Italian Factory Tour: Selle SMP

An inside look at the multi-generation Italian family business

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By Jon Hornbeck

There seems to be a trend here in Italy which is that Italian’s really mean it when they say Italian made and family run. Selle SMP was officially started in 1947 by the late Martino Schiavon which is now currently run by his two son’s Franco and Maurizio.

The brand initially began as a saddle maker for the OEM’s, but in 2004 there was a turning point for the company as they introduced aftermarket saddles to their line up. Focusing on a great product though, a first look at the Selle SMP saddle and you would know instantly that it isn’t like any other saddle on the market.

During the 2004 Milan trade show the new saddle which went through three years of scientific design was first shown to the public and dealers, and the general response wasn’t the most ideal. Forgoing the trendy fashion style of most saddles Selle SMP chose the scientific way to produce a product that can benefit any rider either male or female.

To share their message, Selle SMP believes the best way for rider’s to find out the benefits of the saddle is to try it themselves. Selle SMP have over 320 test facilities through out the U.S. where rider’s can demo the saddles to discover how they work, and which one work’s for them. They will also soon be launching an online program to help rider’s test their saddles if they are not located near a Selle SMP test facility.

After 71 year’s in the market producing saddles, Selle SMP is still 100% made in Italy while using Italian products. They will soon be launching a couple new products to add to their line as well.

Check back here on Road Bike Action this week for a video which shows an in-depth look at the science behind the Selle SMP saddle.

Selle SMP was founded by Martimo Schiavon who has since passed, but is now run by his two sons Franco and Maurizio with Franco’s son Nocolo handling sales & marketing.
A new product that Selle SMP is set to release is a rear saddle fender that fits easily with any Selle SMP saddle.
Another new product is the Selle SMP handlebar tape which is the only high end tape that is made in Italy.
Selle SMP has a new saddle which is soon to be the released, the F30 and F30c (compact).
Selle SMP pushes their test saddle program very strongly and each saddle is their traditional yellow, red color scheme.
Even though Selle SMP offers a wide range of saddles, each saddle uses their patented ergonomic shape design.
One of the very first Selle SMP saddles next to their latest saddle, the F30.
A saddle shown during the build process before the excess material is cut off.
The Selle SMP frames are made up of 30% carbon fiber which offers a flexibility that can even be jumped and stepped on without braking, trust us we tried.
An older saddle molding tool which sits on the factory floor no longer in use.
Selle SMP also produce many saddle for OEM companies which make up half of their overall business.
The factory workers are primarily females as they seem to have a good eye for perfection and making sure all of the saddles are up to their companies standards.
A combined 51 years of factory experience between these two gentlemen on each side. Franco has been working in the factory for 25 years while Flavio has been there for 26 years.
A heat gun is used for the finishing touches once the saddles are assembled.
The before and after following the heat gun treatment.
A factory worker putting the final pieces on the saddle before packaging.
The Selle SMP saddles are 100% handmade and packaged here in their factory.
No part of production is left untouched.
The Selle SMP saddles offer a different look which gives the rider more support as their pelvis pivots.
Another warehouse is filled completely with Selle SMP saddles ready for shipment.
Explaining the information behind the Selle SMP saddles while getting consumers to test the product is the companies number one goal in educating their customers.

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