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Verdict: 
Well-made saddle that seems to suit a more upright riding position
Weight: 
210g

The Specialized Power Expert with Mimic saddle will certainly appeal to many; the extensive research behind it suggests a saddle that will suit lots of women. The foam inserts offer plenty of protection but the lack of cutout won't suit everyone during longer road rides.

  • Pros: Excellent protection, particularly for sit bones when in more upright position
  • Cons: Lack of cutout won't suit all for longer rides or those with an aggressive riding position

The saddle is a morphed version of Specialized's unisex Power Expert, which Ian loved. Specialized's research led it to add 'Biomimicry' – Mimic technology. It's definitely worth reading about this research – off.road.cc's article here goes into some depth. In short, the nose is made up of two different densities of new-fangled memory foam to relieve pressure from the most sensitive areas. Slightly further back, there are more layers of foam over a kind of hammock structure, intended to provide support for other areas.

> Find your nearest dealer here

Looks-wise, the saddle breaks the mould of conventional long nose, female-specific saddles with a cutout. It's a good 2cm shorter than my regular saddle (a Specialized Oura) but matches it width-wise. It basically looks really stumpy. The Power Expert Mimic's nose also slopes down much more and has a narrower tip than most. This didn't cause me any issues with sliding and never once did I snag clothing as I moved back onto the saddle, as can occasionally happen with some saddles.

Specialized Women's Power Expert With Mimic saddle - nose.jpg

There was one drawback to the groove in the saddle (where a cutout would be): if I left the bike outside and it rained, the hollow filled with water! It's not often left outside, but it's certainly not something I had thought about prior to testing.

Specialized Women's Power Expert With Mimic saddle - rear.jpg

Mounting

Mounting the saddle onto my road bike and getting the exact position was not easy: was the 2cm coming off the set back, or should I keep that the same? It was made slightly more frustrating without direct access to the top bolt of the seat clamp – my normal saddle has a decent sized cutout which allows you to access this bolt. I found myself needing to make small adjustments out on the road, which were annoyingly time-consuming.

Specialized Women's Power Expert With Mimic saddle - underside.jpg

I quickly realised that I actually had the saddle correct initially and simply needed to adjust to having very little fore-aft wriggle-room because of its short length. It is really designed for a rider to be locked into one single position, so getting the mounting position spot on is vital.

The ride

For road rides up to 90 minutes I found the saddle acceptable but I never felt 100 per cent comfortable – a situation that rarely ends well. I soon discovered that anything longer led to significant discomfort. The longer the ride, the worse it became. I persisted for a couple of weeks; I'm so used to a cutout that I thought perhaps it was just a matter of adapting.

I tried adjusting the tilt of the saddle but things didn't improve. Tolerating it for anything more than 90 minutes on the road bike became impossible. The memory foam surface just didn't work for me, and pressure wasn't relieved as intended.

> 9 ways to make your bike more comfortable

In addition to this, the lack of room meant I couldn't make micro shifts backwards every so often, which could potentially relieve pressure.

Moving the saddle onto my commuting bike, with a slight change in position there was less pressure on the more sensitive parts. For me, the saddle offered the right amount of support in this situation. It genuinely felt really comfortable. It was forgiving on the sit bones and for my short (40-minute) commutes I never felt any discomfort or build-up of numbness anywhere.

Individual fit

As ever, a saddle is so personal. If you read Rachel's review on off.road.cc you'll get a completely different take. This could be related to the fact that she has a different position on the mountain bike, or that she simply needs a different saddle to me. Interestingly, Rachel tested the 143mm. Maybe sizing down to give less of a widening would have offered a tiny bit more room for fore-aft shifting.

It's worth noting that Specialized recommends 'utilizing the Saddle Width Measuring Tool' to 'ensure a proper fit for maximum Body Geometry Fit performance'. The saddle actually comes in a variety of widths: 143, 155 and 168mm at Comp (£84) and Expert (£105) level, and in 143 and 155mm on the Pro (£184, carbon shell) and S-Works (£230) rungs. Many Specialized outlets will carry out sit-bone measurements and make recommendations based on them.

> How to fit and set up your saddle

Admittedly, I simply selected the same width as my normal saddle and fitted it on feel and experience. A full Retul fit would shed some light on the optimal positioning of the saddle itself, but that's an expensive way to get along with a saddle that's already set you back £100 or more. (Specialized does say some of its dealers will offer the Retul Match system, which is a complimentary service.) Personally, if I can't set it up myself with 15+ years of setting up my own bike and position, I suspect it's just not going to be a road bike saddle for me.

Value

You are paying for a saddle at the forefront of research and development, and that's never going to come cheap. It's quite difficult to find a saddle that is like the Power Expert Mimic outside of the Specialized ranges; it's pretty quirky. 

