SMP Stratos Review

by Brian Mullin on December 7, 2010

The first time you see an SMP saddle it looks slightly alien or at least like some contortionist nightmare rig. With its wild beaked nose, swooping cradle and monster hand wide middle slot, it is a startling experience. Fortunately, all the features work well together, and make a saddle that is innovative, comfortable, functional, useful and medically beneficial.

Most any bike saddles on the market today are ergonomically designed, with vast amounts of technology and knowledge, usually drawn from the racing circuit. SMP saddles have refined their ergonomics even farther, and have incorporated in depth medical and anatomically analysis to realize a wildly innovative and functional product.

The main objective of their saddle is to reduce pressure on the perineum area of the body, which is the region of the body inferior to the pelvic diaphragm and between the legs. In more specific terms, it’s the area between the anus and the scrotum in the male, and between the anus and the vulva in the female. Riders with a long cycling history and frequent training sessions, can increase the incidence of genitourinary (urinary and reproductive organ) problems and disorders. An abundant list of issues can occur, such as infertility, premature or late ejaculation, prostrate problems, hormonal imbalance, etc. No wonder the Tour De France always has the Erectile Dysfunction ads?

You say I’m premature.
I just call it ecstasy.
I wear a rubber at all times.
It’s a necessity.
Cuz I jizz in my pants.

This very small section of the pelvis receives prolonged compression, and traumas from impacts during a ride. Road biking tends to have more compression, while mountain biking is more varied, with long climbs (compression), frequent sprints (less to no compression) and technical descents and terrain (abrupt and violent impacts).

Their saddles have four outstanding features, the beaked nose, the central channel, the rear sitting area cradle and extra long rails, which all work synergistically in a functional partnership. The beak nose provides a long flat base for climbing, and allows for a very dynamic and forceful application of pressure for power transfer. In addition, the large nose offers excellent bike control using the thighs, and the shape doesn’t snag on shorts when moving around. It also prevents the testicles from being pressed upward. The central channel, or the slot, helps relieve pressure from a vast section of the perineum, including most of the naughty bits of the nether region, and provides excellent ventilation and less chafing. The sitting area cradle, holds the rear and the lower part of the ischial tuberosities (sitting bones), and helps reduce pressure on the coccyx (tailbone). Lastly, the rails are long, allowing a vast array of seating positions, providing a myriad of adjustability.

Show me your genitals, your genitals, (WHAT)
Show me your genitals, (GENITALIA)
Knock, Knock, who’s there?
It’s me, wondering why you’re not naked.
Knock, Knock, who’s there?
Me again, still wondering why you’re not naked.

SMP makes a whole slew of saddle types, from unpadded full carbon racing units to more padded leather ones, all with the same four basic characteristics. Their models differ in material composition (rails, body, covering), dimensions and padding thickness (or lack there of).

Choosing a saddle is part science and art, and although it seems simple, it’s a complex undertaking for a very crucial bike component. The anatomical characteristics are unique and singular for each person, but SMP has simplified it by using pelvic width zones, cycling type (road or mountain) and padding preference to narrow down the choices. In my case, I have a 32 inch waist (M pelvis) and prefer a saddle with medium padding, so their Stratos is what I choose.

Impressions
The additional rail length of the saddle made fore and aft positioning effortless, and it helped with a myriad of seatpost clamp systems. In addition, the long rails give a slight amount of suppleness or micro suspension. I started out following their directions for leveling the saddle, which meant it was level from the high points of the rear cradle to the nose. I found that uncomfortable with me, and ended up with the nose tilted down 5 degrees, so that the middle section was close to flat.

Measured weight: 259 grams

My first couple of rides felt odd, even after getting the positioning and tilt were corrected to my liking, and my man units had to get used to the sensation of the slot. After breaking in the saddle (and me), and some familiarity to its features and functions, the saddle became quite comfortable. The outstanding thing I noticed, and really loved about the saddle was the beaked nose. During technical maneuvers on the bike (usually in ugly terrain), my shorts didn’t snag on the nose, and when any sort of prying move was needed, for either torquing the frame or drivetrain input, vast amounts of power could easily be applied. On short steep climbs, you could literally sit up on the large flat surface of the beaked nose like it was a secondary saddle, applying oodles of traction.

During long smooth climbs, the cradled sitting area held your sitting bones in a comforting manner, giving cushioning for forward and backward movement as required. The slot reduced pressure on the perineum, allowing good blood flow to the legs, and great ventilation, and it didn’t jam your testes during a hard impact. The saddle did require you to sit in the rear sweetspot while doing long spin sessions, and when outside that area, there was a narrowly defined region to use due to the slot and the opposing side beams, but it became second nature after indoctrination. Although the padding felt firm, the aspects of the features played together to give a more comfortable than would seem possible.

