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Old 03-19-09, 10:51 AM   #1
rusm
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Brooks B17 EXREME pressure

Hi, longtime lurker, firstime poster! I recently got a Brooks B17 to replace the racerboy saddle that came with my bike. At first it was awesome! But at about the 30 minute point into the ride I started to experience some extremely painful pressure. I tried fiddling with the tilt, but was only able to get minor relief. Is this part of the normal break in period for one of these saddle? Also, I am clocking in around 270#, but I thought this saddle was good for larger men? Anyway, there is no way I could put up with that particular pain and the after effects for one mile longer, anyone have any recomendations for a different saddle? I am thinking something with a cutout, maybe even one of these SMP saddles or something similar.
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Old 03-19-09, 11:01 AM   #2
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Pressure where?

Pressure at the sit bones (where you should be contacting your saddle) is normal. The B-17 takes a little bit of getting used to if you've previously been riding a padded saddle.

Pressure at the perineum shouldn't happen, and that's a matter of saddle adjustment and overall rider fit to the bike.

Like all things cycling, saddle choices are a highly individualized thing. The B-17 should be comfortable right out of the box, so it sounds like it might not be the one for you. If you want to stick with Brooks and try a cutout saddle, you may try the B-17 Imperial. I've been riding one for about 5000 miles and find it to be an improvement over the B-17, which I found comfortable in the first place. Another option is the Clydesdale version of the Selle An-Atomica, which also has a cutout and uses a slightly more pliable leather than Brooks.
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Old 03-19-09, 11:03 AM   #3
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It's hard to diagnose saddle issues over the internet, but most people have little trouble with the B17. I have one and am not sure I buy the breaking in thing... I think your butt breaks in, and a saddle either works for your butt or doesn't.

What's the tilt like now? What sort of bike is it on? What pressure is bothering you? Mine was sort of uncomfortable when I had it on a bike that was way too small, causing me to sit back on the rivets. It's awesome now on my commuter.
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Old 03-19-09, 11:18 AM   #4
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Try moving the saddle forward if the horn of the saddle is causing the pressure. I had the same experience with the Imperial (B17 with the cutout). This has helped a lot.
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Old 03-19-09, 11:52 AM   #5
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It needs to be broken in. Wet a towel and wrap it around you B-17 and let it sit for 1/2 hour. Remove a towel and go for a hour long ride on a wet saddle , it will dry while you are riding and you will see the leather is getting softer. When you see slight dimples on the saddle where your sit bones are, the saddle is broken in. Do not ride it any more until it is dry in a day or two.
After it is dry you could apply bee wax or any other leather conditioner like the stuff that Brooks recommends.

You could also use a Dremel tool to make a cutout in the saddle a la Imperial B-17. It will make life easier faster. My Brooks B-17 was so uncomfortable when it was new, I was thinking of returning it. Now it is the most comfortable saddle in my stable.

If you have not ridden all winter and just starting the season, it takes a while for you sit bones to get used to carry the weight of your body on any saddle, let alone new not "broken in" Brooks.
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Old 03-19-09, 12:24 PM   #6
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If you have not ridden all winter and just starting the season, it takes a while for you sit bones to get used to carry the weight of your body on any saddle, let alone new not "broken in" Brooks.
I don't buy this. I think that if a saddle works, it always works. I haven't been riding much over the winter, but I guarantee I could do a century on my Selle SMP Strike Extra... if my legs were in shape!
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Old 03-19-09, 12:31 PM   #7
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It needs to be broken in.
This is a possibility; but regardless of being 'broken in' or not, no saddle should cause excruciating I-can't-ride-any-more pain.

Wet a towel and wrap it around you B-17 and let it sit for 1/2 hour. Remove a towel and go for a hour long ride on a wet saddle , it will dry while you are riding and you will see the leather is getting softer. When you see slight dimples on the saddle where your sit bones are, the saddle is broken in. Do not ride it any more until it is dry in a day or two.

NO. For the love of all things holy, would people stop recommending things like this? Don't wrap it in a wet towel, soak it in Neatsfoot compound, rub it down with used tractor-trailer crankcase oil, dip it in steer snot, or any of the hundreds of other ridiculous alchemy which people claim will "speed the break in process".
Proofide or SnoSeal or Obenauf's LP on the tophide and underside of the new saddle; then go and ride it. If it's not comfortable, change the position until it is. If you can't make it comfortable, then buy a different saddle!
Speeding up the break-in is just a different way of saying "ruin the structural integrity of the leather." Especially for us big guys, you don't want to soften up the entire saddle.
Now, wetting and riding it isn't going to soften the leather permanently; it's going to reshape it, and then it will dry to the same hardness it was before you wetted it down. The problem with this is that by wetting and allowing the leather at the sit bone contact points to stretch prematurely, you're allowing the rider to sink further into the saddle and put unnecessary pressure on the surrounding soft tissues.

