We might obsess about wheel builds, tire casings and suspension features, but your mountain bike saddle is the most crucial element of riding comfort and is often overlooked. Mountain bikers come in a great variety of shapes and sizes, and it's crucial for your saddle to match your body.
Whether you are tall or short, wide-hipped or slim, there is little influence your body-type has on wheel choice or suspension. However, it directly impacts how comfortable a ride will be with regard 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.
Mountain bike saddles differ from road bike perches due to the environmental and frame alterations which 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 peculiarly 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.
Keep reading for our pick of the best mountain bike saddles that are 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 mountain bike saddle for your bike.
Best mountain bike saddles
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, 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 German company is a leading grip and saddle brand with designs that prioritize comfort. The SM Pro is the saddle of choice for Marathon World Champion Alban Lakata, which proves this saddle is designed for comfort during long days on the bike.
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.
Perhaps better known for their tires, Wilderness Trail Bikes (WTB) also do 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 say that it was tested solely by women riders, but it's a universal design so men can ride it too.
The standout feature on 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 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.
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-Texto 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 saddle should remain in good shape.
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 it’s 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, cowskin designs of old.
The British brand best known for its gorgeous handcrafted commuter bike saddles also makes an overbuilt touring bike item that can be repurposed for mountain biking.
Although it does not have the exact aesthetic resonance of a traditional Brooks saddle, the Cambium features a slimmer profile and promises abundant comfort. Like all other Brooks saddles, it is made by hand in Italy.
The surface is waterproof thanks to its vulcanized natural rubber and nylon construction and those who ride them, believe no other saddle offers similar levels of comfort – or longevity. If there ever was something such as a status-enhancing saddle, this is it.
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.
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 dirtjump 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.
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.
The Spank Spike features a minimalist design meant for downhill and enduro racing. That means the saddle will stay out of your way when you're sending it at full speed.
The contact points and impact zones have been reinforced and optimized to stand up to aggressive riding, and the surface is smooth for 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.
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.
Best mountain bike saddles: everything you need to know
Having established the importance of finding an appropriate saddle for your body type and build, it is worth discussing the most predictable – and oft-repeated – mistake that most mountain bikers make when buying a saddle: peer pressure.
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. An inappropriate saddle can deliver untold hours of riding misery.
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.
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 have 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 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.
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.
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.
Enduro bikes and long-travel frame riders rolling 29er wheels might need to consider the issue of tire buzz shredding the aft portion of their saddle. This can happen when the rear suspension is fully compressed, rolling downhill over extreme terrain, at speed.