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The top 11 best cross country mountain bike saddles

In this article I’m going to provide you with a list of the best cross country mountain bike saddles.

Cross country mountain biking is probably my favorite MTB discipline. Partly because of necessity, because there aren’t any mountains to speak of where I live. But since I started out as a road cyclist, when I transitioned to mountain biking, the step to a fast and light bike for offroading felt natural.

And if you want your bike to be fast and nimble, your saddle choice should reflect that as well. It supports short and steep climbing sections. The saddle shouldn’t get in the way when you stand on the pedals, and preferably have a low weight as befits a bike with a cross-country pedigree.

You could argue that any saddle would do, and I am the last person to disagree if your seat feels comfortable to you. That being said, with the aforementioned requirements, I feel that some saddles stand out for the rest.

So without further ado, here are my top picks for the best cross country mountain bike saddles.

Fabric Scoop Sport Gel Radius

Scoop Sport Gel Radius
Scoop Sport Gel Radius

Fabric makes fantastic affordable saddles and Fabric Scoop Sport Gel Radius is a great example.

The nylon shell has a pronounced swoop, which makes going on and off the saddle easy for dynamic riding. The shell is held by steel rails and measures 260 x 155 mm.

At 374 grams it’s anything but light, but for downhill purposes this doesn’t really matter anyway. And it’s the most budget-friendly offering on this list.

You really can’t fault this saddle, especially not for this price. So if you’re looking for a comfortable mountain bike saddle that definitely doesn’t break the bank, this is the one.

Expert Experience

Siobhan Kelly | Contributor – March 12, 2017

I rode it both with and without padded shorts and found the design suited me really well, because it passed the test of a good saddle – namely, I wasn’t aware of it. On rides of about 30 continuous miles it remained comfortable, and even the slightly dropped nose felt fine to perch on during short, steep climbs when I needed to get my weight forward.

Pros and Cons

Selle San Marco GND Dynamic Wide (Open)

GND Dynamic Wide (Open)
GND Dynamic Wide (Open)

The Selle San Marco GND Dynamic Wide with the cut out version is slightly lighter at 210 grams, which is incredibly light all things considered.

It has the same overall features as the one without the cut out, and uses the same type of materials. That means you get a glass fiber reinforced shell on top of manganese steel rails, with plush padding in a semi-short length.

The version of 145 millimeters is more neutral than the narrow 135 millimeters, which allows for a bigger platform to support the rider. You might argue that that actually improves because the rider has to spend less energy staying into position.

The microfeel cover onto the star shaped design looks great and the finish is superb, which makes this saddle the perfect choice for adventurous riders on a budget.

Expert Experience

Paul Burwell | Contributor – February 12, 2023

The Ground Dymanic is a little wider and longer than the X-Bow Superflow, but it’s still a stubby saddle with a less than pleasing aesthetic. It feels supportive but it doesn’t have that armchair ride of the Specialized Bridge. Build quality is very good and it’s lightweight but I’d only rate the comfort as average.

Pros and Cons

WTB SL8 Cromoly Medium

SL8 Cromoly Medium
SL8 Cromoly Medium

The WTB SL8 Chromoly is a plush MTB saddle with a large swoop.

There are also titanium and carbon rails versions of this saddle but they significantly bump up the price whereas every other feature stays the same.

It’s a more allround mountain bike saddle that offers loads of comfort in a 142 millimeter shell width.

The chromoly version has memory foam padding that’s less stiff than the titanium and carbon versions. The shell has noticeable flex. So even though its wider than some of the more performance oriented entries, you’ll hardly notice it because the saddle moves with you.

Expert Experience

Paul Burwell | Contributor – February 7, 2023

Shape-wise the SL8 is pretty flat. There is a slight downturn to the nose and depression in the centre, but we did feel like we were sitting on this one rather than in it. Since the shoulders aren’t particularly deep, you do slide a round quite a bit when pedalling, and when pushing back on climbs there’s not a lot there to hold you.

It has a flex-tuned shell where the rails are offset on raised anchor points, and the area above the cutaway does flex, but the padding is very firm. Cross-country racers will probably appreciate that since they sit down a lot less, but if you like a plush perch this isn’t it.

Pros and Cons

Fizik Vento Argo R5

Vento Argo R5
Vento Argo R5

As far as budget goes the Fizik Vento Argo R5 is the most premium option on this list with a suggested retail price of 99 euros. It can be had for cheaper on Amazon though.

