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Last updated: January 23, 2021
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The saddle of your mountain bike takes over 50% of your weight when you are riding, and all this pressure is put on a relatively small area in your body. With the wrong type of saddle or one which doesn’t work for your size and shape, you can find yourself in a lot of pain and discomfort and not riding as effectively. You may even get sores and wounds if the saddle isn’t right. For this reason, you should look for the best MTB saddle for your own needs, style, and body.
There is a lot of personal preference which comes into play when you are buying a saddle, but there are many different features to consider, which we have talked about in our review. These features include the shape and dimensions of the saddle as well as the materials on the cover, which can make it waterproof or more comfortable and also the rails, which can impact upon how sturdy the saddle sits on the bike and also how easy it is to fit.
Our team have spent a huge amount of time exploring the best options for saddles: we’ve used some of the top cycling blogs and YouTube channels, as well as manufacturer info and consumer opinions to build our guide, which includes a table, in-detail reviews of the recommended models of saddle, and a buying guide which can help you to make the right decision for you and to better understand how mountain bike saddles are built.
We’ve listed the Terry Liberator Y as the best saddle for mtb use. It has a good balance between comfort, stability and price as well as some safety features thrown in for good measure.
First off, this is an extremely comfortable model. As with some of the other top mountain bike saddles, this has embraced the gel technology that can allow the surface to alter to the exact shape of your body and this leads to a super comfortable feel.
The rails are very good quality and made of Cr-Mo steel and can be easily set up on your bike. The fact that they are such good quality means that it feels very sturdy on your bike, whereas some of the poorer mountain bike saddle models can feel like they don’t sit sturdily on top of your bike.
Safety features include a reflective area on the back of the saddle, which can give an extra level of visibility and mean that you can be better seen on the roads.
This has a ‘breathable’ design. The hole in the middle isn’t noticeable when riding but means sweat won’t build up on the recessed area of the seat.
The brand also offers a money-back guarantee and warranty on the product to take some of the risk out of buying.
What we liked:
Made of sturdy steel and sits comfortably on the bike
Comfortable for short or long rides
What could be better:
Quite a wide saddle, which is not perfect for everyone’s needs
A lot of mountain bike manufacturers have a big focus on comfort, the Serfas CS-1 super cruiser is a great example, and is in fact arguably the best mtb saddle for comfort due to its dense design and the fact it has focused so much on the top and how it feels against your butt!
The way this offers a comfy design is called the Infinite Comfort system or ICS for short, and consists of an ‘elastomer’ suspension system so that bumpy rides are made smoother on your rear, and a very thick top layer with a gel surface. This is a little bit of a ‘love it or hate it’ model, but we think it’s more likely that a lot of people will love it due to the comfort.
The brand is so confident of their comfort system working for people that they have a 90-Day Comfort Guarantee on their products such as this, meaning that if you don’t find it a comfort upgrade you can return the product.
The cover is made from microfiber which isn’t totally waterproof but certainly does a good job of repelling water.
This is a large saddle, so might be the best mtb saddle for men who are of a large build or women with wider hips. If you are of quite a petite build then you might find this to be overkill in terms of size. It also raises the seating position somewhat, which isn’t perfect if your bike doesn’t give you an option to make an adjustment to this. You may end up too high on the bike.
What we liked:
Great comfort features and loads of gel padding
Good for larger built people
90-day comfort guarantee
What could be better:
Alters the seating position a lot and may make you more forward and higher on the bike
On to the Ergon SMC4, a sporty product which we’ve named the best MTB saddle for trail riding due to the ergonomic design and sporty functionality.
Not only is this small and compact with a lightweight and sporty design, it has a good level of padding which can take a lot of the impact of bumps and sharp turns out of the ride without losing any flexibility.
The saddle has foam padding as well as gel padding, and this combination helps it to be comfy in spite of being narrow and relatively small.
A microfiber top is water resistant and will stand up to the tests you put it through out on the trails such as mud and rain.
There is a ‘pressure-relief’ channel. Basically meaning that it is designed to be very sturdy and take the weight that an MTB seat has to, but doesn’t put pressure on the more sensitive body parts! The recessed design is also great for avoiding perineal pressure which can cause a lot of pain over time out on the trails.
This is available in a choice of sizes which is something that not all saddles can offer. You can match it up to your own build and ensure the saddle is the right size to suit you.
