When BiSaddle first reached out to us about the ShapeShifter we have to admit that while we were intrigued; we wouldn’t say we were excited. After tens of thousands of miles on our tri bikes we thought we had a pretty good idea of what saddle shapes worked for us and what did not. So, an infinitely adjustable saddle didn’t seem like something we would be all that interested in. But we couldn’t help but recall our previous luck with a partially adjustable saddle – the Bontrager Hilo RXL Speeddial. Plus – we know if we didn’t review it. Who would? So, we mounted the ShapeShifter to first our Cervelo and then Canyon demo bikes for us to see whether we actually knew what we liked, or only thought we did.
The BiSaddle ShapeShifter SRT
What defines a BiSaddle ShapeShifter is the ability to independently move both the left and right halves of the saddle. Giving you the ability to both change the overall width, the front width, the rear width, and the roundness of the saddle in general. The ShapeShifter has a front width range of 40 – 75mm, and a rear width range of 130 – 185mm. And a length just under 200mm.
Both the front and back can be adjusted with a 5mm allen wrench.
An interesting feature of the ShapeShifter is that because the two sides are interpedently adjusted, you can create an asymmetric saddle shape. Which for 99% of riders is of no value – but someone that has a condition that requires an asymmetric saddle this could be life changing.
When we started our review of the ShapeShifter there was only one model in their line. But over the past year the BiSaddle range became available with 3 different frame options as well as a short and long nosed option. The additional frame options are key as the original ShapeShifter was far from a feather weight at over 340g with the Chrome Moly rails. BiSaddle has now introduced a titanium rails version (~325g) and a carbon fiber version (~275g). So, while our demo saddle was just the ShapeShifter at the start – today it is the ShapeShifter SRT Chrome Moly.
The long nose BiSaddle ShapeShifter is the EXT with an extended length of 243mm. Like the SRT the EXT is available in Chrome Moly, Titanium, and Carbon Fiber.
Prices for the SRT start at $239 and the EXT start at $249. Titanium rails cost another $50 over the base price while carbon fiber costs $100 ($339/$349).
The first time we hopped on the ShapeShifter (on the trainer) we cannot say we were thrilled with the experience. Everything just felt wrong – luckily we could change that however. We spent a solid 10-20 minutes playing with the spacing of the saddle to find a setup that truly worked for us. And interestingly – it didn’t look quite like the saddles we had currently been riding. Where we had previously thought we wanted a wider channel, a smaller one worked just fine. And likewise, where we thought we had wanted to wider sitbone area, we were able to skinny it up quite a bit.
Once we got on the road the ShapeShifter was much like any other saddle out there. We did find it was a touch more padded than we typically ride with but not so much that we thought we were on the stock saddle that came with our hybrids.
We personally found that we never required additional adjustment after we had started our review, but the ShapeShifters ability to adjust is one of the features that makes it so unique. Almost all of us will go through some sort of physical change during the season – fat goes down, muscle density and flexibility increases. Leading us to make small changes to our fit to take advantage of our bodies conditioning. The ShapeShifter allows you to likewise make small changes to your saddle to accommodate.
One of thoughts as we wrapped up review of the ShapeShifter is the wide range of buyers that should be interested in it. The first group we think of is those that have medical conditions that can be alleviated with an asymmetric saddle. (That’s an easy use case). Next come the bike shops that can treat the saddle as just another part of the fit and make small changes until your ideal saddle shape (and fit) is found. Then they can either keep you on the BiSaddle or find a similarly shaped model (though we know that wouldn’t be BiSaddle’s preference). Next come those whose bodies change rapidly and greatly over a season – having a saddle that allows an infinite number of small adjustments could make a huge difference in those late season numbers. And finally, there are those that want the truly perfect fit – one that requires every piece of the bike to be custom setup to their needs. And simply stated – the ShapeShifter is the perfect saddle for them.
An adjustable saddle is a winner for the AeroGeeks yet again. Having infinite fit options continues to be a winning formula. And while we can ding our review SRT for its heavy weight, the optional carbon fiber builds more than bring the weight down to standard saddle (ie not Dash Cycle) weights. So, did we know exactly what we liked in a saddle shape? It turns out not quite. But that’s why we do these types of reviews. To figure out what is snake oil and what is simply black magic. The BiSaddle ShapeShifter is definitely the latter – and something that may be worth checking out for yourself!