Cycling is a huge amount of fun, and there’s nothing like long days out riding on the road or ripping down muddy trails on an MTB. At Bike Test Reviews, we often get asked questions about cycling equipment across disciplines.
A common question we are often asked is, can you use a road bike saddle on an MTB (Mountain Bike)? In this article, we will answer this question by telling you the difference between both saddles and what you might experience from using a road bike saddle on an MTB.
What is the difference between a road bike saddle and an MTB saddle?
The first thing to mention is road bike saddles, and MTB saddles are completely different from each other. Although they might look very similar, they have some subtle differences, which we will explain here.
MTB saddles and road bike saddles are actually designed quite differently. Road bike saddles are designed to be very flat and don’t offer much support in bringing you back to the center of the saddle if you go over a bump.
When it comes to MTB saddles they typically are raised at the rear so even after going over a tough bump and bouncing off the saddle it will help return you behind to the resting place you were at before.
When it comes to road bike saddles, generally they have a very small amount of padding as they typically don’t require it. This is because you are not having to bounce on the saddle as much.
You will also find the padding to be thin and of a different density as it doesn’t require to be as thick as mountain bike saddle padding.
MTB saddles have more padding because, on rough terrain, your body typically bounces on and off it. You also have a different density of the padding, which will be packed with more foam and reduce the vibration from using MTB tires on rough surfaces.
When it comes to the fundamentals of saddles, it’s important to mention the shell. On road bikes, you will have a lightweight, fairly thin shell. On an MTB saddle, you have a thick shell. This means it can take more of a hit and is going to be much stronger.
If you were to use a road bike saddle on an MTB, the shell won’t be as strong but providing you’re not abusing it too much and bouncing up and down on it all the time, it should be ok. There’s more chance of it breaking after years and years of off-road use.
Then we have flexibility. With a road bike saddle having a thinner shell, you get more flexibility than an MTB saddle with a thicker shell. You typically won’t notice a huge amount of difference, but for long-distance riding, it can change the comfort level.
Although only a small difference, you will find road bike saddles to generally be lighter than MTB saddles. This is because they have a thinner shell, less padding, and don’t need to be as strong and resilient compared to a mountain bike saddle.
Can you use a road bike saddle on an MTB?
The short answer is yes. You can use a road bike saddle on an MTB. They even have the same rail fitment and sizing. You might not have as great an experience though. Here’s what you can expect;
Road bike saddles are going to be less comfortable on a mountain bike. They have less padding and are not shaped for mountain biking, and on those longer rides, you will notice this.
More chance of it breaking
If you are planning on some very challenging trails that are going to throw you around and you’re likely to drop the bike, then you might not want a road bike saddle. There’s a great chance it will be fine, but there’s always a risk.
Will find yourself shuffling more
One thing many mountain bikers find using a road saddle is that they find themselves shuffling a lot more to get into the right place. This is because road saddles are flatter, and mountain bike saddles force you into one single place.
Yes, you can use a road bike saddle on a mountain bike. It won’t give you the same experience though, and there’s a chance you might find it less comfortable. Also, the saddle does have a higher chance of breaking. Thanks for reading our article.
Robbie Ferri has spent years working in a bike shop, has worked with industry leading brands on product creation, has been a semi pro athlete, and is a fully qualified strength and conditioning coach. He has broken World Records, bikepacked all over the World and raced ultra distance at a top-level.