SMP Dynamic

Saddle Up- Selle SMP

Saddle Up- Selle SMP

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What does Selle SMP have in common with the lead up to the 2013 Tour de France? Absolutely nothing, seeing as possibly no riders are on them in the Tour. It’s a long three weeks of Tour ahead, let’s think about our own asses for a brief moment. As a disclaimer: this is not a Reverence article, yet, maybe after a few centuries and pavé parties it could be. I paid retail from a LBS for this and have no connection to SMP. I’m not even advocating anyone should get one, like I do advocate everyone owning Speedplay pedals. I am just shedding a little light on these unconventional and messed-up looking saddles.

Two years back I stared at one of these saddles on a bike whose owner was a big fella. The saddle was a thin slip of a thing, more space than saddle and it looked unridable. He made a lasting impression when he said it was great. Great? That looks highly uncomfortable, it was nearly devoid of padding and there just wasn’t much to sit on.

We all have our own limit for what we will put on our steeds but eventually a 160 km ride will sort out if form follows function. Those shoes may be the same ones Boonen wears but if they are killing your feet at 80 km, every time, they have to go.

And speaking of Specialized, they have a gizmo for measuring sit bones so one can get a good fitting saddle. I’ve owned two of their saddles and like them enough. Upon restarting long rides after my haitus this winter I re-remembered how much my lower back would hurt, especially on long climbing rides. Also while on haitus, also known as: my position must be wrong, I’ll never ride again, do I need insoles, how high should my saddle be, do I need wedges under my cleats…hell. I read up on Steve Hogg, fitting master, looking for salvation. Steve is an advocate of SMP saddles and makes the point we don’t sit on our sit bones unless on, gasp, a recumbent or bigger gasp, a Harley. Maui’s aforementioned LBS has a nice selection of test saddles, many SMPs in the mix. I went right for  the Dynamic model, for my fat ass. It took at least a week before I could even figure out where to sit on it, it’s that different a design.

There are two great things about these saddles: they have a massive cut-out section in the front so nothing gets mashed and the curved profile means one is sitting on the bones forward of the sit bones. That means your hips rotate forward, your lower back can straighten and relax. Do you want to ride the phantom aero bars while staring at your reflection in store front windows, it’s much easier with a relaxed, flatter back and uncrushed bits. I’m using that technical/medical English term to cover everything “down there”.

In summary, if your lower back is fine and you have never experienced torchmen’s taint, keep doing what you are doing. Shoes and saddles fit differently for every body. Comfort and weird looks don’t come cheap. Mine cost $230 US with steel rails but it is made in Italy, so that is a wash. They do come in celeste green if one wants to ruin the look of their Bianchi. Since one is sitting differently on it, the initial set up takes longer. It’s much harder to figure out the correct saddle height with this new position. I do think they have come up with a well researched design, especially for us riders who aim to be cyclists for the long haul.

// Accessories and Gear

  1. @mama_mia

    My LBS put a loaner V-Flow on my bike after my recent Retul fit session where my position on the bike was drastically change. Put about 3-4 rides on it and the saddle was fine, but I was very happy to return to my SHC and discover that it was as comfortable with the new position as the V-Flow.

  2. Pardon me if it has been covered, but is the clamp bolt in that fi'zi:k pillar in the front? And, does it adjust by hand? Almost looks like some of the wheels on the Cateye light and computer clasps.

    Wait, Frank. Do you have another frameset about to arrive? For a long time I wondered how you managed to only have a few bikes. Now you’ve got the CX rig from Cyclops, the Graveur…and another one is coming? Three in an eight month span. Thank you for making me feel alright about how many bikes I have!

    Hip flexors. Yup. Mine have been stiff as hell after four years of running on astroturf for college sports. Too much practice, not enough warm-up/cool down. I’m working on them.

  3. @Joe

    I had one of those razor edge SMPs. I used it for about 3 weeks and proselytised vociferously on its merits.

    Then I trapped a nut between the rails while trying a Faboo-style easy on up with more speed number which left me a sad rumpled heap by the side of the road for a solid 20 minutes.

    It’s been in a box ever since. In fact, If I can find it, I’ll happily donate it to anyone in continental US for their own experimentation….

