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Does The Saddle Fit?

WTB's New Saddle Fit System

Words Andrew Major
Photos Andrew Major
Date Nov 13, 2019
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Fit Kits

Spend enough time trying to chase down the perfect saddle and you'll discover there's no shortage of sit bone measuring techniques available to add some sciencing to the experience. Plopping down on memory foam or crashing those sit bones into cardboard are both rather benign compared to having a trusted friend prod your butt cheeks with pointy calipers or jab you with thumbs whilst a third participant measures the distance between them but heck, whatever works. And whilst, in my experience selling saddles, all of those methods have delivered a great result eventually, I'd caution that sit bone width is only one factor, and not even the most important factor, in finding the optimum saddle.

I'm hedging here because I've heard a bit of skepticism about WTB's Fit Right System, which relies on a correlation between a wrist measurement and sit bone width to recommend a seat, but upon inputting my measurement into their system and selecting my preferred position and padding, it pointed me straight at my two favourite WTB saddles and a third I find entirely usable.

This system's a solid win for me, but I wanted to verify the results. I have a few friends who have long-time favourite WTB saddles that they ride so I asked them for wrist measurements and then input them myself, along with my impression of their position and body type.

In each case - Speed She, Pure, and Silverado - their saddle of choice was one of the options the Fit Right System suggested. But, with multiple options, physically sitting on a few compatible saddles is still going to be the ideal way of finding a best fit.

WTB Fit Right System (2).JPG

If you're going to measure something... actually, I got the same saddle recommendation using a tape measure.

Along with launching their fit system, WTB has updated and simplified their full saddle line. Saddle specs are now printed on the base and saddles are available in three levels, named after the rail material: Steel, Cromoly, and Titanium.

Within each model line, the saddles share a flex-tuned shell and a microfibre cover. Riders putting on lots of hours will get a better life, in terms of saddle support, from the top-end Titanium models in addition to significant weight savings if you care about that sort of thing.

WTB Fit Right System NSMB AndrewM (2).JPG

Microfibre cover

WTB Fit Right System NSMB AndrewM (3).JPG

The whole lineup

WTB Fit Right System NSMB AndrewM (1).JPG

Flex-tuned shell

The WTB Fit Right System works as well as any system I've tried with the massive benefit that it doesn't require any space in a shop or special tools. It has the same limitations as other saddle fit systems in that it identifies the most likely parameters but cannot account for every personal preference.

While I'm happy to pedal any of the three options WTB recommends for me, as someone who ditched their chamois a couple of years ago and is sensitive to setup, a blind test would have me choosing a Deva or Koda depending on the bike. To that end, I think the best results in purchasing a WTB saddle will be delivered by approaching a local stockist with your Fit Right suggestions and trying out as many saddles as possible from that narrowed down list.

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Comments

me
+2 claytonwang Andrew Major
M.E  - Nov. 13, 2019, 5:45 a.m.

WTBs estimation of my sitbone width was 132mm. My actual measured sit bone width is 130mm. I'm honestly quite impressed.

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AndrewMajor
0
Andrew Major  - Nov. 13, 2019, 7:04 a.m.

Just curious, for your actual width, is that measured off of another cycling fit system - like measuring between two points on memory foam - or by some other way (x-ray etc)?

Very neat that it’s so close.

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Andeh
+2 claytonwang Andrew Major
Andeh  - Nov. 13, 2019, 10:16 a.m.

Seemed pretty accurate to me too:  128mm using wrist vs. 130mm sit bones.  About a year and a half ago, I got fed up with my old saddles not being very comfortable and tried using the SQLab fit system (basically sit on a piece of cardboard and measure distance from center of dents).  I did that about 10 times and averaged it, coming up with 130mm.  Turned out I didn't like the SQLab saddle, but it got me a more accurate sit bone measurement (a bike shop had previously fit me with a 150mm Rocket).  I ended up trying the 142mm Koda after NSMB reviewed it, and I really liked it.  Unsurprisingly, that's one of WTB's recommended saddles for me.  The wrist measurement is WAY easier to do.

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scoleman
+1 Andrew Major
SColeman  - Nov. 13, 2019, 11:26 a.m.

It's WAY off for me though.  Their system says 106mm, cardboard and memory foam both say my sit bones are 135mm.  And that's not a mis-measurement issue - I've ridden narrower saddles before, and anything smaller than ~150mm is a total ass-hatchet.  I do have a WTB saddle that I like, but it's one of the wide models (148mm), not the medium widths that they recommend for me.

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andyf
0
andyf  - Nov. 13, 2019, 11:38 a.m.

Off for me as well. The wrist measurement gives me 127mm but the memory foam at my LBS gave 150mm. I've got a WTB Volt 150mm and a Specialized Phenom 155mm on my current bikes and both are comfortable.

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claytonwang
+1 Andrew Major
claytonwang  - Nov. 14, 2019, 3:06 p.m.

