We've ridden the backside out of our shorts to draw up this list of the very best mountain bike saddles available for all types of trail riders.
When it comes to saddles, there is a whole lot of choice out there, which is a good thing because each individual rider will have their own preferences for shape, comfort, form and function. Finding the best mountian bike saddle can be a bit of a process, but ultimately we’re all looking for the same thing – a comfortable ride experience that lets us focus on the ride.
There are plenty of elements to consider; what material is the saddle constructed from, how heavy is it, does it have a central pressure-relief channel or cut-out, does it have a long or shor nose, does it come in a range of width fittings…. and more besides. Thankfully we’ve tried and tested a whole load of perches to bring you our view on the very best, plus guidance on what to look for.
If men’s/unisex saddles aren’t working for you or you’re looking for a female-specific saddle, then head over to our best women’s mountain bike saddles buyer’s guide.
Weight: 324g | Height: 53mm | Width: 143, 155, 168mm | Length: 262mm | Rating: 10/10
Reasons to buy: Available in 3 widths, pressure relief channel, density-mapped padding, SWAT-compatible
Reasons to avoid: Cover is glued not bonded
This is the top model in the Bridge saddle range from Specialized, and despite the price tag it is absolutely the best of the bunch we’ve tested.
Mimic is a saddle construction technique Specialized used where different density foam is used to increase comfort and support, and was originally designed for women’s saddles then rolled out when it proved popular with all riders. Does it work? Yes! When we sat on the Bridge it was instantly comfortable. We didn’t have to muck about with the angle or position of the saddle on the rails. It’s like sitting in one of those really expensive office chairs; the amount of support and comfort is amazing.
The Bridge also has a stress relieving centre channel, but with really smooth transitions between the high and low points. It also doesn’t extend all the way forward, so the padding on the nose remains consistent.
The only real sticking point with this saddle is that the cover is only glued on. We’ve not had any issue with it coming away, but there’s already a bit of wear on the edge. That said, it’s easily the most comfortable and supportive saddle here and winner of our best saddle title.
Best for firm support
Weight: 233g | Height: 45mm | Length: 260mm | Width: 142mm | Rating: 9/10
Reasons to buy: Light, firm, pressure relief channel
Reasons to avoid: Less padding than Specialized Bridge Comp
The new Bel-Air 3.0 was a test winner previously, one of the best mountain bike saddles we’ve tested and, apart from some new colours, it remains unchanged. It still has a distinctive high tail and stress relieving channel, but this has mellowed out over the years, so it not only looks sleeker, you transition between the different areas a lot easier.
It’s not as well-padded as some and there’s less depth across the nose, but when you rotate forward for a steep climb there’s a central cutaway to help alleviate perineum pressure. Overall, the Bel-Air feels a lot firmer than the Specialized Bridge Comp, but the fit is still very good. There are no exposed seams, no staples showing or rough edges, but the cover on our sample has started to lift slightly in one place at the back.
There is a load of support here, but the test winning Specialized Bridge is definitely plusher and comes in more widths, which is the main reason we’ve pegged the Bel Air 3.0 back a point this year.
Best bargain saddle
Weight: 282g | Height: N/A | Length: 270mm | Width: 147mm | Rating: 9/10
Reasons to buy: Bargain price. Stress relieving central channel and cutaway. Harder wearing side panels.
Reasons to avoid: Only a single width. Stapled cover potentially compromises the long term durability.
DMR has a reputation for developing well designed components that go the distance but carry a sensible a sensible price tag. This DMR saddle’s construction is pretty standard with hollow cro-mo rails, a reinforced nylon base and stapled cover. The latter is not quite as neat or as durable as the new bonded designs from Fizik and SDG, but so far, I’ve had no issues with it peeling away.
There’s nothing really ground breaking about the Stage 2 saddle, but there is one thing that is truly stunning and it’s the price. A lot of the similar specced saddles I tested earlier this year cost £70-80. Even the Fabric Magic Elite Radius was £50, so at £40 this an absolute bargain.
Most innovative saddle
Weight: 269g | Height: 40mm | Width: 130, 140, 150, 160mm | Length: 245mm | Rating: 8/10
Reasons to buy: Very comfortable, secure perch, four width options, pressure relief channel.
Reasons to avoid: High cost, poor rail finish, central channel can fill with mud.
The Ergowave has a distinctive shape, with three tiers that extend from the rear to the front creating a sort of a natural wedge that stops you pushing too far back. To reduce pressure, the saddle is flat at the nose and also features a deep channel running mid to back. Interestingly SQ Labs says it’s unisex, so there’s no need for a women-specific version.
When we first fitted this saddle, it looked massive on the bike, but it doesn’t feel that big when you’re sitting on it. It’s really comfortable, and when SQ Labs says the shape reduces pressure in the perineal area, that’s absolutely true. Unlike some saddles, where you can fly off the back, you also stay really centred on this and that rear hump does work.
We had a couple of issues – the paint flaked off the rails on one ride, which is not good for a saddle costing nearly £145. Also, if the conditions were wet, that deep channel would often fill with mud, causing us to float around on the surface. The patches on the surface have also got a little bit polished, which doesn’t help with traction.
Best saddle for a wide range of riders
Weight: 229g | Length: 278mm | Width: 142mm | Rating: 9/10
Reasons to buy: Comfy padding and flexible base. Fits a broad range of riders.
Reasons to avoid: Can be a bit slippery when wet.