All of the saddles that Caroline mentions in her buying guide cost less than the Comp, the cheapest version of the Power Expert Mimic. If you are watching the grams, you could go for the lightest possible S-Works version, but you're paying almost three times the price. I'd say the Expert that I tested is a good compromise, with hollow titanium rails and a nylon/carbon base.

If you're not happy, Specialized does offer a 30-day replacement guarantee at all dealers. Take it back with all the packaging and receipt, and they will do their best to find you an alternative that suits.

Conclusion

Having thought that I could never ride a saddle without a cutout, I have been convinced that it is an option on a bike where my riding position is more upright. I couldn't get on with it on my road bike, and wouldn't deem it worth the investment for anything else, but given the positive reviews it's received from others I'd say it's worth a try.

Verdict

Well-made saddle that seems to suit a more upright riding position

If you're thinking of buying this product using a cashback deal why not use the road.cc Top Cashback page and get some top cashback while helping to support your favourite independent cycling website

road.cc test report

Make and model: Specialized Women's Power Expert With Mimic saddle

Size tested: 155mm width

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?

Specialized says, "For as long as there've been saddles, women have been having issues with them. But where some see unsolvable problems, we see practical solutions. We spent countless hours performing research and prototyping in order to give you the comfort that you've been rightfully longing for. With our patented design, Mimic technology helps create a saddle that perfectly adapts to your body to give you the support you need.

"And when you combine this technology with our Power Expert saddle, with its hollow titanium rails and level II padding for extra comfort, you get a high-performance saddle that's designed to help you perform at your best. It still features all of the Body Geometry design characteristics you know and love, so you can be assured of superior, all-day comfort in any ride position."

Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?

Specialized lists:

*Patented Body Geometry design is lab-tested to ensure blood flow to sensitive arteries.

*Innovative Mimic technology uses multi-layered materials to maintain equilibrium and minimize swelling in soft tissue.

*Lightweight, durable, and hollow titanium rails.

*Level II padding: Medium density foam for bike feel with additional cushioning.

*SWAT™-compatible mounts molded into the saddle base allow for sleek and integrated storage solutions.

*Weight: 200g (size dependent)

Rate the product for quality of construction:
 
9/10
Rate the product for performance:
 
7/10
Rate the product for durability:
 
8/10

Looks and feels sturdy and no reason to suspect it won't last well.

Rate the product for weight (if applicable)
 
8/10

The more you pay, the lighter it gets! Easily competes with alternatives.

Rate the product for comfort (if applicable)
 
7/10

The level of comfort varies depending on your riding position.

Rate the product for value:
 
5/10

No real direct comparison. At the lower 'Comp' end there are much cheaper options out there, if you are happy with a longer nose.

Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose

It didn't suit me when in a traditional road riding position, on the hoods or drops, but I found it great with an upright position.

Tell us what you particularly liked about the product

In an upright position I had no issues with the saddle. It was great for commuting on my 1990s zero-suspension mountain bike, with excellent protection for the sit-bones. I had a couple of successful off-road spins on my full-susser too, but it's better to head over to off.road.cc for their opinion of it.

Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product

I found it awkward to mount, and the short length left little fore-aft movement. I also prefer a cutout, and this was most evident on longer road rides.

How does the price compare to that of similar products in the market, including ones recently tested on road.cc?

There are cheaper alternatives but none that actually 'mimic' the Mimic. The Comp version is £84.

Did you enjoy using the product? On my commuting bike, yes. Sadly not on the road bike.

Would you consider buying the product? No, there are cheaper options to put on the commuting bike.

Would you recommend the product to a friend? Yes, like with any saddle, they are all worth trying – it's such an individual choice.

Use this box to explain your overall score

It's a good saddle, well made, the result of top end research and development, and will most definitely appeal to many. It would be unfair to mark it down because it didn't suit me on the road bike.

Overall rating: 7/10

About the tester

Age: 39  Height: 173cm  Weight: 64kg

I usually ride: Road  My best bike is: Carbon road.

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, getting to grips with off roading too!

Emma’s first encounters with a road bike were in between swimming and running. Soon after competing for GB in the World Age Group Triathlon Championships in Edmonton in 2001 she saw the light and decided to focus on cycling. 

After a couple of half decent UK road seasons racing for Leisure Lakes, she went out to Belgium to sample the racing there and spent two years with Lotto-Belisol Ladies team, racing alongside the likes of Sara Carrigan, Grace Verbeke, Rochelle Gilmore and Lizzie Deignan. Emma moved from Lotto-Belisol to Dutch team Redsun, then a new Belgian team of primarily developing riders, where there was less pressure, an opportunity to share her experience and help build a whole new team; a nice way to spend her final years of professional racing. 

