Review: Selle SMP Glider Saddle
(2017) When I was an immature boy-child in middle school, one of the funniest comments I could hear my friends using was an obvious finger with, “Sit on it and spin.” I never knew why I found that so funny. It really didn’t even make much sense. Furthermore, on the scale of comebacks, I would rank it quite low in efficacy. Currently it provokes a perplexed reaction instead of the giggly antics of decades ago.
Decades ago I knew cycling were a sport I would like. I annoyed my dad by routinely listing bags I would need to complete a successful crossing of the American mainland by bike. Hockey eventually won my full attention and the rest, as they say, is history.
Upon returning to human powered machinery, I routinely battled with saddle comfort. In the scale of discomfort, it usually ranked quite low. Nonetheless it sometimes made or broke a decent ride. My first saddle collapsed in on itself. One day it was fine. The next it was my worst nightmare. I dabbled with a company touting it’s geometry was solved through extensive studying of the body. It felt over engineered and lacking. I resigned to thinking I would ride slightly uncomfortable forever.
A couple of months ago I found myself rapidly approaching a sliding and prone cyclist in the middle of a crit. Naturally upon running over someone and being pitched forward himself, there was bound to be damage. I thought my body was the only thing done in but after a once-over, the bike proved injured too. The saddle had cracked. I had a slight sense of relief it was a goner.
The previous saddle was regarded, as something called pre-curved. That meant the saddle was rigid and had no give. It also had a large nose to it, perfect for snagging it on parts of the chamois. Some other saddles will curve to the rider’s body. Some have cutouts. Some don’t. Some have gel. Some are just fabricated carbon.
It’s hard to review a saddle here because of the fact that, despite all those algorithms for websites, no one has figured out the best model for saddles. The warning I give to many would-be saddle purchasers is that wider is not always better. Weight does not determine sit bone width. I have witnessed cyclists enter a shop demanding the most expensive saddle, inaccurately believing expensive is better, and walking out with something less expensive. It goes both ways, though, and Selle SMP is taking the guesswork out of the experience.
What Selle SMP does well is their test saddle program. Selle SMP offers test saddles for all but their carbon offerings. Take your bike to your nearest mechanic, swap out the old saddle for a tester, and start adding up the miles. Perhaps the saddle you have put on is just what you are looking for. Sometimes it takes a few other testers to zero in the desired feel, though with their measurement guide, much of the guesswork is removed. With nearly fifty variations of saddles to choose, it would be impressive not to snag a saddle that adds enjoyment to your ride.
I added the Glider (availabe in eleven colors) to my rides and found immediate enjoyment in the upgrade. The pressure canal was firmer compared to the previous saddle’s canal. With the downturned nose to relieve pressure on tense rides, it will also make snagging bibs on the nose a thing of the past. Despite being a bit heavier than many other saddles, it felt worth the trade off in comfort. This stems from Selle SMP’s 70 years of Italian cycling research and heritage. It feels well researched.
But don’t take my word for it. Find out your nearest test saddle location and try it yourself. The new comfort of riding with this saddle for several months has made longer rides more enjoyable. I find myself giggling again when I ‘sit on it and spin.’ The rest, as they say, is history.
Selle SMP saddles prices vary. Touring saddles cost much less while road saddles can surpass $400 (USD), but typically hover around the $250-300 range.