The uncertainty relating to the availability of suitable tyres and rims, and the effects on handling and geometry, have been the biggest questions on everyone’s minds since 29er downhill bikes began to hit the circuit in earnest last month at Lourdes.
While we’ve really enjoyed seeing what unique solutions mechanics and racers have come up with to get around the various issues that bigger wheels pose, few would have expected to see saddles becoming 29er specific.
The prototype saddle (left) next to the original mockup (right) Jack Luke / Immediate Media
Fizik has just signed a contract with the Santa Cruz Syndicate which will see the team move from WTB to Fizik saddles for this season. This ties in with the team’s long-term use of Crank Brothers pedals, another brand owned by parent group Selle Royal.
With the ink barely dry on the contract, Fizik was immediately tasked with producing a new saddle for the team to use on its new V10 29ers.
The original prototype is just a Gobi with the back hacked out of it Jack Luke / Immediate Media
The original Gobi looks portly compared to the new, shrunken prototype Jack Luke / Immediate Media
The new — and as of yet unnamed saddle — is essentially a Gobi with a big wedge chopped out the back. This was done to prevent the rear tyre from buzzing the back of the saddle when bottoming out on the new bike.
The original prototype pictured was created by Syndicate lead mechanic Doug Hatfield.
The new prototype saddle is a much more refined affair Jack Luke / Immediate Media
After photos and dimensions of the prototype saddle were sent through to Fizik, the company was able to turn around a batch of the new saddles in just two weeks — something the brand claims it was only able to do because its factories are located very close to its offices in Italy.
The new saddle is just a prototype, but Fizik expects the saddle to go into full production soon, especially as 29ers become more common on the circuit.
Keep your eyes peeled for a pro-bike check and more coverage from Fort William over the next few days.