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Test – SMP saddles

SMP saddles attract everyone’s attention by their unusual design. This trade mark is known for its eagle-beak nose, robust free central channel and a raised rear.

 Each one of this features has its own meaning and the models provided can be distinguished by the degree these features are emphasized. The main goal of all Selle SMP saddles is to reduce pressure on the perineum and the consequent pressing of neuro-vascular structures and disperse it to the rear and to the sides. In order to prevent problems and pathologies many cyclists face (e.g. prostrate tumours, difficult urination, erectile dysfunction, hemorrhoids) due to long-term sitting on a saddle, Selle SMP brings special shapes and curvatures.

The eagle-beak nose brings variability to move forward and get some extra stability by leaning more to front during increased power output, e.g. when accelerating, riding in a time-trial. Riding a bike will never give you the same feeling as sitting on a sofa does of course. But the lowered saddle nose does bring some extra support when leaning to front and is also more comfortable than normal shaped – flat – saddles. Furthermore, the most important thing for male riders is that testicles are not pressed upward.

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Special dimensions of the central channel facilitate blood flow by preventing the genito-urinary area from undergoing any pressure. Especially heavy and overweight cyclists are prone to having problems lasting even for several hours after their ride. The central channel also brings more air to the genito-urinary area and thus prevents sore spots creation and sweating. Massive central channel brings some downsides in the sitting position though – one needs to get used to the feeling of body weight being devided between the rear and the lower part of the ischial tuberosities instead of the genito-urinary area. Now this is only a question of habit, once you spend some time on it and the fit is dialled in, the seat becomes very comfortable – I would compare this feeling to a feeling you get from a saddle each spring when starting riding your bike a winter break.

Another striking characteristic of the saddle is its bending, or the concave shape. This is only an illusion as the saddle itself is flat in the central part, with a raised rear. Again, there is a special reason for this design. It gives you a bonus support in long climbs or long-term sitting in the saddle. I would compare this feature to a spine support tool – even a slight stabilization of a spine makes big impact on one’s power output. You have to be careful with the saddle installation due to this raised rear – forget the front and rear part of SMP saddle being in one line horizontally. Unless you want to experience the Hell of course. The correct positioning of the saddle is the front and middle parts being in line horizontally, with the nose pointing down and the rear part up. I know what you think, saddle in this position looks really bad and terribly non-professional at first sight. This view is full of prejudice and stereotype though. If the saddle is positioned correctly, it is very comfortable despite the weird looks. The eagle’s-beak gives impression of the nose sloping down – despite this feature, you don’t slide down from the saddle, both the frontal down-sloping and the raised rear give you a special support on the contrary.

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After first few rides with your new saddle, you get a feeling of great relief in the genito-urinary area, great back support and a very comfortable feeling in general. During these first kilometres, you’ll sense your lower ischial tuberosities which is normal and caused by a different pattern of sitting and distributing your body weight compared to your previous saddle. Once the bones get used to this seating, you will not feel any difference. There is a huge difference in the pressure your body will be relieved from now on – a healthy prostate and all genital area responsible for erection will be your positive side effect. There is a big deal of truth in the popular saying „Prostate is not a liver, it does not recover so fast“. Therefore these saddles are appreciated mostly by elder riders. Since the best cure ever is a prevention of problems, I encourage young riders to try SMP saddle – if nothing else, it will prolongue their healthy sexual life. I remember well riding a flat, stiff plastic saddle which looked like a torture tool or a seat for criminals at my early age. I’m not that young anymore and sitting at straight and stiff saddle causes me a lot of pain in the prostate area. SMP saddles are one way of prevention of future prostate problems.

There is a wide range of models available, with different shapes and width. The most frequently used models belong to two type families – one type comprising saddles Evolution, Stratos and Glider and the other one comprising Carbon, Forma and Dynamic. Very comfortable models Lite, Pro, Avant and Plus were designed primarly for hobby riders. But also our team member Ján Malachovský talks only in superlatives of his Plus saddle, which has been specifically designed for big boys with wider pelvis. The saddle looks immense at first sight, even its weight being significantly higher compared to other types, but the comfort of riding is comparable to sitting on a sofa and brings a slight touch of comfort into this beautiful sport.

