Fizik already has a range of gravel saddles, so why would you opt for a saddle from their Tempo Argo range instead? I have had some good experiences with Fizik’s gravel-specific Terra range but as I find my gravel riding becoming ever more speed orientated, I have started gravitating towards firmer more aggressively shaped options.
The Tempo Argo R3 is aimed at endurance cycling and looks to be a great solution for those looking for a faster gravel saddle. Its smaller, more refined shape is designed to improve pedaling performance and the carbon-reinforced shell and metal rails should be strong enough to withstand the rougher nature of gravel too.
Design and specification
Fizik’s Tempo Argo comes in three models, each using the same carbon-reinforced nylon shell but utilizing different materials for the rails. There's the entry-level alloy railed R5, the 10x7 mm carbon railed R1, and the Tirox railed model I have been testing. Tirox is a light alloy steel and a material used by several saddle manufacturers to produce mid-level saddles.
Mounted to the 7x7 rails is a carbon-reinforced nylon shell that's available in either 150mm or 160mm widths. Both sizes are 260mm in length and have a 103mm long nose, measured to the center point of the saddle. My 150mm size saddle has a saddle height of 43mm and a large diamond-shaped cut-out measuring 135mm x 35mm. Fizik says the shape of the cut-out was developed using pressure analysis and input from medical experts. Unlike Fizik’s off-road saddles, the Tempo Argo’s cut-out is left open which can lead to a cold splash when riding in the wet.
On top, Fizik has used their proprietary Type 2 foam that’s said to offer progressive cushioning. Different thicknesses are used across the saddle, with a thicker area around the ischial sit bones area at the rear which is said to support a more upright riding position.
My test saddle tips the scales at 243g, which I feel is a little on the heavy side, although ultimately the comfort of a saddle far outweighs minor weight penalties. If you really need to save a few grams, Fizik's carbon railed Tempo Argo R1 has the same shape, shell, and padding and saves roughly 34g
I haven’t always gotten along with the restrictiveness of short-nosed saddles but after a little bit of minor adjustment, I was able to quickly find a comfort sweet spot with the Tempo Argo R3.
Short-nosed saddles are characterized by their locked-in position, yet I still found some wiggle room to move around on the Tempo Argo R3 if needed. Sitting in the center of the saddle, the levels of padding feel great. It's supportive enough that I didn't experience any undesirable pressure points while still padded enough to filter out some vibrations. This is further assisted by the carbon body which has a noticeable amount of flex when I press on it by hand, although this doesn't come at the detriment of stability during hard seated pedaling.
The cut-out extends a long way up the nose of the saddle, but it was still comfortable enough to shuffle slightly forward to achieve a more tucked aero position if needed. Shuffle back on a climb and the saddle’s wider and slightly upturned rear section offers plenty of support and helps give a comfortable pedaling platform to drive power through the pedals while climbing.
Despite being on the firm side, the Tempo Argo R3 still does a decent job of filtering out vibration. It's not as hard as Fizik’s other road-focused saddles and although it's not as smooth as the Terra, the Tempo doesn't have the wallow feeling I have experienced when using Fizik’s thicker gravel-specific saddle.
Overall found Fizik’s Tempo Argo R3 to be very comfortable and I have clocked up over 800km so far with no discomfort, which included two big back-to-back days at the Struggle Borderlands. The cut-out has provided plenty of pressure relief and I found the levels of padding to strike the perfect density balance for longer gravel/mixed surface rides, especially those that are more focused on pace than party.
It is a touch heavier than some of its mid-range competitors although that's a minor gripe when you consider how comfortable the Tempo Argo R3 is in use. It appears very well put together too, so far showing no signs of wear and tear either.
Tech specs: Fizik Tempo Argo R3 saddle
- Price: $149.99 / £144.99 / €149.00
- Sizes: 150mm, 160mm
- Weight: 243g (150mm)