It seems the quest for the perfect saddle seems to get harder and harder. “Back in the day” it seemed there were Selle San Marco or Selle Italia and you picked the one that hurt the least and bloody well got used to it.
Now the plethora of shapes, sizes, lengths, densities and materials makes it a potentially a more painful and possibly expensive process than it was previously.
PRO, Shimano’s component brand, has also been producing Triathlon (and Time Trial) saddles and parts which bear the Aerofuel moniker. The Aerofuel range also includes aero bottles, “torpedo” mounts, rear cage holders and race belts.
The saddle we got to test is the Aerofuel Titanium. On face value the Aerofuel looks like it sits somewhere between a standard saddle and the more radical designs on the market.
With a claimed weight on 295 grams (I weighed it at 288 grams) the Aerofuel is about 270 mm long with a “useable area” of about 230mm.
The Aerofuel has a truncated nose to better facilitate fitting in with the UCI’s current saddle alignment rules and the titanium rails allow for adequate adjustment also.
The saddles main feature is the deep channel that runs the entire length. This gives the forward section of the saddle the feel of a split saddle, without all the width required to create a real split saddle. The nose of the Aerofuel comes in at about 50 mm and is composed of two padded “rails” which sit either side of the approximately 20mm deep and 15mm wide central channel. The padding used in the Aerofuel is still quite dense and firm to the “touch” which ensures the saddle retains its shape and structure and doesn’t collapse under the power of the pedal stroke.
My first outing on the saddle was actually in a race, and while wearing just a tri suit. Admittedly it was “only” a sprint race but I was on the return leg of the out and back course before I reminded myself I was on a new saddle and to take note. This alone should tell you that the saddle was indeed more comfortable than it’s shape or foam density would initially indicate. I had come off a Fizik Tri2 saddle which was narrower and softer in the nose however I had previously shied away from saddles with anything resembling a cut-out since a Selle Italia many years ago tried to “gouge me a new one”.
The Aerofuel only comes in one width and is marked as a 142mm wide saddle. Your local PRO dealer should have a sit bone measuring device in store to make sure the width is suitable for you.
The PRO Aerofuel Titanium retails currently for $200-$250 depending on who has it on special at any given time.
For more info on the Aerofuel range look HERE.