Specialized does it through shop employees with measurements, angles and videos too numerous and complex to get into, they call it their Body Geometry fit (I had one, when I bought my Venge, and it was awesome). Long before that wonderful day and after a few months on my new (to me) 1999 Trek 5200, I went to the local shop complaining of immense pain due to my saddle after a steady increase of miles. Walter quickly measured my sit bones on a handy-dandy board with memory foam on it and handed me a Specialized Romin (143mm) saddle. The old, original saddle was a 155 – no wonder it hurt. The 143mm Romin, with its marvelous contours, just happened to be the exact saddle for me. I even put a second Romin I own on our tandem.
Fi’zi:k does it with an app. Hold your smartphone at your chest and bend over as far as you can… they match you to the proper saddle of their three different types. Not bad, but I’m in between saddles according to the app (or at least I was last I checked). Doesn’t that just figure? I can measure twice in a row and get two different saddles. Fortunately, luck got me where I needed to be previously, anyway.
Bontrager seems to have simplified everything and explained it so anyone from a leisure cyclist to a road racing cyclist can easily see what will likely be the best saddle fit for their riding style. It’s not, after all, rocket science. It’s close, though, once they really start looking into the science and how a saddle will affect a cyclist. Behold, simplicity and the Performance Postures (or as they like to call it in technical terms, “InForm BioDynamic Designs”):
To keep things moving, I’m a Posture 2. I ride an aggressively set up road bike (both of them):
Then they got into the contour of the saddle:
And followed that with the profile:
Without question, especially looking at my Venge up above and how much I love the Romin saddle, I’m a Posture 2 guy, and it makes sense now that this is all laid out above:
Now, will this way of looking at saddles tick everyone’s boxes and make them comfortable on a Bontrager saddle? I would land somewhere between “doubtful” and “not a freaking chance” – saddle choice is too personal and complex. That said, for me, it works and it makes sense.
Where this gets a little sticky is that saddle on my Trek, a Selle Italia. It’s basically a flat saddle with a minute curve to it. It’s a full carbon fiber saddle that weighs in at a miniscule 110 grams (Bontrager makes a 64 gram saddle, basically the weight of two plastic bottle cages, if you’re interested):
Contrast that with the saddle on my Venge (or one like it) on the Right and a Bontrager Montrose on the Left:
My friends, I may ride low but I am not flexible. I can barely touch my toes (though barely does count!). That little bit of contour in the saddle helps me rotate my hips forward so I can ride comfortably in the drops and on the hoods. I do have to make sure to bend my arms sufficiently when I ride with my hands on the bar top, though. Sitting upright isn’t comfortable on a contoured saddle like the two above – at least not the way I set mine up, with a 3° drop from back to front (measured the full length of the saddle).
People can get sucked into the wrong saddle pretty easy. Whether they’re in it for the weight, or just trying to get a cool-looking saddle… Folks, some saddles just fit some butts better than others. The more information you’re armed with, though, the better equipped you’ll be to help a knowledgeable person at a shop help you into the proper saddle… or try luck. It did work for me.