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Your Guide to Buying a Saddle for Your Mountain Bike

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Your Guide to Buying a Saddle for Your Mountain Bike
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Your Guide to Buying a Saddle for Your Mountain Bike

The saddle of a bicycle is used to hold some of the body weight of the cyclist, whilst also providing a sense of comfortability and shock absorption in the process.

There are a variety of different saddles available for the variety of different bicycles that are on the market. However, saddles designed for mountain bikes are often very particular in their structure and design features.

When going to purchase a saddle for a mountain bike, there are a number of considerations that need to be accounted for both before the buying process, as well as during it.

Mountain bike saddles are available as brand new and used on auction sites such as eBay and the site allows buyers to purchase them at affordable rates.

The subsequent guide aims to take those wishing to purchase a mountain bike saddle through the process of buying one in an affordable and secure manner.

Components of a Mountain Bike Saddle

When purchasing a mountain bike saddle, it is a worthwhile venture in getting to know the various anatomical parts that make up the saddle. This can help with deciding which specially designed components are most suitable for personal riding requirements.

There are four major components that make up a mountain bike saddle and they all play a vital role in the comfort and efficiency of riding this type of bike. They are listed and detailed in this table:

Shell

The shell of a mountain bike saddle decides the structure of the saddle. At one end of the saddle is the nose (this is at the end closest to the handlebars), and this plays an important role in deciding the type of mountain bike saddle that is to be purchased. The overall shell of a saddle can come in a variety of different shapes, the importance of which will be discussed further on in the guide. In terms of the materials used for mountain bike saddles, they are often made from hard plastics or for more advanced saddles, carbon fibre.

Rails

The rails of a mountain bike saddle play a vital role in providing support and suspension for the bicycle saddle. This is important for mountain bikes as they are often used on rough and bumpy terrains and tracks. For standard mountain bike saddles, the rails run from the nose of the saddle to the back end and will have a diameter of approximately 7 millimetres. There are more advanced mountain bike saddles that will have rails with a larger diameter to account for rougher terrains and faster speeds. Saddle rails are made from a number of materials, from the stronger and lighter carbon fibre, to the more affordable but still effective aluminium or steel.

Cover

The cover of a mountain bike saddle is the fabric that is stretched over the shell to provide the comfortability element. Most often, covers will be made from leather, although synthetic plastics and rubbers are also used. Mountain bike saddle covers will also often have a certain amount of cushioning to provide relief for the more sensitive parts of the body that sit on the saddle. This cushioning is usually made from foam and varying degrees of cushioning are available.

Suspension

With one of the main priorities of a mountain bike saddle being to help out with shock absorption and travel, the suspension is one of the more important things that potential buyers of mountain bike saddles should think about. The foam cushioning mentioned above goes some way to providing this shock absorption, however there are a number of different forms of suspension that can be incorporated into the saddle to allow for enhanced shock decrease. Often, mountain bike saddles will have a set of springs fitted to deal with rough ground and heavy landings so as to provide further relief for the mountain bike rider.

Materials Used in Mountain Bike Saddles

Mountain bike saddles will use various materials that have their benefits and disadvantages, depending on what level of mountain bike is being used. Some materials will allow for more shock absorption, whilst others are more affordable. These materials are mainly used for the rails of the mountain bike saddle, however there is a degree of variety in the materials used for mountain bike shells also.

The different mountain bike saddle materials are detailed below:

Carbon Fibre

Carbon fibre is thought of as one of the best materials to be used on most components of a mountain bike. As far as saddles are concerned, it may be used for both the shell of the saddle, as well as the rails. Carbon fibre is appreciated for the fact that it is incredibly light. This is where carbon fibre becomes even more impressive. It is also the strongest material used in the manufacturing of mountain bike saddles. A mountain bike saddle with a carbon fibre shell and rails will provide proficient resistance to shock, as well as refraining from adding any unnecessary weight to the bicycle. However, due to these properties, it is also the more expensive out of the mountain bike saddle materials. 

Nylon

Whilst not used for mountain bike saddle rails, it is often used for the shell of the saddle. It is a hard material but it does add weight to the bike, meaning that it is not used widely amongst those who ride mountain bikes at a more advanced level. If there are monetary issues involved in the purchase of a mountain bike saddle then nylon may be a cost-effective option.

