Specialized Phenom Comp Review
Cons: Slightly heavier than the competition
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Our Analysis and Test Results
We'd heard a lot of praise about the Specialized Phenom saddles in the past, but we reserved our judgment of the Phenom Comp until we'd put some rides on it. Turns out it lives up to the hype, and this saddle didn't disappoint on any level. The Phenom Comp was one of only a couple models that testers didn't want to take off their bikes, a saddle so comfortable and versatile that there was no good reason to stop using it. It was recently knocked off the top step of the podium by the Tioga Undercover Stratum, but it remains one of our highest rated and favorite saddles.
The Phenom Comp scored exceptionally well in our comfort rating metric. It tied for top honors with our Top Pick for Comfort Award winner, the WTB Koda Team. Both the Phenom Comp and the Koda Team were among our most comfortable saddles, but they achieve this comfort in different ways.
The Phenom Comp uses Specialized's "Body Geometry" design, and one of the most comfortable and visible aspects of that is the full-length anatomical channel. When positioned in the optimal seated pedaling spot it works the best, but no matter where you find yourself on the saddle there is a depression in the center to reduce pressure on your most sensitive parts. The only other contenders in our test selection with a similar cutout and channel are the Selle Italia Max SLR Gel and the Tioga Undercover Stratum, though the cutout on the latter is somewhat smaller.
The anatomical cutout of the Phenom Comp is full length on the top of the saddle, and there is a long narrow cutout in the center that is clear through the shell on the underside. The shell is made of a carbon reinforced plastic that is full coverage on the underside of the saddle. This shell offers a small amount of flex but provides a stout and stable platform; this is very different from the softer flex and suspended feel of the Tioga Spyder Outland.
From tip to tail the Phenom Comp has a small amount of swoop in the middle with a slight rise towards the tail. When coupled with the limited amount of flex in the shell, this profile provides a nice and stable, yet surprisingly comfortable cradle for your bottom. There isn't much give to the whole system, and this makes for excellent and consistent power delivery when pedaling. The seat cover has a thin layer of medium density padding that offers just enough cushion to remain comfortable for extended periods in the saddle.
The side to side profile of the saddle is relatively rounded as it drops down to the sides. The Phenom Comp can be purchased in medium to wide widths, which cradle the sit bones nicely, while the anatomical cutout keeps pressure off the perineal area.
The Phenom Comp was the top performing saddle in our test selection, just edging out the WTB Volt Race in this metric. The extraordinary comfort of the Phenom Comp is one of the best aspects of its performance; on the trail, it virtually disappears beneath you so you can devote your focus to the trail ahead.
The shape of the saddle is where the performance begins, with a shorter 265mm length and a medium 143mm width. The short length is noticeable when you've got your weight centered and you're really getting the bike leaned over since the nose doesn't extend as far forward as come of the competition. Despite this saddle being on the wider side in our test selection, the rounded edges of the wings and the smooth seat cover material allow for excellent freedom of movement when shifting in front or behind it. It also tapers slightly from its widest point back to the tail with a flat end and nothing to snag your shorts or hang you up.
The Phenom Comp uses a medium density padding that was supportive and comfortable without feeling too soft. The combination of the stiffer shell and this padding proved to be comfortable for long days in the saddle, yet it felt efficient and didn't take away from power transfer or impact the pedal stroke. Specialized has also incorporated two small low friction panels along the sides of the nose to enhance pedaling efficiency. It's hard to say if the low friction material makes any difference, although it does feel slightly smoother and slipperier than the rest of the seat cover material.
The Phenom Comp scored well in our durability metric. The one-piece synthetic seat cover material has no visible stitching and is attached under the edge of the saddle's carbon reinforced shell. The seat cover material appears very durable and shows no signs of wear despite hundreds of miles of pedaling abuse. The entire back of the saddle is also ringed with this shell material as it curls up from underneath to protect this damage prone part of the saddle.
The saddle's rails show no signs of bending or wear, and despite many miles of riding and plenty of mud and water being splashed on them, they remain squeak free. The Phenom Comp was bested in this metric by the Tioga Spyder Outland due to that saddle's unique design and construction with no seat cover material to rip in the event of a crash.
The impressive comfort and performance of the Phenom Comp made this our highest scorer in the versatility department. Testers felt this saddle's comfort was great for any length of ride; our longest test ride was a 68-mile gravel grind, and for use on any kind of bike. Mountain, road, gravel, you name it, and this saddle is perfect for it.
Not only is comfortable, the saddle's shape and design also made it our top performer in the performance metric with a shorter 265mm length and a medium 143mm width. Testers found it easy to move on and off the saddle or get in front or behind it while out on the trail. This comfort combined with its performance made it great for any discipline or style of mountain biking, from all day vision quests to enduro racing. The Phenom Comp is up to the task.
The Phenom Comp weighed in at 243g, roughly middle of the pack in the weight metric. While this is by no means heavy, it is noticeably heavier than the lighter models in our test when held in your hand.
At 243g, the Phenom Comp weighs 41g more than our Top Pick for Light Weight Award winner, the Tioga Spyder Outland in its heaviest configuration, and 40g more than our Top Pick for Comfort Award winner, the WTB Koda Team. Weight-conscious riders or racers may want to look elsewhere, as there are lighter weight versions of the Phenom available for a higher price.
We feel the Phenom Comp is a solid value. As one of our highest rated saddles, it outperformed most of the competition and proved itself to be one of the best options on the market. We believe a purchase of the Phenom Comp is money well spent.
As a previous Editors' Choice Award, and our second highest rated model, we think it's obvious that we really like this saddle. It's not the lightest model we tested, but it is very comfortable and provides excellent all-around performance. There is no type of cycling or length of ride we wouldn't take the Phenom Comp on. We loved this saddle, and we think you will too.
Specialized makes a full line of saddles of mountain and road biking including several version of the Phenom. All of the Phenom models have the same shape and are offered in the same widths, 143mm and 155mm, but are offered in slightly different constructions, at different weights, and at various price points.
- S-Works Phenom: $300, Weight: 153g/165g, Rails: FACT Carbon, Shell: FACT Carbon
- Phenom Pro: $225, Weight: 193g/205g, Rails: FACT Carbon
- Phenom Expert: $150, Weight: 248g/254g, Rails: Hollow Titanium
— Jeremy Benson