Selle SMP is founded in 1947, and currently makes a range of STRIKE model saddles with several unique ergonomic characteristics. The nose of the saddle is dramatically bent like the beak of a bird so that the rider can have a flat base to sit at the front during long climbs. The nose also features flat faced sides so for a rider’s thigh to grip during downhill sections.
The biggest feature of the saddle is also what is missing, a huge and wide channel running the front two thirds of the saddle. This feature prevents numbness of the riders’ tender parts by spreading the pressure onto the sit bones. Foamed elastomer built into the top padding for extra comfort over higher end models, but the covers lack anti-scuff strips at the rear where most mountainbike saddles suffer from tears and rips in the event of a fall. The rails are made from tubular steel, something rare in the competitive mountainbike world where most XC saddles are made with titanium rails for weight savings. The foamed elastomer padding and chromoly rails combine to increase the saddle’s weight to 290grams, a rather portly figure in the anorexic world of XC saddles. The rails feature helpful markings for easy adjustment and recording of the saddle position.
First the saddle has to be mounted onto the saddle, and with this saddle the angle of attack is particular important. The booklet stated that it should be measured with a bubble level to ensure that the saddle is perfectly horizontal, however I had better success with the saddle tilted slightly downwards.
A pleasant surprise is that you’ll finally have a view of the top of your seatpost with the saddle on. During rides, I find the saddle to be too wide for my liking, my sitbones are too close to the central channel, causing undue saddle pressure. The wide wings also made it more difficult to get behind the saddle during downslope sections. However, during uphills the flat saddle nose provided a much bigger surface for the rider to sit and spin up the hill. Crossing mud or water puddles produced a cold shock as the water spray will just go through the empty channel, right in between your legs.
During road rides, I have problems getting into a comfortable riding position as the wide channel again made sitting in any one position for an appreciable length of time uncomfortable. The big rear section of the saddle however provides a firm platform for me to sit against when spinning in high gears.
Saddles, like helmets are very personal items when it comes to fit. The wide channel section is meant to relief the rider’s saddle numbness, but I find that it is counterproductive for someone with a narrower sitbone. Perhaps someone with a wider sitbone can benefit from it.The flat front section, although looking awkward, really works as advertised. The saddle is abit too heavy for serious XC purpose though, although you can go for the composite or carbon version for a saddle with a more competitive weight.
Waiting for my turn
While waiting for my turn on the abnormally shaped saddle, I browsed through the Internet for more information concerning the saddle’s revolutionary design.
According to press releases by Selle SMP, an American scientific magazine, “Journal of Sexual Medicine” published the results of a comparative with other competition saddles, where it was proved that Strike’s particular ergonomic form limits down to a minimum the “compression on the structures of the pelvic floor” protecting in this way the blood perfusion of the soft tissues while increasing the flow through the leg blood vessels. To put it simply, it reduces pressure on critical points of your nether regions, which is a good thing.
That seems to be the only professional opinion I could find in the World Wide Web. However, numerous testimonies from cyclists from all over the world is available on the company website. I’ll settle for that.
After the initial installation, it really did look weird on my already weird Whyte PRST-4. Looks aside, my first ride on the saddle felt slightly uncomfortable. It was probably due to the wide channel down the middle. Having used needle-like saddles like the Specialized Body Geometry Pro and Fi’zik Gobi, it felt pretty nice to have the pressure off from the perineum area though.
Subsequent rides revealed the intentions of the saddle design. Slight numbness from my legs was reduced further as I grew accustomed to the saddle. I find the lower part of the pelvic bones or the ischial tuberositiescomfortably accommodated by the saddle. Compared to Tiny, my bone structure is more probably more suited for this particular saddle.
The bent nose of the saddle helped greatly in the transition from standing up on the pedals and sitting down on the saddle. Even with tights, I often encounter the harrowing experience of getting caught too far in front when clearing an obstacle. The Strike Pro eliminates this problem immediately. A small note, though, if you often carry your bike with the saddle nose hooked on your shoulder, it’s painful to do that with the Strike Pro. Trust me on that.
I feel the Strike Pro is especially suited to those who find the Gobi saddle and other similar specimens too narrow for their liking.
Selle SMP’s saddles look set to take over the world by storm like Fi’zik’s Arione and Gobi saddles did two years ago. However, the price of the saddle is astronomical, especially its higher-end brethren. That alone could stunt their growth in the already saturated saddle market. Coupled with a relatively heavy weight, it seems they’ll end up the same way as internal geared hubs or AWD bikes; revolutionary but too portly to overcome their advantages. I’m confident Selle SMP will eventually come up with lighter versions of their Strike saddles and take advantage of economies of scale. It can only get better.