When it comes to riding comfort, there’s nothing more important than having a seat your butt agrees with. As their name suggests, Ergon is a brand focused on improving touchpoints for cyclists, and I got to test their SMC Core men’s saddle this year.
Although I had a bunch of downtime this summer (broken wrist!), I started testing the SMC Core on the Rocky Mountain Instinct I reviewed this spring and moved it to my personal bike when I was able to ride again in the fall. The ‘bottom’ line (haha) is I’ll be keeping the SMC Core on my bike for the foreseeable future. Without adding much bulk, Ergon has managed to provide a very comfortable and well-padded platform that has dethroned my previous favourite saddle.
Ergon SMC Core saddle construction:
The SMC Core saddle was designed for MTB or Touring applications. I tested the men’s specific version, but Ergon does make a women’s model as well. The saddles come in two sizes, S/M and M/L, and Ergon’s website offers a fit guide to determine which is best for you. I followed the guide, and the S/M size it suggested feels right for me.
What really sets the SMC Core saddle apart from others is its multi-layered construction. Ergon has created a double-shell base that flexes to follow your pelvic movements as you pedal, and helps absorb bumps. Under the SMC Core’s abrasion-resistant microfiber cover you’ll find a layer of orthopedic comfort foam, then a flexible upper sitting shell. Below that is a layer of BASF Infinergy closed-cell particle foam padding and a stiff Nylon composite lower shell.
The Infinergy padding is a high-rebound foam, so it provides some cush but quickly springs back into shape to ensure good support as well. The SMC Core’s stiff lower shell is smaller than the upper sitting shell and Infinergy foam layer, which allows enough side-to-side flex for your pelvis to tilt as you pedal.
Ergon’s layered design reduces strain on your lower back, minimizes pressure on your sit bones and (along with its large, deep center channel) prevents numbness in the genital area. In Germany, Ergon was awarded the ‘Campaign for Healthier Backs’ seal of quality for the SMC Core saddle.
The S/M size SMC Core isn’t the lightest seat at 342g on my scale; the WTB Volt saddle I pulled from the RMB Instinct weighs 272g (both have chromoly rails). While it is a bit heavy, the SMC Core is not overly large in any dimension: The S/M saddle is 10.9” long and 5.8” at its widest point.
The rails on the SMC Core provide roughly 75mm of fore/aft adjustment, which is a bit more than the Chromag Lynx DT and WTB Volt saddles I had on hand for comparison.
I started out by positioning the SMC Core as Ergon’s instructions recommend, with the front section sitting horizontal. I stuck with this position as it felt immediately comfortable and never presented any comfort issues on the trails. As for fore/aft adjustment I wound up right in the middle of the rails, leaving plenty of room on either end.
The SMC Core provides a fairly wide, flat area for your sitting bones to rest on. Right away I found this shape very comfortable and supportive, yet it doesn’t feel too wide. The nose of the saddle is slightly wider than other seats I’ve recently ridden, but thankfully not enough to feel bulky between my thighs or to interfere with pedalling. Whether leaned forward, back, or sitting upright, I couldn’t find a position that presented any comfort or mobility issues for me. Somehow, Ergon has succeeded in making a saddle that feels bigger than it is.
This high-tech saddle does a great job of providing a cushy, comfortable ride without just feeling soft or mushy under your butt. I would agree Ergon’s dual-shell design does what they claim, as the chassis did produce a noticeable degree of flex as I pedalled along. As you crank away, you’ll feel the saddle’s side-to-side flex but the high-rebound foam maintains enough firmness to keep you well supported and not produce a bouncy feeling when you ride bumpy terrain.
The soft top layer and Infinergy foam do a notably better job of minimizing small bumps than any other seat I’ve ridden. It’s great to enjoy what I’d honestly call ‘a new level of comfort’ from a saddle with a normal size and shape! I can’t say I felt a huge difference in my lower back after my rides, but I’m lucky to not have any spine-related issues. I’m also lucky I don’t usually have problems with numbness in sensitive areas, and I certainly had none whatsoever with the SMC Core saddle.
While it might not be the weight weenie’s first choice I’m very impressed with the SMC Core saddle, and as stated earlier it’s not coming off my MTB! The SMC Core Men’s (or women’s) saddle retails for $149.95. Both come in ‘stealth’ black/grey only. Ergon covers the SMC Core saddles with a two year warranty against manufacturing defects.