Fi'zi:k is a relative newcomer to the world of saddles, but in its 18 years it has already created some of the most popular performance designs around – the super-long Arione and curvy Aliante pretty much reinventing the genre.
But Fi'zi:k realised that plenty of riders still favoured traditional shapes – so it set its design team on the path to find out why…
- Highs: Superb comfort, low weight
- Lows: Very, very expensive
Its data threw up some interesting stats, notably that classic saddles such as Selle Italia’s Flite, San Marco’s Concor and Rolls and even Brooks’ vintage B17s and Colts all share a common shape at the sit point. Take a cross-section of the saddle and you’ll see a constant curve like an arch. Each saddle they looked at had a similar curve and dimensions within millimetres of each other.
Now the design team at Fi'zi:k isn’t going to make a vintage saddle (its sister brand Brooks has a pretty good hold on that) so it has produced a perch that combines futuristic looks but still has that classic arch cross-section. Fi'zi:k likens the result to a vaulted ceiling, hence the name ‘Volta’.
The construction is decidedly modern, the Volta’s carbon and thermoplastic hull having a softer section at the sit point and Fi'zi:k’s trademarked flexible Wing Flex sides. The hull is bolted to a continuous one-piece carbon-braided oversized rail and the saddle is topped with high-density padding and a Microtex cover. The very impressive 170g weight is just 5g heavier than claimed.
Sit on the Volta and ride and you’ll feel the curved shape immediately. It feels very different to modern flat saddles – somehow narrower – but the slab sides mean there are few friction points, so your pedal strokes feel unhindered and smooth. The padded top and softer centre section are remarkably comfortable over longer distances, and it feels as if the tweaking of the traditional saddle’s size and shape has worked well.
Fi'zi:k’s take on the classic saddle is light, comfortable and we’ve even warmed to its sci-fi looks over time – though the carbon R1 model’s eye-popping price will put some off. The Volta R3 Kium with alloy rails looks better value at £139.99.