A sore bum, and more specifically labia, is the bane of many a female cyclist, but the quest for a comfortable saddle may have come closer with Specialized's new Power Saddle with Mimic.
The Mimic is based around the original Power saddle design, which has proved immensely popular with female cyclists, including those on the BikeRadar team. The extensively updated design includes a number of innovative elements, but the most interesting is the new softer foam padding used on the nose, which is designed to ‘mimic’ the density of the soft tissue resting on it — hence the name.
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Extensive research and development
Women can suffer everything from pain, swelling and numbness through to more long-lasting damage in the worst case scenario as a result of a poorly-fitting or uncomfortable saddle. It’s a topic of conversation that comes up again and again among many female riders, so it's great to see Specialized attempting to solve this problem.
Plus, Specialized claims that this is one of the "most tested" saddles in the company’s history, and is a saddle "truly designed for women".
At the beginning of the process Specialized recruited a team of 20 women from a wide range of different cycling disciplines to provide extensive input, testing and feedback.
Within Specialized, the design team was led by Dr Andy Pruitt of the Boulder Centre for Sports Medicine. Pruitt has worked with Specialized for many years, notably on its Body Geometry fit system, and is an expert in bike fit.
Using various techniques, such as pressure mapping, heat mapping and rider feedback, Specialized says it recorded some surprising observations. This included the discovery that for some women the central cut-out caused the labia to swell through it rather than relieve pressure, as designed.
The first Power saddle was originally designed for women with input from American professional road-racer Evelyn Stevens, and featured the eye-catching truncated nose and wide back and flared wings that it's now known for.
Based on Specialized's research, the Power saddle has evolved further with Mimic. It now features firm, supportive padding for the sit bones at the rear and softer, layered padding on the nose. This softer padding, developed by Pruitt and his team, uses a soft, density-matched memory foam that provides support without adding pressure, to prevent any potential labial swelling.
The wings have also been tapered to prevent rubbing, based on feedback from riders of the original incarnation of the saddle.
But does it work?
Specialized concluded its research with a 'triangle test', a type of blind test that was designed to see if those riding the Mimic could feel the difference between it and another product. The nine women who took part in this test had no involvement with previous testing and development.
The results indicated, Specialized says, that the new Power with Mimic saddle was statistically more comfortable than other saddles tested.
Of course, we don't have access to the full testing protocols, but we will be testing the Power with Mimic saddle ourselves on BikeRadar, so stand by for a full review.
And what about men? Specialized has also mentioned that initial feedback suggests that men find the saddle comfortable too, but Specialized says it is yet to conduct extensive research.
Specialized Power with Mimic price, size and availability
It’s good to see that Specialized has introduced the Mimic saddle at a range of price points, which makes it accessible for more riders — especially if it really is the comfort revelation that Specialized promises.
They range from the entry-level Power Comp with Mimic with Cro-mo rails through to the range-topping S-Works model with carbon rails and shell. All models feature the Mimic upper and are also compatible with Specialized's SWAT storage systems.
There are four models available:
- Women’s S-Works Power with Mimic: £220 / $300 / AU$350
- Women’s Power Pro with Mimic: £175 / $225 / AU$270
- Women’s Power Expert with Mimic: £100 / $150 / AU$180
- Women’s Power Comp with Mimic: £80 / $120 / AU$130
Each saddle comes with three width options: 143mm, 155mm and 168mm.
If you aren’t sure what width to go for, pop into a Specialized store or dealer and they’ll able to measure it for you using a simple pressure pad that you sit on. This measures the width of your sit bones, which is what determines the size of saddle you need.
The Power Mimic saddle is available now via the Specialized website,