The Fizik Aliante R3 Regular is a medium-width, scoop-shaped saddle that's firmer than some previous Aliante models, and is therefore best suited to hard efforts. If you want a saddle for sitting up and cruising, this isn't it, but if you're in a hurry, it's definitely one to consider.
- Pro: Comfy for hard efforts, nicely finished
- Con: Not the lightest in its price bracket
Fizik's saddles have always suited me, especially the Aliante, which in Fizik's Spine Concept saddle fit system is nominally for less-flexible riders. I get on pretty well with the Arione too, and that saddle is supposed to be for flexible racing snakes so I'm a bit skeptical of Fizik's idea that saddle fit is determined by whether or not you can touch your toes.
If you're not familiar with it, Fizik's Spine Concept puts saddles in three categories: snake for the most flexible riders, bull for the least flexible and chameleon for intermediate flexibility. Snake saddles are long and flat, bull saddles short and dipped (Fizik calls this shape 'wavey'), and chameleon saddles – you guessed it – shaped somewhere between the two.
This is all very well, but it ignores saddle fit factors such as sit-bone spacing and the general shape of your undercarriage. Fizik now deals with sit-bone spacing by offering its saddles, including the Aliante R3, in two widths: this 138mm wide Regular model, and a Large version, which is 155mm wide.
There are also variants with pressure-relieving cutaways, either as channels along the middle of the foam layer or actual holes right through the saddle. That makes for a wide range of options. With variants of materials and construction, there are 18 different versions of the Aliante alone, from the base-model Aliante Gamma to the £325 all-carbon Aliante 00. Whether or not you subscribe to the idea that flexibility is the key to saddle fit, the Fizik range is now large enough that most of us should be able to find something that works.
The R3 has a fibreglass-reinforced nylon hull and steel rails. Fizik calls the rail material K:ium alloy, but a magnet sticks to it, so 'alloy' here means alloy steel not aluminium. The hull includes Fizik's WingFlex feature that lets the sides move with as you pedal and there's a slot for Fizik's Integrated Clip System (ICS) accessories like rear lights and saddle bags. There's also an ICS clip to mount Cateye lights available, and even a mini-mudguard.
Over the hull is a thin layer of dense foam, and over that you find three pieces of Fizik's Microtex synthetic leather, giving a grey and black two-tone finish. The outer edges have scuff guards so the Microtex won't get damaged if you lean your bike against a wall or something like that. For an extra £20 you can choose your own colours for the cover and scuff guards; by my reckoning there are 71,680 possible combinations.
At 221g, the Aliante R3 Regular is light for a steel-railed saddle, but it's not the lightest in its price bracket; Selle San Marco's Concor Racing is under 200g, and can be found for a lot less than its £120 RRP. Of course there's a lot more to saddles than weight, but if you have a choice of similar seats then weight and price are going to come into consideration.
The Aliante R3 Regular is definitely a bit firmer than the Aliante Gamma that's been one of my go-to saddles for the last few years. I initially fitted it to my turbo-training bike, and took a while to get used to it. Periods of low-power riding in my first couple of sessions were uncomfortable after a few minutes, though higher intensity was fine. I got used to it after a few sessions, though.
I switched the Aliante R3 to road-riding duties and found it comfortable, though I'd still generally prefer something a shade softer like the Gamma or even Brooks Cambium. Just as it was more comfortable when I was going hard on the trainer, so pushing harder on the pedals took enough weight off my bum that the Aliante R3's shape and support could do its job.
There's no area of product reviewing worse than saddles for the 'if you like this sort of thing, then you'll like this thing' problem. Everyone's bum is different, and everyone has their own preferences for how firm they like their saddle, and even how wide. If you sit more upright on the bike, a wider saddle might be comfier for you; there's more to saddle fit than the spacing of your sit bones.
If you like a firm, dipped saddle, you'll probably get on well with the Aliante R3, and should definitely consider it if you're in the market for a new seat.
Very nicely made, firm seat, a very good platform for hard efforts
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road.cc test report
Make and model: Fizik Aliante R3 Regular saddle
Size tested: Regular
Tell us what the product is for and who it's aimed at. What do the manufacturers say about it? How does that compare to your own feelings about it?
