Wednesday, August 15, 2012
Fizik Kurve Bull Review
First off; let me say this, about that...
It is my opinion that there is a significant percentage of riders who can ride and be happy on any saddle. Conversely there is a percentage of the riding population (significant only if you are included therein) that will never find saddle happiness.
For the rest of us, I am going to go out on a limb and say that you could probably satisfy 98% of that group with confining their choices to four or five saddles. I won't list the five saddles here, in part because I expect you could come up with a nearly infinite combination of saddles to make up a stable of five saddles that would satisfy ninety nine percent of all riders. I will say Fizik has the right idea of forcing all saddles into one of three categories. Their concept of Arione, Antres, and Aliante being the three column headers is a fine place to start.
The two extremes in saddles are the rail (think Fizik Arione...flat as a rail) and those that are hammock-like (or curvy as I like to say). The hammock refers to the curved shape, not the suspension. With these data points on either end of the spectrum, there are a zillion options between the extremes.
The variables at play are the curve nose to tail (as seen from the side), the amount of curve or shape as viewed from the top, the amount and firmness of padding and any dynamic properties such as suspension and flex. Width and length also come into play here.
Now; on to the review...
Fizik offers three models of the Kurve that correspond to their Arione, Antares and Aliante. I selected the Bull which is most like the Aliante which I love. Despite my openly professed love for the Aliante, I had a recurring hot spot and wondered if the Kurve could be as comfortable as the Aliante but without the hot spot.
Out of the box (and it is an intimidatingly slick looking box) the saddle seems all business. Thick rails wrapped in carbon fiber support and dampen the ride. It looks a little too Star Trek for my taste, but I would ride a pink saddle if it made a difference.
On the bike I had to modify the seat post clamp to allow the thicker rails to seat properly. I set it up with a level and in the end, that position seemed just fine for me.
There isn't a lot of padding on this saddle as it relies on suspension flex for some of the comfort. The suspension is reminiscent of a leather saddle such as a Brooks or Selle Anatomica. One can flex the sides squeezing it with your fingers and as you pedal the sides flex so the saddle rides "narrower" than it appears. The nose is flat and if you scoot forward there is a wider section that supports you when you are "on the rivet" literally.
Knowing that there was some "suspension" I was worried the saddle might not feel stable. It seems counterintuitive at first, but because of the double hammock effect (shape and suspension) you are in fact "settled in" and thus more secure and the saddle provides and excellent platform for power pedaling. A common limitation of most hammock saddles is that there is a single position where you are comfortable. While this saddle definitely has a sweet spot, when you slide forward for that red zone effort, the nose is supportive and it works just fine.
The big question for me was the hot spot. How would the saddle deal with friction? When a saddle has soft padding the friction from pedaling is increased. How is the Kurve? Perfect. It flexes as you ride and the minimal padding feels plush. I rode it up to and all around France with nary a care.
Did the saddle live up to the hype? Did it warrant the hefty price tag? Would it find a permanent spot on my road bike? Yes, yes, yes.
Five of five Evos.