Great comfort, minimal weight and unisex, the Cadex Amp is an excellent short-nosed performance saddle. But a premium product does come at a premium price and the oval carbon rails won't play well with all seat clamps.
Well-padded despite its minimal appearance
Good vibration dampening
Allows the rider to move around
Premium product comes with a premium price
Oval carbon rails limits seat clamp compatibility
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Saddle reviews are always tricky because comfort is highly subjective. One person’s comfortable cradle is another person’s bed of agony. Moreover, you might find your preferences change over time due to injury or a change in riding style.
For me, the review of this saddle was well-timed. The 352-mile Unbound XL in early June had done a number on my body, undercarriage included, and upon returning to the saddle, I needed a temporary break from my trusty seat — the Ergon SR Pro women’s saddle.
Weeks on, however, I am still riding Cadex’s new featherweight performance saddle and I’m in no hurry to swap it out.
Introducing: the Cadex Amp saddle
Cadex is Giant Bicycles’ in-house brand known for its stiff and speedy wheels, high-end carbon components and innovation. Giant originally introduced Cadex in the 1980s as a separate, standalone brand but it was later integrated into the Giant product line. Its products are often seen used by the Giant-sponsored WorldTour teams, Team Jayco-AlUla and Liv Racing TeqFind.
But the Amp wasn’t made just for the world’s best racers. The brand’s Boost saddle serves that purpose and, while popular, its tendency to force riders into an aggressive position isn’t for everyone. So while the Amp borrows some core features like its full composite base, the integrated rail and the Particle Flow padding from the Boost, the Amp sports a design that’s more versatile and meant to serve a wider range of cyclists.
“The CADEX Boost saddle has been a popular choice for high-performance road riding and is a favorite for many of the pro racers we work with,” says Jeff Schneider, Global Head of Product for CADEX. “With the Amp, we wanted to build on those core features and make it a better fit for a wider range of riders.”
A more supportive shape and universal fit
To create this more universal fit, Cadex took a short-nosed, wide-winged approach with the Amp. At 242mm in length, the Amp is just 3mm longer than the popular Specialized Power saddle and comes in one width – 145mm— only.
The saddle features an ergonomic rear curve that, Cadex says, offers improved pelvic support, and a side curve and flexible wings with a stark drop off for pedalling clearance. The truncated nose also plays a part in the friction- and interference-free fit.
The Amp sports a generous center cut-out to relieve pressure on soft tissue areas, and the overall crowned shape is meant to allow the rider to push back into the saddle for “a powerful and aerodynamic riding position.”
The saddle’s upper is a combination of Cadex’s high-elasticity “Particle Flow” padding, as seen on the Boost, and a lightweight, reactive foam. Together, these features are meant to distribute the rider’s weight evenly across a broad area while dampening the road’s vibrations.
The base’s integrated rails are attached to the upper in a position away from the rider’s sit bones to further dampen the ride and alleviate pressure points.
Built on a composite base with integrated carbon rails, the Amp is a true featherweight, weighing 131 grams on my kitchen scale — 2 grams above its claimed weight.
The Cadex Amp in numbers:
Weight: 129g - claimed. Actual weight was 131 grams on my kitchen scale
Stack Height: 44mm
Upon unboxing the Amp saddle, I was immediately drawn to A: its low weight and B: its clean, minimalist and classy aesthetics. No, one doesn’t choose a saddle for its looks but something about the Amp’s shape, the raw carbon and beautiful craftsmanship simply felt familiar.
But I was skeptical as well. In bygone times “unisex” wasn’t always so, well, inclusive, and sadly, I’ve never gotten on very well with short-nosed, wide-winged saddles like the Power saddle — I find that they tend to keep a rider planted in one riding position when I like to move around a bit more.
But my skepticism was quickly abated. The Amp was comfortable from the first ride onward — no break-in period required. Despite its low weight, the Amp offers heaps of comfort. The padding and shape cradle the sit bones well, and between the foam and rail placements, the rough road vibrations are kept at bay. I rode the Amp on tarmac, gravel and, even, a fair bit of singletrack. Not once did I regret my choice.
Even after decades in the saddle, I still frequently suffer from saddle sores but the side curvature and the quick drop-off on the wings are effective in minimizing friction. I found that I tended to position myself on the wings but was free to move forward for a more aggressive position. The Amp is just 242mm in length —similar to the Power saddle— but in terms of being able to move around, it feels like a longer-nosed saddle. This is perhaps due to its long thigh section. The cutout is generous; a four-hour ride felt as comfortable as a 45-minute jaunt. For me and my sit bones, the Amp saddle simply works and may just be the most comfortable performance saddle I’ve ridden in years. It’s certainly the first “unisex” saddle that I’ve genuinely enjoyed.
The saddle’s only downside, really, is the rails. Yes, I understand that the Amp’s composite base and integrated carbon rails allow for the minimal weight and flex and stiffness properties, but I do wonder about the durability in heavy use, especially on rough gravel roads. With a pricetag of $350 per saddle, a rail crack would be costly.
Also, the oval shape of the rails does mean less compatibility with seat claps, and may limit the saddle’s use in endurance riding where seatpacks are desired. I’d happily take a weight penalty in exchange for a titanium, round-rail version of this saddle.
Despite its minimal weight, the Cadex Amp offers great comfort across a variety of terrain and long and short distances alike. Truly unisex, the Amp is an excellent short-nosed performance saddle for those looking for a lightweight all-rounder — as long as your seat clamp accommodates oval, carbon rails.
The Amp will be available from late August onward from www.cadex-cycling.com directly as well as its retailers across the globe.
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Cycling Weekly's North American Editor, Anne-Marije Rook is old school. She holds a degree in journalism and started out as a newspaper reporter — in print! She can even be seen bringing a pen and notepad to the press conference.
Originally from The Netherlands, she grew up a bike commuter and didn't find bike racing until her early twenties when living in Seattle, Washington. Strengthened by the many miles spent darting around Seattle's hilly streets on a steel single speed, Rook's progression in the sport was a quick one. As she competed at the elite level, her journalism career followed, and soon she became a full-time cycling journalist. She's now been a cycling journalist for 11 years.