Fabric’s sleek, beautifully packaged Scoop is something of a benchmark perch. The smooth, minimal finish is the result of a three-part bonding process that melds the waterproof cover to a coloured base, uninterrupted by any stitching or staples, which makes it a cinch to keep clean.
For £40, the Elite, cro-mo-railed model comes in a trio of profiles, with progressively deeper curves, suitable for everything from XC to downhill. The three shapes are a matter of taste. Leant-forward for endurance or XC riding, the flattest (and lightest) shape matches a more rotated hip and pelvis, while the curvier Radius is more trail riding-friendly, with extra padding and deeper-dished geometry.
Over rough ground, all three shapes share an extremely cushioned feel, and feature a flexible chassis that has a lot of inherent give, without being too twangy when pedalling hard.
Weight: 316g | Length: 245mm | Widths: 135mm, 142mm, 150mm | Rating: 9/10
Reasons to buy: Great for all-day riding. Plenty of width options.
Reasons to avoid: On the heavier side.
The regular version of the WTB Volt has medium weight cro-mo steel rails, a hardwearing microfibre cover, comfy flex-tuned shell and regular padding with a gel insert. We say regular, as it’s actually pretty thick, and makes the Volt the most comfortable when grinding forward on a hard climb. When you kick back there’s a lot of cushioning there too, and we never had to work hard to hit the sweet spot, it just feels inherently comfortable.
Finish quality underneath is excellent. Everything is neat and tidy and all the glued edges are covered with a plastic bumper. The rail length is about 20mm but they do have gradients along to make repeat positioning easier. With its high tail and slightly shallow shoulders it definitely scores highly in the comfort stakes.
Best mountain bike saddle for relieving pressure on sensitive areas
Weight: 232g | Length: 245mm | Widths: 135mm, 148mm | Rating: 9/10
Reasons to buy: Great choice for long rides. Raised tail aids climbing stability.
Reasons to avoid: Finish is a bit rough underneath
The first thing you’ll notice is the pressure-relieving cutaway down the centre. Underneath the cover, either side of this channel, are inlays made from a special type of foam that’s very supportive.
The SM Enduro Comp is a lot flatter and there’s more to sit on, again improving the support. This saddle doesn’t have deep shoulders, which you normally push against when climbing but Ergon gets round this by kicking the saddle up at the tail – this keeps your sit bones in the right place.
The saddle is comfortable and feels that way even after three to four hours of hard shredding. There’s more padding under the sit bones and it has a better overall profile.
How we tested the best mountain bike saddles
Our testing involved fitting each saddle to the same bike, using the same tyre pressures and suspension settings and short liners. Obviously, there are a myriad of features to take note of, but the overriding factor with regards saddle performance is comfort. It is somewhat subjective, and can also vary if you tweak the angle or position of the saddle but generally the most comfortable saddles have scored the highest.
Saddle manufacturers make a ton of saddles for all sorts of riders, so what you’re seeing here is just a small percentage of what’s available. Our focus is on trail riding, but we’ve tested gravity-focused seats because they have some interesting features and also the manufacturers say you can use them for trail riding, so we wanted to put that to the test.
What to look out for in best mountain bike saddles
Before the widespread adoption of the dropper post, the saddle was a relatively static component, but these days your saddle moves up and down numerous times every ride and, depending on whether you’re rolling along the flat, cruising up a gradual climb, or tackling a steep ascent your weight can be positioned over different parts of it. This means gauging comfort is a little bit harder, especially since we don’t all have the same width sit bones or, obviously, anatomy.
The saddle is also used to control the bike, especially when it’s dropped down and you’re descending. Introduce electric mountain bikes into the mix, which encourage you to sit down and pedal more of the time, and you have a component that subtly switches roles multiple times during a ride.
This is often a synthetic leather, which is hardwearing, breathable and long lasting. To add greater abrasion resistance and grip, Kevlar sections are often used at high-wear areas such as the corners and rear of the saddle.
Underneath the cover is a layer of EVA foam. It’s lightweight and has good shock absorption properties. On some saddles you also get a supplementary gel or elastomer pad under the forward areas. This reduces stress on delicate parts and improves overall comfort.
Most manufacturers now produce saddles in different widths to match a narrower range of sit bones. However, this is not the only thing that affects comfort – the overall shape, length and even the angle you’re sitting at, all play a part. Getting the correct width is a good starting point, but don’t be afraid to try a narrower or wider saddle (you may have to switch brands) if the one you have isn’t particularly comfortable.
And saddle width isn’t to do with the outward size of your bum; it’s to do with the sit bones with are the lower bony elements of the pelvis on which your weight rests when you sit – hence the name! It’s the distance between these that helps determine what size saddle is likely to be most comfortable for you, and most bike shops will have device for measuring them that’s a bit like sitting on a gel-covered board.
Saddles have different heights between the rails and the seat, and low-profile saddles let you run longer dropper posts. Some low-profile saddles are also cut away at the tail to provide extra tyre clearance when the saddle is dropped – useful for long travel 29ers with slack seat angles.
This is made from an injection moulded plastic. To add comfort and alleviate pressure some manufacturers cut holes or channels into the base. Offsetting the rails on the base, or mounting them on small elastomer bumpers, also introduces greater flexibility and comfort.
The cheapest saddles have solid steel rails and they obviously weigh the most, but you can save weight with hollow steel, titanium or composite rails. Be aware that manufacturers do mix other elements into the steel and give it a flashy name, but essentially, it’s the same stuff. Regardless of material, most saddles have 7mm rails and will fit most seatposts on the market, it’s one of the few industry standards that hasn’t been mucked about with.