Bike Seat Cover vs Cushion

Bike Seat Cover vs Cushion

Last Updated on January 13, 2021 2 Comments

Seat covers and cushions for bicycles can fulfil several functions. They can protect your bicycle saddle from the weather. They can stop a damaged bicycle seat from enduring further wear and tear. They can keep your bottom dry.

And perhaps most importantly: they can make an uncomfortable ride much more comfortable!

Now, you may be interested in only one, or all of these benefits. But not every cover or cushion will fulfil all of these functions. So it’s important to know exactly what you need before you begin your search.

There a couple of important considerations that everyone needs to think about...

Firstly: cushioned covers are not generally waterproof. And waterproof covers are not generally cushioned. So which is a the priority for you?

Secondly: size is really important! So check your saddle size first to make sure you’re looking at covers that will fit your bike seat.

Don’t worry: I’ll break it all down here, so you know exactly what you need, before I recommend the right bike saddle cushion or cover for you.

Best Bike Seat Cushion

Most people looking for a bike saddle cover are probably after something to make their current ride bit more comfy! So let’s deal with this first.

The saddles that come with bikes aren’t always designed with comfort in mind. They’re usually either built for economy or speed.

And for beginner cyclists particularly (but also those of us that just have sensitive bottoms!), this can mean we can start to get sore after a little time in the saddle.

There are several things we can do to try an increase our comfort while we’re cycling. But slipping a cushioned cover over our existing bicycle saddle is probably one of the cheapest and most effective.

Gel vs Memory Foam

The padded material in a bike saddle cushion will either be gel or memory foam. Gel is softer and more comfortable, so it’s more popular with recreational cyclists.

Gel vs Memory Foam

Gel vs Memory Foam

Whereas foam is firmer and more supportive, so is preferred by road riders and heavier (>200 lb) cyclists.

Most of the cushioned bike saddle covers use gel padding, but there are foam filled cushions if you’d prefer something a little firmer.

Finding the right fit

You want a nice tight fit to avoid the bike saddle cushion sliding around while you’re riding. But, while bike seats come in all sorts of sizes, the cushions tend to come in just two sizes: narrow and wide!

However, within those two sizes there’s lots of variation.

Measuring a bike seat

Measure your bike seat to ensure you get the right size cover or cushion

So beyond working out whether your bike saddle is narrow (often used on road, hybrid, and mountain bikes) or wide (often used on heavy city bikes and some cruisers), it’s worth actually measuring your saddle to find a cover with the best fit.

I provide exact measurements of all the bike seat covers and cushions below to help you with this!

Best Narrow Bike Seat Cushion

The Zarco gel bike seat cover [Amazon] is one of the most popular cushioned models around. And for good reasons!

Zarco bike seat cushion

The Zarco will fit most narrow bike seats

It measures 11” x 7.2” (28 x 18 cm), so it’s a cover for narrow bike seats. However there’s enough width there to fit the widest of narrow saddles!

It’s super easy to install. You just slip it over your bike seat, tighten the drawstring underneath according to the exact size of your saddle, and then tie the straps through your seat rails and around your seat post. This ensures a tight fit and no slipping while you’re riding.

Zarco cover on a bike

The Zaro is available in 5 different colours (including black)

The Zarco contains a generous amount of gel padding which means your seat will be really soft and comfortable!

It comes in choice of 5 different colours (black, blue, red, green and purple). And you even get a waterproof cover, to keep it dry if you leave it out in the rain.

Best Narrow Bike Seat Cushion for Road Bikes

The Cevapro bike saddle cover [Amazon] is slightly narrower than the Zarco, making it more suitable for the narrowest of narrow saddles!

Cevapro seat cushion and cover

The Cevapro us a good fit on really narrow racing saddles

Indeed, measuring 11” x 6.69” (28 x 17 cm), it will work best with bike seats that are between 5.9” and 6.5” wide (15 – 16.5 cm).

It fixes to your saddle in a different way too, with a little pouch for the nose of the saddle and a pair of Velcro flaps that fold under the bicycle seat to keep it tight and secure. Anti-slip particles on the inside of the cover help to prevent any movement as you’re cycling.