    What’s in the box? The nut or the saddle? If the former, I’m not sure anyone’s interested in taking it…

  4. @Joe

    I had one of those razor edge SMPs. I used it for about 3 weeks and proselytised vociferously on its merits.

    Then I trapped a nut between the rails while trying a Faboo-style easy on up with more speed number which left me a sad rumpled heap by the side of the road for a solid 20 minutes.

    It’s been in a box ever since. In fact, If I can find it, I’ll happily donate it to anyone in continental US for their own experimentation….

    Ah, the hidden perils of nude cycling.

  5. @Ron

    Pardon me if it has been covered, but is the clamp bolt in that fi’zi:k pillar in the front? And, does it adjust by hand? Almost looks like some of the wheels on the Cateye light and computer clasps.

    Mine is 2 bolt, annoyingly the rear takes a 4mm bolt with a rediculously high torque setting of 8nm (for the size of bolt) If you’ve got a cutout you can get an allen key at the front bolt, otherwise you have to back the rear bolt all the way off and adjust it by hand. I rounded out the rear bolt with a frickn torque wrench, FFS.

  6. Goddamnit. Rounded bolts are a nightmare. I was trying to put new brake pads on a bike over the weekend. Kool Stop pad holders, I think they took a 1.5mm. I could tell they were a bit stuck, was careful, pushed the wrench in all the way…free turn. Fack. I guess I’m either buying new holders, not using them, or trying to drill the little damn things out. Drive side, front/rear came out, NDS neither holder bolt would come out.

    Sorry to read about that, minion. What a pisser that can be when the wrench gives way. A short job suddenly turns into a major pain in the arse.

  7. @minion

    @Ron

    Pardon me if it has been covered, but is the clamp bolt in that fi’zi:k pillar in the front? And, does it adjust by hand? Almost looks like some of the wheels on the Cateye light and computer clasps.

    Mine is 2 bolt, annoyingly the rear takes a 4mm bolt with a rediculously high torque setting of 8nm (for the size of bolt) If you’ve got a cutout you can get an allen key at the front bolt, otherwise you have to back the rear bolt all the way off and adjust it by hand. I rounded out the rear bolt with a frickn torque wrench, FFS.

    Oh yes, those f’ing Italians. I nearly stripped that rear bolt with the 4mm torque wrench so now I have to guess and use an old allen wrench. I agree, too small a bolt head for the job. I bought a larger cap bolt but I don’t think the head will fit into the countersink.

  8. @Joe

    I trapped a nut between the rails

    About this, I’m still scratching my head (not that one).

    If you’re serious, I’ll pay the shipping to see if I can reproduce your results. If I can, I’ll certainly post up about it. If I can’t, and I want the saddle, I’ll give you twenty bucks.

  9. @TBONE

    CUT OUT SEAT PROTECTS MY ERECTION

    Never been to Portland? Well now you have. Awesome!!

  10. @Gianni

    @minion

    @Ron

    Pardon me if it has been covered, but is the clamp bolt in that fi’zi:k pillar in the front? And, does it adjust by hand? Almost looks like some of the wheels on the Cateye light and computer clasps.

    Mine is 2 bolt, annoyingly the rear takes a 4mm bolt with a rediculously high torque setting of 8nm (for the size of bolt) If you’ve got a cutout you can get an allen key at the front bolt, otherwise you have to back the rear bolt all the way off and adjust it by hand. I rounded out the rear bolt with a frickn torque wrench, FFS.

    Oh yes, those f’ing Italians. I nearly stripped that rear bolt with the 4mm torque wrench so now I have to guess and use an old allen wrench. I agree, too small a bolt head for the job. I bought a larger cap bolt but I don’t think the head will fit into the countersink.

    Ya. One of the topics of discussion at the Festum Prophetae “after party” concerned this. Anyone remember the Campa 1st generation “self extracting cranks” and the crank bolt that was 7.5mm? Not 7, not fucking 8, 7.5. I’ve had to call in the sag wagon exactly 3 times ever: twice for those bolts “self extracting” (as far from home as possible), and once for the 1st PDX Cogal.

