For more than 20 years, Specialized’s Body Geometry project has been dedicated to mapping detailed human anatomy for the development of cushions that perfectly fit the anatomy of the human body. At present, the development of foam cushions that are in physical contact with the skin has almost reached its limit. As a result, Lightning had to find a different path, such as Mirror Technology, which is being reviewed today.
Lightning officially announced Mirror Technology in the summer of 2019, which uses a new process called Digital Light Synthesis to 3D print liquid polymers. They claim that this process will become the benchmark for ergonomic car saddles. Let’s see today if Lightning does what it says.
Mirror Technology 3D printed cushion in detail
The name Mirror (Chinese means mirror) comes from the technology’s ability to reflect the rider’s physiology to improve performance, increase comfort and reduce the chance of injury.
The emergence of carbon fiber materials has completely changed the bicycle industry, and the once mainstream metal frame structure is subject to material properties and processing technology and cannot achieve characteristics, such as low weight, stacked structure, which is possible in the carbon fiber era. Today’s protagonist Mirror Technology, also carbon fiber, was used by lightning to innovate the cushion.
Lightning announced that the first cushions made using Mirror Technology will be prioritized for its own sponsored professional riders and teams, both on mountain and on the road.
In the upper part of the cushion, Lightning uses a patented structure that cannot be cottaged, which can change the density of the polymer material in different positions. The resulting lattice structure (approximately 14,000 struts and 7,799 nodes) can be individually adjusted to provide sit bone comfort for riders of all genders. Experts say the innovation has sound scientific evidence, and the design also stabilizes the pelvis and significantly suppresses vibrations.
The midline of the cushion uses a technique called mimic-like, which has a variable density opening, which is something that ordinary foam cannot do.
Luckily, the pre-release of this cushion wasn’t limited to lightning-sponsored professional riders. I also received the cushion in May and tested it with the Diverge all-terrain road bike with Future Shock 2.0 technology released at the same time. It is worth mentioning that this saddle is a cushion for all types of cycling, focusing on performance improvement, not designed for all-terrain road bikes.
Some reviews about cushions
▲2021 Lightning Diverge, taken at the Girona conference in Spain
Like many body equipment, the seat cushion is a very personal issue. For this reason, I have always preferred the Fizik Arione, whose excellent shape and just the right amount of material fill I love. Admittedly, the Arione was far from perfect, but the new, shorter, Power-branded cushions didn’t impress me for a long time until I was persuaded by the manufacturers. This is not today’s topic, and I will bring a review of this in the future. Of course, I’d love to open my eyes and try some of the newer and shorter cushions that hit the market around 2019/2020.
General foam fillers absorb a large portion of the sciatic pressure in one place. Lightning’s Mirror Technology, on the other hand, distributes the same pressure over a larger area. It sounds great, but Lightning didn’t do that during the first trial production, fortunately with 70 iterations in less than a year. This is the huge advantage of 3D printing, it only takes one day to make samples.
Lightning experimentally demonstrated that Mirror Technology has a huge advantage over traditional foam cushions by mapping the pressure distribution of cushions. Lightning then did a blind test, which further proved the above findings.
Lightning explains: “Light prints the lattice structure in a liquid polymer, and then a secondary chemical reaction occurs in a forced circulation oven that finally shapes and strengthens the material. However, the saddle is not exactly a grid structure/liquid polymer, but rather a 3D printed superstructure bonded to a carbon bottom and rails. Experts believe that the S-Works Power Mirror saddle is the most comfortable saddle they have ever made, and its performance should far outperform other brands.
Real vehicle testing
I think new technology is always great on paper, but without real testing, you can never tell how it’s really riding. For example, about three to six hours of riding can show the huge improvement in ride comfort brought by high-quality cycling shorts. This explains why, in the years before I met the Arione, I stuck with the German-made AX Lightness cushion. Lighter saddles (weighing 68 grams) tend to have their own problems, such as easy damage.
