At the leading edge of saddle design and technology, the Fizik Adaptive is incredibly comfortable and offers an extra level of support over traditional designs. As with any early adopter of new technology the only major issue is the price.
Open honeycomb design can attract dirt
By James Bracey
Fizik's latest saddle project 'Adaptive' incorporates an innovative new construction process and is aimed at being the pathway towards creating custom, fit-to-body saddles for all.
When Fizik unveiled this incredible looking saddle in 2019 it was the culmination of a research project that took the biomechanical data of a myriad of professional and recreational cyclists and set out to map and develop the most optimised saddle to date. The results of the research identified the areas of a saddle that needed more or less padding alongside the optimal shaping. However creating the perfect saddle was no simple task and Fizik had to look outside the traditional manufacturing methods in order to create the Adaptive; enter Carbon. Carbon is a high-tech material manufacturer that specialises in Digital Light Synthesis, a leading-edge 3D printing technology.
Combining with Carbon and 3D printing the polymer upper has enabled Fizik to completely zone the Adaptive saddle tuning each of the areas separately for specific mechanical properties, joined together progressively and seamlessly in the same padding. In reality, the upper looks uniform in its honeycomb construction but a quick squidge test with your thumb and the differing levels of cushioning become quite noticeable.
The rest of the saddle looks almost basic in comparison to the 3D printed cushioning but it is anything but. Being based on the existing Arione Versus 00 it not only follows the basic shape with a deep central channel but also features a full carbon base and full carbon oval rail (9mm oval, so check your seatpost compatibility). This no-expense-spared construction not only goes someway to justify the sky-high £369 price but also the scant 160 gram weight measured for our regular width test version.
Setting up the saddle is no different from normal and the dimensions are similar to the 'normal' Arione in the front half and rail position. The rear portion is slightly truncated and the carbon shell extends quite a bit further back than the padding.
The ride feel of the Adaptive is quite curious. It almost feels like a normal saddle in the way in which it supports your weight but you are also aware that the padding moves a little differently. It provides a little more lateral give than a normal saddle but this is no bad thing as it helps isolate the body from road shocks and fatigue inducing vibrations and feels less like you are pressurising sensitive areas. It's kind of like the modern day equivalent of the very old hammock saddles, just way more comfortable.
In terms of comfort I cannot fault the Adaptive as it certainly provides excellent support. It is also available in a wider version to suit riders with a larger skeletal structure. Of course, with it only being available in the single shape it is worth trying before investing in such a saddle.
Like most people who see the Adaptive for the first time I was sceptical in terms of the open nature of the upper, and exclaimed that it would be a dirt and muck magnet. Whilst it does enable dirt to penetrate the upper, unless you have fitted it to a gravel bike and are riding in a complete quagmire this does nothing to affect the comfort. Fizik say you can just hose dirt out and whilst this is true it is difficult to completely eliminate all contamination.
The upper has proved to be very durable during testing and has not suffered any damage. You do have to be very careful of the carbon base though as this is quite thin and it can be easy to scratch.
As a final note; despite the colour of the upper I was more than a little disappointed to find it doesn't glow in the dark!
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