Specialized Power Pro Elaston with Mimic saddle review
Just like a regular Power saddle, but softer.
Just like a regular Power saddle, but softer.
Specialized may not have invented the short nose saddle, but the company’s original Power saddle – launched in 2015 – can almost certainly be credited for making such things popular.
Fast forward to today and the gender-neutral short nose saddle has almost become the norm amongst performance road bikes. Virtually every popular saddle brand now offers a comparable product to the Power, and a huge number of new road, gravel, and even mountain bikes come fitted stock with them.
Such designs were initially intended for those who ride in an aggressive position (hips tilted), but the designs have since found more widespread acceptance given the truncated designs often reduce chafing and blood flow restrictions.
The original Power quickly became Specialized’s best-selling saddle but, humorously, that was almost by accident. Rumour has it the Power design actually started off as a women’s-specific saddle and was then realised to be superb for men, too. And so it’s fitting that one of Specialized’s latest iterations of the Power saddle, the Power Pro Elaston with Mimic (catchy name, eh?), was also intended for women and coincidentally also seems rather great for men.
I’m not a fan of reviews that focus on such a hugely personal product and so I’ll avoid telling you to buy one. Rather, with this review, I want to try to make Specialized’s Power saddle range a little less confusing and explain my experience with what seems to be an emerging factor in saddle comfort.
Specialized’s Power saddle range has certainly grown greatly in the six years since its release. The American bicycle company now offers the Power in over a dozen different variations, and that’s excluding the differing width and sometimes colour choices for each. Specialized may eventually consolidate the range to ease confusion, but for now, I’ll attempt to explain the extensive lineup.
Fundamentally there are two different shape versions of the saddle: the Power and the Power Arc. The Power name refers to saddles with a short nose, a flat profile from front to back, and a large central cutout. Introduced in 2018, the Power Arc is for those that want less support across the back, likely due to suffering from the leg impedance that’s common with wider saddles. The Power Arc is intended to provide better hamstring clearance.
From here Specialized offers various price points of the saddles, which dictate the rail, shell, and padding materials used. At the entry level there are the Power Comp saddles which offer Cro-Mo steel rails, a single-density foam covering, and a carbon-reinforced plastic shell. Step up one level and the Power Expert saves weight via hollow titanium rails. The Pro level gain a stiffer and lighter full carbon base, while retaining the titanium rails. And then eventually you move into the S-Works level of saddle which offers a full carbon rail and base for further gram-shaving.
But wait, there’s more. At the very top of the range sits the 3D-printed S-Works Power with Mirror, which I can tell you is both eye-wateringly expensive and also brilliantly comfortable. At US$450 / AU$690 I truly wish it wasn’t the best saddle I’ve ever used. Thankfully there are more affordable options that come close in comfort.
And this brings me to the two optional variations in padding that are littered throughout the Power range that each aim to add an extra level of softness to the given padding. Don’t want the extra softness? Then stick with Specialized’s regular Power offerings.
Firstly there is Elaston, an almost bubbly looking foam that contains tiny inflated thermoplastic polyurethane beads which are placed at the rear half of the saddle inline with your sit bones. Specialized’s marketing team describes it as being like sitting on “1000 miniature pillows”. It’s a very similar concept to what Adidas’ Boost shoes feature. Ergon offers a similar tech in its Core HD saddles.
Compared to the more traditional PU foam used in the original Power, the Elaston provides a softer, more cushioned and vibration-damped area, and it does so without being saggy, unsupportive, or bouncy. Elaston is currently only found in Specialized’s Pro-level saddles.
Then there is the newer Mimic padding, an alternative padding option that’s compromised of three layers of differing density foam that are used at the nose of the saddle. According to Specialized’s Emma Boutcher, Mimic was intended to “’mimic women’s soft tissue and works to prevent swelling or scarring that can result from a lack of blood flow. Providing a softer material in place of what is typically a full cutout on the traditional Power helps to prevent these issues.” Mimic is offered at all price points across the Power range.
And so that finally brings us to the Power Pro Elaston with Mimic which this review is about. It’s Specialized’s first saddle to combine both the Elaston and Mimic technologies into one saddle, and given the high price, I hope it won’t be the last.
