Saddles are always a personal choice but if - like me - you’re a skinny, bony bloke who tends to get his head down and go hard then Bontrager’s Montrose Elite could be one of the best mountain bike saddles and is well worth tracking down. We’ve even seen science that says so and considering the exotic materials it’s an excellent price, too.
Design and performance
I’d already marked the Montrose Elite out as a particularly comfortable saddle when I’d ridden it on a test bike. A bike fit at a Trek dealer (shout out to York Cycleworks) gave me a chance to get my butt pressure-mapped while pedaling and of all the saddles in the Bontrager range, the Montrose Elite turned out to give the best results. That’s not just because it seems I genuinely have a smart arse either.
While the long, slim shape is classic race-style and the padding is similarly Spartan, Bontrager has done a lot of time with its inForm BioDynamic pressure mapping to put what padding there is in exactly the right place. That means even when you’re exploiting the full length to balance traction and front-wheel lift on super steep tech climbs it’s your legs and lungs complaining not your crotch. Similarly, if you use it on your gravel/road bike hunkering down with bent elbows won’t leave you with a worryingly long, numb wait at the next ‘natural break’ stop. While the Montrose is based on Bontrager's Phase 2 architecture for riders who like to get down and hammer, there’s still an almost full length ‘Contour Relief Zone Plus (CRZ+)’ center cut out to stop personal plumbing from getting crimped and keep things breezy when the pace gets hot or the climbs are long. It also helps the saddle articulate noticeably if you’re powering through a rocky or rooty section and still need to keep the rear wheel weighted for traction. That makes it particularly suited for hardtails and cross bikes and despite its minimalist looks, it’s one of those saddles that vanishes underneath you on long rides for all the right reasons.
The carbon-reinforced shell and hollow titanium rails save a noticeable amount of weight over straight nylon and steel too, which will obviously please competitive riders as well. Despite the lightweight construction, we’ve been using it hard for a couple of years without any issues and apart from the small perforations getting plugged with mud, reinforced polymer flanks molded into the upper means it’s cosmetically fine, too. If you’re using it in really wet conditions a strip of gaffer tape or makeshift plastic guard underneath the center slot is recommended to avoid ‘Japanese toilet’ effect though.
Needless to say, if you’re the type of rider who’s finding salvation with the current trend towards shorter, wider saddles then we’d look elsewhere in the Bontrager range. It’s worth noting that they run a free return after 30 days offer on all seats though, so experimenting doesn’t need to be expensive. Remarkably even with carbon and titanium on the ingredients list of this Elite version of the Montrose, you’ll still have plenty of money left for race entries as well.
If you’re the sort of head down and hammer rider who knew exactly how fast all the local riders were and where you ranked well before Strava ever existed, Bontrager’s Montrose Elite is possibly the perfect perch. Minimalist looks don’t mean masochism either as the shell mobility and accurately placed padding are invisibly comfortable if you’ve got the narrow butt to match.
Tech Specs: Bontrager Montrose Elite saddle
- Price: $150 / £90
- Weight: 219g
- Colors: Black
- Sizes: 128mm (tested) 138mm, 148mm