Review: Fizik Tritone Saddle
Oh the times, they are a-changin'! And my fellow triathletes, it is for the good. Long story short: the triathlon world has recently become flush with split-nose saddle designs. And with so many options from virtually every major brand, there is almost certainly one that can fit your needs as a triathlete better than traditional road saddles. But let's set the stage a little better.
The original ISM Adamo was crafted almost 15 years ago, in an effort to help reduce numbness and pain for cyclists. While the road riding world virtually ignored the saddle at first, it was quickly adopted by triathletes. Since that time, the word Adamo has become almost something of a secret password: you can tell who the 'real' tri geeks are by their familiarity with the brand. Fast-forward to 2013, and Adamo is no longer the only codeword. Now you can mention Cobb, SMP, or Dash, and convey the same. Even makers of traditional road saddles, like Specialized and Selle Italia have begun to develop and market their versions.
One of the last holdouts in the race to split the saddle nose was Fizik, who for the last decade pushed their traditional road designs as tri-friendly. And to be fair, some athletes have gotten along with those saddles. But the number of veteran athletes happy with a traditional saddle are fewer and fewer each year. Fizik probably saw the writing on the wall, and decided to develop their version of the split-nose tri saddle. And here it is: this is the Fizik Tritone.
So, what is it?
If the shape of this saddle looks familiar, it's precisely because this bad boy is shaped almost exactly like the original Arione Tri with the front chopped off, and a large channel run through the middle. That's a really good thing, by the way. Getting that nose out of the way leaves a lot of room for your anatomy to live in comfort while you're folded up like a lawn chair over those aerobars.
The Tritone, like Specialized's Sitero, has an integrated accessory mount in the back of the saddle. This allows you to bolt bottle cages directly to the saddle without any third-party hardware. While the Sitero provides a single cage centered in the back, the Tritone has two bottle cage mounts, one left and one right. The wider two-bottle Tritone may be slightly less aerodynamic, but does provide you with more hydration. In any event, you can leave the mounts off if you don't want them.
Geometry + Fit
Viewed from above, the shape of the Tritone has a rather sharp sweep, going from narrow to wide very quickly. That's not my favorite thing in the world. Recall that in my critique of the Specialized Sitero, I mentioned that the sweep going backward allows the rider to self-select the area that most closely matches the width of your ischial tuberosities, thereby providing the perfect perch. The faster this sweep goes backwards, the more difficut it becomes to find that "sweet spot." My Dash Saddles do it the best, with only a very gentle sweep going backwards. The Sitero has a slightly faster sweep, and Fizik's version is the fastest of them all. Depending on who you are, this may not be a problem at all for you. In my case, I was able to find a good spot to ride in, but it was definitely not as easy as with other saddles. Again, I'll say that your mileage may vary. Saddle comfort is still personal even if there are some generally good ideas (like the very concept of a split-nose design) that I think most triathletes would do well to use.
I am delighted to see Fizik stepping into this space at last. They have had a long and very successful history with roadies, and I hope their willingness to experiment will bear more fruit down the line. Hopefully the Tritone is just the first of many like designs to come.