It's a high-end performance saddle, shaped for folks who like a dip in their seat, rather than a saddle that's more-or-less flat when viewed from the side.
Fizik says this shape is for less-flexible riders. I say you should try as many saddles as you can and if this general shape fits your arse, and you like a firm saddle, then you'll get on with this one.
Specifically, Fizik says:
Aliante R3 K:ium: Aliante saddles are the widest and most longitudinally waved of fi'z:k's trio of pro-cyclist-developed Spine Concept models.
Aliante R3 K:ium is light, flexible and agile, enabling you to perform at your best.
It features a composite fiberglass co-injected Nylon shell for support with optimized stiffness to-weight construction – with Twin Flex technology which combines a strong, stiff carbon layer with a flexible, comfortable carbon layer – and an alloy K:ium rail for light weight and strength. Made for Bull.
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?
Fizik lists the specs thus:
Shell: Composite glass co-injected Nylon TwinFlex
Cover: Thermowelded Black Microtex
Rear Cover: Anthracite/Black Microtex
Scuff Guards: Black
Weight: 215 gr
Dimensions: 279x138 mm
Integrated Clip System compatible
It's very tidily made.
A comfortable saddle for hard efforts.
There are lighter saddles for the money, but you'd have to be a bit silly to choose a saddle solely on weight, unless you're building one of those 'look how light our bike is' displays for a bike show. And they're still silly.
Gah. Saddles. Comfort. The Aliante R3 is very comfortable for me. Not the most comfortable saddle I've ever used, the Brooks Cambium still holds that title, but very good.
At RRP the Aliante R3 Kium is a bit pricey, but it's in the same ballpark as other high-end saddles and cheaper than some (see below). You can pick one up for 90 quid, which is rather more reasonable.
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
Very well; it's a firm platform for hard efforts, and nicely shaped.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
The shape; it fits my bum.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product
It's a shade on the firm side for my personal taste.
How does the price compare to that of similar products in the market, including ones recently tested on road.cc?
It's in the same ballpark as the PRO Falcon, Selle San Marco ShortFit-C Racing and rather cheaper than the Astute Star Lite VT. Quality and weight are comparable to those saddles, but there are good-quality options that can be found for a lot less, like the Concor Racing mentioned above.
Did you enjoy using the product? Yes
Would you consider buying the product? Yes
Would you recommend the product to a friend? Yes
Use this box to explain your overall score
For its quality, price, weight and comfort the Aliante R3 is a solid 4/5. Its shape suits me, though it's a bit on the firm side for my personal taste.
About the tester
I usually ride: Scapin Style My best bike is:
I've been riding for: Over 20 years I ride: Most days I would class myself as: Expert
I regularly do the following types of riding: commuting, touring, club rides, general fitness riding, mountain biking
Acknowledged by the Telegraph as a leading cycling journalist, John Stevenson has been writing about bikes and cycling for over 30 years since discovering that people were mug enough to pay him for it rather than expecting him to do an honest day's work.
He was heavily involved in the mountain bike boom of the late 1980s as a racer, team manager and race promoter, and that led to writing for Mountain Biking UK magazine shortly after its inception. He got the gig by phoning up the editor and telling him the magazine was rubbish and he could do better. Rather than telling him to get lost, MBUK editor Tym Manley called John’s bluff and the rest is history.
Since then he has worked on MTB Pro magazine and was editor of Maximum Mountain Bike and Australian Mountain Bike magazines, before switching to the web in 2000 to work for CyclingNews.com. Along with road.cc editor Tony Farelly, John was on the launch team for BikeRadar.com and subsequently became editor in chief of Future Publishing’s group of cycling magazines and websites, including Cycling Plus, MBUK, What Mountain Bike and Procycling.
John has also written for Cyclist magazine, edited the BikeMagic website and was founding editor of TotalWomensCycling.com before handing over to someone far more representative of the site's main audience.
He joined road.cc in 2013 and these days he lives in Cambridge where the lack of hills is more than made up for by the headwinds.