What we liked:
Small and lightweight
Avoids perineal pressure and doesn’t cause unnecessary pain and sore spots
Available in multiple sizes to allow you to suit your body shape
What could be better:
Too thin and small for some users, and may not be suitable for non-trail bikers
This is another model from Serfas. The RX-921V Road/MTB Comfort RX Saddle is definitely one of the more unusual designs on the market and almost looks like two saddles stuck together, but it has been very deliberately designed in order to avoid numbness and increase comfort. This means that there is very little risk of long rides giving you pain or numb bum!
The science behind the clever design is basically putting the weight on your ‘sit bones’ rather than the tissue which surrounds it. Blood flow is increased which gives a lot less pressure in one specific area and means you should retain feeling even on long rides.
Comfort is increased by the ICS system which is in place with all Serfas saddles. It has different layers of foam, gels and then a microfiber coating which creates a high level of comfort and stability, without your saddle being too big and bulky. The channel along the middle which is basically an empty space is designed to remove pressure.
The only real criticism we’ve seen come up for this saddle is the fact that it could have slightly stronger rails for an extra level of stability for even heavier riders.
What we liked:
Excellent level of comfort using the ICS system
Designed to increase blood flow and reduce numbing
What could be better:
Metal of the rails could be slightly better quality
This is a clever bike saddle which can be used for both MTB and road biking. One thing that is very positive is that the Selle Royal Men’s Respiro Moderate MTB/Road Bicycle Saddle is pretty affordable, and if you’re looking for the best MTB saddle under 50 then this might be worth considering.
The Respiro has some quite unique features. Some are more appropriate for road biking and some are more suitable for MTB use. It offers a clip system so you can easily add a saddle bag or another type of biking accessory which clips on. This is great for all kinds of riders.
Their patented design also has a totally waterproof surface. A saddle which soaks up water can be really frustrating and can affect your comfort on a ride a lot. This isn’t an issue with the Selle.
It also offers a special cooling technology which the brand claims keeps the seat 25% colder during hot conditions.
Like some of the other mountain bike saddles, this has a perineal comforting area in the middle which acts to relieve the pressure and also makes the bike saddle far more breathable.
Though there are multiple sizes in the product range, this is one of the best mens MTB saddles but is not really suitable for many women, depending upon your build.
What we liked:
Stays cooler in hot weather and is waterproof so suitable for any conditions
A lot of larger riders turn to the Oversized Comfort Bike Seat by Bikeroo to make their life a huge amount more comfortable while they are riding. If you have a small butt then this may not be needed, but so many large riders or wide-hipped people are reporting how much more comfortable this has made them.
There is a spring system which provides an extra bit of suspension. This is a feature which you will either love or not be able to get used to.
This is a large design with gel inside as well as other clever padding functions such as a synthetic version of elasticated rubber or elastomer. The springy surface means that you don’t have to deal with the bumps of the road which sometimes would impact up your spine and cause vibrations and ultimately pain.
The brand has a 12-month money back guarantee, and this is quite an affordable option, too, so it won’t break the bank. However, there is something of a trade-off here as this may not be the best MTB saddle for riding fast. The design is suited to upright positions, which is fine for some trail riders and for those who ride their mountain bike more casually, but if you are riding competitively and want to go fast then this is probably not the best option for you.
What we liked:
Great for larger backsides
Affordable and good value for money
Clever suspension system and springy surface
What could be better:
Not the most durable or weatherproof
Better for upright riding positions but not for the faster, performance postures
Another Bikeroo model, the Bikeroo Padded Bicycle Saddle for Women has been designed with female bodies in mind, and though it hasn’t necessarily got specific mountain biking features, it is a great option for MTB riders largely because of the comfort and versatility it can provide.
The reason this is suitable for women is that it has a wider design suited to women’s hips. Naturally, women come in all sorts of shapes and sizes so it is up to you to decide if you need a product specifically aimed at females and the anatomy of a wider hip shape.
The width alone is not going to provide comfort, though. This saddle has loads of padding for that and also a spring suspension design that Bikeroo love to include in their designs. So many uses report this being a massive upgrade in terms of comfort for their bike.
It has a center cutout to relieve some pressure and also to provide a good level of breathability.
A cool bonus is the fact that this is available in three different color designs. Not the top priority but there is nothing wrong with wanting a bike to look good!
It isn’t the most ergonomic and aerodynamic as this saddle has definitely been designed for versatility. While it is a good women’s MTB saddle it could be just as useful on a road bike.
