Years ago, Ergon International researched how a hand gripped a mountain bike. The company then redesigned the standard handlebar grip to change how a rider could hold on, including a wider shape and a small protruding platform where your hand rests.
This year, Ergon built a new type of bike seat. Its Mountain Bike Saddle line includes five similar models touted to “fit in a previously unobtainable way.”
The secret is a “3D” saddle shell, which is hollowed out and then layered with padded materials to allow for more damping material in the sit bone areas, the company explains.
Made for mountain biking, Ergon knows a rider will move around when pedaling on the variable terrain of a trail. Because of this, the company added extra padding in the nose and a forgiving design for comfort and support.
Denser padding under the sit bones, but soft padding in other areas, gives a stable but comfy place to sit. Ergon made the seat to support sit bones when a rider is pedaling in an upright position as well as when you lean forward and your sit bones shift.
For a test, I rode the company’s SM3 Pro model, which costs $160, on a 12-hour mountain bike race in October, the End-Tombed Race in North Dakota. It was my maiden journey on the seat, so I was hoping the Ergon would live up to its, um, ergonomic claims.
Coming into the race I was actually a bit saddle sore from a previous multi-hour training ride on my old saddle. On the Ergon, that pain pretty much disappeared.
By the end of race, 12 hours later, my rear end felt fine. I’d forgotten all about the saddle — this is just what a good saddle should do.
A silicone coating on the top material of the seat acts to keep chafing at bay. I noticed the “slipperiness” right away and had to adjust the seat angle precisely to make it completely level so I did not slide off.
After set up right the benefit of the lower friction was noticeable, especially after 12 hours in the saddle.
I do not have a lot to say beyond those few points. The Ergon was, plain and simple, comfortable for me as I rode, and it provided a solid (and lightweight at 250 grams) platform on which to sit.
The Mountain Bike Saddle line is manufactured by Selle Italia in Italy. Prices start at $130 for the base model, up to $230 at the top end for a lighter carbon build.
You can see the full lineup here. For now, they are male-only designs.
If you’re in the market, I recommend a test of the Ergon seats. They worked for me, for 12 hours straight in the race and now many training rides since. I am a happier pedaler with Ergon under my butt.
—Jason Magness is a contributing editor. He is based in Bend, Ore.