All SMP saddles are manufactured in great detail, and this high quality approach is even highlighted by a natural leather material used in the black color version. Lorica is used for white-color versions. Members of Cycling Team Banská Bystrica decided to go for the leather alternative due to its long-lasting durability. Leather is practicly imperishable, it keeps its ‘new’ look for a long time. We tested it vastly in numerous falls and by indelicate handling of our bikes in Africa races – our saddles are proof the real leather outlasts any other synthetic material. The biggest inconvenience of deciding for leather and high quality pads is its weight. The comfort or riding definitelly exceeds this basically sole handicap and is worth the extra 50g.

Some of our members use the Stratos type saddles – the trio of Evolution (Haring, Debnár), Stratos (Bátora, Viglaský, Longauer, Novák) and Glider (Glajza). All these models have a common skeleton. Differences can be found mostly in the padding – Evolution having the hardest padding, Glider having the most robust one and Stratos being somewhere inbetween. All models have a genuine leather coating and rails are made of a special steel alloy. It is also possible to change the rails for carbon ones in order to save some grams in weight, but I regard this being a waste of money and material for racing purposes due to risk of fall in races. All three of these models have a slightly higher nose and the rear is not raised as much as in the other models of the SMP portfolio. These models are rather narrow, not designed for wide hips. Definitelly a good choice for people who have a special liking for the usual type of saddle.

Other part of the team decided to go for the Carbon family saddles – Carbon, Forma and Dynamic. To be precise, all races went for the Dynamic model (Vojtášová, Hanesová, Fraňo, Zrelica). All these saddles have the same skeleton with Carbon being made of pure carbon material with no padding, Forma having a leather padding and Dynamic having a thin padding with a leather surface. Dynamic model is a rather firm saddle at first touch, can be compared to the narrower Evolution model. This group of saddles has more visible characteristic features of the SMP saddles – the eagle-beak nose and the raised rear what gives an impression of the saddle being fully bent. Again, I call for the correct saddle installation – one needs to be aware of the stronger support of the rear and a lower nose. The skeleton of these saddles is slightly wider and suitable for riders with wide hips and/or problems in the genito-urinary area. Its width gives a special comfort and relaxes the middle genital part. Despite its slightly bizzare bent look, Dynamic model is the best selling model of this family. This attribute is given to Stratos in the family of the narrower Stratos type saddles.

I can only recommend SMP saddles to anyone. Great variety of shapes and widths should satisfy every rider. I also hope our experience will be of a good help to potential customers. The rather higher price and weight are way outclassed by great deal of comfort and durability. I would definitelly not recommend to decide which saddle to buy based on its weight – you can easily save some grams in basically any other part of the bike, but the positive effects a good saddle rewards you - well functioning genital organs - are scarce to find.

Our female rider, Zuzana Vojtášová, shares impressions of her SMP Dynamic saddle after one week of using it: "I was really surprised how fast I got used to my new SMP Dynamic saddle. The central seating part is indeed very similar to the saddle I used before – I mean the shape of it. What was new to me, was sitting on only two bars instead of on a whole surface of a saddle since there is this central channel. Until now I used one of the hardest saddles at first touch, but it was very flexible in the central part actually. SMP Dynamic is not that flaxible in the central part, rather very firm what suits me perfectly when riding road. I’m a bit worried of my first cyclocross though – there I don’t sit in the same spot all the time and this is not particularly a saddle that invites to a lot of moving around plus there is the question of remounting my bike during a cyclocross race. With the rear of the saddle being raised, I’m a bit worried about catching my pants by the saddle when mounting on the bike. I guess it will help me to improve my bike remounting technique. I am a big fan of any new ergonomics in all aspects of my life, so I am very happy for being given the opportunity to test this rather costly saddle. I am a pretty critical consumer, but have to admit my first impressions of my SMP Dynamic saddle are truly only positive."

 

 


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