Selle Italia X-LR TM Air Cross Superflow Review
Cons: Very rounded side to side profile, shape will not agree with everyone
Manufacturer: Selle Italia
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Our Analysis and Test Results
Italian manufacturer Selle Italia has been making quality bike saddles for as long as anyone can remember. It wasn't that long ago that adorning your bike with one of their Flite saddles was like a rite of passage for mountain bikers. These days the market is flooded with competitors, and Selle Italia saddles are a somewhat less common sight. That said, they still make a huge range of quality saddles for every genre of cycling, including the X-LR TM Air Cross Superflow, which is a newer model designed for off-road/mountain use. We were intrigued by this saddle's unique design and look, so we put it up against some of the best models on the market to see how it compares.
No single saddle design or shape will work for everyone, and that is especially true of the XL-R. This saddle has an uncommon design and shape that will likely work well for some riders and might feel like a torture device for others. It has a very pronounced, rounded side-to-side profile, generous medium density padding, and a full-length anatomical pressure relief cut out.
The X-LR comes in two widths, small is 131mm wide, and the large we tested is 145mm. This makes it possible to match your sit bone measurement with the appropriate width saddle. While 145mm is the width that our testers generally prefer, we found the rounded side to side profile to be less than ideal. Even in the right width, the center of the saddle is high while the wings are low, resulting in the rider's weight resting on the perineum as opposed to the sit bones. Obviously, people's bone structures will differ, and this may actually be comfortable for some riders, but it wasn't the ticket for us.
Beyond the unique shape and profile of the X-LR is has generous medium density padding and a full-length anatomical cutout. The anatomical cutout is large and should theoretically reduce pressure on your sensitive underside. We found that due to the especially rounded side to side profile of this saddle, the higher middle resulted in more pressure on the perineum along the edges of the cutout. Otherwise, the dramatically sloping edges of the wings fall away and don't dig into the thighs or hips. It is also worth noting that the rails have a somewhat limited fore/aft adjustment range compared to other saddles we've tested.
It is clear that Selle Italia made the X-LR Air Cross Superflow with mountain biking in mind. It has a very unique look that reminds us of a stealth fighter jet with a drop nose, steeply curved wings, and a tapered tail. The aggressive look caters to aggressive riding, and it is easy to move around this saddle on descents.
The cover of the X-LR is a synthetic Air Cross Tech material that is waterproof and is far from the slipperiest we tested. The added friction of this material keeps you in place well when seated, but it doesn't allow shorts to slide super freely when making micro-adjustments or moving around on the saddle. There is medium density padding throughout which cushions nicely without feeling excessively soft or pillowy. The nose of the saddle is on the narrower side, and it drops down slightly to its tip. The cover on the nose has a little texture added, as do the far edges of the wings. The dramatic sloping of the wings gives this saddle a profile that looks and feels a bit narrower than its 145mm width measurement. When pedaling, there is no shelf or platform to interfere with the legs and power transfer feels quite direct and uninhibited. Likewise, moving the body around this saddle is equally unencumbered, and we found its shape to be generally snag-free.
The X-LR TIM Air Cross Superflow saddle appears to be a well-made and durable product and has given us no reasons to suspect otherwise. The construction and craftsmanship seem to be top-notch as we've come to expect from Selle Italia. The synthetic upper appears to be one piece with no stitching, and it is cleanly bonded to the saddle's shell below.
Selle Italia has more experience making bike saddles than nearly every other brand on the market, and that shows in the small details. The saddle rails are attached nicely in the shell and never made a peep during testing. The synthetic cover has no seams or stitches, and its edges are tucked under and bonded to the shell beneath it. Extra cover material has also been added to the edges of the wings to reinforce them should you lay the bike down carelessly or stuff it in a rock garden or two. There are crashes that no bike saddle will make it out unscathed, but the X-LR seems ready to handle the usual wear and tear of everyday riding.
Assuming you get along with this saddle's unique shape, it could work on just about any bike in your stable. It is designed for mountain biking and is clearly suitable for trail, XC, enduro, or even downhill riding applications. Its interesting shape, including a snub and sloping nose and downward curved wings, help to make it relatively unobtrusive and easy to move around. We can't think of any reason why it wouldn't work well mounted on your gravel or cyclocross bike either.
Weighing in at just 224-grams in the large size we tested, the X-LR is competitively lightweight. It's not the lightest we tested, though it isn't far of, and it will likely represent a weight savings for most riders compared to the stock saddle on most complete bike builds.
The X-LR saddle falls right about in the middle of the pack in terms of price. While this saddle is lightweight and seemingly quite durable, its curved side-to-side profile will likely be quite polarizing from a comfort standpoint. This saddle will be great for some riders, and absolutely worthless to those who don't get along with its unique shape.
The XL-R TM Air Cross Superflow is a moderately priced high-performance mountain bike saddle with a polarizing shape. While it has a futuristic look, durable construction, and nice design features, its unique profile definitely won't work for everyone. We found it difficult to get along with the shape, despite an otherwise well-designed and quality saddle.
Selle Italia makes several models of X-LR off-road saddles. They represent a huge range in price from the more affordable X-LR TM Air Cross up to the super expensive X-LR Kit Carbonio Superflow.
— Jeremy Benson
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