At road.cc every product is thoroughly tested for as long as it takes to get a proper insight into how well it works. Our reviewers are experienced cyclists that we trust to be objective. While we strive to ensure that opinions expressed are backed up by facts, reviews are by their nature an informed opinion, not a definitive verdict. We don't intentionally try to break anything (except locks) but we do try to look for weak points in any design. The overall score is not just an average of the other scores: it reflects both a product's function and value – with value determined by how a product compares with items of similar spec, quality, and price.What the road.cc scores mean
Good scores are more common than bad, because fortunately good products are more common than bad.
The Smanie GT 137 Saddle is described by Smanie as a neutral/medium position saddle, which is designed for those of us who 'have a favourite riding position and love to stick to it for long periods of time'. With this spiel, I was expecting to get along extremely well with it on my time trial bike but to my delight, it's been uniformly good across my fleet of bikes. This is even more surprising, given that the 137mm version is 6mm narrower than my bike-fit-determined ideal width.
There's no carbon or space age wonder materials here, just solidly engineered and well-conceived stuff, which also helps to keep the price competitive. But as our best bike saddles buyer's guide shows, there's very stiff competition even at the Smanie's quite modest price.
The Smanie GT's covering is a seemingly durable faux leather with a satin texture and silicone graphics for a good grip, so you're not sliding around on the saddle.
A relatively broad, 3mm deep pressure-relieving channel also bodes well for comfort, while eliminating the soggy crotch associated with cut-outs on wet days.
The Smanie GT comes in a single 267mm length and three widths: 137, 142 and 147mm. Our test model is in black, which is arguably the most practical choice, but you could plump for white if you prefer.
On paper, 142mm would me my closest match but in practice I found the 137mm excellent. The saddle's slightly swept profile is apparently designed to let you get into the most efficient position you can – and stay there. Between the micro-fibre faux leather cover and composite base is Smanie's Eco+Light foam padding, which is apparently heat resistant for consistent comfort.
The material's athermic technology should mean your backside stays cool even on a scorching summer day. With most of my testing done in a decidedly changeable November, I'll just have to take Smanie's word for it. And while hollow chromoly rails might not be the most exotic material and require a decent coat of paint, they do strike an excellent balance between weight, comfort and cost.
Finish is uniformly good throughout. The cover is glued and screwed to the base, with no nasty staples or residual adhesive. The rails have minimum-maximum marks, and the finish seems both hardy and neatly applied. The rear of the saddle, between the 'wings', is also cut away, which might be for aesthetic reasons, but it did let me get my Rixen & Kaul luggage perfectly aligned.
I tested the Smanie GT across my fleet, which takes in a fixed gear winter trainer, 1991 road bike, fixed gear TT bike for 20-mile blasts and my go-anywhere rough-stuff tourer, which I did most of my testing on, including some off-road forays.
When it comes to saddles, I've tended to go a little broader, given the slightly more upright riding position on the tourer. However, I've found the Smanie's padding and support perfect, even when riding for hours on rural byways and unmade roads.
Living up to its blurb, the GT's shape tended to scoop me into a more efficient pedalling stance, resulting in a more efficient cadence – 90rpm rather than my usual 85rpm. And all without any need or urge to shuffle about.
On rides of between 50 and 100 miles and regardless of the shorts or tights I wore, the Smanie GT's padding proved remarkably supportive to my sit bones, the pressure-relief channel did its stuff without fuss and there was no issue when I was wearing super-shiny Lycra. The saddle's micro-fibre covering also seems genuinely waterproof.
It was the same story on the road and time trial bikes. The improved performance and greater efficiency were most palpable on the latter, which I really wasn't expecting, given my default saddle is the same size.
However, riding on identical courses and turning the same 81-inch gear I was averaging 100rpm, where I'd typically ride at 90-95rpm. And all the rides were done wearing the same shorts, so there were no variances here. I suffered no chafing, discomfort or numbness and while the 137mm width is only 6mm narrower than my measured ideal, there is a point where something doesn't fit.
Other than checking the cradle bolts were correctly torqued, it's just been a matter of giving the covering a damp cloth once-over. The wings aren't showing any signs of wear, despite leaning the saddle against brickwork at times.
If this were my saddle, I'd be inclined to add some electrical tape to protect these areas as a precaution, but that probably says more about me than the saddle. Likewise, I'd be tempted to give the rails a quick lick of hard paste wax but, nasty spills aside, I've no reason to believe it won't serve faithfully for a good while.
The GT's £59.99 price is good given its spec, but there's some decent competition around this price.
The BBB Echelon that I reviewed is another genre-spanning model that I've had good results with on and off road. It also has chromoly rails, a faux leather cover and padding on the heavier side of minimalist. The cut-out is effective, but without mudguards you will get a soggy crotch. At £69.99 it's a tenner dearer, a few grams heavier and its 145mm width is as narrow as things get.
If you're looking to keep costs down and don't mind a few extra grams, the Selle Italia Sport Gel-Flow FEC Alloy Saddle that I tested a while back is a long, narrow model with a great cut-out and firm, supportive padding.
