The Witness - Wheels - - BIKING - BEN COXWORTH

AL­THOUGH a lot of peo­ple may de­scribe con­ven­tional bike seats as be­ing “a pain in the butt,” the fact is that they’re more of­ten a pain in the crotch – in the per­ineum, to be pre­cise.

That’s why Texas- based 3 West De­sign first an­nounced its air blad­der- equipped Re­prieve Bi­cy­cle Sad­dle in 2014.

Two years and one suc­cess­ful Kick­starter cam­paign later, the first pro­duc­tion units are now ready to go. We re­cently got the chance to try one out, to see how much it re­ally takes the pres­sure off. The blad­der starts at a ten­der- bits- cradling dip half- way along the seat, and ex­tends up to the nose of the seat.

Riders can set its pres­sure by in­sert­ing a sep­a­rate hand pump in the end of an in­fla­tion hose, which ex­tends out of the Re­prieve’s un­der­side.

The idea is that by set­ting that pres­sure just right, users’ nether re­gions will still be sup­ported, but with­out be­ing un­yield­ingly squashed against the sad­dle.

In­stead, the blad­der will con- tin­u­ally dis­tort to ac­com­mo­date them as the rider ped­als.

In our test rides, it did in­deed ap­pear to make a dif­fer­ence — not an “oh wow” dif­fer­ence that will bowl you over as soon as you sit down on it, but one that you should ap­pre­ci­ate on longer rides. We did try go­ing with the blad­der com­pletely de­flated just to see if that dip was re­ally the only thing that was mak­ing a dif­fer­ence, but dis­cov­ered that def­i­nitely wasn’t the way to go — it felt like sit­ting on a ledge, where the rear pad­ding met the blad­der. So no, the air isn’t just a gim­mick.

Ma­te­ri­als- wise, the Re­prieve is also no slouch. It fea­tures a full leather sur­face, ti­ta­nium rails and weighs in the neigh­bor­hood of 265 g — this is ac­tu­ally up a bit from the orig­i­nal Kick­starter ver­sion, which was claimed to tip the scales at around 210 g. Still, it ain’t heavy. The Re­prieve is avail­able now in black or white, for about R2 858 ($ 185) pump in­cluded.


A cou­ple of Tex­ans have in­flated ideas about bike sad­dles that will cush­ion riders’ butts — and bits — on longer rides.

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