The Bontrager Aeolus Comp is a unisex shorty saddle with a large cutout that's designed to take the pressure off soft tissues in an aero position – which it does very well. It's comfortable for both long road rides and short, intense turbo sessions thanks to its well judged level of padding and flexible shell. As the entry-level Aeolus saddle in a range of three, the price is competitively low, but the weight is on the high side.
Shorty or 'boost' saddles are increasingly popular because they make holding an aero position more comfortable by eliminating the traditional longer nose that can put pressure on soft tissues for both men and women. The penalty, however, is that they have to be set up exactly right because shuffle space is reduced. In addition, because you're more 'locked' in position they have to fit your sit bones more precisely. So at this point, as usual, I'll point out that saddle is always a personal thing and one person's feather bed might be another's bed of nails.
For me, the Aeolus Comp was much closer to the former. The shape looks simple but it's very effective. The sit bones are well supported on flat sections either side of the cutout, while the nose, which is wider than the noses of other shorty saddles such as the Selle Itala SLR Boost Superflow, lets you perch on it in a stem-chewing situation in more comfort than Selle Italia's SLR shape does, maximising available space. And the semicircle of padding at the tip, which closes off the cutout channel, cleverly stops you from sliding too far forward.
Although the Aeolus Comp might be approaching feather-bed comfort as far as shorty saddles go, it is a long way from being feather light, and that's my only criticism of it. As I mentioned, the Aeolus Comp is the entry-level version, with the Aeolus Elite (£89.99) and Aeolus Pro (£149.99) above it. What the extra dollar mostly does is reduce the weight. The top saddle with its carbon rails and carbon-reinforced shell weighs 173g, over 100g lighter than the Comp, while the Elite weighs 222g for the 155mm size.
However, for the price, the Comp is not bad. The Fizik Tempo Argo R5, the cheapest in that range, is lighter at 245g but at £89.99 is priced at the level of Bontrager's mid-range Aeolus Elite. Another shorty we reviewed recently, the Fabric Line-S Race Flat, weighs 235g but costs £79.99.
Setup is pretty straightforward, but obviously since it's shorter than a traditional saddle you need to measure from the rails rather than the tip. Bontrager also recommends a two-degree downward tilt because the Aeolus kicks up slightly at the rear, which I found to be accurate.
I tested the 155mm size, and while my sit bone structure on paper would be more compatible with the 145mm version, it worked perfectly, allowing a full, unimpeded pedal stroke even when sitting further back and riding on the tops. (Riding a wider saddle than your sit bone size is generally deemed OK, but not a narrower one.)
The padding is neither too squidgy nor too firm: you don't feel the edges of the cutout – as I did with the SLR Boost – but you don't lose connection with the bike and the road either.
I also found there was a perfect amount of flex built into the shell along the whole length of the cutout. As I noted with the SLR Boost, a shorter saddle tends to be stiffer, but the Bontrager Aeolus Comp supplies a good level of suspension despite the short length, and on rougher roads I experienced none of the sit-bone pummelling of other shorty saddles.
Finally, build quality is great. Despite it being entry level, this saddle has a good quality look and feel and I would expect decent durability from it. The steel rails and sturdy shell are certainly bombproof, while the cover seems tough enough too.
The Bontrager Aeolus Comp offers excellent performance for the price. It is one of the most comfortable shorty saddles I've ridden. If you're looking to move over to the this style of saddle but don't want to commit to spending a lot of money at first, this saddle is a great way to find out if it works for you. The only thing to bear in mind is that it's heavy for a modern saddle.
Budget shorty saddle which offers an exceptional level of comfort, but the low price means more grams
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road.cc test report
Make and model: Bontrager Aeolus Comp Saddle
Size tested: 155mm
Tell us what the product is for and who it's aimed at. What do the manufacturers say about it? How does that compare to your own feelings about it?
Bontrager says: "An aero road saddle with a full cut-out using the latest biomechanical research to minimise soft-tissue pressure while maximising power and sustained comfort.
"Aeolus Comp brings comfort, power and speed to road riders looking to dig deep and rotate further forward into a more aero road position. Added padding make it the go-to saddle for anyone who wants to get the most out of their aero road bike comfortably. A shorter overall length with a wider nose and full cut-out ensure targeted support that eliminates soft-tissue pressure."
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?
From Bontrager's website:
inForm saddles are born of cutting-edge biomechanical research to maximise performance and rider comfort
Designed to support riders in an Aero Road riding position
Full saddle cut-out minimises soft-tissue pressure allowing for a more powerful, rotated position
Two sizes (145mm and 155mm) designed to align saddle with bone structure for both men and women and avoid soft-tissue compression
Lightweight shell provides balance of weight, strength and compliance
Comp-level trim optimises foam padding for added lightweight comfort
Available Blendr accessory mounts to cleanly integrate rear light
Size 250mm x 155mm
Length 250 mm
Width 155 mm
Rail dimensions Round 7x7 mm (Standard)
Cover material F-24 (soft-touch)
Rail material Steel
Great build quality.
The steel rails are bombproof, the plastic shell is very sturdy and the cover seems durable.
Not the lightest saddle despite the large cutout.
I'd give it a perfect 10. Given the price and the materials, I wasn't expecting this level of comfort.
Very good value for money compared to the competition.
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
It performed extremely well, enabling lower, more aggressive positions on a road bike (Bontrager doesn't claim it's a TT saddle) without the soft tissues paying the price.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
Very comfortable. The shape, the padding and the flex of the shell all worked for me.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product
How does the price compare to that of similar products in the market, including ones recently tested on road.cc?
The Bontrager Aeolus Comp could be the cheapest of the latest generation of short-nosed saddles we've tested. The Fizik Tempo Argo R5 is the cheapest in that particular range but costs £89.99, the Fabric Line-S Flat costs £79.99. So although there are cheaper traditional saddles out there, for a short-nosed 'aero' saddle it represents good value.
Did you enjoy using the product? Yes
Would you consider buying the product? Yes
Would you recommend the product to a friend? Yes
Use this box to explain your overall score
I was really impressed with the comfort of the Bontrager Aeolus Comp but was slightly surprised by its weight, especially considering it has such a large cutout. Having said that, it's priced pretty low, is well made and the steel rails will be durable. So I'm giving it 'very good', bearing in mind the low price compared to rival saddle manufacturers' shorty saddles.
About the tester
I usually ride: Racer Rosa custom alu My best bike is: Colnago Master Olympic
I've been riding for: Over 20 years I ride: Most days I would class myself as: Expert
I regularly do the following types of riding: time trialling, commuting, touring, club rides, sportives, School run on a tandem
Simon finished his Masters in online journalism back in 2003 when the internet wasn't very exciting or popular yet. So he got a job as a sub editor on Britain's biggest weekly cycling magazine, where as well as taking out commas and putting them back in again he got to review a lot of bikes and kit.
As a keen time triallist he has spent many hours riding up and down dual carriageways early in the morning and has a national medal, a 19-minute 10 and a few open wins in his palmarès.
He and his seven-year-old son do the school run on a tandem, beating the traffic in car-choked Reigate and getting a great workout at the same time (for one of them).