Specialized took its already-popular Power saddle and added what it has dubbed Mimic technology. Mimic technology, regardless of how much testing, research, and fancy materials are used, is a simple concept: Soft material where there is soft tissue to “mimic” our bodies. And based on my testing, it seems to be an effective concept.
According to Specialized, many female cyclists experience labial numbness, discomfort, and pain — an issue that hasn’t been adequately addressed within the cycling industry, or at least not with anatomically correct language (which is important, because “soft tissue” and “down there” is pretty vague if you’re trying to address a specific problem).
Specialized isn’t the only one saying this is an issue; a quick Google search will return a variety of articles from non-cycling outlets discussing an increase in cyclists seeking labiaplasty in recent years. There are multiple reasons why one might seek labiaplasty but changing one’s body to accommodate a bike saddle should not need to be one of those reasons.
The Power Saddle with Mimic is the same foundation as the Power Saddle sans Mimic. It is a snub-nosed, relatively flat design with a moderate amount of padding. As far as fit goes, I’m a fan of the relatively flat profile, but prefer a more dramatic cutaway on the sides. A 155mm width would have given slightly better sit-bone support, but at that width, the saddle gets in the way of my thighs. I tested the 143mm width in order to balance all aspects of saddle fit.
The most visible difference between the Power Mimic and the Power is the cutout or lack thereof. Specialized claims their testing showed saddle cutouts — designed to relieve pressure on soft tissue — can actually be the cause of labia swelling. So, while the base of the Power Mimic is still cut out, it is covered by a layer of foam that maintains a depressed center but also provides soft support. I found this worked very well and was quite comfortable on all my rides.
Less visible but very noticeable once you touch the saddle, is the soft padding on the nose. The rear of the saddle has more traditionally firm padding since that’s ideally where we want support, but much like the foam in the center, the foam on the nose is very forgiving. This made it easier to maintain a good position during extended hard efforts in the drops. I didn’t test this saddle on a TT bike but think that would be an ideal application.
I’m curious what the life of the soft foam will be. Like many memory foam mattresses, how long before the soft foam on the saddle ends up with permanently compressed points, mitigating its benefits? Time will tell.
Specialized has stated that the Power saddle is the first saddle to get the Mimic treatment, but more will be coming, so if you’re interested in the Mimic technology, but the Power shape doesn’t work for you, there’s no need for despair, only patience. I’ve got my fingers crossed for a Phenom Mimic, but it’s more likely that the Oura is next in line.