Velo Orange Saddle Review (Coming Soon–butt not soon enough)

I just received a Velo Orange saddle to test. It’s a Model 3 Touring Saddle.

As you can see, it’s not even mounted on my bike yet.

I’m scared.

Velo Orange Saddle
Wait until my butt finds out about this

I’ve always looked at leather saddles on bikes belonging to other people and scratched my head. I never gave it any more thought, besides Why?

If I gave it more thought than that, it was to dismiss it as some kind of fashion or status thing.

Velo Orange Saddle TagWhen it arrived, I saw this tag.

As an American, I don’t instinctively know what “500-800” km means. But I did spend a chunk of my life in Cameroon, so I have a trick for converting kilometers to miles in my head.

Half of 800 is 400. Ten percent of 800 is 80. Add the two together you get 480.

Four hundred and eighty miles! Holy crap!

Okay, on the optimistic side that’s 500 km, or 300 miles.

My butt’s going to be on a hard leather rock for at least 300 miles?

What have I done?

Just look at the cushy saddle that came with my Dahon. I’m perfectly happy with it.   I’m not going to try one of those stupid…

Ah. Stupid. The “S word.” I’ve trained myself to listen to those pejoratives in my thoughts, and to take them as an indicator that my mind is closed.

So in the name of peace, love, and understanding, I’m going to give this saddle a try.

I’ll tell you how it goes, and write a review a few hundred miles from now.

Comfort me, Dear Readers.

Tell me everything is going to be alright.

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23 thoughts on “Velo Orange Saddle Review (Coming Soon–butt not soon enough)”

  1. Ray says:

    Yep, about 500mi should do it for break-in time. I’m currently breaking in my 3rd brooks B-17s. I’ve heard mixed reviews of the VO saddles, but if it’s anything like their other products, it should be no less than amazing!

    PS: Keep a saddle cover in your pannier for those wet days!

    1. Ted Johnson says:

      So that’s what that black velvet bag is for. I thought that was just pretentious packaging.

  2. Steve says:

    I got a Brooks B-17 for my commute (120 miles/week) and I love it! To me it was comfortable the first time I got on it, and my butt needed very little break-in time to get used to it. It is by far the most comfortable saddle I’ve ever used.

    To me, the big giant squishy saddles look uncomfortable. All that squishy mess pushing up into the soft parts of your rear between your sit bones — yikes. I like my sit bones and only my sit bones to be on the saddle.

    Give that leather saddle a try for a few hundred miles and you might be surprised how much you like it.

  3. peteathome says:

    If the saddle fits your butt correctly, the sadle will be comfortable right out of the box and then get more comfortable as it breaks in. If it hurts after riding it for 30 minutes or so, it is a bad fit.

    However, seeing that over-padded saddle you currently like, maybe not. I find heavily padded saddles to be very uncomfortable after 30 or so minutes.

    The problem with leather saddles, IMHO, is the care – especially keeping them covered if they might get rained on. Kind of a pain in the butt (pun intended).

    Also, my Brooks has a very hard nose which limits my positions ( when I’m slightly out of saddle, say, or sliding forward a bit for certain peddle efforts) more than a plastic saddle with light padding.

  4. Everett says:

    It is completely counter intuitive, but those hard, skinny saddles are the most comfortable thing out there for riding. You’ll slide around a lot more, so it is really important to make sure it is positioned right for you.

    (Ditto Ray: I use a plastic bag from the grocery store for a cover; cheap and easily replaceable. Keeps it dry and the ugly bag also deters thieves.)

  5. Liam says:

    I’ll second what Ray said. It takes some time, but once it’s broken in it’s awesome.

    Two tips for faster break-in:
    1. ALWAYS sit while riding.
    2. Aim for every bump, crevice, pothole, etc that you see. Run right over it, while staying seated. This is likely 100% contrary to how you normally ride, but trust me, it’ll speed up the process.

