A couple of years ago I was able to try an Ergon saddle for a bike build we were doing, in this case a carbon hardtail 29er race bike. I was pretty impressed with the saddle, an SM3-L , an older model. The fit was not quite right, and after measuring my sit bones on the Ergon butt-measuring ‘device’, I found I needed a different version to get me in the zone.
That led to an Ergon SMC3-M. That has lived on my gravel bike, a Salsa Warbird, ever since then and has been one of the best saddles I have ever used for endurance based riding. The fairly flat shape with some center relief strikes a very favorable balance between support and comfort. I have put in some long hours and long miles on it and have yet to find it to annoy or tire me out.
The padding is just right, supportive enough to not break down over time and create hot spots, yet is goes a long way toward coddling my lower back for bumpy sections of dirt road. I do find the angle and fore-aft adjustment to be critical. If I do not get that exactly right, the side ‘wings’ of all the Ergon saddles I have tried will rub on my inner thigh. I tend to run them slightly nose down for that reason.
It’s a keeper and likely the best saddle I have ever used for an endurance bike.
Now we have the Ergon SMC4, a more padded version of the one I have on my Warbird. From the Ergon website:
The SMC4 offers the most comfort and relief for touring riders and mountain bikers. Numbness is diminished or prevented through the soft and deep padding. The 9mm relief channel offers maximum pressure relief for the perineal area. The large sitting area of the saddle effectively reduces pressure points, distributing the pressure equally across the sit bones. Unlike step-saddles, the flat seating surface of the SMC4 enables dynamic sitting positions.
I weighed the Ergon SMC4-M at 283g, this being the lesser model in the line-up of three versions, the other two using gel and different rail materials. Cro-mo rails work just fine for me. The padding is more ‘more’… on the Ergon SMC4-M and the base is nicely flexy. It does look like it would be a step up in comfort and for someone looking to take the sting out of a stiff riding bike, extra padding in the saddle can be a good thing.
I mounted the saddle on the Intense Primer review bike and put it to the test. What I found was exactly what I expected, but the end result was not what I expected. I did feel like I was riding a more padded version of my much loved Ergon SMC3-M with all the goodness of the flatter shape that allows for subtle body movements. There was definitely more isolation for bump inputs up through the seatpost. That was nice.
What I did not like as much was the way the padding created hot spots after long periods of seated use, and I found I was fiddling around, shifting my weight and position to get relief. It was enough to where I found it not to my liking, preferring the less padded saddle, even if it meant giving up some ultimate bump comfort.
But that really only proves that a saddle is very individual, almost to the point of making a review superfluous. But my experience with the Ergon SMC3-M proves that there are fine lines between saddle model to saddle model, and sometimes if takes a bit of trial and error to figure that out. I tend to like saddles that are on the firm-ish side.
Ergon makes a great saddle and with the wide range of models to choose from, there likely is one that would work for you. The version on my gravel bike, the Ergon SMC3-M, will stay there until the end of all things if I have anything to say about it and the Ergon SMC4-M fell just a bit short of nudging it out of place.
Note: The products shown here were provided at reduced cost to Twenty Nine Inches for test and review. We are not being paid, nor bribed for these reviews and we will strive to give our honest thoughts and opinions throughout.