12 Most Comfortable Mountain Bike Seats in 2017
There’s no comparison to hitting the trails on a mountain bike. The single-track and beautiful terrain inspires you to stay out all day, or until your butt starts to hurts.
The truth is, you can stay out there as long as you want, without accepting soreness in the saddle. All you need is the most comfortable mountain bike seat to get you through the ride.
It sounds like a hunt for the Holy Grail, and in some ways it is; the perfect seat is unique to each rider, but is hands-down the best upgrade you can make to your cycling experience.
Insight into what will work for you can narrow down the vast options and get you closer to enjoying a pain-free ride. This guide is here to help get your search started with some of the best options available.
Table of Contents
- Top 12 Comfortable Mountain Bike Seats Comparison
- Makes a Good Seat?
- The Right Design for Your Behind
- Materials Make the Difference
- Men vs. Women
- Top 5 Most Comfortable Mountain Bike Seat Reviews
- What’s Next?
Top 12 Comfortable Mountain Bike Seats Comparison
|Design||Name||Design Orientation||Materials Used (fabric/ rails)||Rating (1-5)|
|1. WTB Volt Race Saddle||Performance||Microfiber/Chromoly||4.7|
|2. Ergon SME3 Pro Saddles||Performance/Race||Microfiber/Titanium||4.6|
|3. Selle Italia Gel Flow Women’s Bicycle Saddle||Women’s/Comfort||Leather/ Manganese||4.6|
|4. SQlab 611 Active Race Titanium Bicycle Saddle||Race/Endurance||Microfiber/Titanium||4.5|
|5. Terry Men’s Fly Ti Bike Saddle||Performance||Leather/Titanium||4.5|
|6. WTB Speed Comp Saddle||Comfort||Synthetic/Steel||4.5|
|7. Charge Spoon Saddle Brown Cromo Rails by Charge Bikes||Performance||Synthetic/Chromoly||4.5|
|8. Planet Bike Men’s A.R.S. Anatomic Relief Bicycle Saddle||Comfort||Microfiber/Chromoly||4.5|
|9. Selle Royal Respiro Soft Moderate Seat||Comfort||Synthetic/Manganese||4.3|
|10. Selle Italia Vanox Rails Max Flite Gel Flow Saddle||Performance/Comfort||Leather/Steel||4.2|
|11. Serfas RX-922L Road/MTB Comfort RX Saddle||Women’s/Comfort||Microfiber/Steel||4.0|
|12. Brooks Saddles Women’s C17S Cambium Bike Saddle||Women’s/Performance||Canvas/Steel||3.8|
Makes a Good Seat?
There is a long list of factors that make up the most comfortable mountain bike seat. With each bum being slightly different, and each rider using their bike in a distinct way, you really need to know what to look for.
Keep these details in mind as you skim through the list and your dream seat will be under you in no time.
The Right Design for Your Behind
Simply choosing the seat that has the most cushioning is rarely successful. Studies show that comfort has more to do with the shape of a seat than the padding itself. A bulky seat can actually cut off blood flow to your legs, creating numbness and rubbing that will have you turning for home after a few short miles.
Therefore, it’s more beneficial to find a shape that conforms to your downstairs properly and allows your legs to move freely as you pedal. Your intended use of the mountain bike plays a roll in the shape you should be looking for.
- Race – As the name entails, race-oriented seats are for the aggressive rider. If you find yourself sprinting up climbs and bombing the downhills, this is the category for you. They are extremely minimal and light, giving the rider an extra boost of speed. Race seats also have longer noses, allowing the rider to move up and down the saddle for more aggressive positions.
- Performance – This category is the happy medium between minimalistic design and couch-like cushioning. Performance seats have a bit more padding and are slightly wider, but are streamlined enough for that needed mobility on the trail. So, don’t try blaming your seat for the recent nose-dive into the bushes.
- Comfort – You may just want to go for a leisurely stroll on the beginner trails, or be out all day without taking too many risks. Comfort-oriented seats will absorb all of the rough terrains with abundant padding, but at the expense of mobility in fast or tight situations.
Materials Make the Difference
Mountain bike seats come with a wide range of material options; this not only affects the price tag, but comfort, weight, and durability also. Consider what’s used in your seat and purchase something that will handle the abuse you plan to give it.
- Rails – Rails are the metal bars running along the bottom of your seat, where the seat post attaches. High-end seats will use strong and light materials like titanium. Budget options may give up weight, but keep strength by using stainless steel, Chromoly alloy, or manganese steel.
- Padding – Some race seats have little to no padding because they’re used for shorter durations and riders that stay out of the saddle longer. However, most seats will have plenty of “cush for your tush.”
Often, the padding consists of a foam rubber material or a gel that conforms to your sit bones. These materials break down slowly and absorb the bumpy trail beneath you.