Howdy, andyf! The sit bone range for Medium-width saddles is 102-130mm, whereas Wide is 131+mm. Looking at that, you're right on the border between the two! From there, preference often plays a big role. Similar to a 175cm (5'9") rider often being able to ride a Medium or Large bike. In those cases, we often suggest somebody try the wider saddle if they're unsure. Too wide of a saddle can indeed cause rubbing, but a too-narrow hatchet can provide serious discomfort. Cheers, Clayton - WTB Marketing

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claytonwang
+1 Andrew Major
claytonwang  - Nov. 14, 2019, 2:59 p.m.

Howdy, SColeman! Sorry to hear it didn't read accurately towards other measurements. Mind if I ask if you measured with calipers or a ruler? If you measured with a caliper, did you squeeze in on the tissue around the wrist or measure the outer edges of your tissues? We suggest measuring to where a caliper would have resistance, but not necessarily squeezing. Lastly, the Fit Right System provides a method of greatly narrowing down all the saddle options out there, but there will certainly always be outliers. Either way, happy to hear you've found a WTB saddle that you like! Is it the Pure? Great saddle! Cheers, Clayton - WTB Marketing.

Reply

me
0
M.E  - Nov. 14, 2019, 4:43 a.m.

I used the method from Sqlabs instructional video. Getting it done professionally would probably be better but I think I got it pretty close.

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morgan-heater
+1 Andrew Major
Morgan Heater  - Nov. 13, 2019, 9:21 a.m.

Supposedly, it says I have 127mm sit bones. I'm a little surprised, because I have a giant bottom. It only gives me two saddle options, too, both of which cost $250. Hmmm. I've survived for years without any issues on a WTB volt that I got for $10.

Nevermind, I just realized that it automatically selects the carbon fiber version. Ha!

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claytonwang
+1 Andrew Major
claytonwang  - Nov. 14, 2019, 3:10 p.m.

Howdy, Morgan! The Medium sit bone range is 102-130mm, whereas Wide is 131+mm, so you're very close to the fit range for Wide. Another aspect worth mentioning is the appearance of a bottom doesn't always correlate to the width of somebody's sit bones. There's a good chance you may actually find more comfort on a Medium, rather than Wide, saddle. But the golden rule with saddles is to ride what is most comfortable to you, regardless of what any person or system suggests. Do you know what width the Volt is that you have? Up until this year, they were categorized by 135, 142 or 150mm. Narrow, Medium and Wide...respectively. Cheers, Clayton - WTB Marketing

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rolly
0
rolly  - Nov. 17, 2019, 9:22 a.m.

The Volt is hands down the best saddle I've used in 30 years of riding.  And, not to suck up too much, their customer service is fantastic.  I had the seam of my first Volt split, so I contacted them.  They had me send pics of it and after that they sent me a new saddle.  That is how customer service is done!

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geraldooka
+3 claytonwang Mammal Vik Banerjee
Michael  - Nov. 13, 2019, 10:24 a.m.

Finding the right saddle for me was a long, arduous (often painful) and expensive journey. It wasn't until sitting on a friends bike where the light bulb went off. It happened to be a WTB Pure, it since resides on every bike I ride and is only replaced should I go on a multi-day bike packing trip where suspended leather wins. My recommendation to other folks now? Sit on your friends bikes! Perhaps ask first but sit, sit on every damn bike you can find.

If they ever drop or change the way (with the exception of my postscript) that model feels I may quite literally sob... The messy kind snot and all...

P.S. @WTB please consider longer rail lengths!

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AndrewMajor
+3 Velocipedestrian Michael claytonwang
Andrew Major  - Nov. 14, 2019, 9:45 a.m.

My brother Crash Test bought a Gen-1 Nomad (1-1/8” headtube) in whatever year they came out and that came stock with a Pure V saddle. 

It was love a first sitting and he’s never had a different saddle model on a mountain bike since then (though he’s worn out or crashed out plenty of individual saddles). 

He’s of course oblivious to how lucky he is to have just stumbled on to his perfect throne.

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geraldooka
+1 Velocipedestrian
Michael  - Nov. 15, 2019, 2:55 p.m.

Uggh those people are so annoying. ;)

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claytonwang
+2 Andrew Major Michael
claytonwang  - Nov. 14, 2019, 3:13 p.m.

Howdy, Michael. How long we talkin!? 1cm longer than they currently are? Are you running the saddle all the way back or all the way forward? Guess what...nooooo plans of dropping the Pure. We love it! Cheers, Clayton - WTB Marketing and Product Development

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geraldooka
+2 Andrew Major claytonwang
Michael  - Nov. 15, 2019, 3 p.m.

That’s great to hear I got 4 of those suckers already (including the sweet brown model from Bluelug)  but I’d seriously stock pile those things if I ever get a whiff it’s being dropped.

1cm longer would help a ton! Especially with steeper seat angles becoming the thing in mtb geo. Don’t get me wrong I dig a steep seat angle when I’m riding trails that require a lot of climbing but on flatter trails or situations where I’m pedalling to the trail how cool it would be to just slide the seat back to drop the weight on the hands!

Thanks for chiming in!

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Cheez1ts
0
Garrett Thibault  - Nov. 13, 2019, 10:58 a.m.