After it is dry you could apply bee wax or any other leather conditioner like the stuff that Brooks recommends.

Do this before riding on the saddle. Proofide or SnoSeal or Obenauf's LP.

You could also use a Dremel tool to make a cutout in the saddle a la Imperial B-17. It will make life easier faster. My Brooks B-17 was so uncomfortable when it was new, I was thinking of returning it. Now it is the most comfortable saddle in my stable.

A Dremel isn't the best tool for leatherwork. The high speed means a cutoff wheel is likely to burn the leather and cause future issues. Any of the routing bits are not cutting the leather, but instead are tearing it away, ruining the integrity of the leather around the cutout. A scalpel, or other leatherworking knife is the best option.

If you have not ridden all winter and just starting the season, it takes a while for you sit bones to get used to carry the weight of your body on any saddle, let alone new not "broken in" Brooks.
True. If the Brooks is the first thing you plop your butt onto after a winter of not riding, it might take a while to get used to riding again.
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Old 03-19-09, 12:43 PM   #8
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Thanks for the replies men! The pressure was directly on my perineum and I think the Brooks is just not for me. I have never tried one of the cutout models, and think that I wil try on eout and see how I like it. Just have to make sure I buy from a shop with a good return policy!
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Old 03-19-09, 01:01 PM   #9
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Thanks for the replies men! The pressure was directly on my perineum and I think the Brooks is just not for me. I have never tried one of the cutout models, and think that I wil try on eout and see how I like it. Just have to make sure I buy from a shop with a good return policy!
Definitely buy from a shop that will allow you to ride and return the saddle if it doesn't work. FWIW, I tried a number of different cut-out saddles before the Selle SMP and found that they didn't work for me. My theory is that the cut-outs just weren't the right size or shape. I bought the cheapest Selle SMP (~$100 @ Performance Bike), which has an enormous cut-out compared to everything else, and it seems to work great! There's enough padding that my sit bones don't get sore, and the cut-out prevents pressure on the perineum. I suspect that the SMP design is one that you either love or hate; I love mine, but you might not!
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Old 03-19-09, 01:17 PM   #10
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Thanks for the replies men! The pressure was directly on my perineum and I think the Brooks is just not for me. I have never tried one of the cutout models, and think that I wil try on eout and see how I like it. Just have to make sure I buy from a shop with a good return policy!
Wallingford Bicycle has a great return policy on Brooks saddles: 6 months, IIRC.

Some other things to check:
- Saddle height
- Fore/aft adjustment
- Reach to the bars (if you're leaning over too much, you could be rolling forward on the saddle)
- Sit bone width (Specialized dealers have a measurement system)
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Old 03-19-09, 01:17 PM   #11
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yup seems like all this is a lot of trouble just send the saddle to me and i will dispose of it for you.
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Old 03-19-09, 01:40 PM   #12
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yup seems like all this is a lot of trouble just send the saddle to me and i will dispose of it for you.
Ah, you beat me to it.
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Old 03-19-09, 01:46 PM   #13
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One thing, the Brooks requires you to sit back a little further on the saddle than a synthetic one. Slide it forward on the rails a few mm at a time and see if it eases the pressure, and it should also be either 0º tilt, or even 1 or 2º nose high for the proper positioning, otherwise, you tend to slide forward onto the narrower portion of the saddle due to the flexibility of the leater and the hammock effect.
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Old 03-19-09, 02:20 PM   #14
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Hi, longtime lurker, firstime poster! I recently got a Brooks B17 to replace the racerboy saddle that came with my bike. At first it was awesome! But at about the 30 minute point into the ride I started to experience some extremely painful pressure.
What is the relationship of the handle bars to the seat height?

If racer type bike, the bars are often lower than the saddle. Brooks B17 saddles are intended to be ridden on bikes with the bars about level or even slightly higher than the saddle.

If lower, then you are positioning your weight away from the sit bones and placing more forward toward the saddle's nose and can make it very uncomfortable.

I'm 6'4" and almost your same weight, my Brooks are about level with the bars on two road style bikes setup as touring style. And I have no issues, in fact no saddle ghost sensation after riding much longer than you reported.

I tried on a third bike, bars lower (stem does not extend higher), aggressive style, and the Brooks did not work, even with nose titled down slightly. Used the original saddle that arrived when I bought the bike, is it padded and comfortable for this style setup.

