Time trial specialist Dave Zabriskie has one, as does reigning Tour de France champion Carlos Sastre. Now everyone can have the new 24cm long, 165g fi’zi:k Ares time trial saddle for US$199.
Ridden by Team Columbia en route to their six-second team time trial victory over Team Garmin-Slipstream (also on the new Ares) on Stage one of the 2009 Giro d'Italia, the Ares is finally rolling off the production line.
With International Cycling Union (UCI) regulators cracking down, nearly disqualifying nearly half of the 2009 Tour of California peloton for time trial bike set-up infractions -- mainly aero bars -- fi’zi:k now offers its 24-centimetre long saddle, designed to meet the absolute UCI-regulated minimum length.
This, according to the Italy company, allows pro cyclists to position the saddle at its most forward point to achieve the optimal time trial position, while also adhering to stringent UCI regulations dictating the saddles’ position five centimetres behind the bottom bracket.
While the new Ares has been in-field tested with fi’zi:k’s 2009 professional road teams since last August, that product has literally been a hand carved, condensed version of the longer Antares.
It wasn’t until early March that final details – optimum foam distribution and density – were determined based on feedback from members of fi’zi:k-sponsored pro road teams.
The Ares made its unannounced debut at last year’s Tour de France on the bikes of Garmin-Slipstream’s David Millar and Ryder Hesjedal. A month later, photographs appeared on cycling websites around the globe following Zabriskie’s second consecutive US National Time Trial Championship victory last September in South Carolina.
According to US marketing manager Suzette Ayotte, the 165g Ares morphed from the new Antares road saddle as fi’zi:k product managers were pressured to prepare a prototype for Jim Felt, who was preparing Zabriskie’s 2008 Giro d’Italia and Tour de France TT bikes.
"Based on results from wind tunnel testing, Felt wanted a lower profiled and lighter product [from the older fi’zi:k Chrono TT saddle]," Ayotte said. "With the product managers focused on finalising details for the new road Antares in time for a fall launch, they simply modified the new road product in effort to meet Felt’s deadline.
“Ultimately, the shape of the Antares with its wider rear platform and 42mm wide nose proved perfect for time trial applications,” she added.
The production model was recently put to a six-hour time trial endurance training test by 2008 Tour de France winner and Cervelo TestTeam’s Carlos Sastre.
“Perfect,” Sastre said. “I definitely noticed the difference between this version and the version I’ve been using since the start of the season.” Sastre's blessing moved the Ares into fi’zi:k’s production schedule with worldwide distributors placing orders within minutes of notification of the saddles availability.
The Ares TT saddle also marks the introduction of a new :k cover design. It is scheduled to arrive on retail shelves during the Giro and will retail for US$199.
For more information, visit www.fizik.it.