Lacking a visible central cut-out, the Power Pro Elaston with Mimic may not look like the original Power but it is, in fact, identical in shape. It retains the 240 mm total length, narrow nose, and gently curved shape across its width.
The Mimic technology takes the place of the Power’s open cut-out, and while a breeze isn’t flowing through the gap, it retains notable pressure relief. The centre of the saddle is still cut-away, it’s just covered by soft and stretchy, almost gel-like material. Forward of that the base offers a valley for the soft padding to compress into.
The rest of the saddle hides the Elaston padding, and you can faintly see the bubbly material through the saddle covering. The Elaston is noticeably softer under the press of a thumb and is quick to bounce back.
Using a Shore A Durometer (a tool designed to measure the hardness of flexible materials), the Elaston material measures in at a hardness of 40-45, while the Mimic section at the nose measures as low as 22 at the centre and up to 42 at the edges of the nose. Compare that to a regular Power Expert saddle (with “Level 2” PU padding) which I measured at 53-55 at the most padded rearward part, and 62 at the nose.
Flip the saddle over and you’ll find a classy-looking woven carbon fibre and polymer shell. Like many of Specialized’s saddles, there are two threaded points for use with the company’s range of SWAT accessories, such as the MTB and road Bandit straps which replace a saddle bag. The base connects to black titanium rails in a standard 7×7 mm round size. Specialized offers this saddle in 143 and 155 mm widths, with the wider of the two tipping the scales at an actual 237 g. For comparison, a regular Power Pro saddle is 233 g.
To provide a quick bit of background, my personal go-to saddle (I’ve bought at least five of them) over the past six or so years has been the Specialized Phenom in a 155 mm width. This is technically a mountain bike saddle, but it’s shape is quite obviously the foundation of the shorter-length Power. And so it makes sense that I get on rather well with the Power, too.
To add to this, I previously bought myself the Phenom Pro Elaston and it’s a saddle I rate highly. It’s a subtly softer and better-damped version of the regular Phenom, and is a welcomed addition on dead roads, gravel, or off-road. That said, the comfort benefits haven’t been enough for me to justify replacing all of my other Phenom saddles.
The Elaston foam at the back certainly does make a difference in comfort but it can be somewhat subtle through a thick chamois. By contrast, the super-soft Mimic padding up front is more obvious and it’s great that this feature is available at lower price points.
I tend to ride a little more upright and shift around on the saddle a fair amount. I shift forward when climbing and move back a little when descending. Basically, I ride like a mountain biker. And that fairly regular movement means that I previously found the more locked position of the original Power saddle started to feel a little firm after a while.
Given this, it’s no surprise the new Power Pro Elaston with Mimic fits my behind and offers the extra softness that I sought compared to the original. The shape remains supportive, while the narrow nose doesn’t cause chafing issues like some wider options from other brands. But more importantly, the differing soft materials seem to provide a perch that makes me happier to stay in a single position.
It’s worth noting that there is a lumpy transition from the Elaston to Mimic foam sections, and while I was concerned about this, the reality is that the sheer softness of the padding prevents this from causing issues.
In many ways this saddle reminds me of the few months I spent with the S-Works Power Mirror saddle. That saddle offered an amazing blend of softness and support. It was soft like a cruiser saddle where you wanted it to be, and yet firm so that you didn’t droop into a bad position or close off blood flow. The Power Pro Elaston with Mimic is like a (slightly) more affordable version of that, but the welcomed squish comes with a bit of movement in the padding at the nose that, to some, will feel like a lack of support.
To sum up, the Elaston adds a little softness and vibration muting to the widest part of the saddle where most of your weight should be. Meanwhile, the Mimic technology provides an even softer, almost squishy, spot at the front. Those who prefer an ultimately firm base to pedal from should stick with the original Power, while those who want a softer perch and are willing to trade off absolute stability will likely find a lot to like in this new model.
Sadly the combination of the cushioned Elaston and squishy Mimic padding remains expensive (cheaper saddles with just Mimic are available), and despite the metal rails, this saddle carries a hefty retail price of US$275 / AU$400. And while that’s certainly cheaper than the Mirror saddle (what isn’t?), I remain optimistic, if not hopeful, that Specialized will trickle this combination of padded materials down to a more accessible price point in the future.