It’s another very well made short-nosed saddle with a carbon-reinforced nylon shell with a large center cut out. This cut out transitions into a lower surface area both front and back, planting you firmly in place.

This version also has an alloy rail to keep costs down and a width of either 140 mm for the small or 150 mm for the larger version.

This saddle offers ample amounts of comfort for relaxed road riding, thanks to the plush padding and cut out.

Expert Experience

Guy Kesteven | Contributor – September 30, 2020

I found getting the correct saddle angle crucial for settling into the comfort sweet spot. On my first few rides with the saddle orientated in a level position, I tended to shift backwards too much onto the broad, flat rear which interfered with pedalling. Set it nose down though and you’re naturally tipped into the flexible hammock of the cut-out section, with the very firm front dropped out of harm’s way. The big central cut out had several fans among our test team and it’s certainly a well-vented saddle that can really soften road/off-road shock through the springy shell.

Pros and Cons

Fizik Tundra M5

Tundra M5
Tundra M5

The Fizik Tundra M5 is a true cross-country saddle, and an affordable option for people who’re looking for a high-quality seat.

The narrow performance saddle measures 287 x 126 mm, and has a carbon composite shell made from carbon-reinforced nylon with wing-flex technology. This means the saddle moves with your pedal stroke, making for a more natural feel.

It has an overall flat shape, which means it’s a solid option for mountain bikers with average flexibility in the hips and don’t necessarily want a locked-in feel when sitting.

It features a large central channel with padded halves for pressure relief. And has a slightly drooping nose to facilitate easier going into a standing position and back onto the saddle without shorts or bibs hooking. The padded shell extends all the way to the side, so no sharp edges causing irritation, chafing on the legs, or chewing up your shorts.

This one is the most affordable option, forgoing either a Kium or carbon rails for a more standard alloy. This keeps the price low. But the weight is still very respectable at 235 grams. For comparison, the carbon version is 70 grams lighter and costs 150 USD more.

Expert Experience

Russell Burton | Photographer and tester – April 21, 2009

The construction doesn’t disappoint with the titanium rails and a really immaculate finish, and in theory the design should work, with a wide, flat platform and long nose to provide a balance between power, support and ease of movement.

But, in practice, it didn’t work for me. The saddle constantly moves beneath you and even the suede-effect strip can’t stop the slippage. Overall it doesn’t make for very efficient riding. But if you spend more time out of the saddle than in it and you’re prepared to splash out on a top-notch build, this could be for you.

Pros and Cons

Selle Italia X-LR Kit Carbonio Superflow

X-LR Kit Carbonio Superflow
X-LR Kit Carbonio Superflow

The Selle Italia X-LR Kit Carbonio Superflow is a stunning piece of engineering from the Italian saddle giant.

What they’ve achieved is an ultra-light, ultra-comfortable saddle that’ll honed towards aggressive riding in less than ideal road circumstances.

The regular version is a very narrow 131 millimeters, with the large version measuring a more standard 145 millimeter width. The saddle features a combination of an oval carbon rails with ceramic coating supporting a carbon composite shell weighing just 130 grams.

That feat alone is worth mentioning, but even more astounding considering that comfort is achieved by adding two layers of padding with varying densities. This added damping factor is further enhanced by a shell to rails connection that adds an extra dimension of damping. And carbon itself has natural damping effects.

The gorgeous shape has a large cut out in the center sitting in a flat-shaped saddle with a slightly dropped nose. Furthermore the saddle has edge protectors so a single crash reduces the risk of irreparable damage to this premium perch.

As far as race-ready comfort this is my top pick.

Expert Experience

Sean Fishpool | Freelance tester – April 27, 2022

I’m not using ‘connectedness’ as a euphemism for lack of cushioning though. The padding is thin and in the right places, for me, it has a well-judged firmness too. Like good handlebar grips, It takes the edge off the terrain and reduces fatigue while retaining a feel for what you’re riding on. I’ve used both the X-LR saddles on a hardtail MTB with an alloy seatpost, a carbon cyclocross bike with 33mm mud tires and 38mm gravel tires, and a little flex built into the carbon seatpost, and they’ve been surprisingly companionable for multi-hour rides.

Pros and Cons

Selle Italia SLR Boost Endurance Superflow

SLR Boost Endurance Superflow
SLR Boost Endurance Superflow

At 202 grams the Selle Italia SLR Boost Endurance Superflow is a featherweight short-nosed premium performance saddle.

SLR denotes Selle Italia’s foray into short-nosed perches and at 130 x 248 mm for the regular and 145 x 248 mm for the wide version, they are short indeed.

