Review: Specialized Phenom Expert bicycle saddle

specialized phenom expert saddle review

I’ve been riding the Specialized Phenom Expert bike saddle for more than a year now. I bought it for my Orbea Terra TLT cyclocross bike because I didn’t like the saddle that came with the bike.

I have to admit that I was initially skeptical about buying a “house brand” saddle when I first considered a Specialized bike seat. I feel that in many cases, bike manufacturers like to come up with their own branded stuff to save money and make it hard to compare their bikes apples to apples with other bikes. I also feel that usually a company that only does one thing like wheels or seats will have more expertise on the subject and make a better product.

Before going with Specialized, I tried a lot of different saddle brands, including Selle Italia, Koobi, Selle SMP, Selle San Marco, and Fizik. My best luck previously had been with the Fizik Alliante, which was my road saddle for several years. That saddle was relatively light, comfortable enough that I never really thought about it, and didn’t cause any numbness issues.

It was after I moved away from the Alliante and wanted to try something else when I started trying out all of these other brands. I was spending a ton of money and was about to just give up and go back to the Fizik when more than one person mentioned to me that they really liked their Specialized saddles. One person was talking about a road saddle, and the other about this saddle specifically.

One thing I liked about this saddle is that it says on the package that it is good for XC racing or cyclocross, and I planned to use it on a cyclocross bike. So yes, Specialized, your packaging design does indeed influence buying decisions when someone is at the bike shop and picking up all the different saddles and looking at them.

The other thing I liked about Specialized saddles is that they come in different widths. At the bike shop there is this heat sensitive pad thing that you can sit on for a minute and see where your sit bones are on a little scale. The bike shop employees know how to use it, and then they’ll tell you which size saddle you should buy. I needed the middle size, the 143 mm.

specialized phenom expert titanium rail saddle

I found the saddle to have enough padding that it was immediately comfortable, with very little “getting used to” time required. It has a little bit more padding than a road saddle, but not so much that it is really heavy. It weighs 242 grams, according to Specialized.

They have two or three different versions of this seat. The Pro version has carbon rails. I didn’t want to mess with that, because then I figured I’d have to deal with a torque wrench just to attach the saddle to the seatpost and it would be a big adjustment nightmare. So I went with tried and true and super tough titanium rails — the Phenom Expert.

I’ve ridden cyclocross races with this saddle, but also longer rides and some gravel grinders. The seat is comfortable for long distances, and does not cause wiener sleepage issues for me. Wiener sleepage is bad, and should be avoided at all costs when riding a bike!

I had one problem with this seat about halfway through the first cyclocross season. It started making a squeaking noise, and I thought that one of the rails might be defective, or the place where the rail connects with the saddle. I took it in to the bike shop, and they showed me that it was just that the spot where the rail connects with the saddle needed some lubricant. It totally solved my problem, and the seat has been going strong, silently, ever since.

Here’s what Specialized says about the seat:

This lightweight competitive XC saddle, also ideal for road and cross, is tuned for stiffness and features a rounded tail that won’t snag your baggies.

  • Patented Body Geometry design is lab tested to assure blood flow to sensitive arteries

  • Super-light EVA padding for comfort and support on longer rides

  • Stiff, carbon-reinforced shell for longevity and all-day riding efficiency

  • Lightweight and durable hollow titanium rails

  • Flush mounted scuff guards for increased durability

  • Tough, light and water resistant Micromatrix™ cover

  • A slight downturn in the nose for seated climbing

  • Soft rubber pad under nose for easy shouldering during off-road use

Got any questions about this seat? Or anything to add that I left out? Leave a comment!

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