The Most Comfortable Bike Saddle? Selle SMP Drakon Review

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selle smp review

In the middle of the summer, my saddle started going south. There’s no worse feeling than slaughtering yourself on climbs all day only to come home to a saddle sore. I had been straddling a Specialized Toupe for years. Sure we weren’t great friends, but we had an arrangement that appeared to be working…until now. I decided to give the Selle SMP Drakon a try for a few reasons. Mainly, as a manual muscle therapist and movement geek, I was drawn to the way the saddle perfectly positions the pelvis. However, there are a few tricks to getting it set up in the perfect position, which I’ll cover in my full Selle SMP review.

The biggest difference between Selle SMP and other saddles is the length and width of the middle cutout, which stretches from end-to-end, providing relief in every position on the saddle. When you roll your pelvis forward, there’s nothing there to pinch or place pressure on tender areas, making it a great choice for anyone suffering from numbness. Those who are more flexible can tip the nose down for greater comfort. 

Allowing the pelvis to roll forward also takes pressure off the low back because it encourages more of a natural hip hinge position as opposed to bending from the lumbar, which places additional pressure on L5/S1, the discs most commonly associated with low back pain. Long saddle rails (8mm of clampable surface) also offer the opportunity to really tinker with the fit. For this saddle, you’ll want to set it up so that you sit a little further back.
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Selle SMP Drakon Saddle Characteristics

I chose the Drakon because it’s one of Selle SMP’s more versatile saddles: ideal for a variety of weights and physiques. In their lineup, the Drakon falls between the Lite 209 and the Dynamic, with less padding than the 209 and more than the Dynamic.

It has a little more padding than some of their other models, but is in no way bulky. I appreciated the little bit of extra padding when bombing down dirt roads with potholes, but never felt weighed down by it, especially on fast group rides. This saddle may look slightly bulky, but padding-wise, it’s on par with other traditional saddles. It may appear thicker due to its high density foam.

smp saddle setup

One of the major benefits of the Drakon is my butt feels firm and securely planted in the saddle. The raised rear on the Selle SMP doesn’t leave me perched on the rear edge of the saddle when sitting and grinding up a steep climb. Instead, it provides a solid platform to push against. Similarly when in the drops, the pelvis remains firmly in place and when it rotates forward, you can feel a steady power output. The saddle may look curvy, but it has a nice flat section in the middle that allows you to settle in and move fore and aft with ease.

The Selle SMP Drakon  is best suited for a medium-pelvis and is recommended for both road and mountain bikes. It has a leather cover and Selle SMP’s trademark curved-down nose, which saves mountain bikers from snagging any loose fabric on the nose while shifting in and out of the saddle. It also provides comfort for those hard efforts when you’re perched on the end, praying to the saddle Gods to spare the beating on your crotch.

You’ll save 50 grams with the carbon fiber model, which features a carbon fiber frame and rails. Otherwise the frame is stainless steel and 290 grams (though mine measured 317 grams). The Drakon’s dimensions are 276×138 mm. Compared to the Lite 209, it’s one millimeter narrower and two millimeters longer.

Related: Treat and Prevent Saddle Sores: 6 Simple Remedies

Rethinking Sit Bones and Women’s Specific Saddles

As a woman, I was a little hesitant at first to pick up a saddle that wasn’t women’s specific. Selle SMP does offer the Drakon Lady, but it should really be clarified that this saddle is basically the same, save for its pink stitching. 

how to fit a bike saddle

Selle SMP has an interesting way of looking at what constitutes a well-fitting saddle. We’re forever told to measure the width of our ischial tuberosities (or sit bones) when deciding on the perfect saddle.

But Selle SMP argues that the width of the ischiopubic ramus matters more than the width of the ischial tuberosities, since this is the place we bear more weight when sitting on a saddle.

Women are often told that, because their ischial tuberosities are wider, they need a wider saddle. However, Selle SMP has found that a woman’s ischiopubic ramus is actually wider, which better explains why women are more comfortable on a wider saddle.

The Perfect Fit: How to Set up a Selle SMP

It took a bit of tinkering to get the Drakon in the right place. There are a few important things to keep in mind. First, Selle SMP suggests that you sit a little further back on their saddles. And because of the raised back, you’ll want to ensure that the seat is clamped tight. Otherwise, the saddle may slowly slide back over time. I suggest you take a measurement or snap a photo of the clamp/rail placement to check against.

Something else important to note is that when you slide an SMP saddle either fore or aft, it doesn’t change the seat height. The seat rail angle is specifically designed this way. 

selle smp drakon
The Selle SMP Drakon sitting level

Nose down or level is the best position for Selle SMPs and many people prefer a negative angle of 3-5 degrees for ultimate comfort, especially if they have a very flexible pelvis and can easily fold forward. 

I tinkered with the fit for a couple of weeks, but was surprised by how happy my rear was in this saddle right off the bat. The padding felt a bit rough at first, but softened up over a couple of weeks.

Selle SMP Drakon Overall Review

Pros: Extremely comfortable solution to soft tissue numbness, without compromising power. The Selle SMP Drakon is one of the most anatomically correct saddles available. Versatile design accommodates a wide range of riders and the saddle is very durable, especially for a model with a cutout. Just the right amount of padding without feeling bulky.

Cons: A bit pricey for the weight and has a bulkier appearance than similar saddles.

Suggested retail as of Oct. 12, 2016: $260 Find current price and sales on Amazon

Related: Is Your Seat a Pain in the Butt? How to Choose the Best Road Bike Saddle

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Additional resources:

Selle SMP official site

Steve Hogg Bike Fitting – All About SMPs