New Ergon SMC Core Saddle Review
The new Ergon SMC Core Saddle is designed to be the brand’s most comfortable mountain bike saddle to date. We’ve been trying out both the men’s and women’s versions since their release to see how they build on the SMC Sport. Find our thoughts on both here…
Ergon’s latest line of saddles builds on the success of their SMC saddle series, but with even more focus on comfort, something we bikepackers could always use more of. Although saddles are an inherently personal choice, and no particular saddle will work for everyone, I’ve had great success riding Ergon’s saddles without a chamois in the past and always keep one close by for test bikes. As I noted in my initial review of the SMC Sport Gel Saddle, Ergon’s saddles tend to have large contact areas and, you guessed it, an ergonomic design that I’ve found works well for long days in the saddle.
The new Ergon SMC Core Saddle takes comfort to the max with the addition of their “Core and TwinShell technology.” While the majority of saddles have a single shell and foam interior, the SMC Core uses a thick layer of closed-cell particle foam between two nylon composite shells, which allows the saddle to shift side to side and follow natural pelvic movements. While it was hard to judge just how much movement there was while riding, I can say that the foam is much softer and allows way more movement than my SMC Sport Gel saddle—or any of my other saddles for that matter. Even to the touch, the SMC Core feels pretty plush but springs back into place right away.
Emily and I have both been using the SMC Core Saddles on our mountain bikes for a few months now, and neither of us has had any problems. She’s on the women’s version and I’m on the men’s. Once we dialed in the position, Emily hasn’t had any complaints coming from the popular WTB Koda saddle, but she’s also on a full-suspension bike so the softer foam likely wasn’t as noticeable. For me, the side-to-side movement was quite apparent on my hardtail and while riding seated through smaller rock gardens and roots. The SMC Core has noticeably more give than other saddles I’ve used. It’s worth noting that I find Ergon’s SMC line to feel wider than other options out there, so I opted for the S/M size this time around and found that better for riding singletrack. If I was looking for a more upright riding position, on a rigid touring bike for example, I might consider sizing up.
Just like Ergon’s other saddles, the SMC Core has pressure relief channels that are important for anyone spending a lot of time on their bike, and it comes in two different widths (S/M and M/L) to suit different sit-bones and body types. Something I haven’t noticed before is that they have a recommended max rider weight of only 220 pounds, which seems quite limiting. Both the men’s and women’s models retail for $149.95 USD, which is quite pricy for a saddle, but if it means a more comfortable ride for bikepacking, it could be money well spent.
- Plush foam and dual-shell design adds comfort
- Two different widths to choose from
- Gender-specific designs
- Low weight limit
- Models Tested: Ergon SMC Core Men / Women
- Size Tested: S/M: 9-12cm
- Weight: 340g (men), 405g (women)
- Place of Manufacture: Taiwan
- Price: $149.95 USD
- Manufacturer’s Details: ErgonBike.com
As mentioned, it’s quite difficult to recommend a saddle, but I’ll say that Ergon’s TwinShell design intent is noticeable, especially when riding a hardtail mountain bike, and could make a great saddle option for anyone looking to wean their way off of the chamois, a topic I discuss in great detail here. Is the SMC Core Saddle worth $149? That depends. Does it flex and shift as Ergon claims? It sure does!
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