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Hands-on Gear Review
Specialized Power Expert Review
Cons: Not versatile
Bottom line: Comfortable saddle with a polarizing look, excellent for road riders seeking comfort in an aggressive position.
This is a road saddle with a performance-oriented design. The Power Expert's look and shape are sure to evoke speculation, and perhaps disdain amongst the traditional roadie crowd. It looks like a triathlon or time trial saddle which is not a sought after aesthetic for most roadies. It is short, wide, and has an enormous cut-out. The design is intended to provide comfort across a range of positions, with emphasis on more extreme hip angles that would cause discomfort for sustained rides on other saddle designs. Does it work? Read on to find out.
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Our Analysis and Hands-on Test Results
The Power Expert is well suited to long road rides, and offers a level of comfort not found on other saddles. If you like to ride low in the drops, or use aero extensions the Power saddle is ideal.
The Power Expert is a very comfortable saddle. Our test saddle came was 155mm in width, which is wider than the most other saddles in our test group. With a length of 240mm, the Power saddle is by far the shortest saddle we have tested. Specialized recommends that the Power be set up 3cm farther back than you would set up a standard length saddle. We followed the recommendation and found that it put the sweet spot on the saddle in roughly the same area as our personal saddles. The shape of the Power is flat, and similar to the Specialized Phenom, although much shorter in length. We immediately felt comfortable on the Power with a -2 degree angle, as it is very comfortable in an upright position, but the saddle truly shines the lower you get on the hoods. Many riders struggle to maintain a low position on the hoods (elbows at the same level as the top of the bar) for long periods of time. There is a fair amount of research that shows that for most riders the low on the hoods position is the most aerodynamic, and thus most efficient position to ride in, as long as you can sustain the hip angle this creates. The Power is an excellent saddle to push your limits in this position, as the padding is adequate, but the shape and cut out are what make this saddle a stand out for comfort.
As discussed above, the Power allows the rider to get into a very good position for aerodynamics. When it comes to performance, this is a big advantage. Not only did we find it easy to get into a nice low position, we were able to maintain power in the low position with increased comfort over many other saddles with traditional shapes. The only draw back to the design is when it comes to steep climbing; the saddle is comfortable in an upright position, but due to the short length you are relatively locked into one spot. We like to move around a bit into different positions especially on long sustained climbs, and that is not possible on the Power.
All of the factors that make the Power such a great saddle for flat hard efforts on the road also limit its versatility. We did not care for it on a mountain bike due to it's short length, and the massive cut out lets a lot of water and mud through when used for cyclocross. We test all saddles on a variety of bikes, because it is nice to be able to use a saddle for more than one discipline; the Power was designed for use on road and time trial bikes and that is what it excels at.
We found the Power saddle to be quite durable, when used on a road bike. The cover shows no signs of wear following thousands of miles of use and the saddle scores lower in the durability category due to its lack of scuff guards or other protective measures. However, when used as directed, this will likely not be an issue.
As tested, the Specialized Power Expert weighs 238g, 22g lighter than advertised. Not quite a featherweight, but it is competitive with other road saddles in this price range. If weight is a concern, the Power Saddle is offered in a range of materials; for a price, you can get the weight down substantially.
The Power saddle is best suited to road use. If you love to lay down the power on the flats and want as aerodynamic of a position as possible, then this saddle is for you. If you live for the steep mountain passes, you might want to demo this saddle first to see if it compliments your climbing style and position.
The Power Expert is a great value with a list price of $130. Try the Expert version and if you love it, you can always upgrade the S-Works model to shave some weight.
The Specialized Power Expert is a unique saddle that throws conventional looks and design out the window. It is well worth a look if you struggle with long hours in the saddle.
Other Versions and Accessories
Specialized offers the Power Expert in four different versions and three widths. With the top end S-Works model boasting carbon rails and a carbon shell for $300.
— Curtis Smith
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