By Stan Purdum
- Does not slip around on the saddle
- Does not bunch up under the rider
- Waterproof and AV resistant
- Adds a layer of comfort without bulk
- You may experience “drag” when sliding on and off the saddle while wearing street clothes
Weight: 3.4 oz (racing saddle size)
4.9 oz (touring saddle size)
How obtained: Sample from Delta
RBR advertiser: No
If you’re like me, you may have tried a padded bicycle saddle cover at some point — only to eventually discard it in disgust. They slide around on the saddle, get lumpy where the foam compresses under your butt and make you feel like you’ve taken a dump in your shorts. And gel-filled covers aren’t much better because eventually, your body weight shoves the gel aside.
Personally, I’ve found good leather saddles, once broken in, to be more comfortable. So I wasn’t looking for a saddle cover when I received a sample HexAir Saddle Cover from Delta, a maker of cycling products.
My first impulse when seeing the words “saddle cover” on the packaging was to set it aside, but the clear plastic shell over the cover allowed me to see the product, and I could quickly tell it wasn’t just another iteration of the covers I had previously thrown away.
For starters, the HexAir appeared to be rubber — more specifically, according to the text on the packaging, a flexible polymer that is both waterproof and UV resistant. The waterproof claim got my attention because one problem with leather saddles is that they don’t like getting wet and can harden up if they do. Thus, most leather-saddle users carry with them a rainproof cover of some kind — even if only a shower cap — to slip over the saddle when caught in the rain. But this HexAir cover, if already in place, would enable one to avoid that hassle.
The top side of the HexAir is smooth in the nose area, has a dimpled texture in the sit-bones area and has a depression to match the cutout slot many saddles have. Turning the cover over, I noticed that the underside of the seat pad was a web of many hex-sided pockets, which, according to the packaging, create a cushion of air when the cover is installed over a saddle.
The cover is not made specifically for leather saddles, but I saw no reason it wouldn’t work for them. The cover comes in two sizes: one sized for racing saddles and one for touring saddles. The sample I’d received was the racing version, and it fit easily over my Selle Anatomica slotted leather saddle. It was likewise easy to remove should I want to do so.
It was also obvious, once I had the cover on the seat, that it wasn’t going to slip around when I was mounted. The packaging said the cover had an anti-slip treatment, but the snugness of the fit also made slippage unlikely.
Of course, the real test is how the cover feels when riding on it. Just as a saddle that is comfortable for one rider may feel uncomfortable to another, the same could be true for a saddle cover, so all judgments about comfort are subjective; they even depend on how conditioned your bottom is to sitting on the small real estate a saddle provides. But here’s my experience: My Selle Anatomica saddle itself is pretty comfortable, but when I’m on it for more than 30 miles or so, there is some minor discomfort. With the HexAir in place over it, I’m good for another few miles before I start squirming on the seat.
The one drawback I found with the HexAir was when I mounted it wearing street clothes — blue jeans in this case. There was a definite “drag” both sliding onto the seat and sliding off of it. I did not feel any drag when kitted up in bike shorts.
But this may be the best measure of the HexAir: The sample I received from Delta came to me unsolicited and at no cost, no doubt because I have reviewed other products for RoadBikeRider. But after using the cover on my road bike saddle for a while, I ordered a second cover at my own expense to use on my other bike.
Stan Purdum has ridden several long-distance bike trips, including an across-America ride recounted in his book Roll Around Heaven All Day, and a trek on U.S. 62, from Niagara Falls, New York, to El Paso, Texas, the subject of his book Playing in Traffic. Stan, a freelance writer and editor, lives in Ohio. See more at www.StanPurdum.com.