One minor issue was the tall upward sweep of the rear, would then snag on your apparel if the seat wasn’t low enough, but you really needed to back behind the saddle for this happenstance.

SMP Stratos Company Specs:

  • Weight: 250 g
  • Dimensions: 266 x 131 mm
  • Padding: foamed elastomer
  • Body: Nylon 12 filled with carbon fiber
  • Covering: Real leather in the black version and Lorica microfibre in the colored versions
  • Frame: AISI 304 stainless steel tube
  • Recommended for: Road and Mountain Bikes
  • Recommended for sizes: XS-S-M-L
  • Colors:

Bottom Line
I am quite happy with the odd alien saddle, and have found it comfortable, and extremely useful for technical terrain, especially when climbing or prying with the excellent beak nose. It is easy to position on a seatpost, and has some sound medical benefits built into the synergistic features. The slot, cradle and beak nose is functional, reducing perineum pressure, offering good blood flow to the legs, and comfort and impact cushioning to the soft tissue. The massive slot might not agree with everyone, though I found it worked well for me.

Strengths
– Comfortable
– Beak nose doesn’t snag on shorts
– Beak nose platform is excellent for climbs
– Medically sound

Weaknesses
– High sweep rear can snag on apparel
– Saddles are pelvic width specific
– Expensive
– Defined sweetspots in the rear and middle

MSRP: $249.99

Overall Rating: 4.5 Flamin’ Chili Peppers

Visit the SMP website at http://www.smpselle.com/smp4bike/

Company Fodder:
The Stratos model is the ideal seat for both intensive training and free time cycling. It uses the structure of the Composit model joined with average padding. It is covered in real leather in the black versions and Lorica microfiber in the colored versions. It has excellent “all-around” features and is particularly suited for the average pelvis. The STRATOS model has foamed elastomer padding where the ischial tuberosities and rear rest. The patented features by Selle SMP, such as the completely free central channel, the original eagle-beak nose and the raised rear give these models an interesting aerodynamic touch. In virtue of the combination of light yet comfortable padding with a body of smaller width, Stratos is the ideal solution between the Evolution and Glider models. Suited for people with a narrow or medium-sized pelvis.

{ 7 comments… read them below or add one }

Nigel December 12, 2010 at 1:54 am

A year into cycling at age 56 as part of a personal fitness scheme to loose weight I was now the point of riding up to 3 -4 hours on a Saturday morning and while having finally settled on the right bike for me, Carbon, flatbar ~7.5Kg the seats I had tried were the one problem area that was limiting my time in the saddle because of pain.

After much reading on the net I purchased a Selle SMP Plus and while it took about a month of fine adjustments I have cycling nirvana, I can now comfortable out ride what my legs are capable of!

I am totally sold on SMP seat design and will recommend it to anyone. by the way, I have mine set with the high point of the nose 10mm lower than the rear high points.

Reply

Nigel December 12, 2010 at 1:55 am

A year into cycling at age 56 as part of a personal fitness scheme to loose weight I was now the point of riding up to 3 -4 hours on a Saturday morning and while having finally settled on the right bike for me, Carbon, flatbar ~7.5Kg the seats I had tried were the one problem area that was limiting my time in the saddle because of pain.

After much reading on the net I purchased a Selle SMP Plus and while it took about a month of fine adjustments I have cycling nirvana, I can now comfortable out ride what my legs are capable of!

I am totally sold on SMP seat design and will recommend it to anyone. by the way, I have mine set with the high point of the nose 10mm lower than the rear high points.

Reply

Brian Mullin - Gram and Pastajet December 15, 2010 at 5:36 pm

Nigel, Glad to hear that! I switched to another saddle for some testing, and it was not nearly as comfortable, and down right painful at times!

Reply

Anonymous December 23, 2010 at 5:09 am

Couldnt agree more with that, very attractive article

Reply

Anonymous December 29, 2010 at 9:30 pm

Just popping in to say nice site.

Reply

Brian Mullin - Gram and Pastajet January 2, 2011 at 6:26 am

Thanks, I appreciate it! Enjoy.

Reply

Anonymous August 4, 2011 at 6:15 pm

Hi there, I found your blog via Google while searching for a related topic, your site came up, it looks good.

Reply

Leave a Comment

Previous post:

Next post: