Smanie (pronounced SMAHN-yeh) has been in the saddle game for a while now, and its tag line “Forget About Us” might seem a little counter-intuitive, but the idea behind it is one every rider strives for–to not be thinking about how much their butt hurts while riding their favorite trail. Smanie’s goal is to build saddles that are comfortable enough to make the rider forget they are sitting on only a few inches of padded surface atop a metal post.
With a background in road, Smanie is now bringing what they know to the mountain bike market with the “n-spire” saddle, branded for enduro and trail riders.
When Smanie first started developing the n-spire, they quickly realized a trail rider sits differently than the road riders they’re used to. So they enlisted a private consultant pursuing their Bio Engineering PHD at the Ohio State University and tested shape after shape. They tried including a channel, moving the pad placement, changing the thickness and more. The research mapped out pressure points across the top of the saddle to find where different rides needed the most support. Three years later, the “n-spire” is coming to market.
Over the last couple days, 20-plus miles of riding and shuttle laps in the bike park, I got an idea of what this saddle is about. And with the seat posts drop, the “n-spire” gets really easy to forget about. Okay, that sounds obvious, but the saddle’s noticeable fall-away profile not only kept my shorts from catching on it, but was also just the right shape to push my legs into when moving around above the bike. And when sitting back down for the short sections where body english wasn’t needed, I was getting more contact with the “n-spire” than other saddles that have you balancing on the front when dropped.
Smanie also made its new saddle a touch shorter than many of the other trail seats on the market, which when looking at it isn’t noticeable, but I did notice it when the “n-spire” didn’t catch on my baggies no matter how steep the terrain or how far back I got on the bike.
When the terrain got mellow and it was time to pedal again, sitting on the saddle was a different story. With only the 136-millimeter size for me to ride (although it will be available in a 146 and 156 as well) the “n-spire” was slightly too narrow for my liking. I suspect, however, the 146 millimeter would be a saddle I could forget about. Normally riding a 142, I think the extra four millimeters would work well with the fall-away sides, and even riding on the 136, I could still feel the support of the bump in padding on the back of the saddle when the going got steep.
With a slightly lumpy look to the discerning saddle examiner, you can see where Smanie mapped extra padding across the top to reduce pressure points and offer support. And despite still getting some pressure points due to the small size, the support of the padding was noticable with the saddle holding me exactly where I wanted to be as I moved back and forth to adjust for different pedaling obstacles.
Backed up by science and three years of development, the “n-spire” has some tricks up its sleeves, and if I spent all my time out of the saddle, I would run it all the time. I am still out to lunch on whether I would run it for days that seem to have more up than down though, and I can’t make that claim until I try a saddle that better fits my frame.