The Unassuming Classroom
PSB Academy is an institution where lessons in the fields of business, sciences and engineering are conducted daily.
On Thursday 3 November 2011 however, one of its unassuming lecture theatres were dedicated to a different kind of presentation, one of a higher calling. It was the presentation for Fizik’s 2012 product line-up. Fizik distributor Entro International took went out of their way to invite Mr Gaspare Licata, Global Sales Manager of Fizik, to enlighten friends and dealers of the brand.
Born in 1996, saddle giant Fizik has come a long way since its beginnings of solely producing hand-finished saddles. Over the years they have included bar tapes, seatposts and MTB grips to their repertoire and proving innovative still, cycling shoes are now introduced to the line-up. This completes the golden triangle of contact points between riders and their bikes.
The three-hour presentation roughly took us through the paces of the existing and renowned Arione, Antares and Aliante saddles and their variations. This includes the recent addition of the VERSUS (VS) Channel Design to the threesome. The VS variations recognise the consumers’ ever-growing knowledge and needs to come up with this ergonomic solution to solve the problem of pressure perineal areas. This gives buyer the comfort of a familiar saddle, but with the addition of something more suited to their physique.
The highlight and completely new addition to the Fizik saddle family though, is the introduction of the Kurve. Retaining the names from the previous trio of Snake, Chameleon and Bull options for marketing reasons, these animals refer to the spinal flexibility of different riders, as these names are easy for the consumer to relate to. Other than this and their existing Wing Flex technology, everything else about the Kurve takes a step into the future, starting with the Mobius construction of the rails. Mobius moves away from the traditional concept of having two individual rails, having neither beginning nor end, as its name suggests. It is a fluid construction that allows for the saddle’s shell to flex at vital points, unlike traditional set-ups that keep the mounting points somewhat more rigid.
A new Re:Flex shell compliments the rails as well, with Twin Flex technology that involves interwoven fibres that cause it to act as a hammock of sorts. Each saddle also comes with two tuners; one soft and one hard. Mounted under the saddle’s nose, it allows the rider to personalise the tension of its flex, which is a welcoming touch especially for the more relaxed off-season. It is simple to change around as well, as a fuss free screw-on insert.
The Kurve takes saddle ergonomics to a whole new level.
R1/R3 Road Shoes
Completely new to Fizik is the addition of road shoes. So new in fact, only two riders in this year’s Tour got to use them; BMC’s Alessandro Ballan and Garmin-Cervelo’s David Miller. Currently only three models make up the range, namely the R1 Uomo, R3 Uomo and R3 Donna, which is women specific, with the R3’s focused on being lightweight.
Featuring quality kangaroo leather, sail cloth straps, and carbon soles, you know you’re in for something special with one of these. At only 226 grams for the lightest model, these new shoes on the block look to have much potential against rival brands.
Another big feature is the 3D Flex Cycling Moldable Insole. Working with SIDAS, a podiatric insole specialist, this mouldable insole aims at providing the best contours for riders’ feet. The Podiaflex material is heated with a Flashfit machine, available at dealers, which result in a warm and malleable insole. This is then placed under the foot to be moulded while the rider is seated in a dedicated position.
Ortholite foam also absorbs shock from the road while Transflex C carbon reinforcements under the insole stays rigid to support the heels. These technological innovations culminate at making the shoes not only light and strong, but comfortable and durable as well.
Despite Fizik’s race-proven direction towards revolutionising bicycle technology, the company still prides themselves in adding that personal touch in their products. Each saddle is still hand-finished by workers with tools similar to those used by dentists. Their mouldable soles create an experience and a bond between riders and dealers. These are examples of things that go beyond simply clicking on a purchase from your computer these days.
Do not be fooled by the old-school charms though, because if numbers are anything to go by, Fizik is up there with the big boys.