05 August 2008

bikefix Exclusive Review: Specialized Rival SL Saddle

I love this saddle. I hate this saddle. It feels good and works well but they keep breaking. Sounds like I'm talking about a girlfriend, doesn't it? This Saddle makes me crazy. The first time I bought one, it broke after about 6 months (the plastic part where the rail connects to the bottom). The shop that sold it to me begrudgingly gave me a new one. That one lasted about a year before breaking (the Ti rail bent). I didn’t bother taking that one back. I am going to buy a new one soon and hopefully it will last longer because my derrière really likes it.

The Rival SL comes in a 130mm width and 143mm width, and I find the 143mm to be about perfect for me (5’10” w/35 waist and medium to biggish ass). The saddle is both firm and at the same time fairly well cushioned. Don’t expect a cushy seat, but compared to many saddles in it's 235g weight range it feels quite padded and I find the shape is particularly comfortable too.
The Rival SL is comfortable for extended rides and the nose is padded more than any saddle I've ridden that is this light. Much of this can be attributed to the solid Titanium rails and ergonomic “BG V-groove” which respectively smooth out the bumps and keep the 'boys’ happy.

If the Saddles broke in the same place, I could easily say “Hey Specialized, this thing is great- but fix this…”, but one rail bent and one saddle bottom split where the rail attaches at the back. That means I need to lose weight (195lbs), or Specialized need to make a stronger saddle (or weight-rate it but that would suck). Other than the breaking issue, the Rival SL seems to hold up very well to normal wear and tear.

The fact that I am buying a 3rd Rival SL saddle speaks volumes about how much I like this Saddle. I surely won’t buy another until they revise or replace this model, but that’s how much I like it. If you are lighter in build or ride less technical and brutal trails, the Rival SL may last considerably longer. For the rest of us…well, you can always keep buying new ones. The Rival SL retails for $105.00.




Matt said...

I've broken several Selle Italia, 2 Specialized, and 1 Salsa saddle. I got sick of wasting money on the Sella Italias because it's impossible to warranty them - at least Spez works with you. I finally tried the el cheapo, but lightweight with cutout Forte Pro SLX from Performance. Dunno know who makes it form them, perhaps Sella San Marcos - but there are five of them in the house and haven't broken a one of them in 2 years now. Oh and they cost $39.99 to $49.99 depending on when you buy them.

Krusty Geezer said...

I've always been a big fan and Specialize's BG products. Got/had gloves, shoes and saddles in the series, and so far I have no complaints. The first BG saddle I had was a tad hard on the bones; and it still is, even though it's 5 years old. So it's not a question of breaking-in. It does however solve the numb nuts syndrome.
When I got a new bike, I changed the saddle to the Rival SL. Similar to all BG saddles, this also is on the heavy side. The extra weight is compensated by the ride comfort. I bought the 143 mm model which I felt was butt friendly, especially since I’m on the robust side (6 ft. / 202 Ibs).
The saddle has worn really well, and I haven’t experienced any of the reliability problems that are mentioned on so many US sites. I was actually wondering if there’s a difference between the specification on US and European models, because I really haven’t seen any of these negative comments on any of the European sites that I use. The only irritation that I’ve had with the saddle is my shorts getting caught on the nose (more than usual that is), but worst of all, the backs of my thighs rubbing against the leading edge of the seat.
The bike that had this saddle has now been stolen (bastards!). My new project, based around a Trek 9.9 SSL, is now built, and I’m considering the Rival SL as the saddle to buy; just in the narrower 130 mm model, thereby hopefully solving the rubbing thigh issue.
I can’t think of a better endorsement than repeat buying.
(I have to admit that the Phenom SL is also very tempting, but am worried that it might just be too racy and extreme for this old man’s boney behind)