Best Overall Mountain Bike Saddle
Tioga Undercover Stratum TI
202g | Rails:
Unique suspended feel
The Tioga Undercover Stratum is a newcomer to our mountain bike saddle test and quickly rose to the top of our competitive field to take our Editor's Choice Award. Testers like virtually everything about this saddle, starting with its high degree of comfort which is a result of its great shape and unique Spyderweb shell design. The shell allows for a bit more flex than many of the stiffer saddles in this review and provides a little more dampening of vibration than most, plus it's topped with a thin layer of their Bio X-Pad cushioning, a synthetic cover, and has a pressure relief cutout for additional comfort. On trail performance is great, with a solid pedaling platform and a tapered tail shape that makes moving around the saddle on steep or technical terrain a snag-free endeavor. It's also impressively lightweight, tipping the scales at just 202g it's one of the lightest models we tested.
While we loved the Undercover Stratum for its impressive comfort, performance, and lightweight, some riders who enjoy a super stiff shell may find the flex of this saddle to be a little on the soft side. We loved it, but it may not be for everyone. It appears to be a very well made and highly durable product, but it doesn't feature any tail reinforcement protection like many of the other saddles in this review. Beyond that, we feel this is an impressively comfortable, versatile, and lightweight option that's great for any type of riding.
Read review: Tioga Undercover Stratum TI
Best Bang for the Buck
WTB Volt Race
at Competitive Cyclist
239g | Rails:
The Volt Race has been a staple in WTB's saddle range for many years. It isn't the least expensive model we tested, but this reasonably priced competitor is an incredible value considering the level of comfort and performance it delivers, and we've awarded it our Best Buy Award. Not only is the Volt Race a good value, but its also very comfortable, with a classic design that has stood the test of time. A slightly cradled shape that rises gently toward the tail provides a comfortable and supportive platform, with medium density padding and shallow anatomical groove and "Comfort Zone" cutout in the shell to reduce pressure in the center. At 239g for the 135mm width we tested, the Volt Race is also lightweight considering the price. Testers found this saddle to offer exceptional versatility, with applications ranging from all disciplines of mountain biking to road riding.
The Volt Race is offered in three widths, 135mm (tested), 142mm, and 150mm, to accommodate a range of sit bone widths. We were very impressed with the price to comfort and performance ratio the Volt Race has to offer, and we think you'd be hard-pressed to find a better value in a mountain bike saddle.
Read review: WTB Volt Race
Top Pick for Comfort
WTB Koda Team
at Competitive Cyclist
203g | Rails:
Only available in wider widths
The WTB Koda Team was initially designed with the female rider in mind, but our testers found this comfortable saddle to be well-suited for male riders as well. This saddle impressed us most with its unbeatable comfort, and it took home our Top Pick for Comfort Award. WTB has employed their classic slightly cradled saddle shape on the Koda Team, a design that keeps the rider in the sweet spot and provides a little support as it rises gently towards the tail. An anatomical channel on the top of the saddle and a "Comfort Zone" cutout in the shell help to reduce pressure on the perineal area. This saddle has softer padding than our other top performing saddles, which could reduce pedaling efficiency slightly, although we were too comfortable to notice. The Koda Team also impressed us with its weight, at 203g, it's one of the lightest saddles in our test selection.
If we had to find fault with the Koda Team, it's that it is only available in medium to wider widths, 142mm (tested) and 150mm. Riders with narrow sit bones or who prefer a narrower saddle will probably want to look elsewhere, as will riders who prefer a stiffer and less cushy platform. For everyone else, we think the Koda Team is the most comfortable saddle out there and worthy of a look whether you are a male or female rider.
Read review: WTB Koda Team
Top Pick for Light Weight
Tioga Spyder Outland
178g (without pads), 202g(with pads) | Rails:
Only available in narrow width
The Tioga Spyder Outland is an attention-grabbing and unique looking mountain bike saddle. The design of this saddle is intended to reduce weight while also distributing the rider's weight over a flexible web of material that is suspended over a carbonite skeleton of sorts. The result of this innovative design is the lightest saddle in our test, weighing in at 202g with the included anti-slip pads, and a featherlight 178g when used without. While it looks like it might not be all that comfortable, the Spyder Outland's flexible web seat cover surprised our testers with a comfortable and suspended feel, different from any other saddle we tested. On the trail, this saddle performed well, with a narrow width and tapered tail that provided excellent freedom of movement.
