Looking into the Mirror

Specialized's latest innovation is the 3D-printed S-Works Power Saddle with Mirror. We recently took a first look at this intriguing new saddle on the Bespoke blog, and now I've had a chance to put around 20 hours on the new saddle.

Those 20 hours split into 6 varied rides; including two longer rides of 5 hours each... That's not enough to be a definitive test, but certainly enough to get a sense of my first impressions.

On one hand I'm not a great saddle tester as I get on well with most saddles (luckily!) but some are definitely better than others.

I have to say that so far the Mirror might just be the best of the lot. But then it should be, as a saddle that costs £350!

What do you get for your money?

The Mirror saddle is built using a technology from the appropriately named USA brand 'Carbon' and is 3D printed using 14,000 struts and 7,999 nodes (the connection points between those struts).

This creates a lattice structure that can be made firm in some areas and soft in others; perfect for a saddle which wants to support your sit bones but conversely be invisible to your 'bits' (to use a highly scientific anatomical term!).

Specialized's Body Geometry programme informs all their contact points, in terms of both shape and size, and they've drawn on their wealth of experience from bike fit specialists and sister company Retül to generate a shape that is intended to "mirror" your own anatomy (hence the name).

The Mirror is a stock saddle currently (albeit an amazing one), with a choice of 143mm and 155mm widths, but the really exciting logical progression would be to do a saddle fit and then a custom 3D printed saddle is made for you.

The production version took 70 iterations to get right. Apparently they went from a 3D render on a computer screen to the first rideable sample in 24 hours- the joys of 3D printing. It's all very F1; where they will make new wing parts for the cars based on driver feedback and install new changes next day.

It certainly looks high tech; the lattice structure is very impressive to behold and it's bonded onto a top of the range S-Works shell and carbon rails.

It also looks 'substantial' - in the picture below you can see just how much bigger it appears compared to a conventional Power saddle. Standing 6mm higher than a normal Specialized Power saddle you'll need to lower your seatpost accordingly!

At 190/194g for the 143/155mm sizes respectively this isn't intended to be an ultralight model. The 3D printing and "airy" appearance are in the service of comfort and efficiency rather than weight savings. The weight is quite respectable, but weight weenies will still prefer the 159/161g of the more conventional carbon S-Works Power saddle.

Ride impressions

I have told a few people I'm testing this saddle and they all want to know how I have gotten on; it's got a lot of hype, and supply is currently very restricted.

The honest answer is I forgot I was on a new saddle after 10 minutes; it's just there and you forget about it (as with all good saddles). I think if you have a saddle you really like and can ride for hours without issue the Mirror may not be a massive improvement.

But for many people that's not the case and the search for the 'grail' saddle continues. For them the Mirror may be perfect.

I did wonder if the more "open" design would make for a cooler saddle in hot conditions (Specialized don't make any particular claims in this regard). The weather happened to be very hot during my testing, but I didn't really notice much difference from a conventional saddle. The construction means that there isn't particularly a 'front to back' flow of air, but the many small holes do stop it from feeling at all 'plasticky' or sweaty. So overall, it was maybe a little cooler than a conventional saddle, but not a massive difference.

The biggest potential benefit is definitely the ability to create firmer and softer areas as required, with absolute precision. Support where it's needed, but plenty of comfort too. It's certainly no slouch in that respect, but it didn't feel like a quantum leap either. If your rear end is fussier than mine you might find more of a benefit!

For me, the tech may be revolutionary but the outcome (for me) is not massively better than the others saddles on my bike(s). But having said that it's enough of an improvement that it will be my go-to saddle for the rest of the summer; and definitely the one I will choose when doing the longest of rides.

Create your own custom dream build, including the S-Works Power with Mirror, in our interactive online Bike Builder