Ergon is a German component brand best known for producing high quality and affordable grips and saddles. The word Ergon is a play on Ergonomics, “the study of people’s efficiency in their working environment.” Mountain biking may not be everyone’s working environment per se, but the principle of Ergon’s designs have a similar intent: to create cycling products that keep the body in alignment, decrease pain, provide maximum comfort and create riding efficiency.
Ergon designs saddles for all disciplines of cycling, ranging from road to mountain. All models in the Ergon line-up are constructed with maximum comfort in mind. As a case in point, they have designed men’s and women’s specific saddles to address the needs and differences in human anatomy. I am female and was delighted at the opportunity to test the Ergon SMC Women’s saddle, developed for women, by women.
Before diving into the nitty-gritty about whether my butt did or did not enjoy the Ergon experience, let’s start with how to select a saddle. Ergon makes it easy to select the right type of saddle for your riding type and bum. When you visit the saddles page on their website it may be easy to get overwhelmed. Luckily, Ergon has created a handy dandy saddle selector to help decipher which one is best for you. Information gathered includes: age, gender, bike type, application area (all-mountain, enduro, XC, etc.), frequency of riding, which problem areas should be addressed (pressure sensitive buttocks or genital area), and sit bone width. All of those are pretty easy to answer except for the last: sit bone width.
As cyclists, we should have some idea of our sit bone width. However, unless you’ve had a proper bike fit, it’s likely you only have a basic idea, likely based on trial and error. Within the saddle selector tool you can choose: “I don’t know my sit bone width” which calculates approximate sit bone width based on three factors: height, weight and hip circumference. The tool then uses the information provided to recommend a size that should work for your rear. The thing is, this type of calculation is correlative and just a best guess.
After entering all my information, the saddle selector suggested that I should purchase a S/M, which seems reasonable given that I am 5’5” and 115 lbs with almost no hips to speak of. However, I’ve had the pleasure of bearing two children, which is known to change the pelvis a bit. I have also had my sit bones measured on the Ergon 3D-Sitbone-Measurement machine (found at many Ergon retailers) and I happen to know that my tiny tush requires a M/L. So while it works for most, it does not work for all.
There are a few correlative calculators that saddle companies have come up with to determine sit bone width. For instance, WTB utilizes the Fit-Right-System, in which you measure the width of your wrist to determine your sit-bone width. Surprisingly, this too has been proven reliably effective at determining the correct saddle size for most riders. However, the Fit-Right-System is still based on correlative data points; it’s reasonable to say there will always be outliers. My wrist is the size of a small child; therefore that data point still doesn’t compute to the correct saddle size, for me.
Ultimately, correlative data points can be useful in determining the most likely saddle size, but it’s best to get your sit bones measured at your local bike fitter or Ergon dealer.
The Ergon SMC Women’s saddle is one of the more basic saddle types in Ergon’s lineup, and is suggested mountain biking. In fact, despite the myriad different information combos I put into the saddle selector, it never suggested this particular saddle for my purposes. However, because it is a more generic model, it can be used on all types of mountain bikes — trail, enduro, xc, hardtail, etc. — and it’s also extremely affordable, sitting at a price point of $70 (sold at REI and other online retailers).
The SMC Women’s saddle is constructed using orthopedic comfort foam padding, a microfiber cover, a nylon composite shell, and Chromoly rails. The padding is thicker than on a lot of unisex and men’s saddles, and way more padded than I typically prefer. However, it did not feel extremely overwhelming to my buttocks, as I assumed it might. With extra padding, also comes extra weight and height.
The SMC is slightly heavier than some of the other saddles I’m currently riding, coming in at 10.4oz (294g). That’s not to say it’s much heavier than similar saddles, unless you’re really trying to cut grams, so the added weight likely will not be noticeable.
The saddle profile is just a tad higher than other saddles I own, so I did have to adjust my dropper post height ever so slightly to prevent knee pain.
Developed by women, for women
What sets this saddle apart is that it was designed and developed by women, for women. The female staff at Ergon spent a lot of time thoroughly analyzing the female pelvis and concluded that when riding, women tend to put high pressure on the genital area, exactly where we don’t want it. To help remedy this, Ergon designed the SMC saddle with a central relief channel toward the front to help eliminate soft-tissue numbness and pain in every riding position. They also created and a wider seat area in the rear, resulting in concise pressure distribution in the genital area and maximum comfort on the bike.
I don’t typically ride with a chamois and did not find the Ergon SMC to rub my lady bits in a particularly destructive manner. However, because it is a more bulky saddle than I am used to, I did find my inner thighs to rub ever-so-slightly toward the back of the nose. I’ve talked to other women who have the same (minimal) issue with this particular saddle, even after having their sit-bones measured. Perhaps wearing a chamois would help remedy this, but my personal goal is to find a saddle that fits so precisely that I never have to wear a trail diaper. The SMC is close to hitting that mark. I suspect if they made a true size medium instead of sizing S/M and M/L, this sweet spot might be attained. Every body is different, of course, and no two genital areas are the same. A saddle’s fit and feel are subjective based on the person riding it.
The Ergon SMC Women’s saddle isn’t extremely fancy, and there’s nothing truly exciting I can say about it. However, it does everything it claims to do. It’s comfortable, does not create pain or numbness, and is reasonably priced. If you’re looking for a cushy, do-all saddle, the SMC Women’s saddle is a great option.
- Women’s specific
- Female-specific relief channel
Pros and cons of the Ergon SMC women’s saddle.
- No gel foam
- Long seat nose