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How To Install A Seat On Your MTB

June 10, 2020

Bike seats come in all shapes and sizes and what feels blissful to one rider might feel like torture to the next. Your bike might come with the perfect saddle already installed but it often takes a bit of trial and error to find your perfect match. In this post, Michael will walk through the basics of installing a seat on your MTB as well as what to consider when adjusting the position and angle.

What we'll cover

  • Removing the old seat
  • Cleaning the seat clamp to prevent creaks
  • Prepping the bolts
  • Attaching the seat
  • Fore-aft positioning
  • Horizontal alignment

Things you'll need

Remove the old seat

Most seatposts use a 2-bolt system to secure the seat and adjust the angle. Tightening the front bolt angles the nose down while tightening the rear bolt angles the nose up. To remove your seat, simply undo both these bolts until the thread is only just still engaged. This way you have enough play in the clamp to remove the saddle rails but you won't end up dropping all the small parts on the floor.

Give it a clean

With the saddle removed it's now a good opportunity to give everything a good clean to remove any dust and grit that might cause creaking once the new saddle is installed. If you do need to take the clamp apart fully it's a good idea to grab your phone and take a picture of it first so you can refer back to it later if you're not sure of the correct orientation when you put it all back together.

Prep the bolts

Before reinstalling the bolts, put some grease on the underside of the bolt head to help it torque up smoothly and stop it from creaking later on. Putting some blue Loctite on the threads themselves will also ensure that the bolts remain in place and won't back themselves out after a few rides.

You shouldn't need to put any grease on the seat clamp itself as this will just attract dirt. I would only recommend putting grease on the seat clamp if there are obvious signs of wear in the paint or anodizing as this is a sign that there is some play in there and the grease should help keep the creaks away. Just keep this to a minimum and wipe off any excess once you've got the new seat installed.

Attaching the seat

It's usually easiest to reinstall the seat with the bolts and the top plate still attached to the seatpost as you won't have to juggle as many small parts and won't run the risk of dropping something that will bounce away, never to be seen again. Only the very ends of the threads need to be engaged which should leave you with enough free play in the clamp to get both rails in there and start tightening it down.

Alternate between the two bolts so it keeps the saddle level and remember that tightening the front bolt will drop the nose of the saddle down and tightening the rear bolt will bring it up. When the clamp is almost tight it's time to fine-tune the fore-aft position and angle of the saddle.

Note: If you're really serious about your riding or have any kind of niggling issues that are causing you pain on or off the bike we'd highly recommend that you invest in a professional bike fit as there are a lot of factors to consider that are beyond the scope of this article.

Fore-aft positioning

The saddle can slide forwards or backwards to adjust your distance from the bars and get you in the right position for the most efficient pedal stroke. The basic rule of thumb is that the kneecap on your leading leg should be vertically inline with the pedal spindle when seated on the bike with the pedals level but this isn't always easy to achieve on a mountain bike.

Some frames with slack seat tubes will put you further back on the bike the higher your seat is so you might need to move the saddle quite far forward to compensate. The proportion of your limbs and torso can also make it difficult to get yourself in the right spot.

When adjusting the fore-aft position pay attention to the markings on your saddle rails and do not exceed the maximum range or you could end up damaging the saddle or bending your rails.

Horizontal alignment

Most saddles are designed to be run perfectly flat so this is the best place to start but some riders prefer to angle theirs up or down slightly to suit their anatomy or riding style. A small spirit level or even an app on your phone can be super useful to get the saddle perfectly level or to make 1-2 degree adjustments either way.

Tilting the nose of the saddle down a couple of degrees can provide a better position for climbing and make things comfier if the nose of the saddle feels like it's digging in. Don't get carried away though as tilting it down too far can make you slide forwards when pedalling or put more pressure on your hands.

Tilting the nose of a saddle up can make it easier to get off the back when negotiating technical terrain and this can often be seen on DH, Slopestyle, and 4X bikes. Seated pedalling and climbing isn't going to feel great though so it's best suited to riding disciplines where you'll spend more time standing than sitting down.

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Meet Michael!

Michael has always loved bikes, and began turning his passion into a career while still in high school, selling MTB parts from underneath his parent's house. Things have transformed since then and he's now co-owner of MTB Direct. His regular role is project management, especially around some rad new features for the site. When he's not out riding one of his many mountain bikes, he's looking after his two little girls and teaching them to ride!