In my personal experience it doesn’t seem to matter how wide or firm a saddle is. When I move into a more aggressive position for a steep climb, I roll off my sit-bones. The narrower the saddle, the more upright I need to be to stay on my sit-bones.

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velocipedestrian
0
Velocipedestrian  - Nov. 13, 2019, 1:15 p.m.

I love the narrow Volt on my hardtail, but I'm maxing out forward angle on the post of my FS. WTB saddles are too tall in the nose / too much hammock / angle between rail and seat is too shallow to let me use one on this bike.

After a few trials with used saddles that looked promising I'm happy beginning the iron butt journey on a Bontrager Montrose - 138mm, thin padding, super comfy.

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slimshady76
+1 Andrew Major
Luix  - Nov. 13, 2019, 5:36 p.m.

Try the Specialized Body Geometry line. I'm more than happy with the 143mm wide Henge Comp. For context, I'm coming from a Fi:zi:k Gobi, excellent for the short, technical rides, but a butt killer on multi-day escapades, and when confronted with WTB saddles I had the same impressions as you about the excessive hammock shape.

At first touch the Henge will surely put you off, as it feels sturdier than it does when sitting and mashing on the pedals. When in movement, the foam naturally conforms to your anatomy and the flat top helps you move forward for that extra push in those heavy climbing sections.

Just mind their excessive (to me) height from the rails to the top of the saddle. I had to re-adjust the seatpost after putting the Henge on the bike.

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velocipedestrian
+1 Luix
Velocipedestrian  - Nov. 13, 2019, 10:17 p.m.

Yup, my penultimate (so far) saddle was a Specialized Phenom 143. Just a little shallower angle between rails and sitting surface than the Montrose - I'm compensating for a slack seat tube angle.

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AndrewMajor
+2 Luix claytonwang
Andrew Major  - Nov. 14, 2019, 9:36 a.m.

The Gobi is a hilarious example of love it or lump it. 

I’ve never met a woman who could ride it for any length of time but I’ve met guys of every body type who swear by it and guys of every body type who want to kill it with fire. Now that could come down to sit bones, position on the bike, Gobi vs preferred saddle angle or whatever.

They used to come on Giants at it was the one saddle in the shop you knew you’d get good money for as a take off (which was good because some 50% of them came off right away).

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slimshady76
+1 Andrew Major
Luix  - Nov. 16, 2019, 5:42 a.m.

Couldn't say it better myself Drew. It's a rather specific type of saddle. Not every butt will ever feel at home on it.

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claytonwang
+1 Andrew Major
claytonwang  - Nov. 14, 2019, 3:18 p.m.

Howdy, Velocipedestrian! Have you possibly tried out the WTB Silverado? Use the saddle that leaves you most comfortable, of course, but your thoughts about the Volt are somewhat/mostly addressed with the Silverado saddle. It has thin padding, is shorter in the nose area and doesn't hammock as much. Available in Narrow (135mm) or Medium (142mm). Also has a more curved profile from side to side, even though it's flatter from front to back. Happy trails! Clayton - WTB Marketing

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DemonMike
0
mike  - Nov. 13, 2019, 8:48 p.m.

Ummm no thigh gap , so I run a narrow 130mm saddle. I loved the old clipped corner Bontrager saddles.

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ackshunW
+1 claytonwang
ackshunW  - Nov. 14, 2019, 6:33 a.m.

Was considering a SQ Lab, except for the price—— but got as far as sitting on cardboard. WTBs system pegged my sit bones very close to the cardboard method. I popped on a lightly used Silverado wide from EBay right away. Never tried the Silverado but the old SST is still my favorite so I have a good feeling. Will report back. 

Eric

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DemonMike
0
mike  - Nov. 14, 2019, 12:33 p.m.

It,s only $$$ and it,s well spent with that saddle. I am still impressed with mine. Very comfy saddle IMO.

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fartymarty
0
fartymarty  - Nov. 14, 2019, 9:15 a.m.

Chromag Trailmaster LTD resides on both my bikes.

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andrewbikeguide
+2 claytonwang mike
AndrewR  - Nov. 14, 2019, 11:05 a.m.

The SQ-Lab cardboard method and the WTB wrist method came pretty close for me too. After 23 years of WTB Silverado saddles I switched to SQ-Lab 611 Active 13 cm this spring and it is the best saddle I have ever been on. During that 23 years I have tried other saddles but always come back to the Silverado. I had two years on the Ergon SME3, which was excellent but one's arse slid off the back on steep climbs (where as the SQ-Lab really supports you) and the rails always broke. 2000 km on the SQ-Lab now and I'm a convert (also a convert of their 12º sweep bar).

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DemonMike
0
mike  - Nov. 14, 2019, 12:35 p.m.

Same for me , 2 seasons on a Ergon. The SQ-lab is a way better saddle and improved my climbing. As you stated no sliding off the back. Holds you in place and works really well.

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andrewbikeguide
+1 mike
AndrewR  - Nov. 14, 2019, 2:16 p.m.

And it has the very nice family jewels pocket!

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