It may come as a surprise to a beginner when you buy a new comfy looking mountain bike and find that the seat is incredibly hard.
Why can you not have a nice cushioned seat that will complement the responsive suspension to make it feel like you are riding on clouds?
Why do mountain bikes have hard seats? It turns out, they have hard seats to help with performance, and strangely enough, comfort!
A hard seat allows more of your power to be converted into the pedals’ momentum instead of getting dampened by a cushioned seat. While mountain biking on trails, you should be combining sitting with standing as you conquer the terrain.
Unlike a city bike or cruiser where you just need to sit down for more extended periods and not be doing as much pedaling.
A hard seat on a mountain bike improves pedaling efficiency, especially when cycling at a high cadence.
Counterintuitively hard seats on mountain bikes are more comfortable than seats with a lot of padding.
During intense efforts, a padded seat can absorb sweat, making it uncomfortable for the rest of the ride.
Also, as padding usually makes the seat wider, you decrease the risk of chafing and saddle sores with a stiffer mountain bike seat on long rides.
Finally, a good mountain bike will have enough suspension to handle the bumpy terrain on trails, so you should not be relying on a bike seat to soften any blows. A hard bike seat will improve your posture and offer further support to your lower back.
If you have tried out your new hard saddle on your mountain bike and are getting discomfort, the likelihood is that it has nothing to do with how cushioned (or not) your saddle is.
If your bottom end is hurting after just a short time in the saddle, the issue is usually a misaligned saddle or seat post, sitting in the wrong place, or excess fabric between the seat and your body.
Unless you are a professional, your mountain bike saddle does not have to be rock hard. But, do not be surprised if it comes with only a small padding layer (especially compared to city and commuter bikes).
The harder saddle will help your performance and comfort in the long run.
When you want soft and comfy, it is time to take a break!
Pro Tip: If you are going to go out and buy a new seat for you bike, make sure its going to fit, and that it is universal!