Cevapro padding

The Cevapro has 4 cm of gel and foam padding

The padding on the Cevapro is a 1.5” (4 cm) thick, seven layered affair, containing both gel and memory foam to give a comfortable but supportive ride that will be a little firmer than some of the covers that are solely padded with gel.

It only comes in two colours (black and black with a blue stripe!), but it’s probably the sportiest looking bike cover currently available. And just like the Zarco it comes with a waterproof cover to keep it dry in the rain.

Best Bike Seat Cushion Cover for Peloton Bikes

Peloton recommend the Schwinn Cruiser Gel Bike Seat Cover [Amazon], for their bikes, as it’s a perfect fit for their saddles.

Schwinn Cruiser seat cushion

The Schwinn Cruiser Cover is a perfect fit on Peloton bikes

So this is a bit of a no brainer really: if you’ve got a Peloton bike and feel you need a bit of extra cushion, this is the bike cover to go for!

It measures 10.6” x 9.1” (27 x 23 cm), so I suppose you could find another seat cover that's the same size instead. But it still might not fit as well.

And this is a great seat cover, with a thick layer of gel for extra comfort, covered in a tough wear resistant fabric that’s tough enough to withstand the heaviest punishment on the Peloton!

Best Wide Bike Seat Cushion

If you’re riding a bike with a wider saddle (like you’ll find on cruisers, heavy town bikes and most exercise bikes), then you’re obviously going to need a wider bike saddle cover too!

Bikeroo seat cushion

The Bikeroo is the best choice for wider bike seats

The Bikeroo Large Bicycle Seat Cushion [Amazon] is a great choice in this case. Measuring 11” x 10” (28 x 25.5 cm), it’s wide enough for the very widest bike saddles.

Like the Schwinn, it will work with the Peloton saddles, but the fit will be a little looser, and I’ve read several reports of it sliding about a bit. So it’s probably best to stick to the Schwinn for the Peloton and go for the Bikeroo on the wider bike seats.

The Bikeroo fastens to your saddle in much the same way as the Zarco. There's a drawstring tightener underneath, at the back. And two straps that fasten around your seat post to keep everything in place.

The padding includes a layer of gel and a layer soft foam for twice the comfort. And it really is comfortable! Loads of people that have tried several cushioned seat covers say this is most comfortable one of the lot.

Bikeroo colour range

The Bikeroo is available in 4 colours

Plus it’s available in four different colours (black, blue purple and red).! So if you need a wider cushioned saddle cover, then the Bikeroo is probably the best one available at the moment.

Best Bike Seat Cover

If you’re less interested in increasing comfort and more interested in protecting your existing bicycle seat from the weather or other wear and tear, then you probably don’t need a cushioned bike cover.

In fact cushioned covers are not generally waterproof. So they will definitely get a bit soggy in the rain!

Instead, a tough nylon saddle cover with a waterproof coating should do the job. These are especially useful if you have a Brooks (or other premium leather bike seat) that shouldn’t be exposed to water.

And the advantage of these saddle covers is that they’re much cheaper than the cushioned varieties!

Best Plain Waterproof Bike Seat Cover 

I like the XeroCovers waterproof bike seat covers [Amazon], primarily because they’re available in three different sizes. This means you can guarantee you get a nice tight fit for your particular saddle.

XeroCover waterproof saddle cover

XeroCovers are available in three different sizes to guarantee a perfect fit

The Slim version measures 11" x 6.5" (28 x 16.5 cm) and will work well with the narrowest racing saddles that are between 7” and 11” in length and 3” to 6.5” wide.

The Regular version measures 11" x 9" (28 x 23 cm) and will fit slightly wider, standard saddles that are between 7” and 11” in length and 6.5” to 9” wide. For example, if you have the Brooks B67 and B17 saddles, go for the Regular.

The Large version measures 11" x 13" (28 x 33 cm) and is suitable for the very widest bike saddles that are between 7” and 11” in length and 9” to 13” wide. So for many cruiser bike saddles, the Large would be a good choice.