Since retiring Emma has returned to teaching. When not coercing kids to do maths, she is invariably out on two wheels. In addition to the daily commute, Emma still enjoys getting out on her road bike and having her legs ripped off on the local club rides and chain gangs. She has also developed an addiction to touring, with destinations including Iceland, Georgia and Albania, to mention just a few. There have also been rare sightings of Emma off-road on a mountain bike…

5 comments

Avatar
spj7 [7 posts] 3 weeks ago
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I found this review a little over-negative and to offer quite general statements about the suitability of the saddle for different uses on the road. The reference to the more positive review at off.road.cc shows that it may be a case of horses for courses, but I would urge interested readers to try a wide variety of saddles before deciding whether the findings of the reviewer apply to them.

My wife rides the 168mm version of this, predominantly in the drops and for rides of 3-4hrs. She is 177cm, 56kg and reasonably strong. She has never had a more comfortable saddle. She has previous tried saddles from Selle Italia, Fizik and Giant, and this was the best for her body shape in the crucial areas.

My preferred saddle is a Fizik Aliante, but I struggle for a soft-nosed and supportive saddle which is not too wide at the front. I was intrigued by the prosthetic foam on the nose of my wife's one of these, so decided to try the 143mm version on my TT bike. 

From my own experience I can confirm that the saddle can in fact be very comfortable and effective in the most aggresssive of riding positions, provided the shape & style suit you I suppose.

Avatar
sammutd88 [115 posts] 3 weeks ago
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spj7 wrote:

I found this review a little over-negative and to offer quite general statements about the suitability of the saddle for different uses on the road. The reference to the more positive review at off.road.cc shows that it may be a case of horses for courses, but I would urge interested readers to try a wide variety of saddles before deciding whether the findings of the reviewer apply to them.

My wife rides the 168mm version of this, predominantly in the drops and for rides of 3-4hrs. She is 177cm, 56kg and reasonably strong. She has never had a more comfortable saddle. She has previous tried saddles from Selle Italia, Fizik and Giant, and this was the best for her body shape in the crucial areas.

My preferred saddle is a Fizik Aliante, but I struggle for a soft-nosed and supportive saddle which is not too wide at the front. I was intrigued by the prosthetic foam on the nose of my wife's one of these, so decided to try the 143mm version on my TT bike. 

From my own experience I can confirm that the saddle can in fact be very comfortable and effective in the most aggresssive of riding positions, provided the shape & style suit you I suppose.

 

On the contrary, I find this review refreshingly honest. Saddles in particular, don’t work for everybody, and whilst the Power in all its forms has quite a strong positive following, it’s nice to see that it didn’t actually work for someone. It didn’t work for me either in its standard form, even after being measured and trying 2 widths. 

I think it’s nice that amongst the raft of positive reviews for the Power, someone has said “hey it’s doesn’t always work for me”. I bought a Power because of the positivity surrounding it and it didn’t work at all for me. I wish I’d had read a review that didn’t give it 4-5 stars before I considered it. 

As you say, horses for courses, but I think all this review confirms is that saddles are really personal. So much so that I think opinion pieces are good, but comfort reviews are increasingly hard to judge. Maybe value, build quality and other factors should be the judged criteria, not comfort, as it’s just too subjective. 

Avatar
tulip_girl100 [9 posts] 3 weeks ago
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It works for me on long rides - my average club ride is 60 miles and my longest ride on it was 130 miles, I also commute on it and i've done some 10 mile TTs on it though primarily I prefer long rides in a more relaxed position. I previously used the saddle that came with my Cube bike (no cut out) which turned out to be horrific on multi day rides, I then went to the Specialized Lithia but Specialized seem to have a habit of giving you what I can only describe as 'wings' at the side which awfully rubbed the inside of my thigh after 3 days riding (even a smaller width doesn't deal with this issue), and lastly I tried the Fabric Line. The issue I had with the Fabric Line was the edges of the cut out are quite sharp in my opinion. No matter the length of the ride I did, if I moved into the wrong position I sometimes trapped my bits and my comfort was over immediately. Overall, I'm really happy with this saddle - I have a 200km Audax this week so it will be another good test!

Avatar
tulip_girl100 [9 posts] 3 weeks ago
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It works for me on long rides - my average club ride is 60 miles and my longest ride on it was 130 miles, I also commute on it and i've done some 10 mile TTs on it though primarily I prefer long rides in a more relaxed position. I previously used the saddle that came with my Cube bike (no cut out) which turned out to be horrific on multi day rides, I then went to the Specialized Lithia but Specialized seem to have a habit of giving you what I can only describe as 'wings' at the side which awfully rubbed the inside of my thigh after 3 days riding (even a smaller width doesn't deal with this issue), and lastly I tried the Fabric Line. The issue I had with the Fabric Line was the edges of the cut out are quite sharp in my opinion. No matter the length of the ride I did, if I moved into the wrong position I sometimes trapped my bits and my comfort was over immediately. Overall, I'm really happy with this saddle - I have a 200km Audax this week so it will be another good test!

Avatar
Freddy56 [408 posts] 3 weeks ago
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Are all the short nosed saddles not for a more agressive, lover- 'on the drops' position where the hips are spread more?