We’ve ridden the backside out of our shorts testing these
Never is there a more polarising component choice than a saddle. As a contact point most of us can cope with a slightly imperfect grip or pedal choice, but the wrong saddle can be literally be a right pain in the backside. We’ve assembled all of the best mountain bike saddles and ridden the backside out of our shorts to test their performance. Are you sitting comfortably?
What is a mountain bike saddle?
It’s what you sit on. Aside from this obvious statement, a mountain bike saddle differs from other types of saddle (eg. road bike saddle) in a few ways. Mountain bike saddles are typically flatter across the top. Some also flare up at the rear tail. Most are also built with reinforced panelling to protect from the wear and tear of dirt riding.
Best mountain bike saddles in 2019
Here our are current favourite best mountain bike saddles. See the links to full reviews down the page.
- Fabric Scoop, £39.99 to £129.99
- SDG Bel air 2.0, £79.95
- Ergon SMA3-M, £89.99
- PRO Turnix Offroad, £89.99
- Madison Flux, £24.99
- SDG Circuit, £69.95
- Specialized Henge Comp, £70.00
- WTB Volt Race, £39.99
On old school mountain bikes the saddle was just something you sat on, it was fixed and it didn’t move very much. These days it’s a really dynamic component that you shoots up and down, dozens if not hundreds of times per ride and you’re all over it when riding fast down a rough stretch of singletrack. Modern bike geometry and the advent of really steep seat angles, has also changed where we sit on the saddle. Riders are now more upright when climbing so the weight is distributed differently. We’re also my dynamic when we’re descending and use different parts of the saddle to control the attitude of the bike. And the increase in rear travel on modern trails bikes along with bigger wheels also means we’re starting to see conflict issues with the rear tyre buzzing the back of the saddle.
The saddle itself has also changed – it’s more sophisticated and often uses some high-tech materials in its construction. Modern saddles are sleeker, lighter and harder wearing. Hopefully they are more comfortable too because at the end of the day you do have to sit on them and that’s our number one priority when testing them. A saddle with a carbon shell, titanium rails and jewel encrusted kangaroo leather cover may sound good on paper but if it looks (and feels) like a razor that’s not what we want to be sitting on for an all-day trail ride.
The products featured have been chosen because we know they’re good quality and are an excellent offer at the price we’ve included (at the time of writing). Our team have unrivalled expertise and years of experience testing new products, so you can trust our recommendations – and we also know what represents a good deal.
With each product is a ‘Buy Now’ link. If you click on this then we may receive a small amount of money from the retailer when you purchase the item. This doesn’t affect the amount you pay.
Usually it’s your ischeal tuberosity width (or sit-bones) that dictate what width saddle you should choose. Some individual saddles are available in multiple widths, other times a manufacturer will have a wider/narrower option but it’ll be called something different.
The foam used to make the padding in a saddle comes in different densities and manufacturers can also use two or more tyres or foam to fine tune comfort. The foam padding also needs to be supportive over a long period and not break down. Some companines promote a lightweight foam padding but in the scheme of things we’re only talking a few grams.
On the bottom of a saddle are two rails, which are held by the seat post clamp. On the cheapest saddles these are steel but as you progress up the price ladder you lighter and more expensive options such as titanium and carbon fibre. It’s worth noting that most carbon rails are oval rather than round, but nine times out of ten they should fit your seatpost it’s just worth checking compatibility first.
Saddles are not all the same length, and some have different proportions with a longer nose or more space at the back. The length shouldn’t dictate what saddle you should buy but if you’re pushed for space or just a smaller rider you might want to consider for a more compact design.
If you have an issue getting your seat high or low enough in your frame, especially when using a dropper post, it’s worth measuring saddle depth. There can be up to 1cm difference between saddle profiles.
This is often plastic but some manufacturers do try and pimp up the construction by adding carbon particles to the nylon to reduce weight. Changing the thickness of the nylon also allows manufacturers to tune the flex and overall comfort.
Traditional this was leather but now this is all sorts of micro-fibre and synthetic materials. It’s important that the cover is breathable but it also needs to hardwearing. To improve the durability, manufacturers often add Kevlar edge panels or scuff bumpers. On some of the new designs the cover is also bonded to the shell so there are no exposed/frayed seams underneath.
Some saddles have cutaways or channels to reduce pressure on the perineum area. This is often an open channel on the top but other times it’s a hole in the base and only visible by flipping the saddle upside down and looking underneath. A cutaway can reduce pressure but it’s no guarantee of comfort.
The best mountain bike saddles: reviews
All of the following saddles are the best mountain bike saddles which scored at least 9/10 in our test. Here’s a complete list of all the mountain bike disc saddles we’ve tested.
