I was looking into replacing my Fabric Line saddle for a while now. While I had adjusted it into a decent enough position to maximize its comfort, ultimately it just wasn’t quite as comfortable for me as the Selle SMP Hell it replaced. My main beef was how its relief channel stopped exactly where I needed it: right at the nose.
Fortunately, I found a good deal on a Specialized Power saddle, in its most basic Comp form. In hindsight, one could say I should have opted for that in the first place. I decided to give it a try.
- Available in 143 mm, 155 mm, and 168 mm widths
- Integrated mounts for Specialized SWAT accessories
- Body Geometry design caters to both sexes
- Carbon-reinforced plastic shell; waterproof top cover
- “Level 2” medium-density polyurethane foam cushioning
- Hollow 7 mm chromoly rails
- Rated weight: 247 g (143 mm width)
When the Power first came out in 2015, I saw a lot of parallels to the basic design Selle SMP employs with its saddles. What little is left of the Power’s nose features a bit of gentle drop. Following the SMP ethos is the full-length cutout, from the rear middle of the saddle and running just short of the nose. At the very rear, there is enough of a ramp to the saddle’s shape for your butt to push against, useful for recruiting different muscles for pedaling.
Looking at these details, it seems Specialized is trying to achieve the same objective SMP did, but going their own way. The stubby nose is their analogue to SMP’s eagle-beak version, intended to reduce genital numbness in aggressive riding positions. Specialized says the Power is an amalgamation of three different saddles: the triathlon/TT-specific Sitero; the MTB-specific Phenom; and word on the street is the Power was originally intended to be a women-specific saddle. I’m no expert, but I will say that the Power is more understated and cleaner-looking than the almost embarrassingly gaudy aesthetic of almost all Selle SMP saddles.
The difference in form factor between Power and Line is obvious. The oft-repeated suggestion from Specialized is to mount the Power with 30 mm more setback than a normal saddle; this matches up perfectly to the length difference between these two. The Power measures a squat 240 x 143 mm; the Line is a longer, leaner 270 x 134 mm.
Beyond that, there are some similarities. The Comp version of the Power comes with the most padding (and the least reviews online, grumble grumble), but still feels about 80% as firm as the criterium-ready Line’s – practically identical. Both saddles share a matte black top cover with good grip on your posterior and any clothing it’s covered with. I’ve subjected the Line to a couple of careless falls and it just shrugged off any scratches; on that evidence I’ll bet the Power Comp will be just as durable.
Because of its peculiar shape and length, setting up the Power properly requires a bit more work.
The added 3 cm setback Specialized recommends compared to normal saddles serves as a good starting point. From there, I set up the Power so that its front half is level, or parallel the floor.
When I mounted the Power and spun Hyro’s pedals on the turbo trainer, this position felt good, but I was slowly sliding off its nose when the intensity level went up. This unduly weighted my hands, so numb hands and fingers would have become an issue on longer rides. I stopped, raised its nose upward a degree from horizontal, emulating the old Selle SMP Hell profile, and soldiered on.
About 50 minutes into the one-hour trainer session, I was experiencing exactly what I didn’t want out of the saddle: some genital numbness. Short nose, full-length cutout and all, the Power is not quite an SMP saddle, so it should not be set up the same way.
With more fiddling, I returned the Power to its initial angle, but pushed it forward 1 cm. The same strategy remedied many of my issues with the Fabric Line, and it did so again here. Less weighting of the hands, elimination of genital numbness, and an overall better seating position.
And you know what? When properly set up, the Power does make for an easier time riding in aggressive positions. The shorter-by-3-cm nose supports your genitals and soft tissues properly, yet allows freedom of movement while avoiding unwanted groin squish, even when maintaining an aero tuck with your hands on the hoods or in the drops. With the Power, it’s amazing how little saddle you can actually get away with riding on a bike, and how that strategy is one way that does yield more comfort.
Since that initial ride on the trainer, I’ve ridden the Power on long rides with zero adjustment, and I gladly report happy nether regions, especially when riding on the saddle’s rear. It fares well on climbs, too, where the wider-than-usual saddle width options starting making more sense.
The involved setup does mean the Power is a “sweet-spot” saddle – even more so than Selle SMP’s. A rider will tend to pick his/her desired position along its length and ride planted in it for hours, but will have far fewer options in times where a change of position would be desired.
One last observation is the couple of threaded holes on its rear underside. These are shared with a few other saddles and meant for use with Specialized’s SWAT (Storage, Water, Air and Tools) line of accessories, specifically the Road Bandit tool wrap for a spare inner tube, CO2 cartridge, and tire lever. While this is a clever idea, like Fizik and Prologo’s similar interpretations, this mounting point is also woefully underused. This would be a great spot to mount a rear light to. Some enterprising third-party fabricators with 3D printers have actually created their own rear light mounts leveraging the SWAT hardpoints.