What we liked:
Great value for money
One of the most comfortable options for women, especially with wide hips
This is a very affordable saddle designed with the male anatomy in mind. This product, the Planet Bike Men’s A.R.S. Anatomic Relief Bicycle Saddle is called ‘anatomic relief’ for a reason, with some of the um…unique features of a man taken into account to mean no pain in what can be a very sensitive area.
The soft, padded top also has a cutout area great for men. This isn’t totally out of the question for women either, but if you are female and looking at this product it might be worth going for something a little wider.
The lycra top isn’t totally waterproof but this does also have a side panel which is designed to stay intact even if your saddle is subjected to scratches and crashes. The steel rails make it pretty sturdy and the ARS saddle has received some very favorable reviews from the people who have purchased it. A good option, especially when you consider the price.
The Giddy Up! Bike Seat is on our list as a very good budget choice. If you like mountain biking but don’t spend a huge amount on replacement items then this could be a good option. While it isn’t quite as durable as some of the other products on the list, considering the price this has actually packed in quite a lot of features.
It is comfy enough, and though the design is not as scientifically advanced as some of the others, it is still clever enough to provide some extra smoothness. It has two rubber balls inside which is designed for shock absorption purposes. The gel padding is also wonderful for staying comfy on your ride. There is also a memory foam material which will flex to your own backside. The material is also totally waterproof.
It comes with a few different accessories which you wouldn’t expect at this cost. it has a tail light attached but also comes with the mounting equipment (universal fit) a reflective band and a protective cover for the seat.
The purchase is described as ‘no risk’ due to the guarantee and money-back offering the brand offers. Generally, as long as you’re not expecting it to be great for trails or riding super quickly then this MTB saddle is good for those on a budget.
What we liked:
Shock absorption system
Comes with accessories including visibility strip
Fits any bike
What could be better:
Saddle is not as durable as some other models
Things to Consider
As well as the MTB saddle reviews above we have included a buying guide which can help you to make your decision. Randomly choosing a saddle which has a good average rating might not be the best thing for you as you won’t have identified the specific features which will be suitable for your body shape, size and preference.
Advantages of a high-quality MTB saddle
One clear advantage of getting a top quality saddle for your mountain bike is that it is likely to be very durable and last you for a number of years. You may have decided the time is right to upgrade your saddle and many of the products on the list above are likely to be a big upgrade.
The key benefits are often to do with health/pain and comfort. Poor quality saddles can be very painful to use and can put pressure on areas of your backside that make it numb or uncomfortable. Some of the best MTB saddles can improve your blood flow and alleviate pain even when you are doing long spells of biking.
Features to consider when choosing your MTB saddle
Below are some of the features that should be considered when it comes to choosing your saddle. There are not as many considerations as there are when purchasing some other products such as a mountain bike itself, but there are still plenty of areas to consider.
Think about the dimensions and whether they will fit your body. Dimensions should be based on your ‘sit bone’. If you are able to measure your sit bone, then you can work out how wide the saddle should be. You simply need to add 20mm to the measurement you get for a rough estimate. It isn’t totally perfect every time, but this is because we all prefer slightly different feelings when riding our bikes.
If you are a female, you may well have wider hips. This isn’t always the case, but biologically, it is more likely. This means your sit bones will be wider and you should look for an MTB saddle made with women in mind.
Even on our list of models of saddle we have picked out, there are many different varieties of size and shape. This will naturally have an impact on the dimensions, but the width is often pretty consistent. Saddles which are larger tend to have a lot more padding and those which are smaller tend to taper off more towards the front. Small, streamlined options tend to be for racing and trails.
The rail is where the saddle attaches to the body of the bike. There are a few different things to think about when it comes to the rail. If you have spent any time looking at rails on saddles, then you will realize that they can be made of a few different materials. They are usually some form of metal, but generally speaking, the stronger the metal, the better.
A weak and flimsy rail will mean that it could break and your saddle could come loose.
Even if it is not weak enough to break altogether, a rail which is flimsy can be felt while you are riding. The saddle will not feel secure and this can really affect your experience when you are on your bike. It can even make you less confident when riding.
Another consideration for the rails is their compatibility. You need to know whether or not they will fit your bike. Luckily, a lot are adjustable and therefore great for any bike.
The final thing to think about in terms of rails is how easy it is to fit them. You don’t want to spend hours attaching your saddle to your bike.
