Savvy Saddle Selection
In mountain biking, as in most types of cycling, the right saddle can have a huge impact on comfort. This is especially true when doing longer rides. I think we've all had the unfortunate experience of going on a long ride with a poor quality or poorly adjusted saddle. Here are a few tips to help you find a saddle that matches your riding style and comfort needs.
Most mountain bike specific saddles are light, strong and in general have more padding than a road bike saddle. Mountain bike saddles also tend to be a bit longer in order to accommodate a variety of riding positions. Some saddles also have cutouts to relieve pressure on sensitive areas and female specific saddles are wider to match the wider hip bone structure of women.
The biggest factor in determining which saddle to buy is riding style. If you're an xc racer who spends long hours on relatively smooth single track and has an aggressive riding position, you may a light, narrow and stiff saddle with little padding. If you're an all-mountain rider, you may not care as much about light weight and you'll probably want something with a little more padding to absorb the shock of rough trails.
A saddle is something you should try before you buy. The comfort of a saddle is largely determined by how well your sit bones fit the saddle shape. A very narrow saddle may be perfect for the rider with narrow sit bones, but horribly uncomfortable for a rider with wide sit bones. For this reason, you'll want to try multiple saddles to see which works best for you.
Another important issue to consider is saddle position. Saddle height, angle and front-back position are are critical to assuming a comfortable and efficient riding position. If you're not sure about these adjustments, consult with an expert at your local bike shop to get your position dialed in.
Most riders go through multiple saddles before they find one that's perfect. Follow these suggestions and you can hopefully bypass all the trial-and-error and enjoy hour after hour in the saddle without pain or discomfort.