SMP makes a whole slew of saddle types, from unpadded full carbon racing units to more padded leather ones, all with the same four basic characteristics. Their models differ in material composition (rails, body, covering), dimensions and padding thickness (or lack there of).
Choosing a saddle is part science and art, and although it seems simple, it’s a complex undertaking for a very crucial bike component. The anatomical characteristics are unique and singular for each person, but SMP has simplified it by using pelvic width zones, cycling type (road or mountain) and padding preference to narrow down the choices. In my case, I have a 32 inch waist (M pelvis) and prefer a saddle with medium padding, so their Stratos is what I choose.
The additional rail length of the saddle made fore and aft positioning effortless, and it helped with a myriad of seatpost clamp systems. In addition, the long rails give a slight amount of suppleness or micro suspension. I started out following their directions for leveling the saddle, which meant it was level from the high points of the rear cradle to the nose. I found that uncomfortable with me, and ended up with the nose tilted down by 5 degrees, so that the middle section was close to flat.
Measured weight: 259 grams
My first couple of rides felt odd, even after getting the positioning and tilt were corrected to my liking, and my man units had to get used to the sensation of the slot. After breaking in the saddle (and me), and some familiarity to its features and functions, the saddle became quite comfortable. The outstanding thing I noticed, and really loved about the saddle was the beaked nose. During technical maneuvers on the bike (usually in ugly terrain), my shorts didn’t snag on the nose, and when any sort of prying move was needed, for either torquing the frame or drivetrain input, vast amounts of power could easily be applied. On short steep climbs, you could literally sit up on the large flat surface of the beaked nose like it was a secondary saddle, applying oodles of traction.
During long smooth climbs, the cradled sitting area held your sitting bones in a comforting manner, giving cushioning for forward and backward movement as required. The slot reduced pressure on the perineum, allowing good blood flow to the legs, and great ventilation, and it didn’t jam your testes during a hard impact. The saddle did require you to sit in the rear sweetspot while doing long spin sessions, and when outside that area, there was a narrowly defined region to use due to the slot and the opposing side beams, but it became second nature after indoctrination. Although the padding felt firm, the aspects of the features played together to give a more comfortable than would seem possible.
One minor issue was the tall upward sweep of the rear, would then snag on your apparel if the seat wasn’t low enough, but you really needed to back behind the saddle for this happenstance.
SMP Stratos Company Specs:
- Weight: 250 g
- Dimensions: 266 x 131 mm
- Padding: foamed elastomer
- Body: Nylon 12 filled with carbon fiber
- Covering: Real leather in the black version and Lorica microfibre in the colored versions
- Frame: AISI 304 stainless steel tube
- Recommended for: Road and Mountain Bikes
- Recommended for sizes: XS-S-M-L