Complete guide on how to choose the perfect mountain bike saddle

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In the choice of a bicycle, whatever it is, too often thefundamental importance of the saddle. This statement is all the more true when it comes to a mountain bike. As a general rule, the saddle is chosen on the basis of purely aesthetic considerations, therefore of personal taste, in reality it should rather be thought that it is one of the five points of contact that the cyclist has with his bicycle. But how to choose saddle for mountain bike ideal?

For what type of bike?

Find the right saddle it is absolutely not easy, since there is no saddle that can be universally suitable for each of us. To orient yourself correctly among the many offers that can be found on the market, you need experience, time spent on the bike and this minimum of anatomical notions that can make the difference.
Many think, wrongly, that everything weighs on the saddle body weight. This is not the case, because the rider’s body mass is unloaded on the saddle, but also on the legs and arms. Among other things, it should not be forgotten that the position of the saddle relative to the rest of the bike, its height and setback help define the rider’s posture, affecting pedaling efficiency and physical fatigue. That’s why choosing the ideal mountain bike saddle also requires knowing what type of bike it will be mounted on. Even if we find the “perfect” saddle for our tastes, for example, it does not necessarily adapt in the same way to a trail bike and an e-bike.

Size matters (wide, medium, narrow)

FORM. Characteristic is the tapered shape. The central part, which acts as a support, serves to support the weight of the pelvis, while the front part, also called the “beak”, has the function of allowing the legs a fluid movement when pedalling.

From a technical point of view, the saddle can be divided into three main parts:

  • Lower guides
  • saddle body
  • coating

The lower guides they are used to connect the saddle to the seatpost, allowing it to be mounted correctly on the bike. They are made up of two bent rods, with the central horizontal part that allows adjustment forwards or backwards, and therefore the recoil of the saddle. As for the materials, they can be aluminum, steel, titanium, carbon fiber. More rarely in magnesium.
The saddle bodyIt is generally made of molded thermoplastic material, in particular of nylon or other materials capable of deforming and of absorbing shocks. The body of the saddle, in fact, must deform to adapt to the lines of the ischial bones and must attenuate the vibrations that radiate from the wheels to the frame. Here, the shape is fundamental and to choose between a wide, medium or narrow saddle, it is not enough to bet on comfort: the width of the saddle, in fact, must be defined according to the width of the sit bones, it that is to say the lower part of the pelvis. The greater this distance, the wider the saddle should be. The narrower they are, the tighter the saddle should be. And no, there are no “men’s” and “women’s” saddles: it all depends on this size.
The coating, on the other hand, it is the part that comes into direct contact with the cyclist, so it must be light, flexible and resistant. It must also be able to absorb shocks. Hypoallergenic and breathable. In most cases, closed cell foams are used, combinations of Lycra and other materials, leather and faux leather.

What is the hole in the center of MTB saddles for?

The forces that a saddle suitable for this type of bicycle must withstand differ significantly from those acting on a saddle for a racing or touring bicycle. For mountain bikes, they will therefore be necessary stronger lower guidesa design less tapered and inclined towards the “beak” (to allow the cyclist the so-called “out of the saddle”, i.e. to pedal without sitting), a more deformable coating to ensure the reduction of vibrations but also a correct shock absorption with the pelvis.
In addition, the hole in the center also comes into play in the functionality of the saddle, which has a very important task: to reduce the load on the genital area, reducing the discomfort and fatigue that prolonged exercise can bring.

Soft or hard? How to choose the ideal MTB saddle

There are saddles with suspensions, in leather, with a hollow central channel, but we will not dwell on these distinctions, since the saddle comfort it is essentially determined by two characteristics: hardness And form.
We all tend to think that a soft saddle is more comfortable than a hard saddle. Unfortunately, this is not necessarily the case, or it is only in appearance, because our pelvis is structured in such a way that weight support is guaranteed by the so-called “ischial tuberosities”, i.e. that is, the two lower parts of the ischium (one of the three bones, together with the ileus and the pubis that make up the hip). These tuberosities must be sufficiently supported. Stools that are too soft can therefore cause postural problems, especially on long journeys. While a saddle that is too stiff can damage the back muscles.
Going back to the width, a saddle that is too narrow will cause the bones to slide outward, resulting in compression of the perineum and genitals, with the attendant problems. But also a saddle too wide this can create critical problems: for example, it will force us to spread our legs so as not to rub the inner thigh on the beak. Moreover, by increasing the contact surface with the support, the sweat. In short, even in the choice of size there is a mixture of objective and subjective parameters.

How to find the right saddle?

Since there are so many contributing variables, rule number one is… Common sense! In short, experiment and be patient. Obviously, it is not advisable to deviate from a saddle created for the discipline that one wishes to practice. A touring saddle cannot be mounted on a racing bike or mountain bike under any circumstances.. When tested by your local dealer, it is best to wear your bib shorts. Sit on the saddle and rock your pelvis to test its hardness and shape. Simulate pedaling to understand if the saddle can interfere with the leg movement. “Jump” on it several times, to understand how it reacts to shocks and/or if you feel backlashes. If you test the saddle directly on the road, try pedaling without hands, shifting all the weight of the pelvis to understand if the saddle “holds”, if the lower guides hold the weight without creaking and if you feel tingling in the genitals.

Pro Tip: Adjustability is the key to a perfect saddle!

Those who are used to covering many kilometers by bicycle know well that, like all the muscles of our body, even those of the perineum, the pelvic floor and the buttocks need training to withstand the efforts and the demands of the saddle. Sometimes, however, it is also essential to correct height and tilteven a few centimeters or millimeters at a time, to take a saddle from “hellish” to “exceptional”.
Indeed, finding the old saddle particularly uncomfortable is typical of cyclists who get on their bike after long periods of inactivity. If it is true, as it is true, that there are uncomfortable saddles, it is also true that a seemingly uncomfortable saddle is only a saddle that remains to be “done”, or that must be anchors finely tuned.
In all Pro Shop Rossignol you will find a large choice of ATV models suitable for all preferences and needs. We have already designed our bikes with the best saddles for each use, but if you want to choose a tailor-made one, our experts will be able to guide you in your choice.

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