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review

Specialized S-Works Power with Mirror Saddle

8
£349.00

VERDICT:

8
10
High-tech saddle that delivers an exceptional level of comfort, but that price... ouch!
Hugely comfortable
Short nose avoids friction
The price tag
Not as easy to clean as some
Weight: 
193g

Specialized's S-Works Power with Mirror saddle is a new 3D-printed design with a honeycomb structure that offers a superb level of comfort, although you do have to pay handsomely for it.

You only have to glance at the Mirror saddle – which gets its name because it "perfectly reflects your anatomy", according to Specialized – to see that it's very different from the norm. There's nothing particularly unusual about the carbon composite rails or about the carbon base with a cutaway centre, but rather than foam on top of that, you get a 3D-printed polymer lattice. It looks a little like the inside of a beehive – minus the bees, obvs. I can't say I counted them myself but the matrix apparently consists of 14,000 struts and 7,799 nodes (intersections between those struts).

> Find your nearest dealer here

Specialized has partnered with Californian company Carbon in the development of this saddle. Carbon "has pioneered a way to 3D print from liquid polymer using a beam of light" (Specialized's words) and has software to construct highly complex shapes with this process.

The idea is that the tech can be used to create a hugely tuneable structure by engineering different densities of lattice in a single piece. After the lattice structure is printed, a second chemical reaction occurs in a forced-circulation oven to strengthen and set the material's final properties.

2020 Specialized S-Works Power Saddle - top detail (1).jpg

You can find out more about Carbon's Digital Light Synthesis technology here

Specialized says that its aim was to combine a saddle that provides comfort to your sit-bones with one that reduces friction – important for long-ride comfort – while offering a stable pedalling platform for efficiency. It went through about 70 iterations before settling on the final design.

2020 Specialized S-Works Power Saddle - side (1).jpg

That's the briefest of backgrounds to the 3D-ness of this saddle, but how does it feel in use? I wondered whether this was all just a matter of using new technology for the sake of it, but the result is exceptionally good.

The Mirror saddle is softer than I usually go for, especially the centre of the nose which is almost squidgy. Combined with a fairly flexible shell, this means that you sink in just a little when you get on board – more than on most race/performance-type saddles.

2020 Specialized S-Works Power Saddle - underside (1).jpg

Your weight is distributed widely and pressure is reduced – which is great – but I'm suspicious when this happens! Although it might feel good to start with, soft saddles often mean that bad times are around the corner because of instability and increased friction, but I found the balance here to be about right, with enough support to keep everything steady when laying down the power. Some people might find the saddle too soft, I guess, but it hits the sweet spot for me.

2020 Specialized S-Works Power Saddle - logo (1).jpg

I've used this saddle loads over the past three months – short rides, long rides, road, gravel – and it has never disappointed. It feels comfortable at the start of a ride and it still feels comfortable hours later. Very little road buzz gets through and there's enough shock absorption to take the edge off any bigger hits that come your way. The textured surface is a little more grippy than most too, helping to keep you in position.

2020 Specialized S-Works Power Saddle - upper (1).jpg

The saddle shape plays a big part in the performance, and the Mirror joins Specialized's Power range that has been hugely popular over recent years. It has a flat profile and, like the other Power saddles, it is short nosed, measuring just 243mm from tip to tail.

> Buyer’s Guide: 8 of the best short saddles

I'm a big fan of the shape – it just feels good and there's not much to get in the way when you're hunkered low on the drops. As mentioned, the shell has a central cutout and the 3D upper has a channel running three-quarters of its length. That honeycomb section in the middle is so soft that there's virtually no pressure in that area, and Specialized says that it has validated the saddle's ability to assure penile blood flow by reducing soft tissue pressure.

2020 Specialized S-Works Power Saddle - Top centre (1).jpg

As well as helping with pressure distribution, the lattice structure is pretty lightweight, our test saddle hitting the road.cc scales at 193g (I've been using the Mirror in a 143mm width, although it's also available in a 155mm option that's about 4g heavier). That's not as light as the PU-padded S-Works Power saddle which has a claimed weight of 159g in a 143mm width, but it's hardly heavy, especially for something that offers this level of comfort.

2020 Specialized S-Works Power Saddle - underside detail (1).jpg

Durability? As mentioned, I've been using the Mirror for three months, so I can't yet tell you what it'll be like a year down the line. What I can tell you is that it's handled everything fine so far. You'll want to be careful of scuffing the surface by scraping the edges against anything when you're off the bike, but none of those struts has broken – at least there's no visible damage – and aside from a bit of mud this saddle looks pretty much like it did on day one.

Speaking of mud, you can wipe that off the top surface easily with a damp cloth, although if it flicks inside those honeycomb sections – sprayed up from the road or whatever – it's harder to remove. You really need a hose or some other stream of water to get the saddle completely clean.

Price

Ah, there's a flappy-eared elephant in the room and we can't ignore it any longer. At £349, the Mirror takes over from the Fizik Arione 00 Versus Evo as the most expensive saddle we've ever reviewed on road.cc. Well, it was never going to be cheap, was it?

On the other hand, Fizik's 3D printed Antares Versus Evo 00 Adaptive, also developed with Carbon, is £369.99 so you could look upon it as £21 saved rather than £349 spent... you know, at a push! We've not reviewed the Fizik saddle so can't tell you how they compare.

