The New Bontrager Verse Saddle: A Fresh Approach to Fit and Sizing
The new Bontrager Verse saddle brings a new approach to fit and sizing. With a slightly wider midsection, a full cutout, and a unisex design, it’s designed to provide optimal comfort for all riders. We put it to the Review, and here are the details (and the design behind it), along with our first impressions…
Weight and Aggressive Power Position
The main attraction of the new Verse saddle is its weight and aggressive power position compared to its predecessor. All Verse saddles have a full cutout similar to the Bontrager Aeolus saddle. The new Verse is available in a wide range of four sizes (135 mm – 165 mm) with longer rails for an extended clamping area to ensure a customized fit for all genders and body types. The Verse also replaces the Ajna and Montrose saddles. Bontrager seems confident that the Verse will perform well on mountain, road, and gravel bikes, for both men and women. Making it a true Jack/Jill of all trades, and here’s why:
Design Based on Fit Studies
The Bontrager Ajna (women’s) saddle uses a wider nose and overall sizing than the Montrose (men’s) saddle, for both men and women. In fit studies, with their professional teams and through retailer feedback, they found that many men opted for a slightly wider Ajna saddle. They also noticed that the smallest size of the Montrose saddle (128) was by far the least chosen option for fit and sizing. So they chose a slightly larger size, more in line with what they offered for the women’s Ajna, and more size options (now 4) to ensure they have a fit option for all riders. Worth noting is that while most saddle brands have a 143 mm width option, the new Verse expands it to 145 mm.
Models and Sizes
The new Bontrager Verse saddle is available in three different models, with features more geared towards performance as the prices go up. They all share the full cutout of the Verse, the rear-oriented Bontrager Blendr accessory mount, and various levels of supportive padding for soft tissues. In addition to the above, each Verse saddle is available in a wide range of sizes: 135 mm, 145 mm, 155 mm, and 165 mm in width.
Verse Pro ($220 MSRP)
The Verse Pro features a carbon-reinforced shell, oversized carbon rails, and minimal padding for the experienced rider seeking the lightest option.
Verse Elite ($150 MSRP)
The Verse Elite incorporates austenite rails, a lightweight shell, and additional padding for enhanced comfort.
Verse Comp ($90 MSRP)
The Verse Comp is built on stainless steel rails and, like all models in the Verse range, is compatible with a rear-oriented Blendr mount for an integrated Flare rear light.
The new Verse saddles are now available online and at Trek retailers. Saddles are personal, so fortunately, these come with Bontrager’s Unconditional Bontrager Guarantee: try it, and if you don’t like it, return it within 30 days for a refund.
Tyler’s Impressions of the Verse Elite Saddle
On the first sit, the foam feels really good. Very, very nice. So I used the Bontrager to replace a firmer Fizik saddle that came stock on a Canyon Endurace bike and rode 240 miles in three days. The first part of the ride was great, but gradually it started to create a slight pressure point in the center of the saddle, on the sides. It wasn’t chafing or friction, just pressure, on the high inside part of my thighs. Once home, I tried adjusting the saddle angle multiple times…half a degree up or down each time. And it improved slightly (or worsened) depending on the direction I took. Compared to a traditional saddle, the Verse is wider in its center. On the left, it’s aligned with the rearmost rail attachment point. On the right, they’re aligned with the widest point of the saddle, and where the tape measure crosses them, the Verse is about 3/16″ wider (~5 mm). Lastly, I took it out and compared it to other saddles from Prologo and Specialized, and here’s the conclusion I’ve come to: The Bontrager Verse saddle, as well as some other recent saddles from them, tends to be a few millimeters wider at the midpoint of the saddle. Which isn’t bad, it just doesn’t fit my anatomy well. Which is a shame because the rest of the saddle is great. I still love the feel of the padding…comfortable, yet supportive. I tested the 145 mm width saddle (244 g on my scale). I usually use the 143 from any other brand. If other saddles feel too narrow to you, or you like a bit more saddle between your legs, give it a try…Bontrager has a favorable return policy for testing. And you can always visit your nearest Trek store/dealer to try out different models and widths, which I would recommend just to go through their saddle fitting system anyway.
Jordan’s Impressions of the Verse Pro Saddle
Coming from a short-nose saddle, I was skeptical about the Verse. I’ve grown accustomed to the “closed and loaded” position of saddles like the Bontrager Aeolus and have rarely deviated from it. The Verse, upon closer inspection, seems to blend my favorite features from both worlds. I love the added comfort of the super-soft, almost memory foam-like outer material, similar to the Aeolus, and the freedom of movement I enjoyed on the Montrose.
Comparison Between Verse and Montrose Saddles
I chose the same 145 mm size that I currently use on the Bontrager Aeolus, a saddle that I hold dear and trust for long road rides. The Bontrager Verse Pro is a race saddle: super lightweight at 192 grams, and its sleek matte carbon look pairs perfectly with the Trek Supercal 9.9. I adjusted the Verse 3 mm more forward/backward than my Aeolus in response to the more traditional nose. Overall, I usually level saddles, but after a few laps around the block, I lowered the nose a bit and haven’t touched it since. My initial impressions of the Verse were positive: a locked-in feeling with flex to facilitate movement when you want to get closer to the front. I rode with the Verse predominantly off-road, but made sure to include some long gravel exploration days in my testing. The carbon shell and rails have a vibration-damping effect when the knobs buzz on the asphalt; there’s no hard evidence of this, but the saddle’s feel was great. The pointed nose never snagged my bibs, even in the drops, something that happened frequently with the Montrose. It took some getting used to the wider nose, especially coming from a Specialized Power, but the more I rode it, the more I liked it. The wider nose kept me in the relief channel and I never inadvertently tilted to one side of the saddle when rides exceeded 5 hours. Just like the Bontrager Aeolus acts as a hinge with movement, the Bontrager Verse allows the rider to slide forward without slipping or collapsing to a favorable side. The carbon rails…