We first got fitted up for the Ergon SME3 Saddle back at Sea Otter. Much like runners have their feet checked for running shoes, we had a seat aboard a device that Ergon had handy which measured the width of our sit bones. Fortunately this is becoming more and more popular in the bike world. After all, most of us spend quite a bit of time in the saddle for better or worse. Perhaps what’s even cooler about saddles with varying widths is that they are starting to trickle down in price so less consumers get stuck with a “one size fits all” seat. Although tempted to try the flagship titanium railed option, we opted to see how the entry level option would fare.
Intended Usage: Enduro MTB
Weight: 250 grams (small, claimed) / 264 grams (medium, actual)
Sizes: Small & Medium (tested)
Shell: Nylon Composite
Padding: Orthopedic AirCell Foam
Interestingly enough, there is only a 10 gram (claimed) weight difference between the $79 entry level SME3 and the $179 Pro Titanium version. For the price, everything is pretty standard fare – you can’t expect leather, kevlar or any sort of fancy rail material, but instead a microfiber cover and chro-moly rails.
There is a yellow bit of plastic molding holding things down up at the nose and the shell is made from a stout nylon composite. The construction definitely looks to be fairly tough and well thought out.
In terms of shape, upon a quick once over the SME3 looks quite good. It’s reasonably wide at the rear, and there are two subtle, ergonomic channels out back on the sides, as well as one down the middle to provide some relief to the peroneal nerve.
The nose is fairly long and flat, but well padded. The rails are fairly long, thus providing quite a bit of adjustment fore and aft. All in all, the shape looks to be well thought out visually speaking. Time to see how it rode…
On the Trail
Let’s be honest, saddle comfort is very subjective, much like things such as grips and pedals. It almost goes without saying that contact points on the bike are generally quite personal. What works for one person might not work for another, and when riders find grips, saddles and pedals that they like, they tend to stick with them. Therefore this review will be pretty brief and we’ll focus mainly on quality and value. In that case, this saddle proved to be very nicely constructed for the price and it came in at a reasonable weight. It’s certainly nothing to turn your nose up at.
From the get-go, our tester agreed with the SME3 fairly well. The width out back felt great – this could be attributed to being measured and not having to compromise on fit as much as we would with “one size fits all” saddles. We also think the shape plays an important role as our tester settled into the contoured parts of the sides out back quite nicely. One minor gripe was how long the nose was. Lately we’ve been quite impressed by saddles that are fairly wide out back and have short noses, such as the Specialized Power & Henge saddles. In our experience, they tend to just always put you in the right right spot. That said, the SME3 was well padded up front and provided plenty of comfort. We just found ourselves squirming around here and there toward the end of long rides.
We’ve had a few minor crashes, plus some scuffs and scrapes…In terms of durability, it’s a bit difficult to gauge how tough the SME3 is and every crash is different. Unsurprisingly, we’ve cased some jumps and landed pretty hard on the saddle. At the time of writing this everything is still intact and the rails are dead straight. All in all, it seems quite tough for the price and weight. It doesn’t feature kevlar side panels, but those come at the cost of chaffing and beating up your shorts anyway.
In the grand scheme of things, this is nice saddle. It didn’t really make its presence felt and that’s certainly not a bad thing. Rather, it was mainly an afterthought…that’s typically indicative of a worthy product. The price, weight and durability are all fairly solid. It’s not a game changing or mind blowing product by any means, but overall it just sort of shut up and did its job. The SME3 has a well thought out shape, solid construction and good materials coming in at a competitive price…It’s worth a look.