This weeks blog article is the first of our product review of the SMP4Bike triathlon saddle with a detailed and personal view. The SMP triathlon saddle was supplied by the lovely team at Dillglove.
Introduction to the SMP4Bike triathlon saddle
The saddles are 100% Italian with some heritage from building and improving their saddle design over the past 70+ years. With a number of patents and serious science behind the design you cannot ignore the logic in considering looking for a replacement to the standard kit supplied on all road and TT bikes. Personally I have never had too many issues with the potato region of the body from cycling and been lucky to be able to ride for more than 8 hours without any significant ill effect but that isn’t to say all that time in the saddle is doing some damage.
Ergonomic triathlon saddles
Ergonomic saddles are popular with endurance distance cyclists with a number on the market and are sold with the promise of increased comfort and airflow. It makes sense as you buy a stock bicycle where a huge proportion of the costs will be sunk into the frame with a number of the components often taking second fiddle with lower spec wheels, brakes & saddles. In spite of this few people upgrade the saddle – probably due to increased comfort not delivering more speed which is the holy grail of most upgraders. With the triathlon bike position further forward creating a more aerodynamic profile on the tri-bars you sit at the front of the saddle and perch on the tip of the seat meaning a quality saddle is even more relevant as you adopt this aggressive seating position.
Sizing options for saddles
The SMP saddle tested comes in four sizes so your first challenge is understanding which size is correct for you based on your size, much like choosing the right sized shorts, you need to choose the right sized saddle. This is the first signal that what you are buying is more tailored to your body rather than any standard saddle. The construction is first class with quality materials and finish even on my test saddle in its loud colour scheme, the standard colour scheme is much less offensive with black and white on offer. Fitting was straight forward removing my existing saddle and fitting the test one in under 5 minutes, a few adjustments later I had a comfortable position.
Comfort while riding
The saddle is very firm with little padding compared to a standard saddle and pretty much zero give in it. A few miles into a ride though and this lack of padding goes relatively unnoticed once you become more accustomed to the feel of the saddle. The central channel allows both airflow and according to the science increased comfort which based on a number of rides seems to be accurate. Having used the ride on outings up to 3 hours it certainly gave a comfortable position and encouraged you onto the aero bars moving forwards on the saddle into a more aggressive profile. Would it work across a full iron distance race I can’t comment based on our test rides but certainly it was easy to find a comfortable position and over a middle distance ride it was a good companion.
Racking your bike in transition
The design of the saddle includes transition thinking and flexibility for how triathletes like to rack the bike. Both the “beak” and rear of the saddle allow for racking the bike using either end allowing you to leave your bike using either end. The rear “handle” seemed to give a very secure racking meaning low risk of returning to transition and finding your bike on the floor having been knocked by another competitor. This could be extremely valuable in race season. In terms of style it looks a cut above any standard kit and would not look out of place on even the most prestige bike.
Would we recommend one? Certainly worth a trial for anyone struggling with the comfort on long rides and all triathletes looking for an edge when moving into the aero position. Well worth a look and a company who are a pleasure to work with. Over to you and we hope this review of the SMP4Bike triathlon saddle has been useful.
About the author – Billy is the founder of Trivelo Bikes. A triathlete for the past 5 years and lover of all things bike…except hills.