15 May 2008

bikefix Exclusive Review: Selle Italia XO Trans Am saddle

Why pay more? Every once in a while I stumble across a product that far exceeds the expectations generated by its modest price tag. Sometimes, corners have been cut but they're corners you don't really need. Sometimes, though, no corners appear to have been cut and one can't help but assume that the price was a mistake. This here saddle is an example of the latter.

Several years ago, a girlfriend picked up a Giant Cypress SX sporty hybrid. It was a cool bike for sure, and it came with a cheap OEM version of Selle Italia's XO Trans Am saddle. An avid mountain biker, she loved it and we ordered another for her mountain bike. The $70 aftermarket version of the saddle has steel rails, medium padding, a medium width, a 'taint-saving chasm down the center and is made of a nice durable synthetic cover. Doesn't sound particularly performance-oriented, does it? Somehow, I ended up riding the saddle a few times and was blown away. The multi-density foam is comfortable without being squidgy with an unobtrusive shape and no sharp corners anywhere. Oh, and it weighs came in at 270g. And is made in Italy.

Now, you can spend a lot of money on a saddle that is a lot less comfortable that weighs just as much. For reference, the $200 Aliante Carbon comes in at 259g. Now the Aliante is a very good saddle. I have the "Gamma" version on a couple of bikes. If I'm going to spend all day on the bike, though, they don't come close to the XO in comfort. The saddle pictured here has been on several bikes and survived several 24 hour races- so its holding up just fine. What's not to like? Nothing comes to mind. Just be sure to spend the extra $10 or so to get the aftermarket version- the OEM has a vinyl cover that doesn't hold up nearly as well. Everybody's body is different, so trying before you buy isn't a bad idea. Of course, at $40, giving it a go isn't a huge risk.



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