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Old 04-28-12, 07:32 AM   #1
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RBR Leather Saddle - anybody try one of these?

Can't beat the price, and the look is pretty appealing for a springer saddle, just wondering if anybody has any experience of these; usable, or for display only?

http://www.ebay.com/itm/CLASSIC-HONE...item5893720bbc
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Old 07-02-12, 12:22 PM   #2
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you can buy it directly from the maker for cheaper than eBay prices. You'll have to call them as their website doesn't appear to have ordering capability.

These are a knockoff of the Brooks B72 (with springs) at the back of the saddle rails. Produced in India, and are thus significantly cheaper than Brooks.

I'm not sure how good these are, and the only significant discussion I've found was in this thread.

Last edited by TallRider; 07-02-12 at 12:48 PM.
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Old 07-02-12, 12:45 PM   #3
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I would send a message to them to make sure they are leather saddles. At that price, I doubt they are and the material looks a bit off for leathet. I have two Wittkopp saddles that look leather in pictures but are actually rubber, and these appear to be the same.
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Old 07-02-12, 02:48 PM   #4
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I just ordered one (and talked to a real person) and he said that the saddle is indeed leather, very hard, takes hundreds of miles to break-in. The low price is due to manufacturing in India, apparently, and presumably lower quality control and material quality to get a price like that.

I'll try to remember to post some comments after I've received the saddle. Though I'm assuming it will just be hard at first, and will take about half of the year (at the rate I ride my commuting bike) before it becomes comfortable.
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Old 07-02-12, 06:27 PM   #5
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I would not purchase one of these based on my experience with similar Chinese leather saddles. While they do use leather, one would never know it, most of the integrity comes from the paint they slather on top. There also isn't a second pair of rails that is necessary for the design, so adequate tension can never be applied in the event that it ever breaks in.
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Old 07-02-12, 08:28 PM   #6
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I bought one and it got wet, so the leather sagged super bad. The tensioner isn't worth a damn since it has sagged so much on me, I don't know about if it hadn't gotten wet. I say get one and try your hardest not to get it wet.
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Old 07-02-12, 09:32 PM   #7
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I had a saddle that looked very similar to these, but I don't think it was the same company--maybe the same factory though. It was leather, but it was some kind of re-constituted leather. Kind of like the leather version of particleboard. It was hard as a rock and never did break in. I gave it away eventually.
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Old 07-05-12, 09:58 AM   #8
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I'll report back after I have a bit of experience with the saddle. It looks like real top-grain leather, albeit likely with less quality control than Brooks.
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Old 07-05-12, 11:44 AM   #9
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did you get the one that looks like the b17 or the one with front and rear springs?
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Old 07-05-12, 11:51 AM   #10
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Looking at the construction of it, it seems like it might be prone to some flaring. But if this happens, it might be a good candidate for lacing. I have a Velo Orange leather saddle that flared way too much when I got it (the leather wasn't stiff enough, and I'm not a featherweight). After I drilled some holes and laced it tight with waxed cord, it changed dramatically and broke in wonderfully. Before I laced it I thought I might have to toss it, but a couple of years later, I'm still using it.
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Old 07-07-12, 10:15 AM   #11
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did you get the one that looks like the b17 or the one with front and rear springs?
I got the one that is patterned after the B72 (basically like the B17 but with rear springs that are mostly visibly covered by the saddle). The front-and-rear spring design is all retro-ish but kinda freaks me out, plus it weighs more.
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Old 07-07-12, 11:40 AM   #12
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You get what you pay for.
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Old 07-09-12, 05:09 PM   #13
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Looking at the construction of it, it seems like it might be prone to some flaring. But if this happens, it might be a good candidate for lacing. I have a Velo Orange leather saddle that flared way too much when I got it (the leather wasn't stiff enough, and I'm not a featherweight). After I drilled some holes and laced it tight with waxed cord, it changed dramatically and broke in wonderfully. Before I laced it I thought I might have to toss it, but a couple of years later, I'm still using it.
Sounds like what happened to mine after I got caught in that rain storm. Could you post some pics of your lace up job? Thanks.
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Old 07-09-12, 09:07 PM   #14
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Sounds like what happened to mine after I got caught in that rain storm. Could you post some pics of your lace up job? Thanks.
My ol' Brooks Pro finally broke-in after racing (1977 Arkansas State Road Racing Championships) in a thunderstorm. My recently acquired Gyes GS-O6H seems to be very slowly (and very nicely) breaking in.

You may get what you pay for, but higher price doesn't necessarily equate to higher quality. Let the buyer beware . . .
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Old 07-15-12, 07:39 PM   #15
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Upon receiving the saddle, I cast another data point in the "you get what you pay for" camp. The grain of the leather is not straight (along the length of the saddle) and the "honey" color is a result of paint slathered on the outside of the leather, which can crack as the leather flexes. But I still figured it would work passably for a commuting bike.

So I treated the leather with Brooks Proofide and put it on my bike. Also, the rails were not parallel and it took some work with zip-ties to get them moderately lined up with the seatpost clamp to where I could tighten the clamp down.

However, upon sitting on the saddle, the leather immediately collapsed/sagged into the middle. I tried to tension the saddle but the tension bolt is so short that it provides limited adjustment ability, but the bigger issue is that the tensioning bolt slips through the threading point (not the bolt, but the threading point further away from the nose of the saddle) and therefore cannot sustain any tension.

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You get what you pay for.
It's not really worth the cost of returning the saddle ($20 retail + $12 shipping were my initial input costs) so I figure I may replace the tensioning bolt with a longer screw (that has a head on one end) so it doesn't matter that the threads have stripped out.

Here are some photos (all taken before sitting on the saddle)
Attached Images
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File Type: jpg MG_0448.jpg (91.0 KB, 60 views)
File Type: jpg MG_0449.jpg (90.7 KB, 54 views)
File Type: jpg MG_0451.jpg (102.7 KB, 77 views)
File Type: jpg MG_0452.JPG (97.1 KB, 55 views)
File Type: jpg MG_0465.JPG (61.6 KB, 49 views)
File Type: jpg MG_0468.JPG (97.9 KB, 56 views)
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Old 07-15-12, 08:57 PM   #16
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Sounds like what happened to mine after I got caught in that rain storm. Could you post some pics of your lace up job? Thanks.
I'll try to post some tomorrow. But...I may have royally jinxed myself by talking about it. Sort of perfect timing. This past week, the left side of the saddle has begun to bend lower than the right, despite the lacing. It's not really a sag: more like the whole side is starting to bend at an angle from center. It's definitely enough to make me feel unbalanced, and will likely get worse. So, I got a couple of years out of the lace job, but I wouldn't get the VO saddle again (or any of the generic clones...it's amazing how many companies just rebrand the same things). I bit the bullet and just placed an order for a Brooks Swift.

FYI: I ordered from Retrogression and the Swift was about $60 cheaper than elsewhere. Thanks be to Scrod!
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Old 07-18-12, 05:27 PM   #17
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I'll try to post some tomorrow. But...I may have royally jinxed myself by talking about it. Sort of perfect timing. This past week, the left side of the saddle has begun to bend lower than the right, despite the lacing. It's not really a sag: more like the whole side is starting to bend at an angle from center. It's definitely enough to make me feel unbalanced, and will likely get worse. So, I got a couple of years out of the lace job, but I wouldn't get the VO saddle again (or any of the generic clones...it's amazing how many companies just rebrand the same things). I bit the bullet and just placed an order for a Brooks Swift.

FYI: I ordered from Retrogression and the Swift was about $60 cheaper than elsewhere. Thanks be to Scrod!
I have a B17 on my main rig, and I totally agree with you on never buying a knock off again. I'm still interested in pics of the lace job, I'd like to get some more use out of the knock off on my beater bad weather bike.
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Old 07-30-12, 08:22 AM   #18
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My report back on the RBR leather saddle. At least based on my experience, I'd recommend against getting it. If you want a leather saddle, get one from a known quality source. Or at least get one without springs (which make it more difficult to maintain tension in the leather, as the metal plate which is riveted to the rear of the saddle can rotate forward on the springs, so the leather sags under the sit bones where it is not supposed to).

My saddle came with improperly-assembled (or poorly-conceived) tension mechanism, that I was able to tinker with and modify until I had a setup that could actually increase tension through the leather.
However, even then, I couldn't increase tension meaningfully because the springs would just flex and allow the rear metal plate to rotate forward. This allows the leather toward the rear of the saddle to sag markedly, and my sit bones feel like they are sinking in just in front of the metal plate at the rear of the saddle. Note that I'm 6'5", 200 pounds, but I think that this would happen to a lighter weight rider.