The Spyder Outland is only offered in one width, and at 125mm it is the narrowest saddle we tested. This width won't work for everyone, but if you have narrow sit bones or prefer a narrower saddle, then this could be a good option for you. The Tioga Spyder Outland may scare some people off with its distinctive looks and unorthodox design, but this saddle delivers an impressively lightweight and surprisingly comfortable package assuming you need or want a narrower saddle.
Read review: Tioga Spyder Outland
Top Pick for Ergonomics
SQlab 611 Ergowave Active S-Tube
226g (without elastomer), 252g (with elastomer) | Rails:
Available in multiple widths
Good power transfer
SQlab takes a very scientific approach to the design of their saddles and the 611 Ergowave Active features the most thoughtful ergonomic design we've ever seen. It provides a high degree of comfort that starts with a proper fit, and SQlab will even send you a fit kit to measure your sit bones, so you get the correct width, it comes in 4 sizes. The saddle has a unique stepped tip to tail profile with a high tail that positions the rider right in the sweet spot for proper weight distribution on the sit bones. Its also got a generous channel in the center for relief on the perineal area, and an extra wide and flat nose that feels great when you need to get your weight forward on steep climbs. It has a stiff shell and minimal padding, plus it features their Active technology that allows for a small degree of side to side rocking of the tail that is intended to match the body's biomechanics when pedaling. It also seems highly durable with the Ti-Alloy rails molded into the bottom of the shell, and a kevlar reinforced tail to protect it during crashes.
The 611 Ergowave Active tips the scales at 252g with an included elastomer and 226g without, so it isn't especially lightweight compared to some of the models in this test. It's also one of the most expensive models we've tested, though this saddle may be worth its weight in gold if it can effectively solve saddle-related pain or discomfort for some riders. We were impressed with the design, comfort, and performance of this saddle and we give it our Top Pick for Ergonomics Award.
Read review: SQlab 611 Ergowave Active S-Tube
A collection of the best saddles on the market, finding the right one can make a world of difference.
Why You Should Trust Us
Our bike saddle review is led by Jeremy Benson, a writer and product tester based in Truckee, CA. Benson has been mountain biking since the early '90s and has called the North Lake Tahoe and Truckee, CA area home for the past 18 years. He is the author of Mountain Bike Tahoe, published by Mountaineers Books. Benson dabbles in all forms of cycling but focuses on endurance gravel and mountain bike races throughout the year. Last season he stood on the podium for his age division at the Sagan Dirt Fondo, the 100 mile Lost and Found Gravel Grinder, and the Downieville Classic All-Mountain World Championships. Whether he's putting test gear through its paces or training for his next event, Benson spends between 12-20 hours a week in the saddle throughout the season. This much time on the bike makes him acutely aware of saddle fit, shape, padding, and performance for all applications.
In addition to decades of cycling experience, Benson spent hours poring over the internet researching the best and most popular mountain bike saddles before selecting 13 to test and compare side by side. Beyond weighing each model and examining its shape and construction, the majority of our testing was done in the field while mountain biking. Each saddle was taken on all types of rides from backyard laps to all-day backcountry epics. Saddles were swapped frequently and often between laps for a more direct side by side comparison.
Related: How We Tested Mountain Bike Saddles.
Analysis and Test Results
Over several months, our team of testers pedaled their hearts out while testing the various saddles in our test selection. The wealth of trails in the greater Lake Tahoe area, as well as some time spent in the desert southwest, provided a diverse assortment of trail types and conditions to put these saddles through their paces. Fickle mountain weather also provided an array of weather conditions, from spring rains and snow showers to hot sunny days and everything in between.
Our gear obsessed testers thoroughly used and abused each saddle, putting a hundred+ miles on each one, often switching between them mid-ride or between laps for comparison. Every aspect of each saddle's performance was scrutinized to find their strengths and weaknesses, and each model was rated on five predetermined metrics, comfort, performance, versatility, durability, and weight. The scores from these ratings were combined to determine our overall winners and top performing mountain bike saddles. Read on to find out how these saddles compared to each other, and to find the best one to suit your needs.
Related: Buying Advice for Mountain Bike Saddles
Long rides, short rides, the right mountain bike saddle can make all the difference in the world and the Specialized Phenom Comp is one of our favorites.
At OutdoorGearLab it is our goal to find the best and highest performing products in any given test. We feel that it is a bonus when those products are also a good value. Hands down the best value to performance ratio in our test is the WTB Volt Race, with our Editors' Choice Award winner, the Tioga Undercover Stratum, not far behind by falling just above the median price with the highest performance score.
