Fizik cares about the interaction between a rider and bicycle, which is why it has focused on key contact points like saddles, shoes and handlebars over the years. At Eurobike the Italian company unveiled the latest evolution of its Spine Concept, with bib shorts designed specifically to work with its saddles, and the addition of two width options for each of its three saddle models.
Link bib shorts designed specifically for its own saddles
Fizik first introduced its Spine Concept in 2008, a philosophy of saddle design that matches spine flexibility to saddle shape with three saddle styles to choose from - Arione, Antares and Aliante. It has expanded this thinking to its first ever bib short to the range with three designs intended to match one of its saddles.
We’ve never come across a company offering shorts designed to work in perfect harmony with a specific saddle before. Fizik calls it Spine Concept Evo and has developed three versions of its new Link bib shorts, with differences in the shape of the padded insert, the fabrics and the shape of the shorts.
Just a quick recap on Spine concept; Snake (Arione) is aimed at a rider with maximum flexibility (can you touch your toes?), Bull (Aliante) for people with minimum flexibility, and Chameleon (Antares) is the in the middle of the two extremes.
The key to the shorts is a design based on the level of hip rotation. A rider with maximum spine flexibility and riding the Arione saddle will generally have a more aggressive ride position, with a more extreme saddle to handlebar drop. At the other end of the scale, a cyclist on the Aliante saddle will have a more upright position with more weight on the saddle.
Fizik has taken this into account in designing the shorts and designed a bib short that suits the differing demands of each rider. The key difference is the shape and construction of the both the padding and the cut and use of fabrics in the bibs. It hired a product developer who used to work as Assos to help it develop these new shorts, so we’re sure they’ll deliver the performance that their appearance suggests they should.
The padding is the key difference inside each short, with a different shape and padding density depending on which one you choose. The Link Snake R1 has a seamless 3D moulded top with two separate 4 and 10mm foam layers underneath, and a Super Air Base Layer to provide maximum airflow and breathability. The Link Snake R3 uses a similar breathable cover over just one layer of 8mm foam. The Snake bibs also have straps that are shorter at the front to improve the fit when in a hunched over position.
The Link Bull has a shape that according to Fizik is design for the cyclist that rotates their pelvis to reach the handlebars, compensating for the low body flexibility. The seamless 3D moulded cover has ridges running along the centre with a four density 3D moulded foam base designed to cushion the sit bones in the acute angle that Fizik reckons the pelvis rotation causes.
Lastly, the Link Chameleon has a shape and padding that matches the flat profile of the Antares saddle, suited to a rider with low spine flexibility. Because more of the rider body weight is distributed across more of the saddle, it has adapted the shape and position of the two layers of 4mm foam padding.
There are two levels of shorts, the top-end R1 (£229.99) and more affordable R3 (£149.99). The R1 uses a 3D moulded and seamless padding with a racing fit and woven fabrics, which is lightweight and minimises water absorption. The R3 shorts have a performance fit and use a polyamide and elastane non-woven fabric, which makes the shorts a bit heavier than the R1, 185g versus 155g.
And no, there’s no sign of a matching jersey to go with the bibs. It has kept the styling and colouring of the bib shorts very understated so they’ll match any jersey you care to pair the shorts with.
New saddle width options
That’s not all, Fizik really has been busy. It is now offering its three saddles in a choice of two widths. Fizik says that riders with a high power output require a narrower saddle and those that pedal more slowly need a wider saddle. The Arione, Antares and Aliante now come in regular and large width.
“Spine Flexibility and Pelvic Rotation are inextricably linked to saddle comfort - how flexible your spine is and by how many degrees your pelvis rotates determines which saddle and components fit you,” says Fizik.
But how do I choose the right width saddle you ask? Fizik has produced a calculator that takes your body weight and average speed on a flat road and has calculated a power output formula that it uses to suggest the recommended width saddle.
You can do this online. First, you select your preferred saddle based on spine flexibility, input your body weight and average speed on a flat road, and it calculates your saddle width.
The Arione is available in 130 and 142mm widths, the Aliante comes in 142 and 152mm, and the Antares is available in 140 and 152mm widths.
Fizik launched the new R1B road shoe last year (you can read our review here) and there are no big changes this year, other than a new red colour option that looks the business.
If you’re into your mountain biking or cyclocross, Fizik has updated the M3B. It has a new one-piece upper design with a water-resistant toe area, lots of reinforcing the material and a single BOA dial.
We'll be putting these new products through their paces soon.
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.