This is something not all saddles have, but if the saddle you opt for does have a weight limit you need to be aware of it. If you exceed the limit then it is not recommended you use that saddle, and you can do it damage more easily. The last thing you want is for your saddle to break on a long trip. If you are a larger rider, keep this in mind.
Saddle cover material(s)
The cover of the saddle is where it comes into contact with your body and where it comes into contact with the environment. It is another key aspect of what makes a good saddle. For instance, some saddle covers are waterproof whereas others are not. Microfiber materials are very popular, but there are other options out there.
Think about not just how it reacts to water (whether it is waterproof, water-resistant or neither) but also the breathability and how much friction is likely to build up. The Selle Royal Men’s Respiro Moderate MTB/Road Bicycle Saddle is an example of a cover which has some very clever properties. It is designed to avoid getting too hot and is generally 25% cooler than its competitors when out riding in hot settings.
Be careful of saddles that are not designed to avoid friction. Friction can cause the saddle to get hot and make your butt very uncomfortable on MTB rides.
The filling of the saddle will have an absolutely huge impact on the comfort it offers. Imagine a saddle with a hard filling, it would feel like sitting directly on concrete and would not be comfortable, nor would it be good for your body. Fillings should feel nice and have a bit of give. Sometimes people say it is impossible to be comfortable on a bike, but this is not true!
A popular filling is a gel padding. This is a relatively affordable way for manufacturers to provide a seat which can flex to your body. The gel can move around the shape of the person who sits upon it to provide comfort no matter what shape you are.
Foam fillings are popular, too. Foam is a material we are all used to sitting on! A lot of cushions involve some form of foam or memory foam, as do some beds.
Memory foam is even better as this will adjust to your unique needs.
Foam is fine, but not to be preferred if your saddle is not totally waterproof as foam can absorb this water and become uncomfortable.
Some saddles use other materials to provide their padding, but generally, these two can be combined to be very effective. Saddles such as the Ergon SMC4 Sport Gel Saddle use both gel and foam for the best of both worlds!
Different brands handle shock absorption in different ways. Basically speaking, shock absorption is a very good thing. It stops the feeling of those bumps around a trail hurting your backside or even putting pressure up your back while you are riding. There is an element of shock absorption which comes from the padding, but some of the best saddles out there have tackled this in other ways. The top method is by using springs, but this isn’t always comfortable and not everyone likes the way it feels. It is a matter of personal preference. The Bikeroo Oversized Comfort Bike Seat is an example of a product with a lot of absorption via the spring system, but it keeps the rider very upright.
The Giddy Up! Bike Seat also has a shock absorption system but this is based around having a system of shock-absorbing rubber balls within the saddle.
Tips on using and caring for your mountain bike saddle
There are some very useful tips to keep in mind when you are using or looking after your saddle. We’ve listed some of them here:
If it should get wet and it isn’t a waterproof model, give it a wipe down with a dry cloth after use to try and get rid of any moisture.
If you are storing your bike outdoors, think about getting a waterproof cover.
Make sure you measure your sit bones before you buy a saddle and choose what is the most appropriate size for you. You can use the length of your sit bones as a good guideline.
Never exceed the maximum weight, or let someone over the maximum weight borrow your bike.
Not every saddle is suitable for indoor models. Check on the listing for the product what it says about indoor and stationary bikes. An example of a product which is suitable for indoor bikes is the Bikeroo Oversized Comfort Bike Seat.
There are a few things that can minimize the friction from your saddle. If it is well designed then it can help you to not have to deal with friction, and some of the materials are good for avoiding this. Alternatively, having the right cycling shorts is a really good way to avoid any sort of friction coming from the saddle. Another way is to ensure the saddle is designed for the type of riding you are going to be doing. If your riding posture is going to be suited to racing, then getting a saddle designed for this will avoid extra friction from the wrong posture.
The Terry Liberator Y Elite Bike Saddle is our Editor’s Pick and highest rated saddle which we have given 9.8/10. It doesn’t really have any weakness. As well as being sturdy and durable it has a lot of breathability and is comfortable even on long rides.
If you’re looking for comfort, then you might want to go for the Serfas CRS-1 Super Cruiser Bicycle Saddle which is also highly rated at 9.6. This may not be great for fast riders and racing postures but for casual and relaxed users then this could be a good choice. It is arguably the best MTB saddle if comfort is all you are looking for.
The Ergon SMC4 Sport Gel Saddle is an alternative model which we have rated highly at 9.4/10. The ergonomic design and the focus on sports gives a comfortable ride for trails or even those who are competitive with their mountain biking!