- Cover – Leather, as in most fabric items, is a high-end material here. It’s light, durable, breathable, and even breaks in to fit you better. To keep cost down, many manufacturers will use synthetic or microfiber materials.
One detail to look for is that the seat has kevlar reinforcement around the edges; this keeps your cover in good shape for longer.
- Shell – The shell is the hard bottom surface under the padding. Top end seats will use a material like carbon fiber that’s light, strong, and flexible. Many manufacturers use a hard plastic.
While it seems like the least important area to worry about, the material and flexibility of the shell can provide an extra boost in comfort over a long ride or rough trail.
Men vs. Women
Some seats may market themselves as unisex, but most are tailored for men. Women have different anatomy down there. So, it only makes sense that their saddle is shaped slightly different.
Having wider sit bones, women need a broader seat to prevent unwanted pressure points. This guide provides a few strong options from the women’s market, but also consider looking into wider sizes in men’s and unisex models.
Top 5 Most Comfortable Mountain Bike Seat Reviews
Second in a four-tier line, the Volt Race keeps the same shape as the top model but replaces expensive materials with budget savers like Chromoly, giving this seat the lowest price tag in the top five.
It features a flex-tuned shell that adds comfort while keeping the firmness needed for powerful pedal strokes. WTB were thinking about durability with a microfiber cover and kevlar reinforcement. The standout element, however, is a shape that provides plenty of mobility and uses a whale tail design in the back to prevent riders from slipping off the seat while climbing and cornering.
The Volt also comes in 3 sizes to ensure there is a fit for every rider. A widely tested shape, performance level cushioning, and a budget price tag made this an easy choice for the top spot.
The SME3 Pro is the racehorse of the bunch. A flex optimized carbon shell and titanium rails make it extremely light and minimal. It has the least amount of padding of the top 5, but that shouldn’t be a deterrent.
The slender and flat shape allows for plenty of room to move into aggressive positions and attack the trails. There is minimal cushioning to get in the way, yet just enough to absorb the bumps. Additionally, the carbon shell flexes under pressure to ensure you’re working with the bike and not against it.
It may not be ideal for someone looking to cruise a couple of miles and head home. But for the rippers of the group, the minimal design will provide plenty of mobility while ensuring comfort in the right places.
When it comes to female physique, Selle Italia has got it figured out. The Gel Flow is designed slightly wider than most men’s seats and has a cutout down the middle shaped specifically for women. This adaptation benefits the wider sit bones and different pressure areas, making it a very comfortable option.
A leather cover makes it durable and breathable compared to synthetics, and a gel padding that is thinly distributed under the cover allows the padding to shape to sit bones and absorb vibrations. Selle Italia found a great balance between minimal race trim and couch cushion, designed an excellent shape for women, and made it reasonably priced.
By far the most tech-savvy of seats on the list, SQlab went above and beyond with the 611. Titanium rails and a Kevlar reinforced upper hints at the seat’s quality. But where the real technology shines through is in the adjustable dampening pads found in the shell.
The pads provide side-to-side absorption that benefits rocking motion during pedaling. While it’s not very noticeable riding, the extra motion in the seat alleviates pain in the lower back, hips, and pelvis. This feature is especially nice for those with a leg length discrepancy.
The step-down design in the shape of the seat has a raised back with a lowered, extra long nose; this holds riders in place, but also allows them to move forward and get into more aggressive positions. The price tag on the 611 mirrors the thought behind it, making it a great choice for someone who hasn’t been able to solve the nagging pain in the lower back and hips.
The Terry Fly Ti is an upscale collaboration with Selle Italia. Using intelligence from the long-time seat specialists, Terry created multi-density injection molded foam for the padding; this allowed them to place stiffer padding in the rear, where most of the pressure is sent to your sit bones while adding softer padding to the nose for when you are riding on the edge.
The low profile design, pressure-reducing cutout, leather, and titanium rails confirm it is a top-end performance seat. However, Terry and Selle Italia knew what they were doing with this one.
If you’re debating back and forth between a couple of options in the top five, just remember that investing in a seat like this is well worth it if you’re a serious mountain biker who hits the trails often: the level of comfort this offers is hard to beat.
Now that you have an idea of what makes up the most comfortable mountain bike seat, and know some great options, the path to comfort should look a little brighter. Remember that your bum is different from everyone else’s, and though these are some great starting choices with high regards in the cycling community, they may not be the perfect fit for you.
Going to a local bike shop and getting sized for a seat will help you pinpoint the length and width you are looking for. Remember, a seat is the most beneficial upgrade you can make to your comfort on the bike, and just because it doesn’t have an inch of padding doesn’t mean it wont feel like riding on a cloud.