Getting the best mountain bike saddle that's right for you is arguably the most important contact point on a bike. A saddle that isn't a good match for your sit bones is going to be uncomfortable and this will be magnified tenfold when peddling for long durations.
Whether you are tall or short, wide-hipped or slim, your body type will directly impact your performance when it comes to saddle comfort. Saddles are not a universal fashion or trend item. They should be tailored to your personal requirements and be a discerning choice. The saddle fitted to the best lightweight mountain bike is going to be considerably different from the one that is tailored for the best enduro mountain bike.
Keep reading for our pick of the best mountain bike saddles that are currently available, or if you are confused about cut-outs or pondering about padding, skip to the bottom for everything you need to know when choosing the best MTB saddle for your bike.
This guide covers general mountain bike saddles that we think are great on the trail, however if your looking for a women-specific MTB perch be sure to check out our best women’s MTB saddles guide.
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Guy's been testing and writing about mountain bikes since the early nineties and we reckon it's a safe bet that he's tested more MTB saddles than anyone else in the UK.
Sean's a veteran bike tester and XC racer so has plenty of experience in judging what makes the ideal MTB saddle.
Best mountain bike saddles
The obvious change in the 3rd generation Bel Air is that it’s a lot flatter. That doesn’t mean the top profile has lost its subtle raised rear S bend profile, but it’s nowhere near as deep underneath. If you get the measuring tape out, it’s also a bit shorter than before, but there’s still enough shuffling room without falling off the front compared to the latest stub-nosed setups.
In terms of construction, the one-piece ATMOS ‘sonic-welded’ cover still gets protective corner bumpers, which is pretty rare these days. It’s really easy to clean, and it’s survived several months of hard riding and several crashes without a scratch.
Those that remember the original Bel-Air will either be happy, or disappointed, that the new generation Bel-Air does not come in the questionable funky camo, cow skin designs of old.
Check out our full review of the SDG Bel Air V3.0 Lux-Alloy saddle.
Specialized's mission to relieve saddle discomfort reaches a peak in the Power range. A cavernous central cutaway combines with a stubby, truncated nose, with the intention of easing pressure on your tender parts and making it ideal for long days out pedaling.
The Expert sits third in Specialized's Power range, above the Power Comp, (lighter but made with less durable materials), and below the Power Pro Elaston, (similar weight but with a stiffer all-carbon shell and more sophisticated cushioning), and the S-Works Power, (71g lighter, with carbon rails and shell and less padding).
One of its key ingredients is lightweight hollow titanium rails, which are relatively rare at this price point. Even though at 230g the overall saddle weight isn’t particularly low, the lighter rails allow the Power Expert to offset a decent level of cushioning without affecting the overall weight. The titanium also helps reduce vibrations through the saddle too.
The Power Expert is definitely a comfortable saddle. The cushioning is firm enough to feel purposeful, but thick and compliant enough to be a genuine all-day companion, even when you’re shuttling between tarmac and rough ground. The short nose and the relatively narrow tip give a free-spinning, unencumbered feeling for your legs.
If you’re after a secure, comfortable all-day saddle, the Specialized Power Expert should definitely be on your shortlist.
For for info, check out out full review of the Specialized Power Expert saddle.(opens in new tab)
Perhaps better known for its take on the best mountain bike tires, WTB (Wilderness Trail Bikes) also does some great value saddles. The Koda is available in a terrific range of size, width and rail material options, which increases the likelihood of finding one that fits you near perfectly.
The Koda is unique because it's not specific to women or men. WTB says that it was tested solely by women riders, but it's a universal design so men can ride it, too.
The standout feature of the Koda is its nose design. The nose is wide enough so that you can comfortably sit on the front of the saddle on steep climbs, while also being short enough to not get caught on your shorts.
The titanium-railed saddle is the lightest option, but there are options for Cromoly and Steel, too.
For more details on how the saddle performed, check out our full WTB Fit Right saddles review.
This is a true cross-country racer’s saddle, which saves the grams but won’t punish you for their absence. Although the X-LR Superflow’s shape is discreet, that does not mean it lacks features.
The seat surface is upholstered in Fibra-Tex to give the saddle a durable finish. Below that surface, the padding has two different levels which Selle Italia calls Dual Density and is chosen to improve comfort.
It might be a gram-saving champion thanks to the carbon shell and titanium rails, but don’t underestimate this Italian off-road racing saddle’s toughness. Reinforced edges mean that even if you have a big off, your Selle Italia saddle should remain in good shape.
The Spank Spike features a minimalist design meant for downhill and enduro racing, which means the saddle will stay out of your way when you're sending it at full speed. It's not the most lightweight saddle, but it's still pretty respectable considering it is ready to take on gravity duties.
The contact points and impact zones have been reinforced and optimized to stand up to aggressive riding. The surface finish of the saddle has a grippy texture to help maintain rider position on technical steep climbs but isn't so abrasive that it will limit maneuverability and comfort.
There are multiple color options, including a Geoff Gulevich signature colorway, and the price of this saddle won't break the bank either.
We recently put the Spank Spike 160 saddle to the test and awarded it 3.5 stars out of five.(opens in new tab)
The German company is a leading grip and saddle brand with designs that prioritize comfort. The SM series covers a wide range of saddles which all come in two sizes for different sized sit bones along with with male and female-specific options.
The standard SM saddle comes in three models at different price points with different construction and finishes – Sport, Comp and Pro. It's also available in e-bike specific, touring, enduro and downhill versions.
Orthopedic foam prevents any morphing of the saddle’s padding and a micro-fiber surface material ensures a finish that is confidently rain and weather-resistant.
A flatter design provides more freedom of movement to put down the power when riding in any position, and flanked sides reduce friction when pedaling.
