New for 2020, we took a few spins on shoe and saddle industry leader fizik’s new Terra Argo X3, a short-nosed shape with gravel riding at the forefront of design.
Released at the beginning of November, and sneakily fitted to my current review Stayer Groadinger a few days prior, fizik’s popular Argo shape is now here in two models designed specifically for gravel riding.
The Terra Argo X3 and X5 share the name and shape with the road Argo saddles, Vento and Tempo, two short-nosed models featuring central cut outs. This short nosed design, arguably pioneered in the ever-popular Specialized Power saddle, is said to encourage stability in the saddle, while relieving pressure from some sensitive areas.
Now, where the Terra models differ to make them more off-road centric is where it’s more exciting. The cut out feature is fulled almost completely with a pliable rubber-like material, with a little slot in the centre.
Secondly, these Terra Argo saddles take the ‘wingflex’ tech from fizik’s MTB saddle line up, to offer more compliance at the lateral edges of the saddle, which is claimed to offer more movement with the inner thigh.
The third feature is the use of ‘Type 2 foam’ for the seat area over a compliant nylon and carbon fibre shell. Fizik claim that this combination of materials make the saddle ideally suited to off-road rides, with these materials giving greater comfort over rougher terrain.
With a price differential of £39 (€39 $49), the X5 model features alloy rails, whereas the premium X3 model uses fizik’s signature Kium hollow rails, also shaving off a small 12 grams on the 150mm wide model. A wider 160mm fit is also available for both models.
Offered the chance to review test ride one of the new Terra Argo X3 saddles, we snapped up the chance to put these claims to the test, and see if the gravel-specific saddle really felt any better than fizik’s traditional road models.
I’d be lying if I said that I’d been riding the new Terra Argo X3 for months and months over many rides. In my experience, it’s usually quite easy to tell whether you’ll get on with a saddle (or more clear if you won’t) just from a few rides.
From gravel rides lasting a few hours over lunch to longer 100km day rides featuring a mixture of terrains and road too, I’ve had enough time with the Terra Argo X3 to give my thoughts.
Now saddle reviews are notoriously difficult to write, as the topic is so incredibly personal. Therefore, a bit more background about what saddles I tend to get on with might help. For years, I’d ridden the fizik Arione Donna, a women’s model of the popular flat and hard Arione, recommended for riders with the greatest level of flexibility (remember that fizik snake, bull, chameleon thing?!), starting on the road and taking that into gravel and MTB.
With different demands over longer rides over rougher terrain and a more upright seated position on the gravel bike, I’ve been trying a few WTB saddles, getting on best with the Koda. The saddle that this test saddle replaced was the Ergon SMC Women, another short-nosed saddle aimed at off-road use, although women’s-specific unlike the Terra Argo X3.
From the first ride, it was obvious that we were a good match, to the point that I forgot it was a test saddle; a good sign! To make sure that the shape and fit remained comfortable over bigger rides, the next step was to build up the ride length.
By including long road sections, which usually help to highlight any discomfort through a more seated, steady position and monotonous pedalling unlike off-road, I could really test if it worked.
Furthermore, for a very wet and windy 100 km ride, I was wearing some rather ancient and threadbare old tights. I’d forgotten that the chamois wasn’t the best anymore, so if there were any issues, they’d be sure to show on that ride!
I’m pleased to say that they didn’t. The saddle has remained comfortable, in fact unnoticeable, for rides since. The Wingflex feature was not perceivable — although of course that doesn’t mean that it’s not working — which was interesting, as I could definitely notice this feature on a fizik Luna MTB saddle that I tried a few years back in preparation for the DK200 (Unbound Gravel).
As a British rider, I especially love what fizik have done with the cut out rubber plug; enough to stop road spray or trail dirt flying up exactly where you don’t need it, but without interfering with the pressure relief properties of the cut out shape. A channeled slot helps water drain too, so you’re not left with a channel full of dirty water. Neat.
Aesthetically, I personally don’t have any gripes with the Terra Argo X3; the branding is subtle, and the covering material is easy to clean, and keep clean, unlike some other saddles that I’ve tried that feature textured materials. These inevitably end up caked or ingrained with mud and looking filthy, so I’m glad fizik have adopted a very minimalist and clean design here.
The points that I haven’t been able to test as yet have been durability; which is particularly interesting with regard to the rails and interface with the increased demands of rough off-road terrain, as well as attachment of bikepacking bags. As I’ve got on so well with this saddle so far, however, I’ll be keeping it on the test bike for a good while yet and should be able to give a better long-term picture in the future.
One last thing that I did notice is that the clamping area on the saddle’s one-piece Mobius rail is pretty generous, which has been handy in adjusting the fit on this new bike. The darker finish on the rails has rubbed off slightly where my thighs pass to give a shinier silver appearance.
Although admittedly a little skeptical about a truly ‘gravel-specific’ saddle, I’m pleasantly surprised that the Terra Argo X3 has done the job, for me at least.
Suitable for a slightly more upright position than my old fizik Arione Donna, and with a great cut out guard unlike the similar short-nosed Ergon SMC Women, this saddle has quickly made it to the top of the pile.
Of course, it nearly goes without saying that just because this model works for me that it won’t be ideal for everyone — that’s the joy of dealing with such a personal area!
What I can say though, is that it’s clear that fizik have really done their homework here to assess what gravel riders really need, rather that producing a slight variant on another saddle and giving it a gravel category.
fizik Terra Argo X3£129, €129, $129.99
A popular short-nosed shape with some handy considerations for gravel riding make this new offering from fizik a legit contender on the gravel saddle market9.0/10
- Curved profile suited to a slightly more upright position, typical for gravel riding
- Cut out channel's guard and drainage slot is really neat
- Clean, simple aesthetic
- Not the most affordable, but the similar X5 model shaves off a chunk
- Non durable rail coating
Last modified: 19th November 2020