The Ergon SMC Core Saddle Softens Hardtail Riding [Review]

Finding a comfortable mountain bike saddle can be a challenge, especially for new riders. It’s tempting to try a thicker, more padded saddle to eliminate discomfort, though often getting the right size saddle is a more effective solution. The new Ergon SMC Core saddle features an innovative design and materials in two sizes to provide comfort, particularly when pedaling over uneven terrain. I’ve been testing the men’s version on my hardtail (a women’s design is also available) and here’s what I’ve learned.

Saddle stats

Let’s start with the shape. The men’s SMC Core saddle is 277mm long, which is longer than many modern mountain bike saddles, where short and stubby rules the day. The size small/medium I tested is 148mm wide, while the medium/large is 161mm wide. Knowing that my sit bone spacing is a bit narrower than the average, I opted for the small/medium and I’ve found that it’s a good fit.

At its thickest point, the saddle measures 38mm tall which includes the cover, padding, and base. Ergon employs TwinShell construction to sandwich a thick layer of Infinergy® foam between two shells to provide unique movement and vibration damping. The microfiber cover is designed to resist abrasion and it is textured to prevent the rider from sliding around.

The rear is scooped upward and the saddle’s narrow Y shape is designed to provide maximum freedom while pedaling. A center recessed channel is meant to relieve pressure and the saddle sits on Cromoly rails.

My test sample weighs 345g.

Ride feel

I’ve ridden with countless saddles over the years, ranging from no padding to couch-cushion, and everything in between. While the Ergon SMC Core saddle appears to be thickly padded, it actually feels quite firm. I recently described the padding as feeling like a running shoe, and sure enough, the Ergon marketing materials state that running shoe manufacturers use a similar material in their soles. The Core material compresses slightly and quickly returns to its original shape, deforming very little over time.

In the video below the SMC Core saddle is shown rocking side to side as the rider pedals. From my tests the movement is fairly subtle, resulting in a comfortable ride feel. I worried the saddle would feel vague at best and inefficient at worst, but neither was the case. The running shoe comparison is apt, with the saddle absorbing energy and giving it back in a controlled manner. Despite the room for movement, there’s no creaking from the base or the rails.

Video courtesy Ergon.

The saddle does a good job absorbing trail chatter as well. On a hardtail this is particularly welcome. As a tall rider, I generally clamp my saddle toward the front end of the rails to maximize the length of my cockpit. After a few rides I found myself sitting toward the narrow, front end of the saddle with the post at full extension, and it felt pinchy. I moved the saddle nearly as forward as it would go, and discovered the golden zone. Sit bones fully supported, and able to take full advantage of the Infinergy® padding, the saddle feels as good as any I’ve tested.

Priced at around $150, this is a premium saddle designed for core mountain bike riders. Your mileage may vary, but I’ve found this to be a very comfortable saddle and a good fit for hardcore hardtail riding.

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