The swooping design is felt even more by the gel padded cover. It’s amazing that Selle Italia has managed to cram so much comfort and padding onto a saddle that weighs so little.

Like most of Selle Italia’s premium endurance saddles, this one features titanium rails and durable Fibra-tek cover onto a carbon composite shell.

Saddles are exceptionally personal product offerings, and when buying such an expensive one as this one you want one that’s right for you.

This saddle is anything but cheap, but for that premium you get one of the lightest endurance saddles in the market for long comfortable hours in the saddle.

Expert Experience

Paul Robson | Editor – January 21, 2021

I can generally get on with just about any saddle over modest distances, but for longer rides I have found pressure relief channels to be a really effective way of increasing comfort. The SLR Boost Endurance’s channel is wide enough to offer genuine relief, so with the rear of the saddle shaped to support the sit bones and encourage hip rotation, it lived up to its billing during my test period.

Pros and Cons

Selle Italia X-LR TM Air Cross Superflow

X-LR TM Air Cross Superflow
X-LR TM Air Cross Superflow

The Selle Italia X-LR TM Air Cross Superflow is a great example that a high quality saddle doesn’t have to cost an arm and a leg necessarily.

It basically offers the same as many of the much more premium offerings from Selle Italia. But by using cheaper materials it’s much, much more affordable.

The nylon shell and manganese rails offer enough comfort with a dual-density foam-padded saddle.

The saddle is offered in two performance-oriented sizes; 131 x 266 mm and 145 x 266 mm. And its nature emphasizes offroad usage, with an abrasive-resistant waterproof microfiber cover and edge protectors.

This lightweight saddle still only weighs between 215 and 224 grams, and has a large cut out running almost the entire length of the saddle.

It’s a beautiful yet affordable saddle with all the right features to enjoy your next trail ride.

Expert Experience

Jeremy Benson | Product reviewer – May 27, 2020

Beyond the unique shape and profile of the X-LR is has generous medium density padding and a full-length anatomical cutout. The anatomical cutout is large and should theoretically reduce pressure on your sensitive underside. I found that due to the especially rounded side to side profile of this saddle, the higher middle resulted in more pressure on the perineum along the edges of the cutout. Otherwise, the dramatically sloping edges of the wings fall away and don’t dig into the thighs or hips. It is also worth noting that the rails have a somewhat limited fore/aft adjustment range compared to other saddles I’ve tested.

Pros and Cons

Prologo Scratch M5 Pas

Scratch M5 Pas
Scratch M5 Pas

The Prologo Scratch M5 Pas is a short-nosed lightweight road bike saddle.

The overall design features a large seating platform and dropped nose, which enables dynamic riding where you need to get frequently out of the saddle.

The saddle offers two options for the rails with the Tirox alloy versions hovering around 200 grams and a much lighter carbon version sitting at 134 grams. Oval carbon rails require a carbon specific seatpost, so make sure you have one, should you decide to opt for the carbon version.

The Scratch M5 is decently padded and looks futuristic with its five panel layout across a rounded 250mm length shell. This separate paneling should help to add some extra flex to the saddle for added comfort.

Expert Experience

Graham Cottingham | Senior review writer – July 01, 2020

The carbon base of the saddle feels on the stiff side yet the Scratch M5 has a forgiving ride quality especially when compared to other carbon saddles that we have ridden. Vibrations felt dampened and evenly distributed across the saddle rather than focused on a single point.

The only irritating experience I had was on one ride where my bibs kept squeaking against the saddle as I climbed. This only happened once and I have clocked up many miles since completely squeak-free.

Pros and Cons

Prologo Dimension NDR

Dimension NDR
Dimension NDR

The Prologo Dimension NDR is a sporty saddle with an offroad nature.

To establish this nature, Prologo simply added more padding to the shell, which is offered in a single size of 245 x 143 mm.

The 245 millimeters can be considered a short-nosed saddle. For those of you who don’t know what that is, short-nosed saddles favor riders who show a more forward seated position.

Since there’s less nose, the overall saddle can be moved forward a bit on the seatpost, while the rider still remains in the area where he or she feels most comfortable.

It’s probably one of the most aggressive saddles on this list for offroad touring or mountain biking.

Expert Experience

Paul Norman | Product Tester – May 7, 2020

The Dimension NDR is a comfortable saddle for longer rides. Fitted to an endurance road bike, it provided good support and enough padding to smooth out the road a bit, without my sitbones getting lost in the foam. The width also means that there’s enough surface area to spread the load, despite the central cut-out.

