See all of our Project 24.2 posts here!
With Specialized providing the aft contact points for our Project 24.2 race bike, I suspected that my happy parts would be in good hands. Falling under their Body Geometry aegis, Specialized’s saddles were developed in conjunction with one Dr. Roger Minkow to “eliminate numbness and soreness normally associated with other saddles by enhancing blood flow in men.” Who doesn’t like the sound of that? With a wide range of saddles in three sizes and with an excellent reputation for comfort, it was a safe bet that something would work for my body. Click through to find out what I tried and why the Henge is my new dirt favorite.
The first step toward finding the appropriate Body Geometry saddle is determining the rider’s sit bone spacing. At your local Specialized dealer you should find a Buttometer (quite possibly not the actual name): essentially a board with two memory foam pads on which you sit for a moment. A helpful employee then uses the included scale to measure the depressions left by your ischial tuberosities and determine which of three saddle widths would suit you best. In my case, the middle 143mm width was determined to be ideal (not the narrowest saddle, as I would have guessed given my small frame).
Though Specialized designs their road saddles for the road cycling position and their mountain saddles for dirt riding’s more upright position, Specialized sent out saddles from a both ranges to see what would suit me best for 9-12 hour days in the saddle. From the road line the Avatar “excels during all-day races or long training rides” and on the mountain side the Phenom “competitive XC saddle, also ideal for road and cross, is tuned for stiffness and features a rounded tail that won’t snag your baggies” and the Henge “is a perfect XC or all-mountain saddle with its anti-snag rounded tail, broad, flat midsection for added control, and carbon-reinforced shell tuned for moderate flex.”
Now, if you’re like me, you’re recoiling at the idea of buying three saddles to find one you’d like. For me, at least, the descriptions above rang true on the trail. The comfort road-oriented Avatar never felt quite right on the trail but has since replaced my long-time road favorite despite (gasp!) the red details’ clashing with that bike’s color scheme. The Phenom really is a reasonably comfortable saddle for short, high-effort mountain bike rides (but not so much after hours two and three). The Henge is… just right.
Combined with a pair of densely padded shorts (from Castelli or Giordana, usually), nothing I’ve tried has been as comfortable for longer rides. The medium density EVA foam, channeled at the center, and moderately flexy shell are neither too soft nor too firm and have done a great job at keeping the dreaded sleepy pee-pee at bay. The white Micromatrix cover shows dirt pretty regularly, but can be wiped reasonably clean (black is also available) and is holding up very well so far. At 243g (221g claimed) thanks in part to hollow titanium rails, the Henge Expert is light enough for a race bike (but not too scary-light for trail use).
At $120, the Henge Expert is priced in line with or slightly below other midweight aftermarket saddles. It is bracketed in the Specialized line by the $90/280g Henge Comp and the $180/181g carbon-railed Henge Pro (claimed weights for 143mm width). All are backed by Specialized’s extensive dealer network and online purchases by a 30 day satisfaction guarantee. After several months training for and racing in a 24-hour race, I can say that the Henge is the saddle for me. I’ve since moved it to my ‘go to’ trail bike- and am loving it there too.