Review: Fizik Gobi XM Braided Carbon Saddle
I was quite impressed with this saddle while I was riding on it in BC. I’ll admit I always worry about the carbon components on my bike breaking with a big hit, but as of yet they haven’t! The Gobi stood up fantastically, even though it got hit hard enough to leave me a couple really nice (no, not really) bruises. As a matter of fact, this saddle has made it through a couple mistakes that have previously resulted in my metal-railed saddles getting bent to the point that they’re unusable – if you’re looking for something tough but light, this should be on your list. Make sure you head to your local shop to try it out first, though – with a price tag of about $170 (unless you manage to find one from the lovely folks over at The Clymb, where I got mine), you’ll probably want to do a test run before you buy.
The issue of not having a groove down the centre wasn’t really apparent until I went down to Central Oregon to visit my parents, and we did some longer cross-country rides. What started as “woah I’ve never ridden with the seat this high for more than 5 minutes at a time, I guess it’s alright” quickly turned to “oh my lord I don’t think I can still have children”. I was happy in BC when I was spending most of my time either out of the saddle or sitting on the back end, but it’s something of a pain when you’re on flat ground. With this in mind, I would caution against buying this saddle if you’re the type of rider that spends a lot of time using the whole saddle.
Just so there’s no confusion as to what I mean by “groove”.
One of my favourite aspects of carbon components – the flex – is actually readily noticeable on this saddle. While in Central Oregon, I did quite a bit of pathway riding with my Attitude, the hand-me-down unsuspended Aluminum bike, and was amazed at how much motion I was actually getting out of the rails. Realistically, I wouldn’t expect it was more than a couple millimeters at most, but as those of us that have spent any time on a fully rigid frame know, a little bit goes a long way!
If you look at the description either on the Amazon page or the actual Fizik page, you’ll see they classify the Gobi as being “for chameleons”, as per the Fizik “Spine Concept”. The whole theory behind this rating system is built around how you adjust your body to climbs: whether you bend forward at the waist, or roll your hips forward. The Chameleon is the mid-ground design, giving you a fairly flat surface with a bit of a tail-lip and a small downturn at the nose. Snake, for the most flexible (meaning you bend with no roll), has an almost completely flat profile, and Bull (the other end of the spectrum) has a sharper downturn and a larger lip.
I should also note that, as with most of Fizik’s saddles, there is a small clip on the underside of the saddle, to which you can attach specially-made lights, reflectors and the like. It seems like an interesting idea, but having never used it (nor shopped for the plug-ins), I unfortunately couldn’t tell you if it’s a feature worth paying for.
Pros: Light; Comfortable (if it fits you); Moderately Flexible; Strong
Cons: Relatively Narrow; No Groove; Relatively Expensive, Stiff Hull
Down and Dirty: If the saddle fits you properly, it’s not a bad choice (particularly if you’re watching weight, since it comes in at 199g). Tough enough to stand up to my riding (which is not by any stretch gentle), but lighter than anything else I’ve ever had. Male riders take note, though – the lack of a groove will make long-term in-saddle riding uncomfortable.
So, should you buy this saddle? It’s tough as hell, light enough to forget (don’t do this, speaking from experience it will not be a fun ride), and surprisingly springy. If it fits you, I would definitely say you should consider it. If the lack of groove doesn’t bother you, and you have the money, go for it! Personally, I would only buy it again if it came with a groove, or if I was planning on using it exclusively for a downhill rig – it’s a good saddle, but there’s definitely room for improvement, especially at this price.
Side note: I know an unfortunately small number of female riders – if any of you are near me, I would be more than happy to lend the saddle out to get a different perspective on the groove/no groove issue!