  6. Dan w says:

    I own the exact same velo-orange saddle and can assure you, its getting noticeabley softer at 200 miles. Up till now its just felt a bit like my racing saddle.

    Love it, i really do!

  7. BluesCat says:

    My Brooks Flyer was completely broken in in about 500 miles. But it wasn’t really too uncomfortable to begin with.

    Tip: In the beginning, don’t wear pants that have a thick seam up the middle of your bum cleavage (like blue jeans); wear some athletic shorts or some sweat shorts.

    Second Tip: Brooks makes a proprietary leather treatment, called Proofide, which helps with the break-in process and helps protect the saddle from moisture; it really does work. DON’T USE saddle soap or any leather treatment which is meant to “soften” the leather.

    Third Tip: After somebody has stolen that nifty velvet cover, or your derriere wears holes in it, simply grab a plastic grocery bag when you head out the door to ride in the rain; put the bag top-down over the seat and just stuff the loops up underneath into the saddle frame.

    Even a brand new leather seat is better than one of those skinny, Proctologist’s Dream saddles that roadies have to grease up their butts to ride!

  8. Brian Ogilvie says:

    Seconding what others have said: my two Brooks Flyer saddles were both comfortable straight out of the box. One has a couple thousand miles or so on it; the other, on my folding travel bike, has about 800 miles. The second is actually breaking in faster than the first, probably because I used a little more Proofide on it at the beginning, though variations in the leather may also contribute.

    The most important aspect of fitting any saddle, leather or not, is whether it is the right width for your ischial tuberosities (AKA “sit bones”). If it’s too narrow, they will slide down the sides and the saddle will meet your perineum in uncomfortable ways. If it’s too wide, you may end up chafing your thighs or straining your muscles. That’s why Brooks makes saddles of varying width.

  9. Spencer says:

    I started on leather saddles a couple years ago, now all my bikes have them. Aardvark makes an inexpensive ($10) truly waterproof saddle cover that is unassuming and less homeless looking than a grocery bag.

    Proofide works fine, but I like to use Obenauf’s Heavy Duty LP and Leather Oil. $14 for 8 oz. vs. $14 for 1.5 oz. of Proofide. This helps the saddle break in nicely.

    Good luck on your saddle quest!

  10. On one of my commuting bicycles I ride a VO Model # 6 saddle. It is a sleek, great looking one but hard and uncomfortable as sitting on a rock. That even after a year+ but probably only 150 miles al together. Combine that with the Cambridge (MA) roads which are unique in the whole Western World (but maybe familiar in certain Third World countries).

    The same aged and similarly used Brooks Professional on the other hand is a pleasure. The Brooks is made out of real rawhide-looking leather while the VO is supported with some stiff plastic carcass that is probably the reason of its rigidity. I can not recommend the VO #6 unless you buy it for coolness.


  11. Paul in Minneapolis says:

    All four of my bikes have brooks saddles. one b17, two fiyers and one professional. Each saddle has many thousands of miles on it…

    I use those two bolt seat posts, so I can tilt the nose up where the back, were my butt sits, is level. That way, as I padal I do not slide foward on to the narrow part.
    My neighbor said my saddle postion looked uncomfortable. After I expained, she tilted her saddle. Now she tells everyone to tilt the back to where it is level..

    The B17 and flyer are pretty comfortable from the first ride, and like others have said, it only gets better.

    If you lock your bike up, also use a cable lock for your saddle.

  12. matt says:

    anyone tried the noseless Nexride saddle? I am intrigued

  13. DeVon says:

    I rode a Brooks in the Netherlands back in the 80s and brought another home. Love ’em. But the Selle An Atomica beats it hands down. Broken in right out of the box. It has a bit more give than the Brooks. I got my wife one and she loves it too. American made as well.

  14. BluesCat says:

    DeVon – I had never heard of the Selle An-Atomica.

    It looks interesting. The cutouts echo what you see on the Brooks Imperial series of saddles, the object of which is to prevent your riding on your perineum (not a fun thing, as Brian O. mentioned).