Aluminium

Aluminium is used mainly as a material for mountain bike rails. It is generally considered to be a mid-range material as it is strong and robust but it is heavier than the likes of carbon fibre. Mountain bikes with aluminium saddle rails are widely available as it is an affordable material.

Titanium

Much like aluminium, titanium sits in the middle of the spectrum of mountain bike saddle materials. It is, however, slightly lighter than titanium and just as, if not, slightly stronger. Most mountain bike riders would recommend paying a little bit extra for a saddle with titanium rails and justify this through the fact that it is much stronger and lighter than the materials used on the lower end of the saddle material spectrum.

Mountain Bike Saddle Shape

One of the other considerations that need to be factored into the buying process is the shape of the mountain bike saddle. Different shapes of saddle are used for different mountain bike riding styles.

Narrow Mountain Bike Saddles

Mountain bike saddles that are narrow in shape are mainly used by those who race mountain bikes or by those who wish to perform stunts and tricks. The reason for this is that the narrower the saddle, the more room there is for the body to move and thus, the faster the rider can pedal. There is a wide range of narrow mountain bike pedals available on the likes of eBay.

Wider Mountain Bike Saddles

Wider mountain bike saddles are designed for those who wish to enjoy as much comfortability as possible whilst riding their mountain bike. Wider saddles tend to be used by those who ride their mountain bikes at a more recreational level. They are also used by those who take part in longer mountain bike riding sessions. Wider mountain bike saddles will also tend to have more cushioning to further enhance comfort.

Cutaway Mountain Bike Saddles

Both narrow and wide mountain bike saddles are also available with cutaways in the middle of the saddle. Whilst this may look odd, it is an extremely useful means of providing added comfort and relief to those riding mountain bikes. What with the saddle being sat on by the more sensitive parts of the human body, a cutaway allows for a pressure relief to prevent injury whilst riding.

Buying Used Mountain Bike Saddles

Mountain bike saddles are very much available from auction sites such as eBay. One may wish to purchase a used mountain bike saddle if they have a preferred brand that cannot be found elsewhere, or if there is a budget limit in place.

There are certain things to look out for when buying a used mountain bike saddle, however. These include:

  • Wear and Tear:If a mountain bike saddle has had a previous owner, it may have been used extensively. Due to the nature of mountain bike riding, it is usual for mountain bike saddles to suffer from wear and tear from overuse. Therefore, if a saddle cover has any signs of small rips in the material one should ensure that a price is paid that reflect the condition of the saddle.
  • Rust:This is a particular problem for the parts of the saddle that may be made from the various metals mentioned in the table earlier in the guide. Naturally, mountain bikes can be ridden in wet conditions and so rust may occur on these metal parts if the saddle has not been regularly maintained. If buying a used mountain bike saddle it may be worth keeping an eye out for signs of rust in the images provided by the seller, as rust can cause a decrease in the effectiveness of the saddles performance.

Buying a Mountain Bike Saddle on eBay

The purchase of a used mountain bike saddle can be done on an auction site such as eBay, and so can brand new, boxed mountain bike saddles. To gain access to the listings of mountain bike saddles on the site, one should visit the Sporting Goods category of the site and click on the Cycling link. From here, find the Bike Components and Parts option and choose the Saddles filter tab. Finally, find the Bike Type search refinement tabs and select mountain bike from the menu. The keyword search bar and the rest of the filter tabs can then be used to specify the product listings.

When browsing the products available it is always best to be thorough in the reading of product descriptions to ensure that the mountain bike saddle matches up to specific needs. Also, check the images that should be provided by the seller for the same reasons. If there is not enough information provided, one can always contact the seller to gain more of an understanding about the product that is for sale.

Upon the eventuality that a suitable mountain bike saddle will be found, it is time to use eBay’s numerous buying options to complete the transaction. eBay allows buyers to:

eBay recommends the use of PayPal to ensure a safe and smooth transaction but be sure to take note of the terms and conditions of both of these companies.

Conclusion

The key to buying a saddle for a mountain bike is knowing what is best for personal requirements. Most mountain bike riders will have subjective needs and tastes when it comes to the saddle that they use.

Remember to account for the lightness of the bike with the likes of a carbon fibre saddle, or purchase a cushioned saddle if comfortability is a priority.

Being knowledgeable and informed on the topic of mountain bike saddles will always amount to an astute and sensible purchase that will match performance needs.

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