05 February, 2014

More On the New VO Non-Leather Touring Saddles.

So why would Velo Orange offer a plastic saddle? There are lots of cyclists, myself included, who want a light weight, inexpensive, water-resistant saddle. It might not be for their primary bike, but such a saddle would be great on a commuter that's occasionally left outside, on a fixie or  MTB, or on a lightweight build such as a Pass Hunter. Four VO staffers have already put the prototypes on their bikes, three on their primary bikes. I put one on my Camargue.
The problem with quality non-leather saddles is that most are narrow and designed for bikes with the handle bars well below saddle height. Then there are those made for hybrid and commuter bikes that are often too wide and too squishy. I won't even go onto the hideous graphics on some modern designs, since those are, thankfully, usually covered by a butt.
The profile is reminiscent of a 1980's racing saddle.
So here's our attempt at a lightweight, moderately wide saddle designed for folks who keep their handlebars at around saddle height. The idea was to make an inexpensive but light saddle that feels something like a VO Model 3 leather saddle (or a Brooks B-17). At 154mm wide it's actually a little narrower, but this is deceptive because there is no need for rivets or a flaring leather "skirt", So the sitting area is roughly comparable to the wider leather models. At 280gm the weight is less than half that of a modern leather saddle; it's even 140gm lighter than our titanium rail leather saddle.

This new saddle is also less than half the price of our Model 3 saddle. And less than a quarter of the price of our Grand Cru Titanium model. I'll let you in on an industry secret regarding saddle pricing. While leather saddles are difficult and costly to design and manufacture, plastic saddles, even if they have Ti rails, are very simple and inexpensive to produce. Many of those $200 plastic saddles you see on race bikes don't cost much more to make than this one. One thing we didn't spring for is the tooling required to add saddle loops; we may do that if these sell really well. In the meantime you can add our VO saddle loops.
We added a retro-style metal nameplate.
As for construction, our new touring saddles feature a microfiber top which resembles the suede leather used on classic racing saddles. The microfiber's texture keeps you from sliding around and it's weather resistant. The body is thermo-plastic with a layer of high density foam. The rails are chromoly. All-in-all a very simple saddle that's designed to be a comfortable shape for touring and everyday riding.


sooper8 said...

I want one! Are they on sale yet?

VeloOrange said...


Saddles are on sale here: http://store.velo-orange.com/index.php/microfiber-touring-saddle.html

Dave said...

"The idea was to make an inexpensive but light saddle that feels something like a VO Model 3 leather saddle (or a Brooks B-17). At 154mm wide it's actually a little narrower,... "

At 154mm it's a *lot* narrower. The B-17 and VO Model 3 saddles are about 170mm, the Brooks Team Pro is about 160mm, and the VO Model 1 is 155-160mm. You should compare this saddle to the Team Pro and your (now out-of-production) Model 1, not the B-17. Also, saddlebag loops would have been nice; it's okay to point out that you can install your own, but it adds $15 to the saddle cost---a 33% increase from the $45 list price. 'Course, the Team Pro also doesn't have saddlebag loops, making that comparison even more appropriate.

I'm looking for an economical, reasonably comfortable, waterproof replacement for the B-17 currently on my commuter. A 154mm saddle without saddlebag loops won't be it.

sooper8 said...

Wow, good price! Do you have stockists in the UK with this in stock?

VeloOrange said...

Sooper, Fresh Tripe in Cambridge will have them soon.

David, If you measure the width of a Model 3 or B17 between the rivets you'll find they have 140-145mm wide "sitting area". So this saddle's area isn't too different. Also, leather saddles have a flaring edge section that adds width, but you can't sit on it.

Anonymous said...

Dang, the first thing I looked for was saddlebag loops.

The people who want loops are not likely to buy the "loopless" model, so sales of these are not really going to be a decent guide as to whether it would be worthwhile to add loops to subsequent production runs.

sooper8 said...

But you could add the loops yourself?

Celia Winn said...

now im waiting for a slimmed down version with ti.-rails.
or a plastic version of the selle san marco integra with a wtb sst nose.

valonnia said...

I'd really like to try one, but am pretty sure it's too narrow for me. Has VO ever considered models for the ladies?

T + A said...

3 of your 4 guys use them because they think they're a better saddle than the leather saddles?
I'm all about a touring saddle that nothing had to die to make! Good show chaps.

sooper8 said...

I just got mine and did a mini review here