  11. @frank

    @Mauibike, @Gianni

    Why do we care about flat backs so? Doesn’t seem to me that would provide any benefit in power or comfort. I feel most powerful with a curved lower back.

    It’s not mainly about the flat back, it’s about the rotation of the hips/pelvis. Rotating the pelvis forward enables better employment of the hamstrings and glutes and eases the pressure on the sit bones by putting some of the weight on inferior pubic rami bones. It also makes the pelvis more stable since it’s no longer resting on just two points.

    As a side effect, this change in pelvis tilt also lets the glutes take over some of the work in keeping the torso suspended from the lower back, it extends and relaxes the whole spine and this in turn relaxes the shoulders and neck. Extension of the spine also means extension of the whole torso, so more room for the diaphragm to expand and thus easier breathing. And finally, rotating the pelvis forward enables one to get lower and more aero.

    Of course, there can still be too much of a good thing, as rotating the pelvis also closes the hip angle. This can be somewhat alleviated by raising the saddle and moving it forward, but this disrupts the front-to-back balance on the bicycle and can also put more pressure on the knees for some people. So, like with all other things it’s all about finding that perfect spot.

    Now, rotating the pelvis doesn’t necessarily mean there is no curve to the back whatsoever, and it also doesn’t mean one has to use an extreme saddle shape such as the Selle SMP – I have been able to do it on Selle Italia Filante as well as on Selle San Marco Zoncolan Arrowhead and SSM Aspide.

    Finally, here’s an example of a cyclist who rides with the pelvis rotated quite far forward while obviously retaining some curvature to the back as well:

    Compare and contrast to the one in front who has a more upright pelvis and a more drastic bend in the lower back (not sure who he is).

  12. @Ron I’m having a mechanically hamfisted week. My Hope freehub body is notched to shit, and the threads for the lockring are crossthreaded. I made it 100% worse last night by starting off with the lockring by hand and not getting it totally straight, now the thread is chewed up to shit and needs replacing. Steel freehub is the way to go. I swapped the wheels on because another freehub had seized, and needs to be stripped and cleaned. Fixies FTW.

  13. I’ve had a Cobb V-flow for several years.  First saddle that didn’t give me numbnuts. Don’t care for the looks of it, but going with what works.  I may have to give the SHC a try.

  14. @seemunkee Looks like Cobb reduced their no-risk trial periods from 180 days to 90 days. Still a pretty good deal.

  15. @scaler911 – I too fell victim to the Campy 7.5mm mumbleswerve. What sick deluded maniac uses a 7.5mm allen key? Took me bloody ages to find one. That said, I don’t think mine ever self extracted.

  16. @Steampunk

    @frank

    Hinault: you’re not him. And badass as he might be, sport science and medicine have evolved an awful long way since the 1980s (and I’m not making any cracks about “preparation”).

    Right then. Wiggins and Froome are as 21st century as it gets, and look at their backs:

    Point is rotated pelvis, not a flat back. Once you rotate your pelvis, you may find a flat back, or not. Doesn’t matter.

    And rotated pelvis doesn’t require a nasty cutout saddle – it can be achieved with a proper-fitting regular saddle.

  17. Now what do you make of this?

    Apart from extremely fucking awesome

  18. @tessar Not a good example, that’s just a rider on the rivet. SInce they’re on the nose of their (flat) tt saddles anyways, a curved saddle would have little to no affect on position re. rotating their hips forward.

    And the cutout isn’t responsible for enabling rotation, but it is much more cmfortable. fi'zi:k make curved saddles (nose to tail) without cutouts that let you do the same thing.

  19. @Gianni

    @minion

    @Ron

    Pardon me if it has been covered, but is the clamp bolt in that fi’zi:k pillar in the front? And, does it adjust by hand? Almost looks like some of the wheels on the Cateye light and computer clasps.

    Mine is 2 bolt, annoyingly the rear takes a 4mm bolt with a rediculously high torque setting of 8nm (for the size of bolt) If you’ve got a cutout you can get an allen key at the front bolt, otherwise you have to back the rear bolt all the way off and adjust it by hand. I rounded out the rear bolt with a frickn torque wrench, FFS.

