The Fi'zi:k Aliante Gamma K:IUM is our Top Pick for Cruising winner. It comes in at a spritely 252g with Fi'zi:k's modest Bull design for the less limber, perhaps even stockier riders that tend to sit in a bit more. Don't let that fool you though, this saddle is just as awesome on the flat and climbing attacks as it is on the sit in and roll. It combines the optimal mix of padding, stiffness, forgiving design, and excellent materials to deliver a fast, comfortable ride, making it the natural choice for the rider who might mix it up on rides but spends a lot of time out on long cruises.
Fizik Aliante Gamma Kium ReviewPrice: $120 List | $112.73 at Amazon Pros: Comfortable on long rides, supportive, affordable
Cons: Limited colors, bull shape can limit positioning
Bottom line: A great, affordable saddle for mid- and long-distance rides.
Weight (grams): 252g
Target Use (mountain, road, etc.): Road
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Our Analysis and Test Results
The Aliante Gamma K:IUM beats its way to the front of the pack with quality, comfort, and versatility, along with its unmeasured qualities. Take a look at the chart below to see how it does against other top products.
So far as premium performance saddles go, this is one of the most comfortable out there. It uses Fi'zi:k's Twin Flex carbon reinforced nylon, which uses a stiff framing with a flexible carbon layer along the middle sweet spot to allow just enough give to take the pressure off the perineum. The padding is thick enough to cushion without sapping away energy so you still have a stable platform for attacks and efforts and there's no excess of bunched up padding, which sometimes happens with diapery shorts and those big obnoxious gel pads people insist they need on their saddles.
Fi'zi:k uses what it calls the 3 Spine Concept to categorize this saddle as a Bull saddle - a waved saddle with a central indentation meant for riders with less flexibility and a bit more pelvic rotation while riding. They also use Snake (high flexibility, low pelvic rotation, flat saddle) and Chameleon (in between the other two) categories. It's a cool concept, but the framework is guidance, not law. It can be useful to help push you in a general direction, but it's your tail that needs to fit, not the chart's, so get a good return policy, try out a few styles, and if you don't like them don't keep them.
It's pretty close to the top of the list on this one. Certainly, it's the most comfortable among the traditional designs, scoring alongside the previous Editors' Choice Specialized Phenom Expert, which includes a cut-out, a bit more cushion, and a little more racing specialization, if you pardon the aberrant phrasing. If you want something for longer rides, stick with the Gamma K:IUM. If you want to go to the top, take a look at this year's Editors' Choice winner, the Selle SMP Pro, which includes a substantial cut-out and a good deal of padding.
The first thing you notice is that despite the flexible central sweet spot, there's excellent power transfer, owing to the carbon reinforced shell and titanium alloy rails that provide just enough flex to give you comfortable, responsive control in the saddle. It uses a smooth microtex cover with designated glide pads along the nose to limit chafe and friction, something we really appreciated in the rain and on hot, sweaty rides.
The one note here is that sometimes on longer rides it feels good to scoot way back onto the wider rear and spin for a bit, but because there's a gradual tapering off from the rear to the nose, your thighs tend to rub more. This year's Editors' Choice, the Selle SMP Pro and last year's winner, the Specialized Phenom Expert are two top saddles that both do a great job of keeping a fairly narrow nose and midsection with a flared rear platform for relief. If you're looking for a traditional cruiser, stick with the Aliante Gamma. If you want a pure racing saddle, take a closer look at the Specialized. If you're interested in a bit of anatomical relief and want something that has broader application across the road disciplines, go with the Selle SMP Pro.
It uses a tough microtex cover to limit tears with special microtex glides along the nose to mitigate the thigh grating that can happen with the thunder-thigh crowd. It also uses scuff guards to prevent tearing at the back and sides of the saddle for the folks that do a lot of leaning the bike against brick buildings or a bit of the unexpected horizontal sliding across paved surfaces. To limit compression degradation and maintain strength, it uses tough, but flexible nylon with carbon reinforcement for its shell. Its rails use a proprietary titanium alloy tubes, maintaining a high degree of strength while shedding some weight.
It hits near the top, and we think it will last you a lot of seasons, but the saddles that fared better were the ones with less padding, more secure covers, and stronger materials. The Fabric Scoop Flat, for example, has a streamlined nose with clean edges and a cover whose binding is well protected under the shell. The Gamma K:IUM uses a separate plastic cover that's screwed on and is vulnerable to catching or cracking if it takes a hit. The Specialized Phenom tops out the list with features like full titanium rails, protected covering, friction panels, and a carbon-reinforced shell.
On of the biggest things the Aliante Gamma K:IUM has going for it is its broad application across cycling. It outshines the rest of field on those hard mid-distance rides and the long, slow base miles, which is why it won the Top Pick for Cruising award. It also does particularly well when you need to attack or respond and end up out on the narrow nose trying to bridge or hold. Climbing is also an area, like cruising, where you might end up slammed in the saddle trying for your life to keep a cadence of 65 in your smallest gear (those poor knees!), grinding tail into oblivion. Happily, the Gamma K:IUM's wide base and anatomic sweet spot provides some modicum of relief. These qualities also make it decent for touring, but most non-pros might want a little more padding and base for the touring.
It performs does well on the versatility scale ahead of some of the more specialized saddles like the Brooks England B-17 Saddle, a throwback design and traditional favorite for touring, which notably lacks versatility. The Gamma K:IUM sits alongside the Editors' Choice Selle SMP Pro, which has the padding and design to cruise, climb, and tour and the unique downturned nose to accommodate sitting and standing sprints.
It comes in at 252g, which is somewhat friendly to weight weenies.
Fi'zi:k maintains that the K:IUM rail formulation allows an 8% weight reduction compared to full titanium without sacrificing much in the way of corrosion resistance, fatigue performance, or strength. If weight is your biggest concern, we suggest taking a look at the 176g Fabric Scoop Pro, which is a beautiful sliver of a saddle.
One of the great aspects of this saddle is that it will perform well across the major road pursuits: climbing, sprinting, cruising, touring. As true as that is, it is designed to be a cruiser. Its wide back and curved sweet spot in the center dial it in for getting in and cranking it out for 50 or 60 miles, but you can still feel good down in the drops sitting on the nose and putting your friends into difficult as Phil Liggett might say.
$119 is a pretty fair asking price for this seat. It's a tough, high-performance product and you're paying for quality, performance, longevity, and the relief your tail will get from a saddle made for long, hard rides.
Hands down, the Fi'zi:k Aliante Gamma K:IUM was one of the best riding experiences we've had. It was great on the flats, on the climbs, sprinting, and cruising. We loved it for those long, slow base miles, but it also did really well on the long grinding climbs slammed down in the saddle for 20 or 30-minute slogs. Sure there are better saddles for Tuesday crit rides, like the Fabric Scoop Flat Pro, but unless you have a titanium underside, it's probably not going to be a saddle you'd super appreciate on 3+ hour rides. The Aliante Gamma K:IUM, on the other hand, is made for settling into the sweet spot and cruising, which is why it earns our Top Pick for Cruising award, and it's why you should give it a try.
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Most recent review: August 2, 2018
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