Every mountain bike has a saddle and every rider will spend a large portion of every ride sitting on it. Most every new bike will come with a stock saddle that is unlikely to be particularly good and is highly unlikely to be the right saddle for you.
Everyone has their preferences and bike manufacturers are aware of this so there is no point in them speccing all bikes with an expensive saddle that will increase the price and be swapped out anyway.
Finding the best MTB saddle for you is not easy and we are not going to pretend that you can read this article, buy a mountain bike seat and guarantee that you will be happy with it.
What we can do here at Outside Pursuits is inform you of what you need to look out for and tell you why your saddle choice is such a personal matter.
Quick Answer: The 7 Best Mountain Bike Saddles
- WTB Rocket Race MTB Saddle
- Ergon SMC4 Sport Gel Saddle
- Race Face Affect MTB Bike Saddle
- WTB Volt Race Saddle
- Selle Italia X1 Flow Womens Bike Saddle
- Charge Spoon Saddle Cromo Rails
- Selle Italia Vanox Rails SLR XC Saddle
Check out our recommendations of mountain bike seats. See if one of them fits your criteria and give it a go!
Best Mountain Bike Saddle
The price is low, which pushes the weight up somewhat because at its price point it doesn’t use the lightest materials available.
You do get the same shape and cut out feature of WTB’s more expensive models however. It has a short length and the profile is flat. The synthetic cover is durable and has reinforced corners where saddles often get cut up in crashes.
It is available in three different widths so you should be able to find one that fits you. Overall this is my top pick for best MTB saddle.
Both are long and feature a 9mm deep pressure relieving channel. The padding is orthopedic foam and gel, which ensure comfort and support for many long hours.
While it is comfortable to sit on, the wide rear end can get in the way when moving your weight back. Even if you can get the saddle out of the way with a dropper post, you may notice it contacting the inside of your thighs.
If you need a comfortable saddle for some serious endurance riding and can put up with the slightly higher weight, then the SMC4 will serve you well.
With just the right amount of gel for cushioning, this is probably the most comfortable mountain bike seat you can buy.
The flat shape and relatively solid padding on the Affect make it suitable for experienced riders with good flexibility.
The shape makes it easy to move across, and is therefore ideal for blasting through technical terrain, where you will be shifting your weight around often. The profile has been kept low to prevent your shorts snagging when moving back.
Superlight foam padding and titanium alloy rails keep the weight down. If you have the flexibility, the Affect will be comfortable and light for all-day big mountain missions.
Surprisingly for a saddle of this quality, durability and weight, it does not come with a hefty price tag. Another top contender for the best mountain bike seat.
Available in a huge range of sizes, materials and budgets, the Volt is a popular saddle not just because there are lots of them, but also because it performs fantastically.
The central cut out reduces pressure and you can find a model with just the right amount of padding for you. There are three different widths avaialable so you should be able to find one with the right width for you.
The “whale tail” design gives this MTB seat a good comfort level by putting you in a good riding position and giving slightly more peddling efficiency.
Like the WTB Rocket Race above, its one the best mountain bike saddles in its price range.
Another reasonably priced, high quality saddle, this time for the ladies. The flexible nylon base on the X1 increases comfort and the cut out section in the center eliminates pressure. T
he firm padding is slightly thicker at the rear to support high pressure areas. Although women’s specific, the X1 is by no means wide. It has a medium width and an average length, offering comfort at a reasonably light weight.
This good looking saddle is not too heavy either and the synthetic leather cover proves to be very durable. For these reasons, this saddle has become a very popular choice.
A version with titanium rails is also available to save a bit of weight. At a bargain price, I would give the Charge Spoon the nod as the best mountain bike saddle for the money.
The Lorica cover has Kevlar reinforcement to ensure that it will last. Despite the low weight and slim design, this saddle is surprisingly comfortable on long rides and races, assuming the narrow shape suits you in the first place.
How to Choose the Best MTB Saddle for You
- There is no Butt Like Yours
- Parts of a Saddle
- Cut Out
- Finding the Right Saddle for You
There is no Butt Like Yours
Everyone is different. Male and female anatomy differs and no two people are built the same. This is especially true when it comes to your sit bones.
The size and width of these play an important role in deciding whether a mountain bike seat will be comfortable for several hours of riding or akin to torture.
Also playing a role is spine flexibility, hip flexibility and body weight, all of which influence how much pressure is put on a saddle and the manner in which it is applied.
Each of these factors is different for everyone and are even liable to change over time. You can see why there is no single solution when it comes to finding the right saddle.
Parts of a Mountain Bike Saddle
A saddle is made of four parts.
Shell: The shell defines the shape and width, and is commonly made of plastic or carbon fiber.
Cover: On top is the cover, usually made out of leather, synthetic leather and maybe some kevlar.
Padding: In between the shell and cover you may find some padding. Even there is some it is typically pretty minimal. If there is some padding it is typically some form of gel.
Package: The package is supported by two rails that get clamped to the seatpost. These are made of alloy or titanium if you want to save weight and can afford the extra cost.
If you have wider sit bones, then logically a wider saddle is more likely to be comfortable. Women tend to have wider sit bones, but this does not necessarily mean that a wider, women’s specific saddle will be the best choice. There are many female riders that use unisex or male saddles.
Note that narrow mountain bike seat allows more efficient pedaling and is also easier to shift your weight behind when descending or approaching technical sections.
A long nose on a saddle allows the rider to shift their weight further forward when climbing, giving them a more efficient position. A longer nose means more weight, which is why you do not see ridiculously long saddles on XC race bikes!
Mythbusting time: More padding does not make a more comfortable saddle! A thick layer of padding will compact during a ride and eventually leave the rider sitting on the shell.
While a small amount can provide comfort and support, especially on long rides, it is uncommon to find more than a couple of millimeters padding in professional saddles. It is not uncommon to see riders using saddles with no padding at all.
If you look at the profile of a number of saddles, you will find ones that are flat and others that are curved. Again, the difference caters to different anatomies and preferences so there is no “best” saddle, its just what is most comfortable for you.
Ever noticed a groove running down the center of a saddle or a even a long, narrow hole? This is not about saving weight, but relieving pressure on your “sensitive” areas to prevent numbness when riding. Do you need a seat with this feature? That depends on whether you get numb down there. You tell us!
Finding the Right Saddle for You
Start with what you know. What are you riding on right now? Have a look at the width, length, shape etc. Are you comfortable sitting on it for several hours of riding? If you start to get sore, where do you get sore? Do you feel like it is supporting your sit bones? Is it too wide?
Consider all of this and think about what may improve your comfort. Choose a new seat based on your observations and try it out.
Unfortunately it is not as simple as just sitting on a new saddle and knowing that it is comfortable. A new saddle has a break in period so may be uncomfortable for the first few rides anyway.
After that, you will need to thoroughly test it to see how it holds up after several hours of pedaling. It is not a simple process, but once you have found your perfect saddle, you will no longer shy away from big rides.
I hope this guide was helpful in picking the best mountain bike saddle to fit your needs. If you want to comment or recommend a saddle I didn’t include, please use my contact form to get in touch.
Have fun and be safe out there!