adaptive: Carbon® Digital Light Synthesis™ 3D printing technology, offering seamlessly engineered zonal cushioning
- Versus Evo: Engineered with a degree of flexibilty and a full channel design for pressure relief on soft tissue area
- R3: A combination of a ride compliant carbon reinforced nylon shell and a Kium hollow rail with high strength-to-weight ratio grad
- Intended use: road racing
- Concepts: this is a product of the fizik Concepts programme, a cross-disciplinary collaboration of leading industry experts and academics carrying out research and analysis on technology, design, physiology and bikefitting in search of ways to improve cycling performance.
Length: 274 mm
Width: 139 mm
Weight: 209 g
Height at 75mm width: 58 mm
Length from nose to 75mm width: 148 mm
Rail: 7x7 mm
Length: 274 mm
Width: 149 mm
Weight: 215 g
Height at 75mm width: 58 mm
Length from nose to 75mm width: 148 mm
Rail: 7x7 mm
So far (in winter!) it's held up very well given the construction.
Almost faultless, in truth.
So far, no complaints. I'm still unsure whether this kind of construction will last as long as a more traditional construction – benefit of the doubt given here, and I'll report back if it starts to wear or warp in the next year or so.
Unless you're a real stickler for weight, 216g is adequately light.
Once I was over the new (for me) sensation of having a cutaway, it's been really comfortable on both shorter and longer rides, and for repeat days riding too.
If you don't need a cutaway or are perfectly happy with a standard construction, then the £190 R1 Versus Antares with its carbon rails is just one example of what you can get for less money. If this saddle fits you perfectly, though, and the groove and construction really suit you, £250 is going to be worth the investment.
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
Very well, and is comfortable whether riding aggressively or on a more chilled ride.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
Comfortable in a range of positions, includes a cutaway for perineal pressure relief, lightweight. I think it looks cool too!
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product
Expensive, no carbon rails.
How does the price compare to that of similar products in the market, including ones recently tested on road.cc?
3D printed saddles are typically high end, with Specialized's S-Works Power with Mirror saddle costing £100 more, while the carbon-railed R1 version of this model retails at just shy of £300. But the reality is that you really need to be sold on the benefits of the new construction – especially when you can have a normal carbon railed Antares R1 Versus for 'just' £190 – before committing to it.
Did you enjoy using the product? Yes, and I'm still using it!
Would you consider buying the product? Yes, although I'd have to squint to look past the non-Adaptive version, given the price difference.
Would you recommend the product to a friend? Yes
Use this box to explain your overall score
It's expensive, so you'll want to try before you buy if you can, but in performance terms I found this saddle outstanding.
About the tester
I usually ride: My best bike is:
I've been riding for: I ride: I would class myself as:
I regularly do the following types of riding: