Specialized Oura Expert Gel women’s saddle

An ideal perch for those who want space to move around as the effort on the pedals dictates

Score

9/10

Pros

  • Room to move around
  • Good sized cut out
  • Plenty of width options

Cons

  • Downward slope won't suit all

Price as reviewed:

£100.00

The Specialized Oura is a saddle that’s favoured by riders who like to have space to move around on the bike. If you find yourself perching on the end during flat-out efforts then rolling backwards when relaxing – and want a perch to suit both needs – it’s a good call.

The goal is to offer optimal power transfer sought by racers – allowing them to smash out the watts both on the flat and on an incline.

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>>> Best women’s saddles

Ease and comfort of movement is made possible by the use of a narrow nose, ticker gel inserts at the rear, and curved profile – with upward contours at the rear, a slight dip in the centre before a light wave and downward swoop at the nose.

Specialized Oura Expert Gel women's saddle

At the centre, Specialized has provided a Body Geometry cut-out that’s ergonomically designed to relive pressure. Being a slightly hypermobile time triallist turned road racer, I tend to rotate forwards, and if the cut-out isn’t right I’ll know all about it – but I’ve had no issues having used this perch for over a year’s worth of training and competition. Saddle compatibility is quite personal – but if it’s helpful, I’ve also got on well with ISM split nose designs, the Sella Italia SLR Flow and Pro Stealth.

At the back, lightweight padding sits in a butterfly shape. There’s three width choices – 143mm, 155mm and 168mm. I opted for the latter following a very informative bike fit with former British Cycling physio, Phil Burt (philburtinnovation.co.uk).

>>> How to choose the right saddle for you

Since I typically rotate forwards, I had never taken saddle width very seriously. However, the Specialized measurement tool showed my sit bones at 169mm wide.

A pressure map of my former choice (152mm Pro Stealth, left), vs a 168mm Oura (right) showed that on a wider saddle my pelvis stayed straighter, reducing the tilt which has sent me to my friendly Osteopath on many occasions and evening up my knee angle from 38/44º to a healthier 34/38º.

So far, so good. Unfortunately – whilst I’ve used the Oura for over a year, and it’s clearly up there on my list, it’s not been perfect in every way (I’m still searching for that saddle soulmate).  The Oura’s sloping nose tends to push me further down the saddle than I’d like, which means at times I’ve set it up in a position that looks almost like a slight upward tilt. I’d love to see a version of this saddle with a flatter profile, though perhaps that might skew its attributes elsewhere.

Aside from shape and comfort – at the expert level, costing £100, you’re getting a stiff carbon-reinforced shell, with hollow titanium rails.

The cover is a tough and water resistant Micromatrix fabric. I’m not ashamed to say I’ve crashed whilst riding this saddle three times (twice not my fault at all, once completely my fault) – and it’s still in great condition aside from a very small tear at the rear.

My 168mm model tipped the scales at 277g – the narrower 143mm has a claimed weight of 236g and the 155mm of 265g. This isn’t particularly lightweight – a Selle Italia SLR Lady Flow Saddle comes 185g for £117.99 and the Pro Stealth with alloy rails weighs in at 210g for £129.99. However, in my opinion comfort and efficient power transfer are worth much more to a rider than saving a few grams – so if this shape works for you, then it’s worth investing!

Verdict

A saddle suited to riders who want to slide forwards during hard efforts and still find comfort when backing off. The cut out proved comfortable and width options were welcome - though the curvaceous profile won't be for everyone.