The SDG Radar has some great fundamental design features such as a carefully shaped central relief channel and rear-buzz cut-out – the latter being a concave shape to the saddle’s rear, which prevents tire scuffing during extreme suspension compressions.
Shaped to distribute a rider’s weight optimally across the saddle platform, the Radar is tough too, and ideally upholstered for testing outdoor use with Kevlar embedded surfacing.
SDG offers the new Radar in a range of rail material options, too, which broadens its price appeal: from reliable steel to high-end titanium alloy.
The Speedtrap combines Deity's foam mold with a base from SDG to create a saddle for all-mountain, enduro and downhill riding.
This saddle features kevlar siding and softened edges for durability and comfort. Deity definitely offers the most color options, so you can find a saddle that matches your bike.
Deity makes mostly dirt jump and downhill components, so all-day riding comfort may not be as good as some of the other saddles on this list, but we're encouraged by the fact that SDG is involved in the design.
The 611 Ergowave is an enduro saddle from ergonomic company SQlab. It's designed to mesh well with your body, eliminating pressure and increasing comfort over long days and rough terrain.
The Ergowave saddle features a lowered nose, which creates a comfortable climbing position when riding up steep, technical trails. SQlab's Active technology allows the rider to swap through three different elastomer dampers to keep things comfy through rough terrain.
The saddle features kevlar padding, superlight foam, and is available in a wide variety of sizes so you're sure to find one that fits your body.
The Power is Specialized's flagship line of saddles that work on both mountain bikes and road bikes. The Body Geometry design allows riders to comfortably apply power to the pedals.
The design, featuring a wider rear end, padding and a center channel, makes riders feel like they are "in the saddle" rather than on top of it, which leads to more comfort and performance.
The Power saddle is available at multiple price points. The Expert model listed here features titanium rails and is available in multiple sizes.
Boutique Canadian bike and parts company Chromag offers the Trailmaster saddle for all types of riding.
The saddle uses a rounded design for increased mobility and less chance of snagging your shorts. A flatter rear end and medium-firm density foam throughout the saddle offer great comfort. The downside is this is one of the heaviest saddles on this list.
If you want a Chromag saddle that's waterproof and looks a bit more subdued, check out the DT model. Or if you want to pay a little more for a leather version, there is the LTD model.
Everything you need to know about the best mountain bike saddles
How much should I spend on a mountain bike saddle?
Fairly basic saddles cost around 50 dollars/pounds and can often be an upgrade on the saddles bikes that come as standard at the entry level end of the market. While at the other end of the scale, you can spend hundreds of pounds on saddles made using latest designs and the most lightweight materials.
You can buy a decent saddle from around the $60 to $100 (similar price points in Sterling) mark that should last several years if looked after and doesn't get trashed in a crash.
To buy the best possible saddle you need to consider its function. A saddle’s primary function is to comfortably position you on the bike, and not impede your pedaling dynamics.
What works for a mate or the local Strava KOM holder will not necessarily favor your physiology. The worst possible bike component to buy on the untested recommendation of another is your saddle as an inappropriate saddle can deliver untold hours of riding misery.
What is the difference between a mountain bike saddle and a road saddle?
Mountain bike saddles differ from road bike perches due to the environmental and frame differences that apply to these two cycling disciplines.
Mountain bike frames are generally longer than road bikes, with much slacker head angles and a contemporary trend towards very steep seat angles. You’ll be in a more upright seated position when climbing your mountain bike, which alters weight distribution over the saddle’s support surface.
It is also worth remembering that mountain bike drivetrains feature extreme climbing gears not found on a road bike. On gradients where you will be out of the saddle, powering in a standing position on your road bike, you’d be seated on a mountain bike, running a much higher cadence. This means that any possible discomfort will manifest much sooner when climbing your mountain bike.
What is the most comfortable mountain bike saddle?
The shape of a saddle, its length, ergonomic contours and padding are all elements of what could possibly create the perfect perch for you to enjoy hours of comfortable off-road riding.
A common misconception with saddle design is that plentiful padding is best. Rider weight will influence the pressure you exert on a saddle’s seating surface, but in fact, less is often best. A saddle with too much padding will not correctly support you when the foam or padding material starts warping under pressure over time. This has the possibility of creating an annoyingly morphing pedaling perch.
Although there are carbon-fiber surface saddles available, for those who are of an exceedingly slim build and wish to save the most possible weight, you don’t have to consider something as extreme. The trend is to a slimmer profile saddle, with minimalist padding, without sacrificing comfort.
Overall hip and pelvic shape are issues worth considering. Those riders with wide hips and heaving quads will naturally require a broader saddle to accommodate their lower physique. Conversely, a slim rider on a wide saddle will struggle to find their ideal pedaling motion, as the seating surface will prove too wide and constrictive.
Should I choose a relief channel?
Saddle structure has also advanced to a point where cutouts and relief channels in the center can be manufactured, without weakening the chassis. These ergonomic features can greatly increase long-distance riding comfort by removing pressure points in delicate areas to avoid numbness.
Some saddles will also use built-in flexible sections around the edges of the saddle to give more freedom of movement when pedaling seated.
Do mountain bike saddles need to be stronger?
Robustness is another aspect that differentiates road and mountain bike saddle requirements. It is a reality that we do occasionally crash on singletrack and you are more likely to have a bike cartwheel away from you off-road than on-road.
That means that a tougher and more wear-resistant material composition is desirable for your mountain bike. Singletrack riders are also more likely to ride in extreme rain and mud, which requires a saddle that is comprehensively weather sealed.
The body and rails of the saddle also need to be structurally strong to withstand seated pedaling over rough terrain as well as impacts in a crash. If a rider loses control or their feet come off the pedals, the saddle will often be the first point of contact and need to be able to withstand a rider's entire body weight landing on the saddle.