What didn’t work so well off road was the short format, which limits your ability to shift your weight as you ride. That’s fine for road riding, where the range of forward and aft motion you’re likely to want is limited, but makes steeper off-road descents more awkward than a longer design and leaves you hanging off the back of the saddle.

Pros and Cons

Prologo Kappa Space

Kappa Space
Kappa Space

Coming in both white and black with red elements thrown in the Prologo Kappa Space is the most in your face options of all the saddles listed here. So if you’re in for that type of design this one will float your boat.

Besides the design aspects the Kappa Space has a more classic looking arrow design at 270×147 mm, sitting on cro-mo 7 mm standard rails.

The center cut out and dipped area is more narrow than several of its competitors, which is also in line with more classic designs.

A great fit on a bike saddle will always be something intimately personal. But if you feel more familiar with classically shaped arrowhead saddles, and you like its design, this great piece from Prologo is the best choice.

Pros and Cons

Specifications cross country mountain bike saddles

Name
Rail
Price
Dimensions
Weight
Shell
Padding
Fabric Scoop Sport Gel Radius
steel
47 USD
260 x 155 mm
374 g
nylon
Selle San Marco GND Dynamic Wide (Open)
manganese
79 euros
262 x 145 mm
210 g
glass fiber reiinforced
Biofoam
WTB SL8 Cromoly Medium
cromoly
96 USD
265 x 142 mm
266 g
Flex-Tuned Shell
HLX Padding
Fizik Vento Argo R5
S-Alloy Ø7 mm
109.99 USD
S 265 x 140 mm – L 265 x 150 mm
S 225 g – L 232 g
carbon-reinforced nylon
type 1 foam
Fizik Tundra M5
s-alloy
99.99 USD
287 x 126 mm
235 g
carbon composite
PU foam
Selle Italia X-LR Kit Carbonio Superflow
carbon/keramic Ø7×9 mm
300 euros
S 131 x 266 mm – L 145 x 266 mm
S 130 g – L 138 g
carbon composite
double density foam
Selle Italia SLR Boost Endurance Superflow
TI 316 Tube Ø7 mm
320 euros
S 130 x 248 mm – L 145 x 248 mm
S 202 g – L 207 g
carbon composite
Selle Italia X-LR TM Air Cross Superflow
manganese tube Ø7 mm
100 euros
S 131 x 266 mm – L 145 x 266 mm
S 215 g – L 224 g
nylon
double density foam
Prologo Scratch M5 Pas
nack carbon / tirox
138/213 euros
250 x 140 mm
nack 134 g – Tirox 201 g
Prologo Dimension NDR
nack carbon / tirox / T4.0
109/138/213 euros
245 x 143 mm
nack 170 g – Tirox 215 g – T4.0 229 g
extra padding
Prologo Kappa Space
cro-mo Ø7 mm
78 euros
270 x 147 mm
249 g
nylon
Light foam

Sources

Siobhan Kelly, Fabric Scoop Gel Saddle, Road.cc, March 12, 2017
Paul Burwell, Selle San Marco Ground Dynamic saddle review, MBR, February 12, 2023
Paul Burwell, WTB SL8 saddle review, MBR, February 7, 2023
Guy Kesteven, Fizik Vento Argo R5 saddle review, Cycling News, September 30, 2020
Russell Burton, Fizik Tundra saddle review, Bikeradar, April 21, 2009
Paul Robson, Selle Italia SLR Boost Endurance TI316, Road.cc, January 21, 2021
Jeremy Benson, Selle Italia X-LR TM Air Cross Superflow Review, Outdoorgearlab, May 27, 2020
Graham Cottingham, Prologo Scratch M5 PAS saddle review, Cycling News, July 01, 2020
Paul Norman, Prologo Dimension NDR saddle review, Cyclist, May 7, 2020
bio vanseijen

Johan van Seijen

Founder Restoration.bike

Johan van Seijen is the founder of restoration.bike. His cycling career has seen him at the starting line of classics such as the Amstel Gold Race and Liege Bastogne Liege. Realizing his racing capacity would fall short of what was needed he obtained a MS from the University of Amsterdam in engineering. His love for cycling changed into riding in an amateur capacity with his local cycling club TFC Weesp as a roadie and supporting MTB Noordwest as a mountain biker. He repairs, restores, and builds bicycles and shares his knowledge on YouTube, Facebook and this website. 

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