The XeroCovers are made from 2 layers of nylon fabric with a polyurethane layer for complete waterproofing. And they also come with a small storage bag to keep the cover in when you’re not using it.

XeroCover storage bag

XeroCover storage bag

The best way to use these waterproof covers is to put them on before it rains, to stop your saddle getting wet at all. Then when you come to ride your bike, you can take it off and sit on a dry seat.

However, obviously may not always be possible, and sometimes you might need to put the cover over a wet saddle to keep your bottom dry while riding. Be aware that with all waterproof covers, extended contact with your bottom will wear them out much faster!

Best Waterproof Seat Cover for Transporting on Bike Racks

If you need to keep your bicycle seat dry while it’s being transported on a car’s bike rack, then you’ll need to make sure that it doesn’t blow off!

XeroCover Journey for car racks

The XeroCover Journey adds a drawstring to keep it in place on a windy car bike rack!

And the standard waterproof covers (with elastic hems) are just not suitable for the high winds your bike will be exposed to.

Luckily, XeroCovers make a XeroCover Journey [Amazon] that is specifically designed for transporting your bike. It’s exactly the same as the standard version, with the addition of a drawstring to securely keep the cover in place.

Best Patterned Waterproof Bike Seat Cover

If the dull black offerings that make up the vast majority of waterproof seat covers are just too drab for your fashion first sensibilities, then don’t despair. There are other options!

DERTYV patterned cover

DERTYV waterproof covers are available in multiple different prints

DERTYV offer 10 different colourful, patterned covers [Amazon]. There’s only one size, which is 10.6” x 9.5” (27 x 24 cm). But they should fit over most bike seats and there’s both an elasticated hem and drawstring buckle to ensure a tight fit.

SHNUFHBD offer the same covers but with 10 different animal inspired patterns [Amazon]. And Lianmei have the same covers with 6 different patterns.

Alternatively, Seat-Slicker [Amazon] make a slightly smaller 10” x 8” (25.5 x 20 cm) cover, with a choice of 4 colourful patterns and 1 plain black version.

If you live in the UK, you can even get a custom waterproof saddle cover printed which whatever photo or pattern you like at Happy Snap Gifts!

Bike Seat Covers and Cushions Summary

Whether you’re looking for a way to make your ride more comfortable, or just after something to protect your saddle from the weather, a bike seat cover or cushion is a cost effective and practical solution.

The most important thing to get right is the size. Make sure you measure your bicycle saddle and then look for a cover of the appropriate dimensions.

If you want a cushioned cover, be aware that gel padding will be the softest, foam the firmest and a combination of both somewhere in between!

However, cushioned saddle covers are not waterproof. So if that’s your main concern, you’ll be better off with double layered, nylon cover with a polyurethane coating.

If you want this type of cover to last though, it’s best to try to think ahead, using them before it rains rather than regularly sitting on them to keep your bottom dry after it rains.

All bike seat covers and cushions can be washed in warm soapy water and then left to dry in the air. And the longer you spend sitting on them, the more often you should wash them!

Happy riding!

About the author 

Carl Ellis

I've had bikes stolen in London, New York and Barcelona. Yep, I was a serial, international, bike theft victim. In 2015 I decided to stop the rot. And not a single bike's been stolen since! Brakes, yes. Bells, yes. But they're another story. Everything I learn, I document on this website. More about my story. Contact me. LinkedIn.

  • How to Install a Bike Seat? This is a super easy step, so you should know. I tried it and I hope you succeed too. First, you have to remove the old bike seat by lifting the upper clamp jaw to free the saddle rails. Then, clean the clamp to set the new saddle. Position the new saddle’s rails on the bottom clamp jaw’s channels. Ensure the seat’s front-end points to the handlebar and is in line with the bicycle frame. Insert the bolt through the bottom and top holes and tighten it with a wrench, turning clockwise. Determine the ideal bike seat height. Finally,  adjust and secure the saddle position to achieve optimum riding comfort.

    • Learning how to install a bike seat lets you ensure optimum comfort and safety when riding your bike. It also gives you the chance to put on a better and more elegant saddle if that pleases you.

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