Your hindquarters and underside will be making contact with your saddle for extended periods, so ensuring that the one you choose is comfortable is of the utmost importance. A variety of factors play into the comfort of a mountain bike saddle, including width, length, padding, shape, and anatomical cutout (or lack thereof). Comfort is subjective, of course, but we did our very best to determine which saddles are the most comfortable and why. One important factor in the overall comfort of any saddle is the fit, so be sure to get the appropriate width for your sit bones, seriously. Getting the appropriate width saddle makes all the difference in the world. If you're not sure what works best for you we recommend having your sit bones measured at a shop, you can also do this at home, and there are helpful tips online.
In the end, the most comfortable saddle in our test was, not surprisingly, our Top Pick for Comfort Award winner, the WTB Koda Team. The Koda Team was designed for women, but it turns out that it's excellent for men as well. Its short length, medium width, softer padding, slightly cradled shape, and anatomical depression made it a tester favorite, a saddle that everyone wanted to keep. Our next favorite saddle for comfort was our Editors' Choice Award winner, the Tioga Undercover Stratum, which also had a medium width, an anatomical cutout, stiffer padding with a flex-ier shell, a tapered tail, and a rounder profile. The Undercover Stratum impressed our testers with it's out of the box comfort that was great for any type or length of ride.
Comfort is achieved in different ways and is definitely subjective in nature. Here you can see the different designs, shapes, and widths of the WTB Koda Team (top) and the Tioga Spyder Outalnd (bottom)
The Specialized Phenom Comp remains one of our highest rated models for comfort, with an excellent shape and a full anatomical cutout, though it has a somewhat less forgiving stiff shell. We were also very impressed by the SQlab 611 Ergowave Active which achieves its comfort through its impressive ergonomics. Everything about the SQlab 611 is designed with enhancing rider comfort in mind, earning it our Top Pick for Ergonomics Award.
SQlab put a lot of thought into the design of their saddles and that is evident in the comfort that the 611 Ergowave Active provides.
During testing, we also discovered that a comfortable saddle doesn't have to be expensive. Our Best Buy Award winner, the WTB Volt Race, was no slouch in the comfort department and cost less than half as much as most of its competition. The Volt Race's slightly cradled shape, medium width, and anatomical groove proved to be quite agreeable, especially for extended periods of seated pedaling.
Top view of the Volt Race shows the teardrop shape and the shallow anatomical groove.
Most saddles perform their duties in a relatively similar way, but in the performance metric, we rate them on a combination of factors including their shape, padding, and general level of comfort out on the trail. The more comfortable a saddle is, the better, but only as long as that comfort doesn't hinder your pedaling ability and your freedom to move about on the bike as needed when climbing and descending. Some saddle shapes are designed to allow the rider to move back and forth more freely and prevent snagging on baggy shorts, and believe it or not some perform better than others out on the trail.
Not surprisingly, our Editors' Choice Award winner, the Tioga Undercover Stratum was one of our top performers in this metric. Not only was it impressively comfortable, but its shape and tapered tail made it easy to move around on the bike to get your body in front or behind it when cornering or descending steep sections of trail.
The less you notice your saddle the better, we barely noticed the Phenom Comp and that's a good thing.
Another of our top saddles in the performance metric is the WTB Volt Race, a long-standing model in their saddle range. The Volt Race has a great classic shape that is quite comfortable when seated, with a medium length and width that allows for plenty of freedom of movement. One of the best things about WTB saddles is that they also age well, and seemingly only get more comfortable over time. The Volt Race is the kind of saddle that you mount on your bike and never think about again, and that's about as good as it gets.
Set it and forget it, the Volt race is a great saddle at a great price.
We were also pleasantly surprised by the performance of the Fabric Scoop Race Shallow. It has a no-frills design with a stiff and uncompromising shell that allows for excellent power transfer. It also has a rounded tail that doesn't conflict with your shorts and is a versatile model that you could mount on any bike.
Testing the Scoop Race Shallow on a lovely spring day.
Mountain bike saddles are generally made for one purpose, and that is mountain biking. Some saddles proved themselves to be more versatile than others, however, and are much more than one trick ponies. Certain models are better for enduro, shuttles, or downhilling, while others are great for absolutely everything. Testers wouldn't hesitate to mount a few of the saddles in our test selection on every bike in their fleet, the road bike, gravel bike, trail bike, shuttle rig. Those select few competitors scored much higher in this metric due to their overall comfort, and better all-around performance.
