This should be a wordy and flowing review but knowing how I write it will probably be short and too the point, but that’s possibly a good thing. Jump back a few months and my saddle was not cutting the mustard commuting 43 miles a day. I think use and old age was taking it’s toll but it was starting to feel like two blunt points sticking in my rear at the back of the rails.
So the moment that every cyclist dreads finding a new saddle that is comfortable and fits well with your posterior. There is alwasy the option of just buying the same model again (if available) but sometimes it’s good to try something new or improve on previous choices. Hence with the knowledge that as a tall chap I have a pretty big arse myself and my colleague started scouring the catalogues at work for the widest non-leather saddle we could find.
There are a lot of saddles out there with claimed widths in the 141-143 ball park but only really unsuitable ‘sofa’ saddles any wider. That was until we stumbled upon the Forza Stratos. Forza (or maybe 4ZA, it’s not clear) are apparently despite the ‘italian’ name from Belgium and work closely with Ridley bikes supplying a lot of their components for full builds. The Stratos is at the bottom end of their range with an RRP of £29.99, it is a relatively basic saddle with steel rails and a nylon base but it was the width that caught my eye listed at 145mm. The profile is slightly up turned at the rear which was similar to previous saddles I’d ridden so it looked promising. Colour wise you have a choice of black finished with white, red or blue, or white finished with black, or a brown ‘leather look’. I went for black and red and it looks pretty good, although I’m not sold on the hand/number four logo which looks a bit 80’s but as I’m sat on it I won’t be losing any sleep.
So about 2.5 months later it’s time to pass judgement. I didn’t weigh the saddle so I don’t know if the 290g claimed weight is correct but I don’t remember thinking it was particularly heavy before I fitted it. In terms of finish, I’ve ridden this saddle on average between 140 and 200 miles a week for over 2 months and it pretty much looks like new, even some accidental scuffs against brickwork before putting it in the garage haven’t seemed to damage the covering. Finally the shape seems spot on, if you want to put some effort in the long nose means you can lean forward and still feel supported but the wide rear supports my wide arse admirably, gone is the feeling of two blunts points even on day 4 or 5 of commuting. The saddle doesn’t flex too much for my usage with enough give to be comfortable both on and off the road, although it is worth mentioning here that from experience fitting a Carradice Bagman QR support (as I have done) does stiffen up a saddle slightly.
So on the whole for a budget saddle I’m impressed, the Stratos has done exactly what I wanted it too. It’s wide and comfortable without being either leather or a sofa and I’m looking forward to putting many more miles on it to see how it lasts longer term. Of course now the ‘n+1’ part of me is thinking if I got a lighter bike next year should I upgrade to a lighter ‘Team issue’ with Titanium rails which is also listed at 145mm wide. Those logos though…