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Of all the components on your mountain bike that you can invest in, a quality saddle is one that makes the most sense. A bad saddle can turn a pleasurable weekend ride or commute to work into an uncomfortable slog.
On the other hand, a quality bike seat can be one of the best investments you ever make. It can make your bike more comfortable and it can make you more efficient as a rider. With so many saddle models on the market today though it can be hard to find the right model to suit you and your riding style.
In this article we aim to do just that. We have brought together a list of the best bike saddles on the market and performed a deep dive review on all of them. After that we have an informative buying guide to give you all the knowledge you need to pick the best mountain bike saddle for you.
The Best Mountain Bike Saddle
We’ll kick off our list with this saddle from WTB, which is channeling a strong racing aesthetic for riders who like to go a little faster. This is most evident in the long nose and slightly narrow overall dimensions, coming in at 13 x 26 Centimeters (5.12 x 10.26 Inches).
Those dimensions make for a seat that will allow you to sit more forward when required, placing your center of gravity a little more over the center of the bike itself, really allowing you to develop excellent power through the pedals when required.
Don’t make the mistake of thinking that because this saddle is built for speed it has shed a lot of the elements of comfort saddles though. You will find a very good level of padding in this saddle, all covered with a tough but comfortable microfiber cover. Running down the middle you will also see that WTB have installed a pressure channel to add an extra level of comfort.
Finally Cromoly rails have been selected for a strong but light saddle that is perfect for Road, XC (Cross Country) and Trail mountain bike riding.
Pressure Reliving Cut Out Channel
The Scoop Elite from Fabric & Fabric is another saddle that is perfectly designed as a multi-discipline style mountain bike saddle. That being said, it clearly leans a little more toward the racing end of the spectrum with it’s attractive and aerodynamic sweep of a design. Again, that long nose will help you shift position to push serious power through the bike chain.
Just as with the previous saddle Fabric & Fabric have also added some nods to comfort here too though. The pressure-relieving channel is a lot shallower here, but it still present for a degree of rider comfort. Even more impressive is the fact that Nylon has been employed to make the saddle shell. This makes it flexible and responsive, helping add even greater rider comfort.
Flexible Nylon Shell
- BrandFabric & Fabric
- ModelScoop Elite
WTB are back already with another quality bike saddle. Frankly, it’s nothing less than you would expect from such a respected company, but it is impressive that they have such a range of quality mountain bike seats on the market right now.
This model is from the cheaper end of the WTB range and does, in our opinion, offer great value for money. That’s because not only is the price tag very reasonable, you are still getting a quality bike seat here.
Dual Compound Shell
- Weight12 ounces
Next up we have this saddle from Brooks. It is hand made in England, to a design originally patented back in 1937, and which has not changed since. Hey, if you’ve achieved perfection, why try to improve it?
This bike saddle oozes quality, starting with the materials. The shell is made of elastic for a responsive, comfortable ride. The skin is Honey Leather, it is tough but soft, long lasting but comfortable. Underneath you will find a set of Titanium rails. These are all top quality materials that have been poured into this lovingly hand crafted design.
Hand Made in England
Elastic and Real Leather Construction
- BrandBrooks England
- Weight1.8 pounds
Come on WTB, this is getting silly now. Are you actually going to allow anyone else to have a chance in the quality MTB saddle market, or are you really so determined to go down this path of world domination?
The Volt Race saddle, as the name kind of implies, is all about speed and racing. So you have a cut down and stripped back design here with an extra long nose to provide the support you need when leaning forward into a climb. In addition to that this model has another cool feature too.
Racing Style Design
- Weight12 ounces
The next saddle comes from Ergon, and it is a pretty interesting design. They have taken their standard SMC saddle, and inserted a lot of comfort-based features. That is why you have ended up with a saddle that looks perfect for racing, and even has a pretty low weight compared to some others, but is actually designed for comfort more than speed.
Nowhere is that more evident than with the Gel inserts. This is a feature not found on every saddle – this is in fact the first model we’ve included on our list with the gel inserts inside. However, if you are looking for a saddle model that leans very much to the comfort end of the range, Gel is a great investment. It is as soft as padding, whilst also allowing for a level of shock absorption. That makes this saddle perfect for use on cross-country rides down bumpy off road trails.
Nylon-Composite Shell Construction
Orthopedic Comfort Foam
- Weight1 pounds
RaceFace are the manufacturer behind the next bike saddle to make our list. In contrast to the product above from Ergon, this product is a really stripped back design. RaceFace have done this for a number of reasons.
Firstly it is to keep the weight down, something they have very much achieved with this model, which is easily one of the lightest on our list. This saddle design is also much more of a low profile style. This is to help protect against snagging or catching your legs and/or clothes during riding.
Low Profile Design
Titanium Alloy Rails
- Weight13.1 ounces
Next up we have a pretty interesting design from Tioga, the Spyder Outland Hollow saddle. We’ve spent a little time trying to talk about the padding on most of the bike seats that we’ve looked at today – but that is going to be hard to do with this next product.
As you can no doubt tell from the image, this saddle is devoid of any padding. However, that is certainly not to say that this saddle is uncomfortable. Far from it in fact, the ergonomic shape is designed to be firm but at the same time deliver comfort where you need it.
Silicone Anti-Slip Pads
- Weight1 pounds
The standout features of this saddle are clearly signposted by it’s name. The “Ergo” in Ergowave is short for ergonomic. SQlab have put that word right up there in the product name to really hammer home the ergonomic inspired features and design points of this saddle.
