Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Velo Orange saddles

I've been on the fence for a while about the Velo Orange saddles.  I've read conflicting reports about their quality and how they stack up against Brooks saddles.  Eventually I saw one, the VO version of the B67, in person, and found it surprisingly stiff.  The smallish difference in price, I decided, was not worth the risk of ending up with an inferior product.

Two things happened that led me to revisit this decision. First, I noticed that my Brooks B67 had splayed pretty significantly after only a few hundred miles of use.  The saddle had flattened noticeably and my attempts to re-introduce tension via the adjustment bolt were, at best, only moderately successful.  I started to think that maybe the stiffer leather of the VO saddle wouldn't be such a bad thing after all.

Second, several models of the VO saddles went on sale.  Now priced at $65, these saddles (at least the model 8 and model 5) now featured a price gap that made them worth another look.  In fact, the sale brought them down to the same prices offered by the actual manufacturer, Taiwan-based Gyes.

Come to think of it, there was a third factor to my decision.  In roaming the Internet, I stumbled across someone's photos of a restored Superbe nearly identical to my 1971 coffee-colored favorite.  The restoration featured a Flyer saddle, one of the Brooks being mimicked closely by a Velo Orange model.

So, I went for it.  I bought a black and brown Model 8 (or 5?) which is supposed to replicate the Flyer.  I put the brown one on Blaise, my Mercier mixte, and the black one on Takumashi, my Nishiki Citisport.

Aesthetically, they're a hit.  The brown saddle is a much better look for the blue Mercier than was the honey B67 that was on there before.  It's a very pleasant brown and I have hopes it will age to look similar to the Ideale saddle that would have been on this bike originally.  The black saddle is more accurately described as a very dark brown.  I think it's a more interesting color than the uniformly black of the Brooks saddles I own. 

But when it comes to saddles, looks aren't everything.  The jury is still out on whether these saddles will become sufficiently comfortable.  After about 30 miles on each, the Nishiki is proving more adaptable to the change.  In both cases, there's no mistaking the fact that you are sitting on something very solid and pretty hard.  There is no noticeable "give" in either case. 

In the case of the Mercier, though, it's more pronounced.  I can feel both sit bones after about 5 miles, resting somewhat uncomfortably on a hard surface. 

This sensation, I believe, is due to the stiffer leather.  So, I'm giving it 100 miles or so before I rejoice or despair.  I figure the stiffer leather will take longer to break in, so I'm reserving judgment.  My fear, of course, is that the saddle is too narrow for the mostly-upright position I have on the Mercier.  If this proves to be true, I may adjust the stem and bars to achieve a more aggressive position and see how much this helps.  After all, it's not like I have a shortage of upright bikes.

Interestingly, the VOs feature a fabric-like lining on the underside of the saddle.  This would appear to guard against moisture and dirt, but I'm wondering if it will provide an unwanted barrier to the effects of Proofide.  I slapped a fair bit under there anyway, and we'll see if it helps hurry the break-in period along.

I'd be interested in any perspective or counsel my experienced readers have to offer.  If a saddle isn't a good match, do you know right away or is patience a virtue in these situations?


  1. I've been using the Easyseat for a few months now, and I will NEVER go back to a traditional saddle. It just doesn't make any sense to have something striking me in the groin every time I hit a bump.


  2. @Cassidy that's an intriguing saddle. Luckily, I haven't had issues with groin contact (so to speak) but with feeling the pressure on my sit bones. Does the Easyseat address that differently?

  3. @Mike, nice looking saddles. Let me know how is the wear and feel after a few months of riding. And I completely agree with your assessment on @Cassidy's saddle...intriguing, no doubt. LOL

  4. The seat itself is not all that soft, however each side moves naturally as you pedal so it takes a lot of pressure off your sit bones. It is hard to describe, but next time you are in the shop I'll let you try it for yourself and see how you like it :)

  5. I bought a model 5 (touring type - similar to a Brooks Flyer) about a couple months ago and I love it. I've put maybe 150 miles in so far and the leather has adapted a bit to my shape.

    Very beautiful saddles, reasonable price, and it gets more comfortable as I ride it! I hope you're experience is going as well.

  6. Are you still riding this saddle? I'm curious how it faired 4-1/2 years later.