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  1. #1
    Gears? CliftonGK1's Avatar
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    Saddles: Selle SMP vs. Specialized BG

    I'm a long-time advocate of Brooks saddles, but I'm looking at a different saddle based on some changes in my ergonomic needs.

    Right now I'm using a B-17 Champ Std on my fixed gear and a B-17 Imperial on my long distance bike. The former being 177mm and the latter being 170mm width. In looking over most of the "full center channel" saddles (which is what I need to switch to), I'm not finding anything with a width more than 155mm, except for the over-padded SMP Plus; a full 15mm under the Imperial's measurement. I've ridden suspended leather saddles for the past 6 years, and haven't looked at road saddles for at least 15 years, so I'm putting the call out to the Clydes for some help.

    The Specialized BG line of saddles gets high accolades. As do the Selle SMP (drop nose) saddles. Given the following information, which saddle would you choose?

    - 6'6" rider, wide bone structure
    - Will be used for long-distance/endurance riding, up to 600km/40hrs
    - Currently comfortable on 170mm Brooks saddle
    - Needs minimal/light cushioning
    - Needs maximum central channel area.

    I've been eyeing the Specialized Avatar and the Selle SMP Avant or Pro models. The main question I've got regards the width. My sit-indents on the Brooks are well within the back area of the saddle, so I'm not out at (or near) the 170mm width. Is the design of hardshell split saddle like the Avatar or SMPs going to be too narrow at 148 - 155mm when compared to the Brooks? I know the B-17 is wider to accomodate a more upright position and support a wider area of the backside. I don't plan to change my riding position when switching saddles.
    "I feel like my world was classier before I found cyclocross."
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  2. #2
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    Unfortunately, no matter what we tell you you're likely going to have to try both brands to figure out which one works for you. I've tried both and despite all the accolades, the Specialized BG saddles just don't work well for me on a road bike. I've tried the Avatar, Toupe, and Alias (I think) and experience too much pressure from the nose of the saddle. On my MTB, the Specialized Phenom that came on my Stumpjumper seems to be fine likely due to the upright riding position.

    In the Selle SMP line, I went with the Lite 209 after starting out on the wide, well-padded "Extra". It's a dream! Wish I'd bought one years ago! Lucky for me, a shop in my area had a bunch of Selle SMP test saddles that they let me ride while sitting on an exercise bike.

    Interestingly, I'm not convinced that huge center channels provide a whole lot of benefit. My WTB saddles are nearly as comfortable as the Selle SMP Lite 209, despite the fact that they're 6X cheaper and lack the center channel. They're another brand you might want to consider. I've used the Pure V and (I think) the Speed V.

  3. #3
    Gears? CliftonGK1's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by sstorkel View Post
    Unfortunately, no matter what we tell you you're likely going to have to try both brands to figure out which one works for you. I've tried both and despite all the accolades, the Specialized BG saddles just don't work well for me on a road bike. I've tried the Avatar, Toupe, and Alias (I think) and experience too much pressure from the nose of the saddle. On my MTB, the Specialized Phenom that came on my Stumpjumper seems to be fine likely due to the upright riding position.
    True. While there's no way to fit someone for a saddle with just the info I gave, your advice is at least a nudge in one direction or the other based on your experience. That's all I'm really looking for; some opinions based on experience with either one.

    Quote Originally Posted by sstorkel View Post
    In the Selle SMP line, I went with the Lite 209 after starting out on the wide, well-padded "Extra". It's a dream! Wish I'd bought one years ago! Lucky for me, a shop in my area had a bunch of Selle SMP test saddles that they let me ride while sitting on an exercise bike.
    Hopefully one of the LBSs will have a selection I can try out. I saw the Extra, and it looks far too over-stuffed for the type of riding and position that I have. The Lite 209 sounded a bit on the narrow side (isn't that one under 140mm wide?) But the padding type on the Lite 209 looks about right. Hopefully one of the slightly wider versions will work as well for me.

