Selle SMP Pro Review
Compare prices at 2 resellers Pros: Huge pressure relief channel, supports variable riding positions, good for long rides
Cons: Pricey, can alter riding form, can cause pressure points
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Our Analysis and Test Results
With an extreme cutout design that many riders will appreciate, a unique sloping profile that is versatile throughout a wide variety of riding positions, and a high-end leather cover, the Selle SMP Pro scores well across the board. While it's a little on the heavier side compared to some other high-end models, its premium materials and construction that help create the unique pressure-relieving design help offset the potential weight penalty. Read on to see if it's the right saddle for you!
When it comes to comfort, the SMP Pro has some obvious design features in its favor. First is the gigantic, full-length pressure relief channel that saves your soft tissues from taking the brunt of your weight, and instead focuses the contact onto your sit bones. Its design also includes a dramatically downturned nose, which prevents riders from jamming their rear into the nose when exhaustedly or aggressively slamming back into the saddle.
While this dramatic relief channel certainly performs as advertised, and the seating platform gets broader towards the tail of the saddle, it still provides a smaller seating area than on most other saddles. This means that if the sit bones in your anatomy don't properly align with the seating platforms, it can lead to some uncomfortable pressure points. Selle advertises that this saddle is best suited for riders with a USA 34-39 pants size, and some of our smaller testers outside this range found that this design didn't suit them as well.
They SMP Pro features a carbon-reinforced nylon shell atop steel alloy 304 rails for stiffness and stability, and the foam elastomer padding is definitely also on the firmer side to help support the unique shape of the saddle. The Primo Fiore leather seat cover is a nice luxurious-feeling bonus, with a smooth, soft surface that allows just enough sliding to accommodate repositioning without sticking or squeaking. Keep in mind that only the black version comes in leather. The colored versions come in high-performance Lorica Microfiber.
After researching some online user reviews, we found that there are other riders who, like some of our testers, found that it took a bit of tinkering to get the saddle positioned just right for a comfortable ride. Because of the extreme sloping profile of this seat, it's imperative to get the fore and aft adjustment and the tilt of the saddle just right. Luckily, Selle has assembly instructions on their website to help you get the saddle mounted correctly. The bottom line is that riders who typically experience pressure or discomfort in their sensitive soft tissues will find tremendous relief with this saddle!
One of the biggest concerns we had when we first looked at this saddle was that we would end up feeling like we were straddling a small box-frame. This concern was soon alleviated after the first quick spin and forgotten after a few longer rides. Firm foam padding, stiff alloy rails, and a solid carbon-reinforced nylon shell ensure that very little power is lost in the saddle without sacrificing comfort. The leather cover and tapered nose smoothly mitigate thigh-rub and minimize saddle-thigh contact, keeping you going with the flow.
The SMP Pro ranks well in the performance category, right alongside lighter and stiffer racing-inspired saddles, which is impressive because of its amazing pressure-relieving qualities. It can strike an ideal balance between rigid power transfer, forgiving flex, and anatomically-friendly design, landing among the highest-ranked products in or lineup, and earning our Top Pick for Anatomic Relief.
We have no reason to believe that the lifespan of this saddle shouldn't be several seasons, as long as you aren't chewing on the nose or taking a ton of hard spills. The premium leather (black) or Lorica (colored) covers will last a long time, particularly given the strong, tucked-away anchoring under the shell. The shell 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. Foam padding can certainly wear down over time, but the firm elastomer foam, which is essentially rubber, showed no signs of breaking down during our testing period and generally lasts much longer than lighter, less dense types of foam padding.
The most durable saddles in our lineup all have more streamlined designs with thinner or denser padding and include higher-end materials that tend to perform better and last longer. We've found that thicker or softer padding tends to wear down quicker and change shape or lose support over time. The only durability concern we have with the SMP Pro is that the leather cover is held in place on the bottom side with staples and glue, without a firm guard around the leather edges, so any small tears could potentially lead to a tearing or peeling cover.
One of the surprising things about the SMP Pro is that it is not just a comfort cruiser for those looking for pressure relief in their soft tissues. Its bulk, padding and dramatic relief channel might suggest that it's for the folks who prefer to stay back and cruise when the attacking starts, and while it's definitely a great saddle for exactly that, its downturned nose and supportive tail are perfect for getting down in the drops and doing some pain-infliction of your own. We found that the dramatically sloping profile makes it easy to slide back and forth through different riding positions and find a comfortable spot.
The firm padding and extreme cut-out channel make this 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 long-distance category, making it a good choice for touring and centuries with its all-day pressure-relieving design.
This seat certainly might turn off the weight weenies with its measured weight of 337 grams, 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 made from 304 steel, which is on the heavier side. Riders looking for dramatic pressure relief likely will be willing to make the tradeoff for a little extra weight.
This is a premium saddle that hits a certain segment of riders that are looking for dramatic anatomic relief, and it's priced accordingly. While the $270 list price is definitely on the upper end of our lineup and the market as a whole, riders desperately seeking relief will find a well-designed, comfortable, versatile road bike saddle for their money.
There's no question that this saddle is targets riders looking for extreme pressure relief, and while it certainly delivers in that area, it also offers so much more with its other high-end attributes. Its firmly padded seating platform helps cushion even the boniest bottom, while the strong, stiff nylon 12 shell with carbon reinforcement can support even the heftiest hiney. It's just as suited to climbing as it is sprinting and will also keep you happy cruising or touring. The Selle SMP Pro truly earns its spot as our Top Pick for Anatomic Relief.
— Nick Bruckbauer