Fabric Scoop saddle
Price: £39.99 – £129.99
Sleek design, clean detailing and one of the best shapes on which to park your toosh are the defining traits of Fabric’s Scoop series of saddles. Choose from three shapes – Flat, Shallow and Radius – and a palette of different colours and rail materials. In our view it’s the deeply spooned Radius that best suits mountain biking, thanks to its plush padding, subtley kicked-up tail and rolled over nose. The tail gives you more to push against, while the droop nose lets you get further forward when clawing up steep climbs.
SDG Bel Air 2.0 saddle
For the second iteration of its successful Bel Air saddle, SDG went to the gym. Not literally, but metaphorically, shedding weight across the board. As a result, version 2.0 weighs a scant 228g but costs a reasonable £80. That impressive weight has been achieved through the use of lighter EVA foam padding, a thinner base and titanium alloy rails. None of this has been at the expense of comfort however. Support is perfectly judged and there’s just enough squish for long days in the saddle. In wet weather, perforations across the fabric provide extra grip, as well as revealing one of the six different accent colours below.
Ergon SMA3-M saddle
The Ergon SMA3-M Comp provides a slightly different alternative to the grooved and ergonomic approach. It’s way flatter than a lot of other saddles along its length. So if you are a rider that prefers a neutral feeling position this should be high on the list.
PRO Turnix Offroad saddle
The Pro Turnix Offroad takes a different, old-school approach with a more rounded profile. Making it super easy to shift body weight around. To further enhance its appeal Pro also offer all their saddles with a thirty-day money back guarantee, helping take the guesswork out of the choosing process.
Madison Flux saddle
One thing to note is, if you’re the type to flail around off the back of the bike, the cutaway shaping on the tail can snag shorts more readily. But overall, it’s tough to knock the Flux for the money — the performance is so good, most riders in search of a comfy trail saddle need look no further.
SDG Circuit saddle
We like how the SDG has a coarse, textured material that acts as a gripper to stop muddy shorts slipping around. The titanium-alloy rails, low weight and excellent performance easily justify the SDG’s higher-end price. Just don’t expect super-plush padding as well.
Specialized Henge Comp saddle
We’ve had plenty of saddle time on the flat-topped Henge over the years while testing Specialized bikes. Slightly shorter than average in length, it’s very unobtrusive and prompted frequent rider feedback about how comfortable and invisible it feels while riding.
WTB Volt Race saddle
WTB’s well-priced Volt Race happened to come stock on one of our longterm test bikes, and as such we’ve pedalled hundreds of miles on it with zero complaints. Immediately accommodating and comfy, it’s a fit-and-forget product thanks to the deep and luxurious foam padding and a deep central depression that reduces pressure.
|Fabric Scoop Radius||£39.99||206g||142mm||278mm||10/10|
|SDG Bel Air 2.0||£79.95||219g||140mm||270mm||10/10|
|Ergon SMA3-M Comp||£89.99||236g||Small/ Medium||277mm||9/10|
|PRO Turnix Offroad||£89.99||234g||132, 142mm||281mm||9/10|
|Specialized Henge Comp||£70.00||237g||143, 155mm||N/A||9/10|
|WTB Volt Race||£39.99||262g||135, 142, 150mm||265mm||9/10|
The best mountain bike saddles: verdict
It’s pretty common to hear riders claim they don’t get on with this or that saddle or that saddle choice is down to personal preference. We totally get that because we’re all different and have different body shapes and different set ups – subtle changes in saddle position and angle can have a massive effect on comfort. However, we do believe some saddles are inherently more comfortable that other and if you fit then and experiment with the angle and positioning and don’t just set it up like you’ve always done you will get on with them.
mbr’s best mountain bike saddles: the Fabric Scoop and the SDG Bel Air 2.0.
The Fabric Scoop offered a sublime level of comfort independent of riding conditions and style of bike. It has a more rounded profile, relying on it’s padding and flexible base to supply the comfort. It’s easy to navigate quickly when needed and the fact that the different price points do little to impact on the comfort is a bonus.
The SDG Bel Air 2.0 sneaks the overall win though, predominately down to its flatter shape. It offers a little more support in all riding conditions and the perforated cover locks you in place when needed. The fact it’s also available in a huge range of colours and has a whiff of old school nostalgia helps a touch too.
Best mountain bike saddles for those looking for a flat neutral shape: WTB Volt and Ergon SMA3-M Comp.
The WTB Volt follows the same principles as the Henge with a similar shape and spec but at a lower price point. It’s also a tad lighter and the cover is way more durable. Curiously, the lower specced Volt we tested recently ends up being infinitely more comfortable than this Pro version thanks to its softer standard padding. So we would definitely opt for the lower version.
The Ergon SMA3 provides a slightly different alternative to the grooved and ergonomic approach. It’s way flatter than all of the other saddles along its length so if you are a rider that prefers a neutral feeling position this should be high on the list.