As a saddle geek, I’m always looking for the next big thing. What’s going to bring me comfort (and avoid health problems ‘down there’) for the long haul? What will allow for efficient power output and pedaling technique? Some newer saddles also integrate storage for bottles, cameras, lights, and tools. Oh, and it certainly doesn’t hurt if the saddle is lightweight and easy on the eyes.
With that in mind, I was really looking forward to trying out the PRO Stealth. If you’re not familiar, PRO is an offshoot brand from one of the biggest and most powerful forces in cycling – Japan-based Shimano. They specialize in saddles, seatposts, stems, bars, and even some aero-focused wheels. While they make a variety of saddles, the majority are relatively “old school” and aimed at the traditional road market. On the flip side, they have the tri-specific AeroFuel. In the middle of this spectrum, however, lies the Stealth – the saddle I was most interested in.
The Stealth falls into the new category of snub-nose saddles focused on road cycling, but may also be used for time trial and triathlon bikes. The Specialized Power is the first major competitor that comes to mind, but I’d also add in SMP – who choose to curve the saddle nose downward, rather than shorten the overall length.
This is a category that I expect to grow in the future, so I wanted to investigate further. They’re attempting to be a jack-of-all trades, offering the health and positional benefits of a dedicated nose-less triathlon saddle, with the familiar feel of a road saddle.
At first glance, the PRO Stealth looks impressive and ticks all of the important boxes. It has a carbon fiber base with wide cutout. It’s available in 142 and 152mm widths, with either stainless steel or carbon fiber rails. It has threaded mounting points for accessories.
It even has some very classy packaging and presentation that’s a step above most competitors:
The Stealth has a very large cutout, measuring 40mm wide at the widest point. It is 130mm long in terms of the cutout passing all the way through the base, but a depression runs clear through the tip of the saddle, adding several more centimeters of effective length.
I tend to prefer wide-ish saddles, so I opted to try the 152mm width with stainless rails. The overall profile of the saddle is flat, with a relatively short 255mm length.
The fit and finish of the saddle are top-shelf. With stainless rails and the flashy carbon base, my test sample weighed in at 202 grams – 8 grams less than the quoted 210 gram weight.
The threaded mount at the back of the saddle is compatible with several different accessories from PRO. They have a camera mount, a rear fender, a race number holder, and a spare tube / CO2 holder.
I used the PRO Stealth for a period of about 8 weeks. Overall, I found that the anatomic cutout did what it needed to, with no noticeable numbness or other associated issues. I don’t tend to move around on the saddle an awful lot, so the short-ish length left me plenty of room to move when I needed to. I like a saddle that will allow me to perch, rotate forward, and comfortably put out power over a sustained period of time – and the Stealth does just that.
With a Thomson zero setback post I did have to go a tad beyond the max line - but this is very common and typically not a problem.
My only gripes with the saddle are that it’s a tad too flat for my taste, and the padding is quite firm. Even with thick padded shorts and chamois cream, I found myself feeling somewhat sore on my sit bones after rides. It wasn’t unbearable by any means, but it was noticeable. The thin padding will suit many riders – and lends to the saddle’s impressively light weight – but this is not a saddle for beginners or those who need more cushioning. PRO offers a softer level of padding in most of their other saddles, and I wouldn’t be surprised if there was a second level in the works for the Stealth.
While I primarily used the saddle in a road position, there is definitely a subset of people that can use this saddle on a triathlon bike. Heck, some people seem to be able to ride just about anything on any bike. How do you know if the Stealth will work for you? I’d describe the most likely customer like this: You’re fit, you have average-or-better flexibility (i.e. touching your toes isn’t a problem), you prefer firm saddles, and you definitely want something that’s both light weight and will allow for clean mounting of your accessories.
Shimano PRO Stealth Specifications
MSRP $179.99 (stainless rails); $219.99 (carbon rails)
Actual weight of test sample: 202 grams
Width: 142mm or 152mm
Padding: One level