Review: Specialized Sitero Saddle
Mar 24, 2013
article & images by Nick Salazar
It's been a long time coming, and it was worth the wait. Specialized has released a true, split-nosed, triathlon-specific saddle. And it's VERY good. The new Sitero saddle is Specialized's answer to the ISM Adamo, designed to get Specialized in on the split-nosed action and in general provide a smart, novel design to the triathlon market. I've long written about how I think split-nosed designs are really the bee's knees, and more or less essential to a good triathlon or TT position, particularly on the more aggressive end when you're really rotated forward and mashing against the saddle.
Interestingly, the first thing you may notice about the Sitero is what makes it look different from other popular split-nosed saddles, which is how fast it tapers at the front. That makes is appear narrower than it is. But that's really a bit of a red herring, and I'll explain why. Specialized quite correctly designates a "sit zone" – the portion of the saddle on which you're actually meant to put your sit bones – and it's clearly defined by the portion of the saddle with the small dot perforations in the upper surface. For fit purposes, this is the only section that really matters; you don't put your but aft of that section, and nothing fore of it gets much pressure because of how short it is.
To wit, the "sit zone" has a width very comparable to the Adamo or my beloved Dash saddles. Don't believe me? Have a look at the image in the gallery of my bright orange Stage.9 saddle next to the Specialized Sitero. Now, focus ONLY on the Sit Zone, defined by the dots on top of the Sitero. See the negative space between the Sitero and the Stage.9? It's almost perfectly symmetrical – these saddles have almost identical contours. BUT, the Sitero's contour could be said to be tilted outward compared to the Dash. That is, it gets wider faster (and gets narrower faster). This is going to help the saddle fit a broader range of riders. Riders can self-select the portion of the saddle whose width matches the width of their ischial tuberosities, and find their own definition of saddle nirvana. On the other hand, the more dramatic sweep means a given rider will have less fore-aft range to play with during a ride. Ideally, we should just pick one spot and sit in it all day. But in reality, we tend to move a bit on our saddles (at least, I do). The Dash keeps me in a pretty good width zone for more of its length than the Sitero will. But that's the tradeoff for a more universal static fit. Towards the rear of the saddle, the Sitero also sweeps out quite dramatically, which I don't think is super important one way or the other. It means you probably won't be too happy if you slide way back on the saddle, but you really shouldn't be using that portion of the saddle anyway. It's not how the saddle was designed.
My only real criticism with the fit and function of the Sitero relates to the rails. The Sitero's rail structure starts at the very front of the saddle, and ends about 2/3 of the way back. I'd ideally like to see the rails go ALL the way back. That gives you additional adjustment range to move the saddle forward if needed, which is particularly helpful if you have a seatpost that's too slack to hit your position. This is precisely the reason I started using the Dash Stage.9 instead of the Dash Tri.7 – the former saddle is longer, and gets me about 3 or 4cm of extra saddle adjustment range. The Sitero ends the rails where it does so that it has room for its hook and bottle cage accessories (more on that in a minute), and probably because Specialized's seatposts for its own Shiv and Transition have a TON of fore-aft range, more than virtually any rider will ever need with whatever saddle they choose.
So, about those accessories I just mentioned. Specialized designed the saddle with two different parts that bolt in beneath the tail of the saddle. The first is a hook-like piece that looks and functions exactly like the rear hook on an Adamo – it's meant to help you rack your bike in transition, so that your bike hangs from the rear end of the saddle. This makes for snappy-fast transitions, and minimizes the chance that you'll knock over a competitor's bike on the way out. But it can make rear bottle cage placement a bit difficult, something Adamo owners have complained of consistently over the years. Specialized has a great answer for this in the second accessory, the Tri Pod. This part replaces the hook, and provides a standard set of bottle bosses with which you can bolt a single rear cage. Just like a Dash TT.9. It's a lovely solution. Both accessories are included free with every Sitero sold (bottle cage not included).
The Sitero comes in two versions. First is a Pro-level (black only) with carbon rails that comes in at 218g (227g with the Hook accessory, or 298g with the Tri Pod and a Specialized Rib Cage). That one is $225. There's also an Exert-level version, available in black or white, that saves you about $50 and weighs about 50g more.
Have a look at the gallery below for lots more on the snazzy new seat.