Unlike road and MTB riders that spend long hours in the saddle and so require a comfortable but lightweight perch, BMX riders ask little of their saddles – only that they not get in the way.
Long-distance pedalling comfort is of little importance as most riders spend more time in the air than in the saddle, so seats tough enough to take to occasional impact and small enough not to be awkward when doing tricks are the order of the day.
Read on to find out more about BMX seats and to help choose one which is right for you.
As above, BMX seats are not intended for long hours pedaling in the saddle so the range and refinement of designs found in road and MTB saddles is not necessary – BMX seats are typically small enough to be unobtrusive and tough enough to take the impacts which are par for the course in park and street riding. That said, when it comes to attaching your BMX seat to your seatpost there are several different fitment standards in use, so when replacing or upgrading your saddle you will need to know which one you need (see ‘BMX Seats: In-Depth for more details on fitment standards).
Meanwhile some other things to take into consideration are materials, bumpers and width.
• Materials: The typical BMX seats consists of a moulded plastic hull with minimal polyurethane foam padding and a leather or synthetic cover. Cover material is a matter of personal choice – natural leather is supple, comfortable and durable, but expensive. Meanwhile synthetics such as nylon are tough and cheap, while materials such as Kevlar offer the ultimate in hard-wearing durability – but at a price.
• Bumpers: Most BMX seats will feature plastic or Kevlar bumpers at the nose and sides to protect against impacts.
• Width: There are three typical widths used for BMX seats – slim, fat and mid-width. Slim saddles may be favoured by race riders as they don’t get in the way when pedaling, while fat saddles are preferred by jump riders as they offer plenty of grip between the thighs for no-hands tricks. Mid-width saddles meanwhile are popular with many street and park riders as offering a fair compromise between the two.
One of the main things to consider when replacing or upgrading your BMX seat is the type of seatpost fitment used – i.e. the way by which the bottom of the seat attaches to the top of the seatpost. BMX seatposts are typically short (in comparison to road or MTB seatposts) with most of the post sitting inside the seat tube. There are five main fitment types – integrated, standard, railed, pivotal and tripod fitments.
• Integrated: This is where seat and seatpost are sold as one unit and they cannot be separated. With integrated seat/seatpost setups – as with all seatposts – it’s essential to make sure that the seatpost diameter matches the interior diameter of your bike’s seat tube. There are several sizes in common use, ranging from 22.2mm right up to 35mm in diameter. Most street, park, and jump frames require a 25.4mm post. To find out which size you need, check your current post – most will have their size stamped into them just below the minimum insertion line – or your frame specifications (via the manufacturer’s website).
• Standard: This is a simple metal pipe that slides into the seat tube, with the saddle bolted onto the top via a small clamp often referred to as the ‘seat guts’. This type of seatpost fitment is often found on older or low-budget bikes but some riders find that the seat guts can be obtrusive, especially for tricks where the seat is gripped by the thighs.
• Railed: Sometimes called a ‘micro-adjust’ seatpost, this is similar to the MTB and road bike standard, with twin rails underneath the BMX seat (usually made from 9mm chromoly steel) and a corresponding twin-bolt clamp on top of the seatpost.
• Pivotal: This is a newer standard which has become very common in recent years. The top of the seatpost is moulded with a series of adjustment grooves, into which the BMX set sits. The two are secured by means of a single bolt which goes through the top of the seat (pivotal seats are recognizable by the bolt slot between the nose and tail). Pivotal seats can only be used with pivotal seatposts, and vice-versa.
• Tripod: Another new and increasingly popular standard, the tripod fitment developed by Fly Bikes involves a triangular plate at the top of the seatpost with bolts in each corner, so the seat has three points of support. The tripod fitment has been licensed by a number of other BMX companies so you can expect to see it becoming more and more prevalent.