The Selle SMP Pro handily picked up our Editors' Choice award. It slayed across measures and kicked tail out on the road in both short and long rides. Speaking of tail, it has the added benefit of not rudely smashing you in the tail because its nose is downturned to accommodate all the fevered standing and attacking you can deliver. It was just as comfortable sitting out there in the sun for three or four hours as it was pressing in on the front of the nose down in the drops trying to bridge gaps and cover attacks.
Selle SMP Pro Review
Cons: Pricey, can alter riding form, can focus pressure points
Compare to Similar Products
Our Analysis and Test Results
On the scoresheet, the Selle SMP Pro performs exceptionally well, matching the previous Editors' Choice tit-for-tat, but on the road, it's even better!
It has a few things going for it. First is the open cut that saves the perineum from taking the brunt of your weight and hammering, focusing pressure more on the ischial bones, particularly assisted by the broader rear platform. Its design also includes a tapered or downturned nose, which prevents riders from jamming the nose into their tail when exhaustedly or aggressively slamming back into the saddle (don't lie, you know you've done it and made an awful vocalization in front of your friends when you did it).
They use a carbon-reinforced nylon shell atop steel alloy 304 rails for stiffness and stability. Their foam elastomer padding has the right mix of firmness and cushion, keeping you happy in the saddle until the riding is done. Their Primo Fiore leather seat cover is the last major win for this bit of essential gear. Its smooth, soft surface allowed just enough sliding to accommodate adjustment without sticking or squeaking. Keep in mind that only the black version comes in leather. Colored versions come in high-performance Lorica Microfiber.
It took the top spot in this measure, but there were a few other great models worth a look. If you're happy with the open cut, but want to scale it down a bit, consider looking at the super light, speedy Specialized Phenom Expert. If you're in the market for something a little slower in a more traditional design, we think you'll like the Top Pick for Touring winner, the Fi'zi:k Aliante Gamma Kium.
One of the biggest concerns we had just looking at this saddle was that we would end up feeling like we were straddling a small box-frame. The concern was allayed after a quick spin and forgotten after a few longer rides. Firm foam padding, stiff alloy rails, and a solid carbon-reinforced nylon shell ensure little power is lost in the saddle without sacrificing comfort. The leather cover and tapered nose smoothly mitigate thigh-rub and minimize saddle-thigh collision, keeping you in the flow.
It ranked highly, with only a few other models that could touch it here. The Specialized Power Expert also features a larger cut-out and showed a similar range of excellent performance across sprints, chases, descents, and long, slow cruises, though its bulky design could leave a bit to be desired. The more traditionally designed Fi'zi:k Antares excelled in stiffness and power transfer, making an ideal racing saddle. The Specialized Phenom Expert, the previous Editors' Choice, also ranks up here. It also has unmatched power transfer and stiffness along the center with an Adaptive Edge that flexes during pedaling. The Selle SMP finds the middle way between rigid power transfer, cooperative flex, and ergonomic design, landing itself among the best products.
We have no reason to believe that the life of this saddle shouldn't be many seasons, so long as you aren't chewing on the nose or taking a ton of hard spills. The premium leather (black) or Lorica (colored) cover will last a long time, particularly given the strong, tucked-away anchoring under the shell. The cover is tough nylon with carbon fiber reinforcement, adding considerable strength to the framing. It sits atop rails made of tubular 304 steel - the most common type of stainless steel, selected for its resistance to corrosion. Padding can also wear down over time, but the foamed elastomer, which is essentially rubber, showed no signs of breaking down and generally lasts much longer than lighter, less dense forms of padding.
The more durable models tended to be more streamlined with less padding or to include more durable materials like the mangalloy-railed Fi'zi:k Monte Manganese, whose rails and protective plastic guards ensure there's no structural distortion or torn cover.
The only concern is that the cover is held with staples and glue without a firm guard like that found in the Fi'zi:k Aliante Gamma K:IUM, so tearing at any junction would be a slippery slope to a slowly tearing or peeling cover. Predictably, however, streamlined saddles like the Fabric Scoop Flat Pro and Specialized Phenom Expert top the chart, sacrificing padding and comfort for increased durability and lower weight.
One of the surprising things about this thing was that it wasn't just a cruiser. Its bulk and padding would suggest it's for the folks that prefer to sit in when the attacking starts. Don't get us wrong, it's a great saddle for exactly that, but its downturned nose is perfect for getting down in the drops and doing some pain-infliction of your own. Its padding and cut-out also make it a great saddle for the sit down and grind style of climbing for those of you lucky enough to have categorized climbs in your life. It also does well in the distance category, making it a good choice for touring and centuries.
The only other model to touch it was the Fi'zi:k Aliante Gamma K:IUM. The more traditional style may appeal to some riders, though its sleeker profile and lower weight come at the price of comfort. It certainly has its application to sprinting and cruising and grind-climbing, but it might not do as well in touring or on centuries.
This might put the weight weenies off with its 337g, which can be mostly attributed to its supple leather, thick elastomer (rubber) foam padding, and tough nylon 12-carbon fiber shell. The rails are also 304 steel, but there's a lighter carbon option. Keep in mind, however, that the saddle still weighs just ¾ of a pound. Chances are you'll lose that much in sweat in the first 20 minutes of riding. If it's going to be a deal-breaker, Selle thought about it, because they also offer a CBR frame version that comes in at about 290g.
If you are really counting the grams and want a seriously light saddle, take a look at the Fabric Scoop Flat Pro, just 176g, but don't expect much in the way of padding. If you can suffer the comfort, but still insist on an incredibly light seat, take a look at the Fi'zi:k Antares.
As explained in the versatility section, this saddle does well across the board, but its design really lends itself to some pursuits more than others. Clearly, those looking to take some pressure off the perineal region would do well to try this thing out, but general cruisers will also find a good ride with the Selle SMP Pro.
This is a premium saddle that hits a ridership segment looking for that certain structural reprieve, and they're not shy about pricing it accordingly. That said, $270 for a well-designed, comfortable, versatile road bike saddle.
There's no question that a lot of riders will find relief from this saddle, but it offers so much more with its other attributes. Its cushy upper pads even the boniest bottom while the strong, stiff nylon 12 shell with carbon reinforcement can support even the heftiest hiney. It's as suited to climbing as it is sprinting and will keep you happy cruising or touring. The Selle truly earns its spot as the Editors' Choice.
— Ryan Baham