So I’ve been riding the Fizik Tundra mtb saddle for a while now. I was immediately drawn to the design since my arse has found its soul mate in the Fizik Arione, and the Tundra was directly inspired by the well-received road saddle.
The one feature of the Arione that becomes a distinct liability for off-road, technical riding is the long pointed tail. First developed with the input of champion Pro Tour riders like Gilberto Simoni, the Arione was designed with an elongated tail as well as a flat profile and moderate flare, nose-to-flank. The resulting saddle is the full 30cm length allowed by the UCI. This shape allows the rider to slide back on the saddle for a more rearward position, replicating the effect of a really slack seat tube angle for climbing that many Pro Tour riders prefer. Sitting that far back behind the BB gives the feel of a longer top tube. I myself have noticed an additional benefit to the long tail: when pushed far back on the saddle, the somewhat flexible tail gives a distinct suspension effect on harsh road surfaces.
However, the point on the tail is a highly efficient crotch snag on technical riding. While I’ve frequently caught my shorts, both casual and lycra, on the tail during extreme moments, I’ve never had a BAD accident. But I would think hard before choosing the Arione as my serious off-road saddle.
Enter the Tundra saddle.
Superficially more or less an Arione with a rounded tail, the Tundra actually diverges significantly from the construction of the Arione. The most obvious difference is that the Tundra is a FIRM saddle. The austerity of the padding, though a nice high-density foam similar to the Arione “CX”, would make its identity known on road rides longer than a couple hours. Also, the Tundra does not share the Arione’s “Wing Flex” resin shell, with elastomer gills between the nose and flank to allow greater flex in the shell. However on an mtb with fat-ass tyres, the firmness not an issue since the tires had a larger effect on vibration damping, and I’d spend less time in the same spot of the saddle anyways. While I could still use the far aft position of the Tundra in a manner similar to the Arione, the rounded tail did seem to improve the the Tundra’s suitability for technical riding over the Arione road saddle, as I did not notice that the Tundra had an greater tendency to snag shorts (including casual styles) than any conventional saddle.
p> Having sold my mtb bike in favour of my cyclocross campaign, I immediately wondered about the suitability of the Tundra for cx. In this case, I’d have to say that the Tundra didn’t suit me, though I really wanted it to. You see, my remount technique is a bit wonky, and I prefer a more padded saddle as my landing point. I’m not so bad that I’m in danger of crushing the kiwis, but on a firm saddle like the Tundra I tend to ricochet off it, whereas on a softer saddle the padding seems to catch more like a baseball player’s mitt. For the elite riders who can leap onto a bike with the grace and delicacy of a Russian gymnast while in full stride, this is probably not an issue.
Perhaps in response to feedback, Fizik has chosen to refine the Tundra for 2011. The “Tundra 2” has more padding in the nose, which might be just enough for me. Like the original, the Tundra 2 is available in either light weight “Ki:um” metal rails or braided carbon rails. There is also an additional premium model known as the “Tundra 00” that has braided rails, a carbon shell that does incorporate the “Wing Flex” design to allow the shell to flex with the insides of the rider’s thighs, and is a wicked light 145gr. The new Tundras also use a welded seam rather than stitching between the different colour microfibre coverings.
The newer saddles should be available in the next month or two, and I’m eager to try out one as the Tundra’s light weight is arguably even more advantageous on a cx bike than other cycling disciplines.
p> Fizik Tunrda 2 braided