Hands-on Gear Review
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Street Price: $130
Pros: Comfortable, Lightweight, Durable
Best Uses: Mountain Biking, Road Racing and Training, Cyclocross, Touring
The Specialized Phenom is the winner of our Editors Choice Award. It received our highest comfort rating, while maintaining a competitive weight of 248g. Designed as a high performance XC race saddle, it does not disappoint. It provides excellent power transfer, and a multitude of possible positions allow the rider to get into a good position no matter the demands of the trail or road. Universally liked by all of our testers, we could not find a type of bike that did not benefit from an upgrade to the Phenom. With all the praise that the Phenom received from our testers, it also saw a huge amount of use and abuse. Despite countless crashes and lots of riding in the most abusive conditions the Phenom came out of testing virtually unscathed. Our Top Pick saddle the Fizik Antares out scored it in the weight category, but the Phenom prevailed in every other performance metric, and it will cost you less. The Phenom will cost you almost three times as much as our Best Buy winner the WTB Speed V, but it out-performs the Speed V in every category. The Phenom is likely to stay firmly clamped on our testers rigs for some time to come. It's hard to find online so if there is not a retailer that carries it near you, the Antares is a great option.
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OutdoorGearLab Editors' Hands-on Review
The Phenom is relatively flat from nose to tail, with a very slight rise at the tail. Generous padding, a stiff shell, and a full anatomical cut out make this a very comfortable saddle. At 142mm in width, it is slightly wider than the Top Pick Fizik Anteres, but it still falls within the 140mm-145mm range that was well liked by the majority of our testers. The full anatomical cutout is well positioned and offers relief to those who complain of pressure and numbness on long rides. The nose is well padded and offers good support when down in the drops during hard efforts. The padding is not nearly as substantial as some other saddles in our test group, such as the Selle SMP Extra Saddle and the Best Buy WTB Speed V, but the shape, and well placed padding combined get our highest overall rating for comfort.
Specialized designed the Phenom for racing. Power transfer is excellent, and the flat shape and smooth cover allow for easy position changes. The shell is stiff and there is no loss of power during hard seated efforts. We found the Phenom to be an excellent choice for riders who like an aggressive position as well as those who prefer to be more upright. While some saddles designed for a more forward reaching aggressive position can leave the upright rider without adequate support we did not have this issue with the Phenom. The Phenom is comfortable, but gives nothing up when it comes to performance.
While we would stop short at calling the Phenom indestructible, it is one tough saddle. Despite lots of hard use and multiple crashes on the mountain bike, we have been unable to even scuff this saddle. Rubber scuff guards at the tail take the abuse if you lay the bike over, and should the cover impact the ground it is quite tough. A carbon fiber reinforced plastic shell prevents sagging even after extended use, and the hollow titanium rails are as tough as they are light.
The Phenom was designed for XC mountain bike racing. It excels at its intended purpose, but we found it to be equally good for cyclocross, and road use. It does have a full cutout, which we would prefer not to see in a cyclocross saddle, due to mud and water issues. Other than the cutout we have no complaints and cannot think of a use we would not recommend the Phenom for.
Well constructed and durable, the Phenom should provide many trouble free miles of use. With a price tag of $120 it is a great buy. You get a high performance saddle at a competitive weight, and it can be used on virtually any type of bike you have.
Our test model, the Phenom Expert is available in three different widths 130mm, 143mm, and 155m to accommodate differences in anatomy. Specialized also offers the Phenom Pro, equipped with carbon rails; it is otherwise identical to the Expert. The Phenom Pro will set you back $200 but shaves a claimed 56g off the weight of the Expert. If you desire a more heavily padded version, Specialized also offers the Phenom Comp Gel, which utilizes gel padding, and comes with steel rails for $100, and a weight increase of 32g. All versions are offered in three widths.
— Curtis Smith
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OutdoorGearLab Member Reviews
Most recent review: June 12, 2013
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