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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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Well-made saddle that seems to suit a more upright riding position
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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?
*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)
Looks and feels sturdy and no reason to suspect it won't last well.
The more you pay, the lighter it gets! Easily competes with alternatives.
The level of comfort varies depending on your riding position.
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.
About the tester
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…