By Rick Schultz
- 3-D Printed MIRROR technology
- “Baby-brother” to the $450 S-WORKS version, for those that don’t need carbon rails
- Softer material (firm with just the right amount of ‘squishy’)
- Conforms to your personal anatomical shape, i.e., super comfy
- Sizes: 143mm & 155mm widths
- Hard to find for sale anywhere (Currently)
- $$$$ You are paying for a new technology and the higher costs to design and build these first ones
- I think this would be a far superior saddle if they got rid of the webbing and just keep the original power cutout.
Source: Specialized Bike shops, Websites
How obtained: Purchased.
Dichotomy: Super comfy but can cause a rider to go numb. This occurs for those who ride with anterior pelvic rotation (like we all should). The issue is the webbing. It has enough resistance to potentially cause a rider to go numb. More on this later.
Price MSRP: Saddles Based On The Power Design
$325 (POWER PRO WITH MIRROR): As Tested
- 3D printing with a liquid polymer
- Titanium rails
- 15% Recycled from bicycle assembly line (shredded) carbon + injected nylon shell
- 143mm: 245 (8.64oz)g, 155mm: 251g (8.85oz)
$450 (S-WORKS POWER WITH MIRROR)
- 3D printing with a liquid polymer
- Carbon Fiber rails
- Fact full carbon fiber shell
- 143mm: 190g (6.7oz), 155mm: 194g (6.84oz)
POWER & POWER ARC available in the following
- $140 (Comp & Comp Mimic)
- $160 (Expert & Expert Mimic)
- $275 (Pro Elaston & Pro Elaston Mimic)
- $325 (S-Works & S-Works Mimic)
As the price increases, the saddles go from:
- Steel Rails -> Ti Rails -> Carbon Fiber Rails
- Injection Molded plastic base -> IM plastic + carbon flock base -> full carbon fiber base
- More padding -> Less Padding
- Same basic shape remains for saddles
What is Mirror?
Simply, MIRROR Technology is the digital printing of a liquid polymer with light and oxygen that is used in creating the saddle body. Click here for the details.
Dr. Andy Pruitt is credited with designing the Specialized Body Geometry line of products including shoes and saddles. See https://www.andrewpruittedd.com/.
The original Power saddle (figure 1) was designed with a large cut out/hole in the saddle. A later version, Power Arc was of similar design but the ‘wings’ widest part of the rear of the saddle had more curve.
Note: Looking at the new POWER PRO with MIRROR (figure 2), it appears to be closer to the design of the POWER ARC than the POWER.
As with most bicycle products being virtually unavailable from the manufacturers or their websites these days, I was lucky to find the last one in California in 155mm.
Unboxing: Since these saddles don’t come with boxes, this was more of a detagging.
If you remember the article from a previous newsletter, I discussed a way to mitigate saddle sores by periodically replacing/rotating your saddles. I replaced one of the saddles shown with this new Power Pro with Mirror and set it up to be in the same position as my other saddles.
Since everyone has a different shaped “rear-end,” a perfect saddle for one might be the worst saddle for another. In my case, I actually like the Power more than the Power Arc. As stated earlier, I believe the Power Pro with Mirror is actually closer in design to a Power Arc Pro. With the Arc, I sit a little lower in the saddle which places more pressure on the soft tissue area. And that is where the Mirror technology is a detriment, in my opinion. With a large cutout/hole in the saddle, the bib shorts padding, and soft tissue get some relief. With the Mirror, it is like riding a saddle without a cutout. The Mirror is firm enough to act like a solid piece.
Figure 3 is from the Specialized website (referenced above) and shows how Specialized assumes you will sit on this saddle. And they are correct in that most cyclists will sit with a more vertically oriented pelvis compared to anterior rotated. Assuming this, both figure 3 and figure 4 B show that there is plenty of room between the riders’ soft tissue and its contact point with the saddle. But, what about those that ride like shown in Figure 4 C?
NOTE: Referencing Figure 4 A, the Ischial Tuberosities (or Sit Bones) is where the saddle manufacturers tell the cyclist where they should be sitting. Most cyclists attempt to sit in this position. If you rotate your pelvis, you will be sitting more on the Pubic Rami. Rotating your pelvis engages your glute muscles giving you access to 50 extra watts of “free” power, but the problem is that you need a saddle with an adequate cutout / hole.
For those of us who ride with more Pelvic rotation, (figure 4 C), the Mirror can cause extra pressure (i.e., compresses the nerves in the perineum) which quickly causes numbness and yes, I go numb on this saddle but not the Power. What is alarming is that the fix is so simple (see below). The danger is that continued compression of these nerves can cause long-lasting numbness and even sexual dysfunction.
This saddle is a perfect example of dichotomy. On one hand, the material chosen is very comfortable and cushy, a saddle you could ride for 8 hours. But, on the other hand, the Mirror ‘webbing’ pushes back against the rider causing numbness for certain riders. Comfy on one part of your anatomy, yet potentially causing numbness in another.
As a bike fitter, I am seeing quite a few cyclists come in with this as their updated saddle. After getting these riders set up correctly with their bike fit, and showing them how to sit correctly in the saddle, they mention “Yeah, it’s not that comfortable anymore. Do you recommend another saddle?” I usually say “Yes, the Power / Power Arc is a better choice. The Comp for budget minded or the Expert with Titanium rails are both more user friendly.”
Now for the solution. Figure 5 details the Mirror webbing. If you look closely, there are 3D-hexagonal printed pieces in three layers. The easy solution is to not print the top two layers and only print the bottom layer (to help hold the saddle together), but let’s see if the Specialized designers can remove all three layers. I believe this would be the best of both worlds, a very comfortable saddle all the way around.
Carbon Scrap Recycling
On another note, what I do like about Specialized is their innovative approach to recycling the leftover carbon fiber bits and pieces from putting the frames together. They take these pieces of shredded carbon fiber and use this to make the base of the saddles. Instead of throwing this scrap into the trash cans, they reclaim these scraps into building the injection molded base thereby minimizing waste.
As I have been putting this article together, I have been asked several times “so what’s your favorite saddle?” Here are my favorite three saddles, yours might be different.
- Selle SMP VT30C
- Specialized Power Expert
- Bontrager Montrose – not made anymore
Currently, I cannot recommend the Specialized Power Pro With Mirror saddle due to the numbness it causes. I give it a 3/5-star rating.
Coach Rick Schultz is an avid cyclist who trains, races and coaches in Southern California. Rick is an engineer by trade, and in addition to being a coach, he’s a bike fitter and prolific product reviewer. He’s the author of Stretching & Core Strengthening for the Cyclist in the RBR eBookstore. Check his product reviews website, www.biketestreviews.com, and his coaching site, www.bikefitnesscoaching.com. Click to read Rick’s full bio.
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