The all-new Bontrager Verse saddle lineup brings a fresh approach to fit and sizing. It has a slightly wider mid section, full length cutout, and is designed for unisex use. We put them to the test, here’s the details (and the “why” behind the design), along with our first impressions…
The new Verse’s main attraction is its weight and the aggressive power position compared to its predecessor. All Verse saddles have a full cutout similar to the Bontrager Aelous saddle. The all-new Verse is available in a wide range of four sizes (135mm – 165mm) with new longer rails for an extended clamping area to ensure a dialed fit for all genders and body types.
The Verse replaces Ajna and Montrose saddles, too. Bontrager seems confident that the Verse will perform on mountain, road, and gravel bikes, for men and women. Which would make it a true Jack/Jill of all trades, and here’s why:
Their Ajna (women’s) saddle used a wider nose and overall sizing than the Montrose (men’s) for both men and women. In fit studies, with their pro teams, and through retailer fitting feedback, they saw quite a few men choosing to go with a slightly wider Ajna.
They also saw the smallest size offering for the Montrose saddle (128) was by far the least chosen option though fitting and sizing. So they went with a slightly larger size offering, more in line with what they offered for the women’s Ajna, and more size options (now 4) to make sure they have a fitting option for all riders.
It’s worth noting that, where most saddle brands have a 143mm width option, the new Verse skews that upward to a 145mm width.
The new Verse lineup comprises Comp, Elite, and Pro models. Each of the three all-new Verse saddles features Bontrager’s inForm design aiming to position riders in a performance posture for speed and control on a variety of surfaces.
Additionally, all models in the new Verse saddle lineup are compatible with Bontrager’s rear-facing Blendr mount, which allows for the integration of a Flare tail light (mount sold separately).
Bontrager Verse models and sizing
Bontrager’s new Verse saddle is available in three different models with more performance-driven features as the prices go up. All share the Verse full-length cutout, rear-facing Bontrager Blendr accessory mount, and various soft tissue supportive padding levels. Along with what’s listed above, each Verse saddle is available in extensive sizing ranging from; 135mm, 145mm, 155mm, 165mm widths.
- Verse Pro ($220 MSRP) features a carbon-reinforced shell, oversized carbon rails, and minimal padding for the seasoned rider looking for the lightest option.
- Verse Elite ($150.00 MSRP) features Austenite rails, a lightweight shell, and additional padding for added comfort.
- Verse Comp ($90.00 MSRP) built on stainless rails and, like all models in the Verse lineup, is compatible with a rear-facing Blendr mount for an integrated Flare tail light.
The new Verse saddles are available now, online and at Trek dealers. Saddles are personal, so fortunately these come with their Unconditional Bontrager Guarantee – try it, and if you don’t like it, return within 30 days for a refund.
Tyler’s ride impressions of the Verse Elite
At first sit, the foam feels really good. Like, reaaaallly good. So I used the Bontrager to replace a firmer Fizik saddle that came stock on a Canyon Endurace review bike and proceeded to ride 240 miles over three days.
The first bit of the ride was great, but it slowly started to create a slight pressure point in the middle of the saddle, on the sides. Not friction or rubbing, just pressure, high up on the inside of my thighs. Once home from that ride, I tried adjusting the saddle’s angle a few different times…half a degree up or down at a time. And it got slightly better (or worse) depending on which way I went.
Ultimately, I pulled it off and compared to several other saddles from Prologo and Specialized, and here’s the conclusion I’ve come to: The Bontrager Verse saddle, as well as a few other recent seats from them, tend to be a few millimeters wider at the midpoint of the saddle. Which isn’t a bad thing, it just doesn’t work well with my physiology. Which is a shame, because the rest of the saddle is great. I really do still love the feel of the padding…cushy, yet supportive.
I tested the 145mm wide saddle (244g on my scale). I normally ride the 143 from any other brand. If other saddles feel too narrow, or you like a little more saddle between your legs, give it a try…Bontrager has a trial-friendly return policy. And you can always head down to your local Trek store/dealer to try different models and widths, which I’d recommend just to go through their saddle fit system anyway.
Jordan’s ride impressions of the Verse Pro
Coming off of a short-nosed saddle, I was skeptical about the Verse. I’ve grown accustomed to the “locked and loaded” position on saddles like the Bontrager Aeolus and have rarely deviated from them. The Verse on closer inspection seems to blend my favorite features of both worlds. I love the added comfort of super-soft, almost memory foam outer material similar to the Aeolus, and the freedom of movement I enjoyed on the Montrose.
I chose the same 145mm size that I currently ride in the Bontrager Aeolus – a saddle I am fond of and trust for long days on the road. The Bontrager Verse Pro is a race saddle – super lightweight at 192 grams, and a sleek look of matte carbon is a perfect match for the Trek Supercal 9.9. I set the Verse up 3mm closer fore/aft than my Aeolus in response to the more traditional nose. Mostly I set my saddles level, but after a few spins around the block, I dropped the nose down a tick and haven’t touched it since.
My first ride impressions of the Verse was positive; a locked-in feel with flex to support movement when you want to creep up to the nose. I mostly rode the Verse off-road, but I made sure to include some long gravel exploration days in my testing. The carbon shell and rails have a vibration damping effect when the knobbies buzzed along the pavement – there’s no hard evidence for this, but the saddle felt great.
The pointed south nose never caught my shorts, even on the baggies, which frequently happened with the Montrose. The wide nose took some getting used to, especially coming off of a Specialized Power, but the more I rode it, the more I liked it.
The wider nose kept me in the relief channel and never sloppily favoring one side of the saddle when the rides pushed the 5-hour marks. Similarly, how the Bontrager Aelous acts like a ball joint with movement, the Bontrager Verse allows the rider to slide forward without slipping or collapsing to a favorable side.
The carbon rails are a great feature but only work with the Bontrager/Trek Oval 7x10mm seatpost clamps. A feature that’s great if you own a Bontrager seatpost and only have to purchase the aftermarket ears, but if you have another brand – you may be limited to the round rail offerings.
Riding both the Montrose and the Verse back to back, the most notable differences are in the saddle’s width and the over length of the channel in the center. The Verse is much wider than the Montrose and could be a turn off for some. This broad section also serves as a fit feature, locking the rider into the relief channel and keeping the hips lined up. For those that like a wider saddle and physiologically fit a wider nose – this saddle is a great option. The nose is short enough to keep the rider locked but long enough to adjust to the front on those super steep pitches.
Bontrager Verse – Final thoughts
For those looking for a saddle that can live on all your bikes -no matter road, trail, or gravel- the Verse is an excellent option. The vast sizing options available ensure that there is one for your setup. Though the wide nose will be a deal-breaker for some, the Unconditional Bontrager Guarantee return policy makes it worth trying.
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