When you spend as much time in the saddle as I do, it's critical that the hours pass by with relative comfort. Over the years I have tried many different saddles – big, small, gel padded, unpadded, flat, curved, cutout, etc. – but only ONE saddle can be given the credit for saving my cycling career. The Selle SMP.
Let me go back a year. I had just finished riding the World Championships in Canada and I was in serious pain. The long hours of training and racing had taken their toll on my undercarriage and I was in big trouble. Without going into too much detail, I managed to get a pretty serious injury and infection 'down there'. It meant I couldn't sit on the saddle, couldn't ride or train and it also meant constant trips to the hospital for treatment. I was off my bike for a good month while I tried to deal with the injury.
The doctor I saw recommended that I give up cycling all together. I wasn't about to let this be the end of my cycling career, so I started looking into ways to alleviate my problems. My research led me to the Selle SMP line of saddles. They are by FAR the oddest looking road saddles I have ever seen, by also the most comfortable.
I first came across one of the saddles several years ago when I was doing a London to Paris charity ride. One of the other riders had one of these on his bike. He was a hefty fellow and the saddle was pure carbon fibre (no padding whatsoever). It looked like it would be torture to ride. But he claimed it was the best saddle he had ever used. And this is a sentiment that has been echoed by many others.
So what makes these saddles so good? Well – the trick to a good saddle is the FIT. If a saddle fits your body well, then you will have a nice, comfy ride. But if the fit is wrong, you're in trouble. But it's not just the fit of the SMP that makes it work – but some unique design features.
First up is the central channel; there isn't one! The middle has been removed – taking all the pressure of your perineum (your undercarriage). Instead, your weight is supported by your sit bones. For some people, it takes a little while to get used to this, but it's not painful. It's just a different feeling that what you might be used to. But it's well worth it.
The saddle also has a curved shape – and I find this helps put me in the right place. Keeps me from sitting too far forward or back on the saddle. There's even a bit cut out at the rear of the saddle so you don't hit your coccyx bone!
For the more 'traditional' cyclists out there: fear not. SMP do a wide range of saddles in different sizes and with differing amounts of padding from bare carbon to full gel padding. There is a saddle to suit every bottom!
It is not an overstatement to say that the SMP saddle saved my cycling career. And so it was a no-brainer when the opportunity came along to have them as my official saddle sponsor. The good folks at Dillglove (www.dillglove.co.uk) are the UK distributor and are making sure that I am well taken care of. I am now using the SMP saddles on my road, winter and track bikes. (I use something very special on my TT bike, but that's a story for a different day!)
I highly recommend that you look into these saddles if you have ANY issues with comfort, especially on longer rides. Admittedly not the cheapest out there, but can you put a price on your health? (And they suit BOTH men and women!). Dillglove can answer all your questions about the brand, the range of saddles and point you in the direction of a retailer where you can buy one.