Specialized S-Works Chicane Saddle – MSRP $299
A Chicane is defined as a series of tight turns in opposite directions on an otherwise straight stretch of a road. So it’s fitting that Specialized’s newest S-Works saddle should be called the Chicane—it represents a few rapid changes of direction when compared to other Specialized saddles.
First, where is the cutout? Gone is the deep channel and gaping cutout that’s marked nearly every Specialized Body Geometry saddle since the late 90’s. In its place, there’s a subtle channel in the padding which Specialized says still performs the same blood flow-improving, pressure-relieving miracles of their more obviously relieved designs.
The second and perhaps even more profound difference is in the padding: there’s a lot more of it. Dig a thumb into a high-end Toupe and you’ll feel no more than five millimeters of padding before you hit the shell. With the Chicane it’s at least twice that, even bordering on plush. It’s still a racing saddle, but those who like other high-end Specialized models but yearn for a bit more give will find it here.
Specialized worked with Paris Roubaix winner Tom Boonen on the design of the Chicane, and the result is a decidedly more traditional shape. Viewed from the side, the Chicane fits nicely between the almost perfectly flat Toupe model and the curvaceous Romin, with a subtle kick up at the tail similar to a San Marco Concor. The sides roll downward sharply and don’t impede pedaling action. We found the Chicane best for riders who tend to stay planted in one position, rather than those prone to moving around a lot. This coincides nicely with the additional padding in the sit-bone areas.
Saddles are the most personal of cycling components and what works well for one rider may be entirely unbearable for another. And though the Chicane represents a couple of sharp swerves from the rest of the Specialized saddle line, it heads straight towards a proven, traditional saddle design, while still incorporating Specialized’s Body Geometry design promising preserved blood flow to your sensitive bits. Add three widths, carbon rails and shell, premium quality materials and flawless construction, and you have a saddle that should be on anyone’s short list.