I really like my Planet Bike 5020 Men’s Anatomic Relief gel bike seat and it quickly became my primary saddle, I’ve put thousands of miles on it with an older bike, my newer road bike, and an older mountain bike and then a new mountain bike. Its great; allowing relief, where before the seat bothered me – right in, well, the most sensitive sort of places. No matter how many times I adjusted my other seats they were never quite right – until I got the Planet Bike one.
But after many miles I have found that while it has held up well, it has developed an intermittent squeak (note as of Spring 2016 – apparently the squeak was only while it was on my bike as my wife tried it out and it does not squeak on her’s, and she enjoys it as much as I did). It still does its job but it’s time to start looking around for a replacement. The price of this seat has steadily risen, it’s not crazy expensive but I decided I’d give another seat a try just for fun and if it didn’t work out well I’d go back to the Planet Bike one.
So I ran across some favorable reviews for the very reasonable priced Velo Wide: Channel M Bicycle Seat (this is the men’s version, you can find the women’s version here) and got an opportunity through a website I use to get this seat for next to nothing. Velo makes all sorts of biking equipment of all kinds.
It’s a very similar design to the Planet Bike 5020 – a channel goes all the way from the rear of the seat through to the nose, and a wide channel at that and including an airflow slot too. The seat is around the same width as my Planet Bike 5020 – which makes it something of an intermediate-sized seat. It is neither a narrow racing seat nor is it a wide comfort seat. In other words something you’d maybe want for longer distances. The dimensions are a little over ten and a half inches long and just under seven inches wide (270 x 175 mm) with a weight of just over twelve and a half ounces (358 grams).
I want to mention here that the ‘wide’ in the description/title of this seat refers to the width of the channel through the middle, not the width of the seat; which is what some people seem to think this refers to. It’s a wide channel in the front and rear but very (and very comfortably) wide in the middle.
Also, on a side note and a bit strangely, on Amazon a lot of men are buying the “F” version of this, when the “F” version being made specially for women. No one seems to realize this, but it is hard to find the M version on Amazon as the F version is the prominent one that pops up from a couple different companies selling on Amazon. How much of a difference is the channel between the male and female version? I’m not sure, but likely you want to get the proper one for your gender.
On to the review. There’s a lot of plastic on the underside of the seat, the rails themselves are of course metallic (aluminum) but it looks like the rest of the underside is plastic, which is not unusual. Everything seems to be attached real securely with screws in a typical frame around the outside of the underneath to hold the cover stretched tight, with some staples also in some places underneath the seat. Staples are around the air flow slot underneath too. You should be able to see this all pretty well in the photo below.
The shell stays in shape no matter how hard I twist it, with no flexing. It doesn’t look super high quality underneath, which you are not going to expect of course with a cheaper seat, but it is put together well as far as I can tell, with the cover stretched perfectly. The rails have graduation marks for positioning with the max and min forward position, just as you’d find on any seat.
And what does the D2 in the photo mean, you might ask? I’m not sure. There is a logo and a design printed on the side, with the ‘D2’ and “wide: channel” printed across the rear.
One downside is that the cushioning in the seat is not gel. Lots of gel seats around, but one thing that I have found is that cheap gel can get squashed out and compressed and lose its ability to conform to a shape just like cheap foam can. So far there is no sign of this compression or a lack of ability to change shape, but it is something I am going to watch for and I’ll try to update this review over time as I use the seat. The foam itself is “double density” according to the company description and indeed it does feel firm; similar to gel but without being too firm.
It is a pretty firm seat and just what I think works best – too soft and you find yourself unsupported and moving around on the seat which is just as bad as having too firm of a seat.
This seat is on my backup bike/biker trainer (see my review of the Magnet Steel bike trainer here) bike so it should get plenty of use during the Winter, though I really like the seat so far so it may get switched to my regular road bike. At least for a test ride.
I like it a lot in fact, because the thing is just plain comfortable. I could feel it just as soon as I got on it and got it adjusted properly. Whether I am spinning fast on the trainer, or going slow, or riding with some serious pressure on the pedals. It feels good, no chaffing or rubbing, but wide enough to be comfortable and fully support my sit bones.
So far, with some rides under my belt with it (pardon the pun) I see no downsides, with my only long-term concern being the use of the double layer foam rather than gel. I’ll update this posting as time goes by.
If you are looking for a cheap anatomic seat with a full-length and wide channel for a man then maybe give this Velo Wide: Channel M Bicycle Seat a try, and if you’re a woman check out the female version of the Velo Wide: Channel seat.
Update as of Spring/Summer 2016 – the seat continues to work fairly well for me on my new road bike (a Kona Esatto), though I am testing a few thinner seats along the same lines like the Velo ‘Plush’ racing seat; which I have not received as yet (similar but not exactly the same as this one).
Update later Summer 2016 – I keep coming back to the Velo Wide: Channel M Bicycle Seat despite trying a number of other seats (and having two actually break on me – or at least start creaking menacingly me and feel sprung) including the expensive ISM Adamo Prologue seat.
Update August 2016 – I’ve had this seat for awhile now, on the trainer bike, mountain bike, and road bike on and off. Now after a lot of use but a moderately short time it has developed a cracking or knocking sound somewhere in the seat, or possibly more likely in the rail. Maybe one of the mounts for the rail. The seat feels fine but it’s a loud annoying sound (that I thought at first was a bad bearing somewhere on the bike; it wasn’t) and a sound like that could be a harbinger of failure so I have bought the Selle SMP Extra. I’ll be reviewing that seat soon.