> Buyer’s Guide: 17 of the best high-performance saddles

Really, though, there's no disguising that this is a lot of money to spend on a saddle. Will the tech trickle down through the price ranges over time? You'd imagine that Specialized will eventually offer a non S-Works version with a cheaper shell and perhaps titanium rails, but we don't know for sure.

Summing up

We're used to new products being launched with big claims, but they're justified in the case of the S-Works Power with Mirror saddle. The 3D-printing offers a tangible benefit in tuning structure in order to spread the load and add comfort. Of course, one saddle isn't going to be right for everyone, but the Mirror is going to make a lot of riders very happy... it's just the small matter of finding that 350 quid.

Verdict

High-tech saddle that delivers an exceptional level of comfort, but that price... ouch!

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road.cc test report

Make and model: Specialized S-Works Power with Mirror 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 S-works Power with Mirror technology is the perfect reflection of you.

"We're redefining comfort and performance with Mirror technology to take Body Geometry into the future. The last big material innovation in saddle design happened decades ago with the introduction of foam. To develop a next-generation saddle, we had to look beyond foam and develop a next-generation technology. The S-Works Power Saddle with Mirror is the future.

"We developed Mirror technology by 3D printing from a liquid polymer to perfectly reflect your anatomy. This revolutionary process creates a complex honeycomb structure that allows us to infinitely tune the material's density in a way impossible with foam. The result is a patent-pending matrix of 14,000 struts and 7,799 nodes, each of which can be tuned individually.

"And when you combine this technology with our extremely lightweight S-Works Power saddle, with its flexed-tuned FACT carbon shell and ultra-light rails, you get a high-performance saddle that's designed to help you perform at your best. It features all of the Body Geometry design characteristics you know and love, so you can be assured of superior, all-day comfort for your unique position."

Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?

Specialized lists these features:

* Patented Body Geometry design is lab-tested to ensure blood flow to sensitive arteries.

* Mirror technology utilizes 3D printing from liquid polymer to create a one-of-kind honeycomb structure that offers superior sit-bone support and comfort.

* FACT carbon fibre shell is flex-tuned for support and ride compliance.

* Ultra-light, strong, and oversized FACT carbon rails (the oversized 7x9mm carbon rails are not compatible with seatposts equipped with side-load clamp mechanisms for 7mm round rails.

Specialized also says, "Our Body Geometry team has already validated Mirror's ability to assure penile blood flow by reducing soft tissue pressure, as well as improved sit bone comfort in both men and women."

The two threaded holes on the underside of the saddle shell are for fitting some of Specialized's SWAT accessories, such as the Road Bandit

Rate the product for quality of construction:
 
10/10

This saddle is largely about the 3D-printed liquid polymer construction, which is excellent.

Rate the product for performance:
 
9/10
Rate the product for durability:
 
6/10

If 5 is average, 6 seems reasonable, but it's hard to judge the long-term durability.

Rate the product for weight (if applicable)
 
7/10

There are plenty of lighter saddles, but not many with this level of comfort.

Rate the product for comfort (if applicable)
 
9/10

Saddle comfort is always a personal thing, but this saddle provides good support for the sit-bones with loads of pressure-relief through the centre.

Rate the product for value:
 
6/10

You usually have to pay for new tech, and relatively slow production times increase prices. Still, there's no getting around the fact that £349 is a lot for a saddle – though it is less than Fizik's Antares Versus Evo 00 Adaptive.

Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose

It is a super-comfortable saddle.

Tell us what you particularly liked about the product

The structure, the shape, the comfort.

Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product

Not many people are willing and/or able to spend this amount on a saddle.

How does the price compare to that of similar products in the market, including ones recently tested on road.cc?

The only other saddle that uses the same 3D-printed polymer lattice tech is Fizik's Antares Versus Evo 00 Adaptive, which is a little more expensive at £369.99. The vast majority of saddles out there – even very good saddles that we've reviewed – are a whole lot cheaper.

Did you enjoy using the product? Very much.

Would you consider buying the product? Realistically, I don't think I'd spend this amount on any saddle.

Would you recommend the product to a friend? If they have the money, yes.

Use this box to explain your overall score

It's an exceptionally good saddle but the price is exceptionally high too.

Overall rating: 8/10

About the tester

Age: 48  Height: 190cm  Weight: 80kg

I usually ride:   My best bike is:

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: commuting, club rides, sportives, general fitness riding,

Mat has been in cycling media since 1996, on titles including BikeRadar, Total Bike, Total Mountain Bike, What Mountain Bike and Mountain Biking UK, and he has been editor of 220 Triathlon and Cycling Plus. Mat has been road.cc technical editor for over a decade, testing bikes, fettling the latest kit, and trying out the most up-to-the-minute clothing. We send him off around the world to get all the news from launches and shows too. He has won his category in Ironman UK 70.3 and finished on the podium in both marathons he has run. Mat is a Cambridge graduate who did a post-grad in magazine journalism, and he is a winner of the Cycling Media Award for Specialist Online Writer. Now pushing 50, he's riding road and gravel bikes most days for fun and fitness rather than training for competitions.

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