    Oh yes, those f’ing Italians. I nearly stripped that rear bolt with the 4mm torque wrench so now I have to guess and use an old allen wrench. I agree, too small a bolt head for the job. I bought a larger cap bolt but I don’t think the head will fit into the countersink.

    Yarp. My only hope is using loosening the front all the way off and adjusting the rear when there’s no pressure on it.

  20. @Fiery

    @frank

    @Mauibike, @Gianni

    Why do we care about flat backs so? Doesn’t seem to me that would provide any benefit in power or comfort. I feel most powerful with a curved lower back.

    It’s not mainly about the flat back, it’s about the rotation of the hips/pelvis. Rotating the pelvis forward enables better employment of the hamstrings and glutes and eases the pressure on the sit bones by putting some of the weight on inferior pubic rami bones. It also makes the pelvis more stable since it’s no longer resting on just two points.

    As a side effect, this change in pelvis tilt also lets the glutes take over some of the work in keeping the torso suspended from the lower back, it extends and relaxes the whole spine and this in turn relaxes the shoulders and neck. Extension of the spine also means extension of the whole torso, so more room for the diaphragm to expand and thus easier breathing. And finally, rotating the pelvis forward enables one to get lower and more aero.

    Of course, there can still be too much of a good thing, as rotating the pelvis also closes the hip angle. This can be somewhat alleviated by raising the saddle and moving it forward, but this disrupts the front-to-back balance on the bicycle and can also put more pressure on the knees for some people. So, like with all other things it’s all about finding that perfect spot.

    Now, rotating the pelvis doesn’t necessarily mean there is no curve to the back whatsoever, and it also doesn’t mean one has to use an extreme saddle shape such as the Selle SMP – I have been able to do it on Selle Italia Filante as well as on Selle San Marco Zoncolan Arrowhead and SSM Aspide.

    Finally, here’s an example of a cyclist who rides with the pelvis rotated quite far forward while obviously retaining some curvature to the back as well:

    Compare and contrast to the one in front who has a more upright pelvis and a more drastic bend in the lower back (not sure who he is).

    Thank you. That is a proper explanation and using Fabs as an example only strengthens your point. Chapeau.

  21. @minion My point is that a flat back is not the goal. A powerful position is, and that doesn’t necessarily require a flat back. On my heathen’s Tri bike, I ride a plush, semi-split, wide-cutout Cobb Plus to enable whatever rotation I would want, and still prefer a slight curve to my back.

    Whether or not you need a curved saddle depends on other factors. If you want some reading about curves, I’d recommend this article: http://www.slowtwitch.com/Products/Saddles/Saddle_Theory_Part_I_2504.html

  22. I’ve grown up on a bike since over 25 years ago and have suffered ingrown toenails from toe clips-n-straps and XC skiing, scheuermann’s disease. Until I screwed my back in December 2012 big time and with regular physio,  I’ve learn’t way more in the last 6 months about posture than my whole life. I was told by my physio that I used my bike back muscles for everyday use which made things like sitting at a desk, driving a car a painful experience. Rides lasted only 45 minutes as the back pain was too much to continue. With the physio I found how to use my core and diaphragmatic breathing helped heaps.Also this article, http://www.francefrominside.com/FFI%20Bike%20Posture%20web.pdf shed a lot of light on bike posture.

    I found that to imagine my pelvic area as a salad bowl and to tip it forward. I tells you what, it took a little while to get this postition proper, but it makes a hell of a difference in comfort. @Fiery  has detailed this with Faboo above.

  23. I have been away for a few days. The site, not life! Maybe the site is life…?

    As many have seen on this very website, not only do I ride SMP, I also sell them too. Need some info on ‘em, I know them pretty well. Almost as much as the Hogg guy in the UK. Just saying. The saddle is the most intimate piece on your bike and one of five important connections to her awesomeness. Getting you saddle right is imperative. I also carry Selle Italia (my previous saddle), Prologo, and a few others. The saddle that will inevitably not work for everyone. C’est dommage.

    @frank

    @frank

    @Tobin

    I love the cowering of this guy as even before he’s hit he anticipates the crushing Fuckness that’s going to rain down on him.

    Fuckness! Awesome.

  24. @Tobin : that’s : “Je vais te défoncer la gueule!”

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