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The Fizik Vento Argo R3 Adaptive saddle uses a 3D-printed upper and a short nose design to bring comfort and stability to riders who like an aggressive riding position. The price is high and the weight won't win any records, but the R3 stacks up well against its direct competition.
For more options, check out our guide to the best road bike saddles, at a variety of prices.
Believe it or not, the R3 is the cheapest in the Vento Argo Adaptive range, slotting in behind the carbon-railed R1 and the recently released range-topping Vento Argo 00 Adaptive (look out for Stu's review of that). All of the saddles are available in 140 and 150mm widths and feature the same 3D-printed upper with what Fizik calls 'zonal cushioning' for improved comfort and stability.
Fizik's naming strategy might sound like a jumble of Italian words but actually makes a lot of sense when you know what each means.
Vento refers to the series, in this case racing; all the saddles in this series are tailored to an aggressive position.
Argo refers to the shape; it's a short-nose saddle designed to encourage stability and relieve pressure on soft tissue, which Fizik says increases power output and allows riders to become more aerodynamic.
This R3 version comes with kium alloy rails, which contribute towards a £40 saving compared with the R1 but are accompanied by a 34g weight penalty. The 140mm size has a claimed weight of 224g and the 150mm width 230g; we found these to be pretty accurate, with the 140mm test saddle weighing just a few grams more at 229g on our Scales of Truth.
If weight is your number one criterion then this saddle isn't going to be the one for you. The Giant Fleet SLR that Liam tested in 2020 is just one example of a much cheaper short-nosed saddle (£129.99) that also weighs a lot less (184g).
Obviously, that 3D printed upper needs to be taken into account when comparing prices and weights, and against other 3D printed saddles the Fizik is competitive.
There are lighter 3D saddles out there, though, nearly all of them with carbon rails. Stu tested the Selle Italia SLR Boost 3D Kit Carbonio Superflow recently, for example, which weighs an impressive 177g – but then it does have an rrp of £409.99!
This isn't the first saddle from Fizik that I've used with a 3D printed 'digital-padding' upper – I tested the longer-nosed Antares Versus Evo a few years ago. If you can stomach the cost of this technology then it does seem like an excellent application for 3D printing as it allows manufacturers to tailor the density of different zones of the saddle, which in my opinion brings genuine performance gains with very few drawbacks (other than the price).
The negatives of having a 'woven' upper are often cited as being the durability and the inability to clean it. I've had the R3 Adaptive fitted to my training bike for the best part of a year now and have clocked up around 14,000km on it. I am yet to see any meaningful signs of wear, and it's surprisingly ungrubby. Rest assured, if it gets dirty then a squirt of your favourite detergent and a 30-second spray with a hosepipe will leave it looking clean again.
Fizik says the new Argo Adaptive is suited to those who are looking for long-lasting comfort on a versatile saddle that provides both stability and balance.
Saddle comfort is subjective, but on the road I found the short nose great for harder efforts but with plenty of comfort for endurance rides as well. The shape is definitely tuned towards those with bikes with a low front end, and encourages you to stay put in one position rather than shift about. The textured surface of the saddle provides ample friction to prevent slippage as you ride along even in my shiniest of shorts.
Overall, the Vento Argo R3 Adaptive is certainly expensive but most saddles of this ilk are. Compared with the other Adaptive saddles in the Fizik range, as well as main competitors such as the Specialized Power Pro with Mirror, the R3 Adaptive offers excellent comfort, quality and, dare I say, pretty good value for money.
That said, if you're perfectly happy with your non-3D printed saddle then there are plenty of lighter and cheaper options out there.
Comfortable short-nosed saddle boasting all the benefits of 3D printing
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road.cc test report
Make and model: Fizik Vento Argo R3 Adaptive
Size tested: Length: 265mm Width: 140mm
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?
Fizik says this is "Our versatile, short-nosed cycling saddle featuring the revolutionary zonal comfort of 3D-printed cushioning and the high strength-to-weight performance of our Kium hollow rail system."
I've certainly been impressed with the comfort and firmly believe that this is an application for 3D printing that is here to stay.
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?
Adaptive: Carbon® Digital Light Synthesis™ 3D-printing technology, offering seamlessly engineered zonal cushioning
Argo: versatile short-nosed saddle that encourages stability and relieves pressure on soft tissue
R3: a combination of a ride-compliant, carbon-reinforced nylon shell and a Kium hollow rail with high strength-to-weight ratio
Length: 265 mm
Width: 140 mm
Height at 75 mm width: 45.5 mm
Length from nose to 75mm width: 114 mm
Claimed Weight: 224 g
Rail: 7x7 mm
It's decent value compared with other 3D printed saddles.
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
Very well; it provided comfort on rides both long and short and has proved plenty durable enough.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
The comfort thanks to the varying density of the upper.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product
It's a lot to spend on a saddle with Kium rails.
How does the price compare to that of similar products in the market, including ones recently tested on road.cc?
As mentioned in the review, compared with non-3D printed saddles such as the Giant Fleet SLR it is weighty and expensive. Compared with other 3D printed saddles it stacks up well, beating the Specialized Power Pro with Mirror in terms of both price and weight.
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
It's very good: a high-quality saddle offering excellent support and comfort. The 3D printed upper brings real-world benefits, though it does contribute towards the high price.
About the tester
I usually ride: Specialized venge pro 2019 My best bike is:
I've been riding for: Under 5 years I ride: Every day I would class myself as: Expert
I regularly do the following types of riding: road racing, time trialling, cyclo cross, commuting, club rides, sportives, general fitness riding, mtb,
Jamie has been riding bikes since a tender age but really caught the bug for racing and reviewing whilst studying towards a master's in Mechanical engineering at Swansea University. Having graduated, he decided he really quite liked working with bikes and is now a full-time addition to the road.cc team. When not writing about tech news or working on the Youtube channel, you can still find him racing local crits trying to cling on to his cat 2 licence...and missing every break going...