Why Are Mountain Bike Seats So Small And Hard? (Explained)

Why Are Mountain Bike Seats So Small and Hard

One of the essential things that should be your priority while riding is your comfort.

Meanwhile, among the things that mountain bikers do complain about frequently is their bike seats being small and hard.

However, even with their frequent complaints, the issue persists, making people think that there’s a solid reason why mountain biker manufacturers make the seats of their bikes small and hard.

And this leads to this question; why are mountain bike seats so small and hard?

There are several reasons mountain bike seats are so hard and small, including providing sufficient support for your ischial tuberosity (sit bones), preventing nerve compression, and increasing pedaling efficiency while riding. In addition, mountain bike seats aren’t designed to support your full weight, which is why they are always so small.

In this article, I will explain why mountain bike seats are always so hard and small. I will also enlighten you on the benefits of the hard and small seats on mountain bikes.

In addition, I will reveal if it’s possible and okay for you to replace the small seat of your mountain bike with a big one.

And by the end, you will be able to discover the suitable precautions to put in place if you find your mountain bike seats uncomfortable.

Why Do Mountain Bikes Have Hard and Small Seats?

Why Are Mountain Bike Seats So Small and Hard

Firstly, you need to note that bike seats aren’t actual seats but saddles, and unlike the chairs and sofas in your house, saddles aren’t designed to give you comfort.

Mountain bike saddles are intentionally made to be hard and small to provide optimum biking performance for their users.

One of the reasons mountain bike seats are always so hard and small is to provide adequate support for your ischial tuberosity (sit bones). 

Mountain bikes are designed for use on rough and unpredictable terrains, and of course, you will be going over several bumps while riding. 

Hence, the hard seat provides stability during the ride and prevents you from feeling the pain of the numerous bumps you come across.

In addition, unlike the seats in your house, mountain bike seats aren’t made to support your full weight but to hold your sit bones, and that’s why their seats are so small.

During biking, the weight of the rider shouldn’t be on his back, butt, or legs, but rather, the weight should be on the bike pedals to ensure pedaling efficiency and circulation.

Suppose the weight concentrates on any of the mentioned parts of the rider’s body.

In that case, it can cause damage to the parts, resulting in severe discomfort and discouraging the rider from riding.

In addition, another reason manufacturers do make mountain bike seats to be so small and hard is to prevent chafing. 

If the seat of a mountain bike is too big, the rider’s thighs will rub against the seat’s sides while riding, resulting in chafing, which is one of the situations MTB manufacturers try to avoid.

Therefore, the main reason mountain bike seats are always so small and hard is to enable and improve the overall performance of the biker.

Should Mountain Bike Seats be Soft or Hard?

A mountain bike seat must be hard, not soft if you want a great riding experience.

There are many reasons and benefits attached to mountain bike seats being hard, and one of them is that it protects the rider’s back. 

On the other hand, a soft seat on a mountain bike can cause damage to your sit bones. 

However, a hard seat provides optimum support to your back and protects you from feeling pain regardless of the number of bumps you go over during the ride.

Furthermore, a hard seat is essential on a mountain bike to prevent nerve compression. 

Mountain biking usually involves a long distance and sitting too long on a soft seat. 

While riding through rough and unpredictable trails can cause pain to your butt and back, eventually resulting in a poor pedaling experience.

Moreover, mountain bike seats aren’t made for relaxation.

However, they are designed to support only your back and not your full weight; therefore, your weight goes to the pedal resulting in pedaling efficiency.

In addition, a hard seat on mountain bikes is necessary to prevent soreness and chafing. 

A soft seat won’t enable you to sit upright while riding, and this causes your butt and thighs to rob against the saddle, eventually leading to chafing.

Hence, to prevent back pain, nerve compression, chafing, and poor pedaling experience when riding, you must ensure that your mountain bike seat (saddle) is hard and not soft.

Can You Put a Big Seat on a Mountain Bike?

Avoid putting a big seat on your mountain bike for your own sake and overall performance improvement.

One fact is that mountain bike seats aren’t designed to support your full weight when riding, their purpose is to give adequate support to your sit bones, and that’s why they’re always small.

Also, mountain bike seats aren’t made to give you comfort like the big and soft sofas in your house, and that’s why they’re called saddles. 

But instead, the small saddles on your mountain bikes are made to increase your cycling performance. 

Meaning any increment in the size of the saddle will decrease your performance as the rider.

However, if you’re the type that prioritizes sitting comfort over performance, then you can choose to replace your mountain bike’s small saddle with a big one.

Meanwhile, it would be best if you prepared for a decrease in overall performance because the big seat will affect your pedaling efficiency.

In addition, you must be prepared for severe soreness and chafing if you’re riding a long distance with a big mountain bike seat. 

Because your thighs will frequently rub against the sides of the seat.

Therefore, to avoid any of these situations, it would be best to go for a seat compatible with your anatomy, and most times, a small seat on a mountain bike is the ideal option.

Can You Install Shifter Seats on Mountain Bikes?

Shifter seats are a good improvement nowadays; you should install them on your mountain bikes. Therefore, you can install a shifter seat on your mountain bike.

Indeed, shifter seats have a lot of benefits, and they can make a whole lot of difference in your riding performance.

Mountain biking involves riding in tough, unpredictable, and rough terrains and shifter seats help control many unexpected situations.

Shifter seats allow you to easily adjust the height of your mountain bike seat without you having to get down, especially when you go over different descents and bumps during your ride.

However, it’s essential to ensure that you get a shifter seat compatible with your bike to ensure optimum effectiveness.

To choose a compatible shifter seat for your mountain bike, all you need to do is to find out the width of your existing mountain bike seat, as you will be getting a shifter seat with a similar size.

Also, ensure that the shifter seat you get fits well into your mountain bike seat tube, don’t force it if you notice any obstruction; the shifter seat must be compatible with your bike.

Check out the table below to learn more about the pros and cons of a shifter seat on a mountain bike.

It improves the riding experience.A shifter seat is quite expensive.
It increases safety during mountain biking.It adds extra weight to the bike.
It improves pedaling efficiency.It requires extra maintenance.
It increases stability while riding through rough terrains.It can be complicated if not mastered well.
It allows you to maneuver through descents and bumps easily.

How Do I Make My Mountain Bike Seat More Comfortable?

Due to the hardness and small size of mountain bike seats, people tend to complain too much about being uncomfortable when riding. 

Meanwhile, the hard and small seat isn’t the one responsible for your discomfort when riding, it could be the poor installation of the seat, and it could be due to bad posture.

However, this situation is something you can prevent and control.

Therefore, if you feel uncomfortable with your mountain bike seat, below are some of the precautions you should put in place:

  • Ensure you install and set your mountain bike seat properly. 
  • The seat mustn’t be too high or low, and you must take note of this to prevent you from experiencing back pain during and after rides.
  •  Also, ensure that you maintain a good posture while riding. Sit properly on the widest part of the seat, don’t tilt to one side, sit straight, and keep your head upright.
  • Your back and shoulders must relax, and ensure you stretch your arms perfectly when reaching the handlebars.
  • More so, you can get a padded cover. The padded cover provides adequate comfort for your butt and back.
  • Lastly, dress well when riding a mountain bike, depending on the weather. Ensure you wear suitable and comfortable cycling gear.

If you can take the above-mentioned precautions, your mountain bike seat will become comfortable, and your cycling experience will improve adequately.

Josh Matthews

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