FEC is marketing speak for hollow steel and there's some compromise when it comes to finish but it's by no means a poor choice. If you're looking for something wider and aren't overly worried about the weight and are happy to spend time moulding it in, Rob liked the Spa Cycles Aire Leather Saddle, which comes in black, brown, or honey. I've done thousands of miles on the ti-railed version.
All contact points, and saddles in particular, are highly subjective choices. My experience of the Smanie GT serves to illustrate that numbers alone do not necessarily decide rider comfort and compatibility.
But taking everything into account, the Smanie GT is a decent midpoint option or potential saddle upgrade – and it does an excellent job of straddling road and off-road riding disciplines.
Understated but very comfortable saddle for day-to-day riding on tarmac and beyond
If you're thinking of buying this product using a cashback deal why not use the road.cc Top Cashback page and get some top cashback while helping to support your favourite independent cycling website
road.cc test report
Make and model: Smanie GT 137 saddle
Size tested: 137mm
Tell us what the product is for and who it's aimed at. What do the manufacturers say about it? How does that compare to your own feelings about it?
Smanie says: "Designed for enduring comfort. Whether you're riding a classic tour, Gran Fondo, multiple-day stage race on either road or mountain, the GT Series is ready to support you. The slightly swept profile allows you to settle into position to get the most out of your effort. The use of strategically placed Eco+Light padding, center channel for increased blood flow, and beautifully contoured wings, the GT Series saddle will inspire you to go beyond the finish line of your next goal.
It's all about performance
The GT is our neutral/medium position saddle. It is for those who have their favorite riding position and love to stick to it for long periods of time. Its shape is made for riders with moderate pelvic rotation while pedaling."
My feelings are that, while I take some of Smanie's claims with a pinch of salt, its GT saddle has certainly delivered and offers a lot more support than I was expecting, especially on my rough-stuff tourer. Contact points are by definition very personal things but I've found it a remarkably agreeable all-rounder.
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?
Micro fibre faux leather cover, 3mm pressure channelling groove, athermic (heat-resistant foam padding) hollow chromoly rails.
Neatly finished and seemingly rugged all round, although some 'scuff bumpers' around the back would have offered additional protection from abrasion.
Though it's not particularly exotic, or likely to win bragging rights on a group ride, Smanie's GT saddle delivered in terms of real-world performance on the road and off.
It's a bit early to say in some regards, but there are no obvious signs of wear or weak spots so far, so it is at least very promising.
Good, given that the rails are made from chromoly steel rather than titanium or carbon.
Impressive on and off road, regardless of distance.
The specification might not excite on paper but the Smanie delivers in practice, and the GT is also a little cheaper than some of its potential rivals.
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
Overall, the GT has proven itself an 'everyman' saddle that I found perfect for my shape, regardless of the machine I was riding or the terrain. It has encouraged me to sit at the sweet spot and just whirr away, without the need for micro-adjustments, or gentle shuffling. The pressure-channelling groove is effective and the lack of cutaway means I've avoided a soggy backside when I've ridden in the wet sans mudguards.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
Pretty much everything – it's lived up to Smanie's hype very convincingly.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product
A minor grumble, rather than a dislike: the lack of protective scuff bumpers, especially on a saddle marketed as an on/off-road model.
How does the price compare to that of similar products in the market, including ones recently tested on road.cc?
The BBB Echelon saddle is another genre-spanning model that I've had good results with, on road and trail. It has chromoly rails, a faux leather cover and its padding is on the heavier side of minimalist. The cut-out is effective but without mudguards you might end up with a wet backside. At £69.99 it's a tenner dearer, a few grams heavier and 145mm is as narrow as things get.
If you're on a tight budget and don't mind a little extra weight, the Selle Italia Sport Gel-Flow FEC Alloy Saddle is a long, narrow (140mm wide) model with a great cut-out and firm, yet supportive padding.
If you're seeking something wider and you're not worried about weight and are happy to spend time moulding it in, the SPA Cycles Aire Leather Saddle costs £62 and comes in black, brown, or honey. I've done many thousands of miles on the titanium-railed version.
Did you enjoy using the product? Yes
Would you consider buying the product? Yes
Would you recommend the product to a friend? Yes
Use this box to explain your overall score
Understated but very comfortable saddle for day-to-day riding on tarmac and beyond
About the tester
I usually ride: Rough Stuff Tourer Based around 4130 Univega mtb Frameset My best bike is: 1955 Holdsworth Road Path and several others including cross & traditional road
I've been riding for: Over 20 years I ride: Most days I would class myself as: Experienced
I regularly do the following types of riding: cyclo cross, commuting, touring, fixed/singlespeed, mtb,
Shaun Audane is a freelance writer/product tester with over twenty-eight years riding experience, the last twelve (120,000 miles) spent putting bikes and kit through their paces for a variety of publications. Previous generations of his family worked at manufacturing's sharp end, thus Shaun can weld, has a sound understanding of frame building practice and a preference for steel or titanium framesets.
Citing Richard Ballantine and an Au pair as his earliest cycling influences, he is presently writing a cycling book with particular focus upon women, families and disabled audiences (Having been a registered care manager and coached children at Herne Hill Velodrome in earlier careers)