For example, the tail is raised on this model, just as we have seen on some previous designs on this list. That helps to raise your pelvis whilst you are sat back in the saddle, allowing both an excellent power transfer through the bike chain but also a comfortable riding position.
Raised Tail Design
Extra Large Nose
Well it only seems right that after starting with WTB and seeing their saddles pop up throughout our list, we finish with a final entry from these guys! If nothing else, hopefully this really demonstrates just why WTB have such a great reputation for producing quality bike saddles.
This model is a mid range and middle of the road style saddle. To us that means that it leans more toward comfort and away from racing. So what you are looking at here is a saddle with excellent padding levels. A well-designed pressure channel, perfect for relieving pressure from, well, from just where you don’t want it building up is also deployed alongside the excellent padding.
Drop Nose Design
Flex Tuned Shell with Microfiber Cover
- Weight12.8 ounces
Best Mountain Bike Saddle Buying Guide & FAQ
In our buying guide, we’ll take you through the features that you should keep an eye out for when picking out the best MTB saddle for you. After that, we’ll take a look at how best to use your new piece of equipment and answer some of the most frequently asked questions about this extremely useful product.
Things to Look For in a Mountain Bike Saddle
- Padding – Padding is certainly something to keep in mind when selecting your saddle, even if you are one of those riders who don’t like it! Typically you will see that saddles that lean more toward the comfort end of the design spectrum will be packed out with more padding. On the other end, racing saddles will have minimal padding, some will even have none at all. It’s a personal preference of course, but we would suggest that for the more casual rider or people commuting to work, padding can help make the seat more comfortable.
- Pressure Channels – These handy design features began to appear in the 90’s. They basically cut out a section of the seat to help relieve pressure, mainly on the perineum. Some riders are not fans, but generally speaking they can help a casual rider to have a more comfortable experience.
- Gel – You don’t see this as much as you used to, but gel can be a handy feature to find on bike saddles that are designed for heavy off road riding. They provide a very useful level of comfort and shock absorption.
- Rails – They may not get talked about as much as padding, but the rails are nonetheless a key component on your bike saddle. There is a range of materials out there, with Steel generally accepted as the strongest and Titanium Alloy as the lightest.
How to Install a Mountain Bike Saddle
One of the big benefits of mountain bikes is that it is nice and easy to install – and for that matter to remove too – the saddle.
This quick guide assumes that you need to remove an existing saddle.
- Look under the saddle to locate the saddle clamp. It will be attached to the bike rails. Simply loosen the setscrews with a hex wrench.
- Once the setscrews are removed, turn the saddle sideways to disengage the clamp. Lift and remove the old saddle.
- Now simply repeat the process in reverse. Sit your saddle down onto the lower portion of the seat clamp. Reattach the other part of the clamp and tighten the setscrews again.
- For safety sake, we would recommend that you check that the screws are all tightened properly before you take off on your first ride.
Mountain Bike Saddle FAQ
Do you have a question about bicycle saddles? Read on to find your answer below…
What Causes Saddle Discomfort?
This is a difficult question to answer, as there can often be a host of personal reasons that cause saddle discomfort. How you ride and sit in the saddle for example, will differ between yourself and another rider – the way we sit in the saddle is as unique as a fingerprint.
Even small variations can put pressure on your body that is different from other people, ultimately causing you discomfort.
Discomfort will mostly be felt in what are called your “sitting bones” and in your perineum. Discomfort in these areas will typically be caused by pressure, which is why you will see many saddles with a pressure release cut out channel.
Another issue is simply not sitting in the saddle correctly. Again, this will lead to too much pressure being applied as your bodyweight rests where it is not supposed too! Finding the right saddle for you will be a matter of considering how you ride. If you sit back in the saddle more, a wider tail on the saddle shell could relieve pressure.
On the other hand, if you do a lot of hill climbing, then you could end up sitting further forward in your saddle. In this instance, a wider or longer nose on your saddle could help to relieve pressure there.
How Do I Choose the Right Saddle Width?
The best way is to measure your “sit bones.” To do this at home, you need a piece of cardboard, a pencil and a measuring tape.
Put the cardboard onto a firm and flat surface like a bench or a set of steps. Sit down on the cardboard and push down with your butt. Yes, you will look and feel silly but it will all be worth it!
Stand up and take a look at the indentation left behind by your butt in the cardboard. Try to find and mark the middle of each indention, then measure between the two points.
This gives the rough width of your sit bones. It is these which will be in contact with the bike saddle tail, so just make sure the width of the saddle is a bit wider than your measurement, so that you are sitting with your sit bones resting comfortably on the saddle.
Our Top Pick
There really are some excellent products on this list, which in turn makes it really hard to pick out the best model! That being said though, we know that you come to CarBibles because are not afraid to make the tough calls that other review sites are too chicken to make!
With that in mind, top pick from this list has to go to the WTB Rocket Saddle, and not just because it has such a cool name. First of all we really liked the design. WTB have done a great job of combining the best elements of racing and comfort saddles into one design.
That in turn produces a bike seat with a huge range of uses, being well suited to XC, Racing and Trail biking. Add in the fact it is strong and light, plus nice and comfortable with that excellent pressure relieving channel and this go anywhere, do anything MTB seat just edges out the competition to be our Top Pick.