    Quote Originally Posted by sstorkel View Post
    Interestingly, I'm not convinced that huge center channels provide a whole lot of benefit. My WTB saddles are nearly as comfortable as the Selle SMP Lite 209, despite the fact that they're 6X cheaper and lack the center channel. They're another brand you might want to consider. I've used the Pure V and (I think) the Speed V.
    I've looked at the WTB Rocket V based on the suggestion of one of our local legends who uses them exclusively. I'm going to go with a deeper center channel (complete lack of center as much as possible) at the suggestion of my doctor. Not stemming from cycling, I've developed some problems which necessitate that I keep pressure off the central area of contact down there.
    "I feel like my world was classier before I found cyclocross."
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  4. #4
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    Quote Originally Posted by CliftonGK1 View Post
    Hopefully one of the LBSs will have a selection I can try out. I saw the Extra, and it looks far too over-stuffed for the type of riding and position that I have. The Lite 209 sounded a bit on the narrow side (isn't that one under 140mm wide?) But the padding type on the Lite 209 looks about right. Hopefully one of the slightly wider versions will work as well for me.
    The Extra has quite a bit of padding... though it's still surprisingly usable. While I prefer the Lite 209, I can ride the Extra for 4-5 hours before the huge amount of padding becomes annoying. The Extra is a great way to test the SMP saddle shape without having to spend $250, especially if you can find a used one on eBay.

    FWIW, the Specialized Ass-o-meter said I needed a 143mm BG saddle. Selle SMP claims the Extra is 140mm wide and the Lite 209 is 139mm wide. Both work for me... and both feel wider than any of the 143mm Specialized BG saddles I've ridden. Dunno if that's due to the shape, the seating position, or they way they're measured.

    Unfortunately, Selle SMP Test Centers seem somewhat difficult to come by. According to this post on another site, your LBS should be able to obtain demo saddles from the distributor even if they're not a Test Center.

    I've looked at the WTB Rocket V based on the suggestion of one of our local legends who uses them exclusively. I'm going to go with a deeper center channel (complete lack of center as much as possible) at the suggestion of my doctor. Not stemming from cycling, I've developed some problems which necessitate that I keep pressure off the central area of contact down there.
    Understood. My only point was that the WTB saddles don't seem to cause any more or less discomfort in that area than the Selle SMP designs. At least not that I can tell. I'll admit, though, that my WTB saddles are generally mounted on mountain bikes and I haven't done any really long (4+hr) road rides on them. Still: they're a huge improvement over the Specialized Toupe/Avatar/Alias for me.

  5. #5
    Gears? CliftonGK1's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by sstorkel View Post
    FWIW, the Specialized Ass-o-meter said I needed a 143mm BG saddle. Selle SMP claims the Extra is 140mm wide and the Lite 209 is 139mm wide. Both work for me... and both feel wider than any of the 143mm Specialized BG saddles I've ridden. Dunno if that's due to the shape, the seating position, or they way they're measured.
    Saddle measurement is an odd art that I don't fully understand. I know a few different methods to measure the distance on sit-bone width, and that's basically what I did when considering the SMP line and which one to choose. Measuring out my sit indents on my Imperial, they're 130mm at the widest point. Armed with the knowledge that I'm comfortable on that saddle, I decided on the SMP Pro, based on the padding configuration. The Avant and the Plus looked a little "overstuffed" in the nose, and I've talked to a few people who have mentioned that those two are a little on the wide side, up front.


    Quote Originally Posted by sstorkel View Post
    Unfortunately, Selle SMP Test Centers seem somewhat difficult to come by.
    Thankfully, all 3 of the Washington centers are within riding distance for me. I ordered the SMP Pro last night, and if it's not quite right, then I can always head to one of the centers and try out some others. At worst, I CL the Pro and I'm not out too much money.
    "I feel like my world was classier before I found cyclocross."
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  6. #6
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    I run the Selle SMP Plus and love it. Test fitted a Specialized BG saddle and didn't feel comfortable. I fell in love with the Selle SMP instantly.

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