Velo Orange Model 3 Saddle

Velo Orange recently sent me their Model 3 saddle to try out. The Model 3 is VO’s answer to the ubiquitous Brooks B-17 Champion Special, but with laces and a textured top surface similar to the B-17 Standard “pre-aged”. The quality and finish appear to be comparable to Brooks; the top is Australian cowhide, the frame is chrome-plated cromo steel, and the skirt is nicely chamfered. One common complaint about Brooks saddles is their short rails; the Model 3′s rails are 10mm longer. Overall I’d say the Model 3 competes very favorably with the Brooks, and at $85 it’s a fantastic value. I’ll post a follow-up report once I’ve ridden the saddle for a few months.

Velo Orange

25 Responses to “Velo Orange Model 3 Saddle”

  • Rob Sayers says:

    I considered this saddle at the time I was shopping for one, I went with the Brooks simply because of the reputation, I had not yet read anything about the VO Saddle at the time.

    If I were to do it all over again, I would probably go with the VO for the longer rails alone, my Brooks is set as far back as possible and I would it would go back just a bit more.

  • ToddBS says:

    I think the problem with Brooks saddles is that you can’t get them far enough forward, not backward. At least, that’s been my experience. The VO saddle’s rails end in a 90 degree angle giving more room to move than the Brooks’ shallower angle.

    I ended up getting a Cardiff saddle the last time I was in the market for one. I’ve come to believe that they and the VO saddles are actually made by the same company, though I think the VO looks nicer. I didn’t go with another Brooks in this case because I like the dark brown, and Brooks only offers that in their premium lineup (for astronomically more money).

  • BikeManDan.com says:

    Longer rails is definitely a good idea. My B17 was sufficient for me but my B67 forced me to buy a setback seatpost to get it far enough back

    I would go for this saddle if it wasn’t for there being plentiful B17s that can be had for $60 on eBay or Craigslist

  • Aaron says:

    I’m interested to hear your long-term impressions of this saddle. It really is a steal at that price, and its something different (well, kind of different!).

  • Sami says:

    Has the textured top surface result in any extra friction or chafing?

  • Seth Vidal says:

    These are made by gyes, right?
    they sure seem to be the same

    http://www.gyes.com.tw/saddles.htm

  • ksteinhoff says:

    Like Sami, I wonder about the textured top, too.

    What’s the advantage, if any?

    I like a slick saddle like my Brooks Champion Flyer. I can tell the difference when I put a saddle cover on it (like my Aardvark). I feel rubbing, not smooth sliding.

  • Aaron says:

    Re: slickness; when I first started using a B-17 (about 1000 miles ago) I was really put off by the slipperiness of it. Now, I couldn’t live without it. Strange how these things grow on you.

  • Rex in Phoenix says:

    Re: the Gyes saddles, Gyes doesn’t show any models with the same dimensions (170×285) so if they are made by Gyes for VO they would seem to be a unique model for VO. I’ve heard a few good things about the Gyes but given the price difference is ~$20 I would stick with the VO reputation and get that sweet VO stamp to boot.

    I had already decided I want to get this saddle before this post appeared :-)

  • Alan says:

    @Ken

    “Like Sami, I wonder about the textured top, too. What’s the advantage, if any?”

    It’s personal preference. I ride both and prefer a little texture so I feel a little more “planted”. Other than that, there’s little difference.

  • Alan says:

    @ToddBS

    “I ended up getting a Cardiff saddle the last time I was in the market for one. I’ve come to believe that they and the VO saddles are actually made by the same company, though I think the VO looks nicer.”

    That’s correct, Todd. Both are made in Taiwan. From Chris Kulczycki on the VO Blog:

    “Now it’s true, as most of you know, that VO saddles are made in a factory in Taiwan, one that I’ve just visited. The factory specializes in high-end leather furniture, mostly modern-style chairs, that are sold in some very fine European stores. But it’s owned by a cyclist who decided his knowledge of leather and metal work could be put to good use in making a better, and less expensive, leather saddle. Not having a brand name or distribution channel, he decided to build saddles for other companies. VO and Merry Sales (Cardiff) are the two main US companies he works with. We each spec the saddles the way we think they should be made. On some models we stick with the factory’s basic design while on others we make changes. Soon we will have some completely new models exclusive to VO.”

  • ToddBS says:

    Very funny! I just read that on the VO blog today and was on my way back here to post a link.

  • gentlemansbike says:

    i think part of the problem with not being able to get a B17 back far enough is that the design has gone unchanged since the days of 68-70 degree seat tube angles. nowadays folks stick them on track bikes and other bikes with 73+ and complain that they can’t get them back far enough. putting a ST angle of anything less than 72 on a bike these days kills it… nobody will buy it… not racy enough. in those cases, brooks has narrower racing saddles with longer rail models like the swift. those are the appropriate brooks saddles for race-inspired bikes.

  • martian1 says:

    Have two bikes with a B-17, one with an Imperial and one with B-68. The B-68 has a textured surface, similar to VO saddle. Textured is ok, but prefer a smooth surface, especially when riding in summer weight non cycling shorts.
    This post comes just as I am in need of a new saddle, am considering the VO because of the longer rails. However, rivets on the VO seem pretty prominent, have they caused any discomfort ?

  • Seth says:

    I’m going to have to agree with a couple of the posters:

    GYES, CARDIFF, and VO are all made by the same people … drum roll: GYES! Look at Gyes website (http://www.gyes.com.tw/index.htm) they are manufacturers. I haven’t heard of them before VO and Cardiff came around, and then all of sudden there is Gyes (because they are already making the saddles so why not just throw your name on there too and make another buck).

    Here are the reasons why I think they’re all the same (with the exclusion of dimensions, but I don’t see how that plays a role so far as Gyes are manufacturers, it’s more than likely they can make multiple sizes).

    1. Look at the saddles. They have the same details. Same lacing (two holes, one shoestring looking thing). Take the Wessex and Gyes Touring Saddle for example.

    2. Cardiff saddles are known to be made in Taiwan (I’m not sure about VO, but I’d say it’s a pretty good bet).

    I don’t think it takes away from the quality of the saddle if they’re all made together (all though it does feel like wool is being pulled over our eyes, and we’re paying an extra 20-30 bucks for it). I actually got a Gyes in the mail (from Crow Cycle), and was pretty impressed by the quality. I own several Brooks saddles, and while I don’t know if I would put it up against those, I will say that it is a nice substitute.

    Anyhow, make your choices. I like Persons as well, and they seem to actually make their own saddles.

  • Ken says:

    I bought this VO saddle a couple of weeks ago. I havent ridden it more than 40 miles at a time, but it is very comfortable so far. I did put some leather oil on it before using. There are differences between this saddle and Brooks. The Brooks are made with a single piece of hide. This saddle is a laminate of three pieces: a single hide on top about 2.5 mm thick, a layer of reconstituted leather about 1 – 1.5 mm thick, and in the top area of the saddle on the bottom side, a synthetic looking woven reinforcement. I think the reinforcement makes sense – it will stabilize the top layers and keep them from stretching excessively. I dont really like the use of the reconstituted leather. Why not use a thicker hide? (saving $$ ??). I do like the ride and comfort of this saddle, though. We’ll see about durability. I love the appearance.

  • tom says:

    The VO saddles are not made of ‘reconstituted’ leather.
    Like the Berthoud (of unknown origin), Persons (India), Brooks (UK) and Selle Anatomica (USA) the saddle leather is a single piece. Like the Cardiff (Taiwan) and Selle Anatomica saddles, there is a reinforced webbing material laminated to provide more consistent wear and break-in characteristics. The tanning process impregnates the the saddle hide about 1.5-2mm deep, hence the visible line.

    The definition of ‘reconstituted’ is:
    Pronunciation: \(ˌ)rē-ˈkän(t)-stə-ˌtüt, -ˌtyüt\
    Function: transitive verb
    Date: 1812
    : to constitute again or anew; especially : to restore to a former condition by adding water

    http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/RECONSTITUTED

    :-)

  • Alan says:

    Thanks for the clarification, Tom!

    Regards,
    Alan

  • alan says:

    Just bought one of these, will leave detailed feedback here and at flickr under velo orange saddle model 3, with pics.

  • EcoVelo » Blog Archive » Another Year Gone By says:

    [...] Velo Orange Model 3 Saddle [...]

  • alan says:

    Unfortunately, I’ve only about 200 miles on this saddle so far – SE PA. weather (snow and ice) hasn’t been too accomodating for bike riding. That said, I only have good things to say about this saddle; it is comfortable, and the ‘rough’ texture certainly does not prevent sliding back and forth, if one feels a need. Best compliment I can give it is that I don’t notice it when riding. More comfortable that my B-17. My only concern is sagging. I’ll report back in late spring, but at this point I don’t anticipate a problem.

  • Joseph E says:

    Alan, when are you going to follow up with a full review?
    I’m considering the Velo Orange saddle, for the longer rails and better price compared to Brooks, but there are so few reviews out there.

  • Alan says:

    @Joseph E

    Here’s a quick report. Overall the feel is very close to a B17, but with a little more surface texture (like the pre-aged). I like the fact that it has longer rails. The break-in rate seems about the same as the Brooks. If it weren’t for those subtle differences, I’d be hard-pressed to know I wasn’t on a Brooks. I’m moving away from Brooks-type saddles to the Selle Anatomica on most of my bikes, but if you like the B17, you’ll like this saddle.

    Beyond that, there’s not much to say. It’s a nice alternative to the Brooks at a great price.

    Alan

  • Dan says:

    Hi Alan,
    I’m considering a Selle An-Atomica Titanico. I weigh about 190lb and noticed that for riders over 180 they recommend the Clydesdale model… Not sure I like thinking about myself as a Clydesdale! Anyway, I was wondering if you had any information about this. The Clydesdale is a “laminate leather”. Do you know what that means? Do you think that the normal watershed leather could handle the weight? I guess this has something to do with the cutout, but I haven’t noticed reviews on the Brooks Imperial reporting any weight related sag…

    Thanks
    Dan

  • matt says:

    Not to flog a dead horse but I just ordered a VO Model 5 on sale from Velo Orange. The Gyes Parkside II, the B67 clone, on my road bike seemed a little wide for a more bent over riding position and caused a little chafing. I figured the Model 5, a Flyer clone, would solve the problem. a) It did, its a bit narrower at the back and b) a sticker on the metal frame reads G-16. That’s Gyes’ denomination for its own version of a Flyer clone. If there was any doubt in anyone’s mind that Gyes manufactures the VO saddles, that’s gotta resolve the issue once and for all. The Model 5 seemed pretty hard so I put some Rawlings Glove Conditioner on it, not too much just a little, and it softened up a bit. The fabric laminated to the bottom should hold it together just fine… should be good for the next 10 years or so. @ Seth, I don’t know about the Persons. I have an Apollo that’s just TOO soft to mold to my sit bones and the tightening bolt is already fully extended. It’s not bad if you like a hammocky feel but its not anything like a Brooks or a Gyes/Cardiff/VO.

 
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