A Guide to XC Cross Country Mountain Bike Racing Saddle Setup


This one is for not only beginners but other XC cross country riders as well that simply may have neglected to learn about proper saddle adjustment.

The are 2 primary adjustments that can be made for an XC Cross Country Mountain Bike Racing Saddle:

Saddle Adjustment Tilt

To adjust, loosen or tighten the one horizontal bolt beneath the saddle, generally an Allen bolt, made of alloy that requires and Allen wrench. The saddle will now tilt down or up as you desire.

Tip for adjusting the tilt on an XC Mountain Bike Racing Saddle

The key is find the happy medium between your regiment of climbing (ascending) and bombing the trail, (descending). The higher the front of the saddle is tilted upward, without obviously reaching the point of discomfort lends itself better to descending the trail as it is easier to get over the rear tire of the bike, where you want to be for going down a steep trail. The reverse is true, and tilting the saddle lower, so the front end gets closer to the ground, is more efficient for climbing very steep hills. This position helps you to get more forward over the handlebars as you slightly slide forward as you ascend a very steep hill. So the adjustment must compromise between the two.

Important: Your adjustment should avoid any discomfort, and most importantly not cause any additional chafe or excessive rubbing to your legs or other delicate regions.

Sometimes this can occur no matter where you adjust the saddle, simply because the saddle is not designed well, or it just isn’t contoured properly for your body. Never continue to use a saddle that is damaged, and don’t attempt to add tape or other quick fixes, unless of course this is just a band aid on the actual trail so you can make it home with the damage.

A saddle that rubs on you can cause all kinds of havoc on your skin, trust me, it can be ugly, painful, and stop you from riding until you heal.

Tip #1: Leave a little tension on the bolt, i.e. don’t loosen it so much the saddle flops all the way down. With some tension on the bolt, you can make small adjustments and the saddle will stay in position so you can tighten it.

Tip #2: Check the size of the Allen wrench you used to make adjustments and make sure this size is available on your multi tool.

Saddle Adjustment Rail Slider

This adjustment will be made by loosening the vertical Allen bolt that attaches the saddle to the saddle post. Thus allowing the rails of the saddle to be slid forward towards the front tire, or to the rear, towards the rear tire.

Wrong: Some riders use this adjustment to help compensate for a stem that is bit too long or short, but isn’t the correct way to use this adjustment, and if this is how you are using it you should, replace the stem.

Correct: This adjustment should be used to get you body properly aligned with your pedaling position and set up your weight so there is the proper center of gravity adjustment when your body is in the saddle.

Make this adjustment by setting the saddle so when you are on the saddle pedaling, about 60% of your weight is rearward / 40% frontward. This is all about traction control, while keeping the front tire down on steep climbs, but still being able to properly descend. Of course the length of the saddle has to be factored in, your riding style, whether you have selected a frame a bit on the larger size or smaller size, your body height / weight.

Generally for the best pedaling position, and traction control, the saddle tends to be slid a little rearwards, past its center point. Also for the ergonomics of your body and based on the frame / saddle post, it usually best to be a little bit in the rear. Again this isn’t exact, and will require a little tweaking, as different riders will select a slightly different position.

Mountain Bike Saddles

Related Articles