  15. jack says:

    If you are going to compare saddles, at least provide more accurate information.

    The Team pro and the VO model 6 are totally different saddle styles. The Mod 6 is closest to the Brooks Swift/Swallow. the Team Pro has a similar shape to the VO Model 3 or the venerable Brooks B17.

    The super narrow Model 6 saddle is much stiffer due to so much leather being cut away, and it’s riveted underneath. It’s a performance racing saddle, more suited for the track than as a daily commuter.
    The Team pro and VO mod 3 is better for daily riding and wider sit bones.

  16. I have three Brooks saddles, sprung and unsprung and they are amazingly comfortable- and they’re stylish.

  17. Kyle says:

    @jack actually, that’s still not quite right. The VO model 3 is closest to a Brooks B17 shape, while the VO model 1 is closest to the Team Pro. The difference between the two is width and shape. If you want a more aggressive saddle for fast rides/randonneuring/club riding, the team pro/model 1 are the way to go. Touring, commuting, all-around cycling–go with the model 3 or b17. That’s my two cents anyhow.

  18. Mike The Bike says:

    I own a Velo Orange Model 5. This is a sprung touring saddle which can most closely be compared to the Brooks B67 since both saddles are single rail.
    I have ridden this saddle for about 6 months now and it is comfortable but should not really be compared to anything that Brooks makes simply because the workmanship on the Velo Orange saddle is truly sad. I have already had to replace two of the nose rivets because they simply popped off and began to rub on my leg. The rivets are just cheap copper plated steel and poorly staked. I now remove the saddle on a regular basis and check for more failed rivets.
    Since I have owned this saddle for more than a year it was out of warranty and Velo Orange would not exchange it. When dealing with Velo Orange remember, their products are made in China and the workmanship reflects this.

  19. Joe says:

    Mike the bike:

    They’re made in Taiwan, where almost every other bike part you’ve used for the last few decades is made.

    SRAM (and their half dozen divisions, eg: rox shox): Taiwan
    Shimano: Taiwan, china, Singapore…..
    Campy: Taiwan, china (“Italy”)

    Velo orange in fact has no products made in china, most from Taiwan, but quite a few small things are American made.

    So, um, do your research.

  20. Ted Johnson says:

    I’m kind of getting used to this saddle, but I’m still way under the 300 miles. The saddle itself doesn’t seem to have changed at all.

  21. ploeg says:

    Well, you know how it is, the saddle molds your butt to fit its shape, and over time becomes more comfortable.

    Hopefully the saddle wasn’t too bad to begin with. As all experienced cyclists know from painful experience, saddles are a rather personal thing, and a saddle just might not work out, no matter how long you ride on it.

    Brooks saddles tend to break in fairly quickly for me. But then again, I’m pretty heavy and sweat buckets, which tends to beat leather into submission fairly quickly. If you don’t think that the break-in process is going as quickly as it should, maybe you might try another treatment of Proofide or Obenauf. Granted, you must bear in mind that whatever you do to the saddle can’t be undone, but let that guide you to be conservative with your treatment, rather than to skip treatment altogether.

  22. Stoof says:

    Got a Velo-Orange model 1 saddle in the mail yesterday. Great service from VO – even though I live in Canada, they got it to me in a week and there were no customs fees. The saddle itself seems to be of a really high build quality, comparable to a Brooks B-17 standard I have, only with hammered rivets and chrome rails. The leather is a bit duller than the Brooks, but I’m hoping it will get more shiny and lustrous with some leather treatment. I took it out for a quick ride yesterday and it did feel very hard – but my experience with Brooks saddles I’m optimistic that it will soften up after a few long rides. Also, the shape is right on for my butt, so it doesn’t even feel uncomfortable as-is. Really happy with it! It’s a steal on sale for $60, and a great deal for $100 compared to the Brooks Swift which is $200+.

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