Even with the Brooks some numbness can occur, I find rising off the seat for a minute or so every so often solves my discomfort, just like being at a high school sporting event on hard bleachers, after a while any reason to stand is a good one. Except my Brooks feels totally fresh when I return to it.

All the best.
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Old 03-19-09, 02:53 PM   #15
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Another option is the Clydesdale version of the Selle An-Atomica, which also has a cutout and uses a slightly more pliable leather than Brooks.
The Selle Anatomica Titanico was the answer for me--so much more comfortable than the B17. The cutout relieves pressure, and lets you tip the nose up to get pressure off your hands, too (without putting more pressure in other places). The shorter sides keep the saddle from rubbing the insides of your legs. The leather is soft out of the box, and you can dial it in for a custom fit.
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Old 03-19-09, 03:48 PM   #16
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Specialized saddle dealers have this butt-o-meter foam pad that you sit on, that tells you how wide your hip bones are that rest on the saddle. Not the fat. The bones. You want your bones on the saddle. Once you figure out how wide you want the back of the saddle to be, you can buy any brand that falls into that width.

If you don't have a dealer in your area, or you don't like the idea of having your rear-end measured, then I suggest that you ask a local bike shop if you can try out some of the brands of saddles that they have laying around before you buy one. Bike shops often switch-out stock saddles for other brands when people buy new bikes or switch saddles at-the-shop. Most of those discarded saddles end up with a big box in the repair shop.

I know of a couple of bikes shops around here that will let you try those out, if you promise to buy a brand-new saddle of that brand that you are settled on from their store. After you try out a few, they often just sell you the saddle that you tried out for like $10 - $40.

B-17s do a similar thing to me. I found that they are just too wide and flat in the back for my behind. The saddles that work for me are Specialized Avatar and Alias (both 148 and 155 mm wide), and I have an old Terry Liberator that I still love on my mountain bike. Once you find one that works, stick with it.


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Old 03-20-09, 02:20 PM   #17
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It needs to be broken in. Wet a towel and wrap it around you B-17 and let it sit for 1/2 hour. Remove a towel and go for a hour long ride on a wet saddle , it will dry while you are riding and you will see the leather is getting softer. When you see slight dimples on the saddle where your sit bones are, the saddle is broken in. Do not ride it any more until it is dry in a day or two.

You could also use a Dremel tool to make a cutout in the saddle a la Imperial B-17. It will make life easier faster. My Brooks B-17 was so uncomfortable when it was new, I was thinking of returning it. Now it is the most comfortable saddle in my stable.

Wow, what utterly useless and potentially damaging advice.
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Old 03-20-09, 02:33 PM   #18
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The pressure was directly on my perineum and I think the Brooks is just not for me.
You are probably right, my friend. I am a member of that club. I tried four different Brooks saddles, on 3 different bikes and every kind of adjustment possible, before I realized that some people are just built differently. I have sharp sit bones and narrow hips, and Brooks saddles put way too much pressure on my perineum within a short time. The more they break in, the worse it gets, for me.

I've settled with Specialized saddles. My favorite is the Avatar, but I've only tried a couple of them so others might work well for me, I don't know. You won't get the sit bone comfort that you would with a leather saddle, but I've done many centuries and even a double+ century on my Avatar with no big problem. The tissue over your sit bones can toughen up, your perineum wont.
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Old 03-20-09, 06:08 PM   #19
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I just got a B17 imperial, and the adjustment is critical, the first 15 miles were ouch, then I adjusted tilt, still need to tweak tilt making it more level.

Other adjustment will be forward and back, and to make sure seat post height is correct. I noticed it is more sensitive to adjustment than my old selle gel saddle. My sore spot is right bone.

I followed instructions and used proofide on underside, I will give it a few rides to break it in.
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Old 03-20-09, 06:42 PM   #20
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The tissue over your sit bones can toughen up, your perineum wont.
This is definitely the case! I went to REI this am and picked up a Selle Italia Gel Flite (which I am almost positive is going to be too narrow) and am going to try that out tomorrow if it is dry out. They also have the Terry Fly and Fizik Aliante and Arione models there which I plan to try as well. I am going to see if they can order the Max Flite with the cutout as well for me to try. If none of these work I am going to try the Specialized models and see how they work. From there, I don't know, maybe a recumbent?
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Old 03-23-09, 07:46 AM   #21
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Wow, what utterly useless and potentially damaging advice.
This advise was taken from a rider that has been riding leather saddles for years(I wished I had a link). I started using this advise after I was disapointed with a very long brake in time of a Brooks saddle and a 600 km ride that I thought I was riding a broken in Brooks(1000km on the saddle). I was numb for more than a week after the ride. It was fine up to a 200 km rides before. Now I brake in Brooks like I mentioned above and never have any issues and well used or broken in Brooks are on my long distance bikes.

