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After rolling out 3D-printed saddle technology with the Power saddle, Specialized today launched an even more intricate, liquid-polymer-based model with the S-Works Romin EVO with Mirror. This $450, 190g saddle reduces pressure on a rider compared to a foam saddle of the same shape, Specialized claims, because of the amount of density control that 3D printing allows.
Specialized started working with the vendor Carbon 3D in 2018 as a way to fine-tune saddle-top density as the company had done, in many ways, as much as it could with foam.
“As we started to introduce variable foam densities, that is helpful to riders: a softer nose, good places for the sit bones, those are key to comfort,” said Garrett Getter, Specialized leader of Body Geometry. “But if we wanted to take foam further, it was complicated and not feasible in our time frame.”
“At the same time, we continued to do pressure mapping studies with Retül,” Getter said. “If you look at the last 25 years of developing Body Geometry saddles, the idea has always been: let’s put the weight on the sit bones for skeletal structure, and thereby reduce pressure on soft tissue. That has always been the goal, with cutouts and shape. But we found when you put someone on a supportive saddle, sometimes the pressure is more concentrated.”
So, the goal with the Mirror saddles was to disperse that pressure under the sit bones as much as possible while still maintaining the skeletal support.
By printing with a liquid polymer, Specialized and Carbon 3D were able to tune much smaller areas than they could by using foam. Specialized claims there are 22,000 separate ‘struts’ in the new saddle, some 8,000 more than the Power with Mirror.
The S-Works Romin EVO with Mirror is 26cm long (compared to a 24cm Power), and comes in 143 and 155mm widths.
Todd Carver, Specialized’s human performance manager, ran pressure-mapping A/B tests on 10 subjects with Romin saddles, with one using Comp-level foam and the other saddle using 3D printing.
His team then averaged the peak points of pressure to compare. Since pressure equals force over area, and the area of pressure was smaller on the foam saddle, the pressure was even lower on the 3D saddle. Carver’s team measured localized pressure as decreasing by between 18 and 26 percent, depending on the rider’s position on the tops versus the drops.
Further, Specialized claims these comfort gains came without sacrificing blood flow.
First ride impressions
I was able to get a few rides in on the new saddle and found it to have a surprisingly ‘soft’ feeling without causing any numbness because of soft-tissue compression. Just pressing around on the different areas of the Romin with my fingers, it is remarkable how much the density differs from one spot to the next, without any hard edges or ridges. I still prefer the Power shape, so I can state that highly tailored density alone isn’t all that’s needed to create the perfect saddle for everyone. But it is cool to see what Specialized has been able to do with Carbon 3D. And if you like the current Romin, I’d bet that you’ll love the Romin EVO with Mirror — except for the whole $450 part.