The Specialized Romin Pro is a prime example of how no saddle should be judged solely by its padding. Its sparse and very firm foam suggests a comfort level close to a medieval torture device – it feels discouragingly unyielding at first and there's just the slightest bit of cush up top. But it's one of the best saddles we've found for seasoned riders looking for all-day comfort and provided your butt is already used to long rides, it only gets better the longer you sit on it.
The shape is an interesting hybrid of new school and old, with a mostly flat profile in the middle third left-to-right and also from the middle of the saddle forward. The tail kicks up just a bit, though, and the edges progressively arc downward to prevent chafing. A deep central channel and cutout extend the entire length of the saddle, and there's a notable lack of abrupt shape transitions from end-to-end.
As a result, the Romin does an excellent job of supporting your sit bones and appropriately distributing pressure while almost completely eliminating any strain on sensitive soft tissue. The kicked-up tail lends a distinct sweet spot, too, and the flat forward section and unusually broad nose are surprisingly comfortable when you're on the rivet.
Newer riders might find the Romin Pro a little too hard but otherwise, the firm shell and minimal, dense padding are just the thing for long-term support – sort of like how your butt feels good in squishy car seats at first but ends up achy on longer trips. That supportive nose may be a bit too broad for some riders – especially ones whose knees tend to track inward while pedaling – in which case Specialized offer the otherwise nearly identical RominEvo shape with a more tapered tip.
Not to be ignored is the impressively light weight thanks to that lack of padding, the low-profile carbon-reinforced nylon shell and the carbon fiber rails. Our 143mm-wide test model – Specialized offer three widths to accommodate most riders – weighs just 162g. It's not cheap at US$180 but the value quotient grows when you compare similar saddles from Italian companies and if you're okay with a bit of extra weight, Specialized also offer the Romin Expert for an extra 45g but 60 fewer dollars.
Long-term experience with previous Romin saddles suggests this latest Romin Pro will stand the test of time, too. We have some samples that have been kicking around the office for nearly two years with barely noticeable wear on the Micromatrix synthetic cover and the stiff shell is impressively resistant to sagging even with regular mountain bike use.