Going into the 2019/20 season, I’ll admit I don’t really like hollow cushions. I once tried the Arione VS, which boasts a unique groove to accommodate the soft tissues of the lower body. But actually, I didn’t feel comfortable at all, and rubbed me hard against the grooved edges in the wrong way. But compared to the current saddles, the design of the Arione VS is quite conservative, and those designs I think are really stupid!
Eventually, I found that cushion length is not the most important part of the formula, but rather locates the peak area of pressure, spreads it over a certain range, and finally conducts it correctly to the ischia.
Weight and dimensions
This S-Works Power Mirror weighs 192 grams and can withstand large impulses. Non-S-Works models, if any, may not have a full carbon seathead and bottom plate, and may weigh more.
The measured size of the widest part of the seat cushion is 143mm, but if you take into account the overlapping parts of the 3D printed surface, it is about 148mm. Longitudinally, the distance from head to tail is about 243mm.
I stumbled upon an action camera mount at the Diverge launch that can be mounted on a bolt hole in the saddle, but I don’t know if the official version will have it.
The seat cushion has a soft touch and can be easily bent under pressure, but there is also a certain limit range, not to say elastic like a rubber band. It is very resistant to pressure, and after the pressure disappears, the material will spring back into shape.
The first time I sat on the S-Works Power Mirror at the Lightning Diverge launch event, it felt natural, and even in various sitting positions, there were no pressure points or even feeling it supporting my sitting bones.
The launch took place in early March, when a crowd waited for an amazing two-day ride on the gravel roads of Girona, Spain. But two days later, restrictions on travel to prevent the coronavirus epidemic followed. Fortunately, after the press conference, I packed up and went home to avoid being stranded.
Since then, the seat cushion has been mounted on my Niner MCR 9 RDO all-suspension all-terrain road bike, which is the model I’m reviewing for the Gravel Cyclist. To really experience the comfort of long-distance riding, I came once for a 310-kilometer “recreational ride” in the countryside of north-central Florida. I was lucky because some time later, other all-terrain road bikers complained online that their rides had been canceled due to the pandemic.
More than 310 km + brand new seat cushions, it seems unlikely that something will go wrong.
▲ My “recreational ride” equipment, photographed somewhere in North Florida
The good news is that there really is nothing wrong. On the way to Tallahassee, Florida’s capital, the westerly winds kept bothering me, as if my soul had been blown apart. Forget it, the planned journey of more than 600 kilometers was canceled, Tallahassee will go next time, and I turned around and went to my lair in the United States – Gainesville, Florida.
Fortunately, the new seat cushion of the bicycle gave me a lot of relief. I really don’t like the paid ones because I don’t want to be them, and all reviews on this site are unpaid. To be honest, sad reviews are a very subjective thing, because what works for you may not work for me, and vice versa.
But based on my experience, the S-Works Power Mirror saddle is very comfortable, probably the most comfortable cushion I’ve ridden in nearly 30 years of cycling. Since then, I’ve left it on top of my Niner MCR 9 RDO and I think this combo will stay with me longer to challenge the gravel routes I don’t frequent. This cushion is also very comfortable on the original 2021 Diverge, and it can be said that it is a natural pair.
There was a difference in appearance between the S-Works Power Mirror saddle I rode at Lightning Camp in Girona, Spain, and the review sample I ended up taking home. The image above is the version of the camp, while the image below is the version I have been reviewing for a long time.
You can clearly see that there are some dents on the sample on my hand. I don’t know how it was, it was like that when it was delivered to me. Fortunately, apart from the subtle visual differences, I found that the indented review samples did not differ in “fart feeling” either.
Lightning clarified to us that these dents shouldn’t have been, so I wrote this review with accurate images, not my own photos. Tyler also has a sample for long-term testing, which we will compare after a few months of use.
Good car with good saddle, do you like this cushion? Priced up to 3590 yuan, in exchange for long-term comfort, are you willing to accept?
By the way, we also received this cushion last week, so stay tuned for the review.