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Hands-on Gear Review
Fizik Monte Manganese Review
Bottom line: Enduro-specific saddle at a competitive price.
The Fizik Monte Manganese is the winner of our Top Pick Award for Enduro Saddles. With the huge increase in popularity of enduro racing, many saddle manufacturers are adding specific saddles to their range that reflect the unique demands of enduro racing on equipment. The Monte Manganese is a bruiser of a saddle at 245g it won't be winning any awards for light weight. It is designed to endure the rigors of a sport that is often riddled with crashes secondary to riders pushing their abilities and equipment to the limit.
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Our Analysis and Hands-on Test Results
The New Monte S-Alloy vs. the Monte Manganese
With the discontinuation of the Monte Manganese that we reviewed in the fall comes the new Monte S-Alloy from Fizik. With a very slight price increase from $88 to $90, the S-Alloy maintains many of the same qualities as the Manganese, including the whopping 250g weight. We have reached out to Fizik for more details about the new saddle and will post when we know more. For now, check out a side-by-side comparison here, with the new Monte S-Alloy on the left and the Monte Manganese that we reviewed on the right.
The Monte Manganese is a comfortable and durable saddle designed for enduro racing. It has much deeper padding than other enduro-specific saddles such as the WTB High Tail Pro. The Monte quickly became a favorite among our testers for both its comfort and durability. If you are counting grams, there are much lighter saddles, but if you are more concerned with comfort and durability, then the Monte could be right for you.
The Monte has a wail-tail-like profile, flat from nose to the mid-point, then a slight rise in the rear. Compared to the Specialized Phenom, the Monte has more padding, and is not as firm. The Monte ranks slightly lower than the Phenom for comfort, but if you prefer an upright positon you may find the Monte more to your liking due to the slight rise in the tail. We appreciated the rise in the tail, particularly when used on some of the current enduro bikes with long top tube lengths. In general, we advocate running the saddle on enduro bikes all the way back on the rails, with a bit more aggressive downward angle than you would use on a hard tail. Setting the saddle up in this manner helps to cancel out some of the change in angle you get with suspension sag when the saddle is under body weight. The Monte also incorporates a generous center channel, which helps to keep the pressure off of sensitive areas during those long seated grinds common during enduro transfers. Overall, the Monte hits a nice balance with substantial padding and a stiff shell.
Upon delivery of the Monte, we felt that it had too much padding to hit a home run in the performance department. We quickly changed our minds once we got the Monte out in the wild for some testing on our local climbs. To our surprise, power transfer is quite good, not quite what you get with a purpose-built road or XC race saddle, such as the Specialized Phenom, but more than adequate for trail riding and enduro race duty. We had no shorts snagging issues due to the slight nose drop. For those riders who like to use the nose of the saddle when cornering, there is plenty of real estate. Overall, the Monte is no slouch when it comes to performance, despite its dense padding.
The Monte ranks high here as well, and can easily be run on a variety of bikes. Cyclocross, Road, XC Mountain bike no problem. We might not choose it for a road race saddle because of the weight, but other than that it would get the job done. If you are looking for a lightweight road saddle we recommend the Fabric Scoop, which tips the scales at a 176g and is a better choice for riders seeking an aggressive low racing position on the road bike. We used the Monte extensively for cyclocross training, and our testers felt that it performed admirably. Running a saddle with a bit of extra padding has its advantages for cyclocross, helping to take some of the sting out of a botched remount, and absorbing some chatter on those dry rough West Coast cyclocross courses. The Monte shines as an enduro and trail riding saddle, but we would not pigeon hole it as a single discipline piece of equipment.
Enduro racing can be harsh on equipment, and during crashes it is not uncommon for a saddle to take significant impact. Fizik has shied away from the lighter-is-better mantra when designing the Monte. It does not look svelte, because it isn't. The Monte features the standard Microtex cover, but receives some amour on the corners in the form of Cordura scuff patches. While the Monte is a worthy contender when it comes to durability, the Specialized Phenom out scores it by thin margin due to it's plastic edge guards that fare better with repeated abuse than the Cordura scuff guards of the Monte. The WTB High Tail is also designed to be an enduro specific piece of equipment, and it scores slightly lower than the Monte here due to it's unprotected corners which are more prone to abrasion. The Manganese rails are amongst the strongest available, at the expense of a bit of weight. We put the Monte to the test, and it came away no worse for wear. The Monte is tough and ready to handle some abuse.
The Monte weighs 245g. It is not the lightest saddle in the Fizik lineup, but it was never intended to be. Fizik markets the Monte towards enduro riders, banking on the assumption that most would rather have a reliable saddle than one that tips the scales at 150g. It is of note however that the Specialized Phenom, winner of our Editors' Choice Award, receives the same score for weight, and it is clearly designed to be a race saddle. Our highest scoring saddle in this category is the Fabric Scoop Pro, but it utilizes carbon rails, and has a very minimal amount of padding. Despite not being the lightest saddle we tested, we have to give Fizik a nod of approval for achieving a weight of 245g, while maintaining a high level of durability and comfort.
The Monte Manganese is best suited to trail riding and enduro race duty. However, we tested it on a variety of different bikes and found it more than capable for cyclocross and road riding use. If you are looking for a lighter weight enduro saddle you may want to consider the WTB High Tail.
The Monte Manganese is a great value at $90. It is a tough, robust saddle that won't break the bank, yet still provides excellent comfort and power transfer. We would not hesitate to recommend this saddle to a friend.
The Monte Manganese is an enduro-specific saddle that can easily cross over to other disciplines. Bomber construction and comfort at a very competitive price make the Monte our Top Pick Award winner for mountain bike saddles.
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— Curtis Smith
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