After doing a video interview with fi'zi:k's Alberto Fonte at the 2008 Interbike trade show in Las Vegas, the bespectacled Italian handed me a goodie bag containing the new lightweight fi'zi:k Antares road (145g) and Tundra mountain bike (212g) saddles. Having tried the popular Arione saddle a few years ago, I was intrigued by the Tundra for dirt riding.
So were several mountain bike pros, it seems. Several partnered teams will be riding the new Tundra mountain bike saddle, introduced last year by 2008 Canadian cross-country champion and 2008 overall National Mountain Bike Race Series winner, Geoff Kabush.
According to fi’zi:k’s US marketing manager, Suzette Ayotte, the company has been supporting professional mountain bike teams since its start in 1996, the first and longest running partnership having been with the successful Volvo-Cannondale team. Today, with many bike companies providing house-branded saddles -- like Specialized and Trek/Bontrager -- to their respective pro mountain bike teams, opportunities to create long-term partnerships are rare.
One rare long-term partnership is with Cyclingnews.com diarists, Kenda-Seven-NoTubes’ Mary McConneloug and Mike Broderick, now in their sixth year with fi’zi:k.
“Loyalty and trust define our relationship with Mary and Mike,” Ayotte said. “They trust in fi’zi:k and they’ve been incredibly loyal. We know that other opportunities have been available to them, but they’ve remained true to the brand that supported them first. And year after year, they deliver both on and off the race course. They’re perfect ambassadors. Their integration of the professional life with their personal lifestyle represents very core of the sport.”
New to fi’zi:k in 2009 is Team Giant. Adam Craig, now running the new Tundra, cut his teeth on fi’zi:k during his developmental years on John Kemp’s 2001 Team DEVO.
“I'm pretty pumped to be back on Italian design, that being the combination of pure function and base sex appeal,” Craig said. “The seats do their job without the rider noticing yet somehow they get noticed along the way.” Team Giant’s Kelli Emmet also opts for the Tundra, while Carl Decker goes for the plusher Arione Tri 2 model. Kurtis Sorge will mix it up for Slopestyle with the Flash and Downhill with the zea:k.
Team Subaru-Gary Fisher
Also new to fi’zi:k in 2009 is Team Subaru-Gary Fisher. While most of the team members have ridden the brand throughout their respective careers, 2009 marks the first official product partnership between Team Subaru-Gary Fisher and fi’zi:k. Both Jeremy Horgan-Kobelski and Sam Schlutz will run the ultra light weight Tundra while Koerber and Irmiger will run fi’zi:k’s women’s specific Vitesse. The Gary Fisher brand is owned by Trek Bicycles, which typically specs its own Bontrager saddles.
Another new addition to the fi’zi:k off-road family is Germany’s Team Bulls sponsored by the country’s largest component distributor, ZEG. Marathon specialist and multistage specialists Thomas Dietsch, Karl Platt and Stefan Sahm will run the new Antares.
Returning to fi’zi:k in 2009 is Kabush, the original Tundra saddle spokesman. Kabush played an instrumental role in expediting the development of an ultra lightweight flat mountain bike saddle after having opted for both the carbon K:1 and Arione road saddles during his first year riding the brand. Kabush returns with new colours, new teammates and a new bike sponsor with Team Maxxis-Rocky Mountain. Joining Kabush are Lea Davidson, Raphael Gagne and 2008 World Cup Overall Champion Helene Marie Premont.
Cannondale Factory Team
Also returning and now in its 10th year of partnership is the Cannondale Factory team led by veterans Roel Paulissen, Martin Gujan, and Marco Aurelio Fontana. Paulissen captured the Marathon World Championship last year on the Arione CX carbon but switches to the new Antares for its light weight and slightly wider rear platform. Fontana makes his fi’zi:k debut on the new Tundra.
For more information, visit www.fizik.it.