I guess, I should have put a disclaimer on my above post like Sheldon Brown did on his site:

(Note; treatment and break-in of leather saddles is not an exact science, and there are those that claim that some of the products I've listed are harmful to leather. If absolute safety is your primary concern, using Brooks Proofide according to directions is probably the best approach...but you may find that the break-in period is un-necessarily long with this approach.
The worst thing you can do is to neglect the saddle and allow it to dry out and crack
.)

As fas as cutting the saddle with a Dremel, it was just a suggestions. But if you are afraid of damaging a new saddle if you try to cut it yourself, you could always send it to Sella-Unatomica and they will make a cut out for you for $45.00 . You could also use a leather knife or any other cutting tool that works for you. I did cut it with a Dremel and I do not have burned leather or frayed edges and the nose of the saddle became softer. It is not too soft and I do have more than 2000 km on it so far .

B-17 is comfortable if the handlebars are even with the saddle or slightly lower, the nose of the saddle is too hard to use on a racing bike with the handlebar way lower that the saddle. Brooks Imperial(with a cutout) has a nose that is softer that a regular Brooks in the middle and front of saddle , so it could be used on race type bikes. (But again, it is just my experience and my opinion, and other folks may not agree with it)
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Old 03-23-09, 07:54 AM   #22
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from my experience with a dremel, don't use it on something you don't have the money, unless you spent hours practicing, which not everyone has
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Old 03-24-09, 01:12 PM   #23
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Specialized saddle dealers have this butt-o-meter foam pad that you sit on, that tells you how wide your hip bones are that rest on the saddle. Not the fat. The bones. You want your bones on the saddle. Once you figure out how wide you want the back of the saddle to be, you can buy any brand that falls into that width.

If you don't have a dealer in your area, or you don't like the idea of having your rear-end measured, then I suggest that you ask a local bike shop if you can try out some of the brands of saddles that they have laying around before you buy one. Bike shops often switch-out stock saddles for other brands when people buy new bikes or switch saddles at-the-shop. Most of those discarded saddles end up with a big box in the repair shop.

I know of a couple of bikes shops around here that will let you try those out, if you promise to buy a brand-new saddle of that brand that you are settled on from their store. After you try out a few, they often just sell you the saddle that you tried out for like $10 - $40.

B-17s do a similar thing to me. I found that they are just too wide and flat in the back for my behind. The saddles that work for me are Specialized Avatar and Alias (both 148 and 155 mm wide), and I have an old Terry Liberator that I still love on my mountain bike. Once you find one that works, stick with it.


I have had eary cycling history with Brooks saddles and have to say they are extremly well made, but can be a bear to break in, as I have experienced. Bein young and unwise, I never considered that the Brooks was not for me backthen. It was my experince that you don't break in a Brooks saddle, it breaks you in. It is either for you or not.

Regarding the Specialized seat measuring device, I read (and have tried with great success), a means of creating your own "butt-o-meter" (pardon the crude reference.). Lay a plain piece of paper on a hard flat surface. Wearing your cycling shorts, sit on the paper. (While noone is watching, reach down and feel where your two sit bones are and carefully mark on the paper where those bones impact the paper. (get up quickly before anyone sees you, or you will be the laughing stock of all your (former) friends ). Measure the distance between the marks and match that against the sweet spot on your Brooks. If they match, a break in is all you need. If you have a mismatch, consider a different saddle. You do not want to agravate the perinum. It leads do numbness, and ever erectile dysfuntion. (I experienced that one personally, so you don't want to go there. Believe me.)

If reconsidering saddles, take into consideration the shape of the saddle. How high or broad the sweet spot is as well as the sides of the saddle. As a true Clyde, I am a little fuller in the thighs and found that a saddle with extra on the sides tends to rub against the inner thigh, so I use a flat, saddle with side cutout. It's basically a flat triangle with no sides. It does not look that comfortable, but it actually disappers under me when I ride.

I have the Selle SLC (without the gel). Mine is the Selle SLC Carbonio model.


http://www.selleitalia.com/eng/index.html

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Old 03-24-09, 02:18 PM   #24
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From there, I don't know, maybe a recumbent?
Careful now - you may find yourself never wanting to ride an upright bike again once you've experienced cycling without pain or discomfort, in a nice comfy seat with a view of the world around you instead of looking down at road...
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