The Specialized Phenom Comp took top honors in this metric. There is seemingly no cycling application where this saddle wouldn't be a great fit. Our testers said they'd be happy to get several of these and put one on each of their bikes. From 10 mile after work shreds in the backyard to 65 mile punishing gravel grinds, this saddle did it all and never left us wanting.
The Ergon SME3 Comp proved itself to be a versatile performer. It didn't blow our hats off in other aspects of its performance, but testers agreed that it was a well-rounded saddle that would be at home in virtually all riding situations. It was reasonably comfortable for long days in the saddle, with a nice shape that is well suited to all mountain biking disciplines.
The more comfortable you are the longer you can stay out and enjoy beautiful days like this.
Other saddles in our test selection like the Race Face Aeffect and the SDG Circuit Ti Alloy are also fine mountain bike saddles, but they lost a little ground in this metric to the competition for a couple of reasons. Both models have moderate widths and tapered tails that allows for great and natural freedom of movement, but have flatter profiles and tend to put a little more pressure on the underside than testers would have liked. We felt these saddles would be well suited to riders who don't spend lots of time seated while pedaling or grinding up climbs but possibly ride chairlifts, shuttle, or who happen to like a stiffer or less contoured seat.
The differences in width and length are apparent between these two saddles.
The durability of mountain bike saddles varies slightly between models. In general, most models offer a similar level of durability assuming you never crash. Since crashes can and do happen, many manufacturers of mountain bike saddles have tried to negate the impacts of said crashes by incorporating abrasion resistant materials in key places. The most common places for your bike saddle to impact the ground in the event of a crash is on either side of the tail, and the highest scoring saddles in our durability metric have abrasion resistant materials sewn in to protect them from potential damage. Another element of durability is stitching, as exposed stitches are prone to wear over time, even from the friction of your shorts while pedaling.
One of our highest rated saddles for durability is the Tioga Spyder Outland. This is a unique saddle constructed from a carbonite skeleton that's covered in a softer webbed material. This saddle has no seat cover to rip and seems less prone to damage in the event of a crash.
The Spyder Outland performed great on the trail, it was comfortable with a shape that was easy to move around.
Both of the WTB saddles in our test selection, the Volt Race and the Koda Team, have the same microfiber seat material with a protective layer of abrasion resistant material stitched on the outer parts of the tail on both sides. This material has taken its share of hits, and one of our testers has a two season old Volt Race that has seen plenty of hard crashes and has held up impressively well.
The abrasion resistant material on the tail of the Volt Race.
The SDG Circuit Ti-Alloy also scored well for durability due to its microfiber top and kevlar reinforced sides that wrap from the tail of the saddle almost to the nose on both sides. The SQlab Ergowave Active has a similar kevlar reinforcement that wraps entirely around its tail.
SQlab has incorporated kevlar reinforcement around the entire tail of the saddle.
The weight of a saddle is the least subjective of all the metrics we rated for mountain bike saddles. In cycling, everything is subject to weight scrutiny, and saddles are no exception; in general, lighter is considered better. A mountain bike is the sum of its parts, and saving a few grams anywhere you can help to keep that overall weight down. A saddle is an easy, and often a less expensive, place to make some weight savings. To measure this, we weighed each saddle on our trusty digital scale to determine the item's weight. Please bear in mind that these weights represent only the model tested. Most of the saddles we tested come in a range of constructions and corresponding price points that may affect their weight. For example, the Specialized Phenom Comp also comes in an Expert and Pro version, both of which weigh significantly less and cost significantly more.
In the end, three of our award-winning saddles, The Tioga Undercover Stratum
, WTB Koda Team
, and our Top Pick for Light Weight Award winner, the Tioga Spyder Outland
, basically tied for top honors in the Weight metric at 203g and 202g respectively. The Tioga Spyder Outland
edges out the others, however, because it can be used bare bones without the addition of the Anti-Slip padding at a shockingly low weight of 178g.
In contrast, the least expensive model in our test, the SDG Bel Air Steel is the heaviest saddle in our test selection at 330g. In this case, the saddle that costs less than half of the competition weighs almost double that of our lightest model.
The heaviest saddle in our test, at 330g.
From a comfort standpoint, a mountain bike saddle is one of the most important pieces of equipment on your bike and can dramatically improve your everyday riding experience. Getting one that fits you right, performs well and meets your budget is significant. Our team of mountain bike testers put in lots of time on the trail riding with these saddles, and we hope our detailed reviews and comparative analysis will help you in your quest to find the best mountain bike saddle for you.