Sure the saddle is rideable, but not remotely comfortably. Not like a leather saddle is supposed to be (and I realize that the leather is supposed to be very hard until broken in).
I suppose I could lace it, but I'm not sure it's worth the trouble.

This makes me curious how sprung leather saddles work to maintain sufficient tension. With the Brooks B67, are the springs just a lot stiffer (particularly toward bending) than this RBR saddle's springs? Or does it depend on lacing?

Here is my thread in the mechanics forum on the tension-bolt-assembly setup.
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Old 07-30-12, 04:21 PM   #19
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This makes me curious how sprung leather saddles work to maintain sufficient tension. With the Brooks B67, are the springs just a lot stiffer (particularly toward bending) than this RBR saddle's springs? Or does it depend on lacing?
Sprung saddles are supposed to have two sets of rails, one for tension, and one to attach to your post. Like This:

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Old 07-31-12, 09:51 AM   #20
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@smallpox champ, thanks for that picture to illustrate how a sprung saddle should be constructed.

In contrast, this RBR saddle only has one set of rails, and so the metal plate riveted to the rear of the saddle is basically floating on the springs.


This RBR saddle could work if it were designed without springs (and had a better implementation of tension bolt).
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Old 07-31-12, 12:36 PM   #21
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I have a B17 on my main rig, and I totally agree with you on never buying a knock off again. I'm still interested in pics of the lace job, I'd like to get some more use out of the knock off on my beater bad weather bike.
So, here are some pics of my lace job. It worked for a couple of years, but has done as much as it can. The saddle still looks OK by itself, but when I sit on it the whole left side sinks way lower than the right. The leather is too stretched out for even lacing, and the adjustment screw is pretty useless.

If you do lace: I used waxed shoelaces. The hardest part is keeping tension while you tie the final knot. I suggest holding the sides of the saddles in with a large clamp while you are lacing, and then release afterwards. makes it much easier to modulate the amount of tension.

And, I found that a drill makes a MUCH cleaner hole than an awl.

Also, as you can see, I also laminated a piece of high-density rubber foam onto the bottom for extra support. This really helped firm up the leather for a while, but was still yielding. I used a piece of one of those interlocking rubber floor mats from Target, backed with some leather-safe glue.

These fixes definitely gave it a longer lifetime, but I am SO much happier with my new Brooks. Plus, i don't feel like I'm falling to the left anymore. I like Velo Orange stuff, but the saddles...not again.







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Old 07-31-12, 02:58 PM   #22
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So, here are some pics of my lace job. It worked for a couple of years, but has done as much as it can. The saddle still looks OK by itself, but when I sit on it the whole left side sinks way lower than the right. The leather is too stretched out for even lacing, and the adjustment screw is pretty useless.

If you do lace: I used waxed shoelaces. The hardest part is keeping tension while you tie the final knot. I suggest holding the sides of the saddles in with a large clamp while you are lacing, and then release afterwards. makes it much easier to modulate the amount of tension.

And, I found that a drill makes a MUCH cleaner hole than an awl.

Also, as you can see, I also laminated a piece of high-density rubber foam onto the bottom for extra support. This really helped firm up the leather for a while, but was still yielding. I used a piece of one of those interlocking rubber floor mats from Target, backed with some leather-safe glue.

These fixes definitely gave it a longer lifetime, but I am SO much happier with my new Brooks. Plus, i don't feel like I'm falling to the left anymore. I like Velo Orange stuff, but the saddles...not again.
Thanks for the pics, I'll probably attempt something similar on my sagging RBR saddle soon.
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Old 07-31-12, 09:28 PM   #23
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@josh.d, does the tension bolt mechanism work at all on your RBR saddle? I had to re-jib mine (thread linked above) but even so it doesn't matter because the rear of the saddle is attached to springs and can thus sag forward (and effectively "cave in") whenever my but sits on the rear of the saddle.
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Old 07-31-12, 09:45 PM   #24
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I've recently discovered Brooks saddles. Normally, I try to be frugal, but I'm convinced that Brooks are worth the money. If you take care of them, they end up being an excellent value, since they last longer than everything else.
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Old 07-31-12, 10:11 PM   #25
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I would hold off on these cheap imitations. Recently, I have purchased a new Brooks B17 Imperial for $65 and a like new B17 Standard for $50. I found these on the Minneapolis CL. You can get great saddles which are proven for just a little more than these imitations. Currently there are a couple of nice Brooks saddles on Mpls. CL for $60-65. They are there for the taking. You get what you pay for.
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