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  1. #1
    Senior Member Shellyrides's Avatar
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    Athenas Brooks saddle question.

    I have been hearing the boys go on and on about Brooks saddles. I went looking and found a b17 for women. Should I get a women saddle or just go with the standard one. (cant believe I am thinking about spending this much for a bike seat!)

  2. #2
    Banned. Mr. Beanz's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Shellyrides View Post
    I have been hearing the boys go on and on about Brooks saddles.

    I "personally" know 3 guys that hate them and one that likes them. On the forums they seem like the saddle to have but on the bike I rarely see them and I see a ton of riders every weekend.

  3. #3
    Senior Member goldfinch's Avatar
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    Some women love them and some do not. I am happy with the Terry Butterfly so I haven't tried a Brooks.

  4. #4
    SuperGimp TrojanHorse's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mr. Beanz View Post
    I "personally" know 3 guys that hate them and one that likes them. On the forums they seem like the saddle to have but on the bike I rarely see them and I see a ton of riders every weekend.
    I believe we had two riders in our last GMR assault that had Brooks on their bike. They both liked them.

    It's like anything though, different strokes for different folks.

    If you're a woman though, I'd definitely get a women's saddle - they're shaped differently.

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    Senior Member catonec's Avatar
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    The only way you'll know if the saddle is correct for you is to ride it. Womens saddles I assume are wider to accommodate more shapely sit bones, probably a better option?

    I do not ride a brooks. partially because people say the saddle takes some time to break in. others say you have to condition it with proof-hide and tension it with the bolt just right or you can ruin it. I dont have that kind of patience just to find out I dont like it after making excuses for it for the first 500 miles.

    Many people love brooks saddles, maybe they love the street-cred that comes with it. I personally think they are ugly.

    I tried 7 different saddles until I found the fizik antares. thats my huckleberry.
    Last edited by catonec; 09-26-12 at 11:01 PM.
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  6. #6
    Senior Member mudmouse's Avatar
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    I use a Brooks B17s and a Specialized jett.

    My sitbones love the Brooks, the girly bits want a saddle with a cut out. After a somewhat painful week-long tour last summer with the jett, I'll probably always take the Brooks for multi-day trips. For weekend rides the jett works pretty good.

    Supposedly the womens B17 is a smidge wider than the mens, and has a shorter nose. Some people hate the short nose. It doesn't bother me, but I'd probably go with the mens next time. (I'd like to try a Brooks imperial - Just might be the cat's meow.)

    If someone hasn't mentioned it yet Wallbike has a 6-month return policy on Brooks saddles.
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    Maybe all the Brooks users should gang up and go into all the other threads about what saddle to buy and diss them. None of those posts in this thread addressed the OP's specific question, so why do it?

    Machka uses the standard B17s. They have served her well over the years. A "women's specific" Brooks is not really needed.

    The short-nose Brooks was designed back in the day when women rode with skirts. Thorn Cycles in the UK has an interesting commentary on it. Suffice to say, it might be appealing for retro purposes, but really, a long-nose, B17 standard is the one to go for.

    And the Wallbike policy is a great one, in case the Brooks isn't as comfortable as anticipated (which, incidentally, is not something the ordinary LBS offers on the saddles all the critics use).
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  8. #8
    Senior Member catonec's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Rowan View Post
    Maybe all the Brooks users should gang up and go into all the other threads about what saddle to buy and diss them. None of those posts in this thread addressed the OP's specific question, so why do it?
    rowan, your tag line says it all. Has opinion, will express..trojan horse said get the womens version, I said probably a better option...
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  9. #9
    Long Distance Cyclist Machka's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Shellyrides View Post
    I have been hearing the boys go on and on about Brooks saddles. I went looking and found a b17 for women. Should I get a women saddle or just go with the standard one. (cant believe I am thinking about spending this much for a bike seat!)
    Speaking as a woman who cycles a lot and has logged over 50,000 km on Brooks saddles ...

    1. Go to the Wallingford Bicycles site and have a chat with Bill about the saddle you want. You'll be able to try the saddle for 6 months without fully committing to it. If you really don't like it at the end of 6 months, you can return it.

    Remember ... a decent bicycle shop will give you at least a week to try a saddle, a good bicycle shop will give you a month, and great shop will give you 6 months.

    2. The women's saddle is a tiny bit wider than the men's, but quite a bit shorter. I prefer the longer saddle (I don't ride with skirts) and the width difference isn't much.



    I was very sceptical about Brooks saddles when I got my first men's standard B17 back in 2004, but after the initial break-in period, I loved it, and have been riding them ever since. I've got Brooks saddles on all my bicycles now. My favourite one right now is a green one with copper rivets and titanium rails which I have on my titanium bicycle.


    (I tried the Terry Butterfly and it had to be one of the worst saddles I ever sat on. That cutout thing was an absolute nightmare. I could only manage 20 km on it before I was in agony. Terry offers a 1-month trial, and it wouldn't take that long to figure out if you liked the saddle or not.)

  10. #10
    Long Distance Cyclist Machka's Avatar
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    And a few tips after many years of riding many Brooks saddles ...

    1. When you take your Brooks of the box, your first thought might be something along the lines of, "This thing is a rock!" Yes, your Brooks saddle is hard. It's supposed to be hard, and that's OK. A hard saddle supports your sitbones and helps to prevent riding on your 'middle bits'.

    2. Your Brooks saddle should never become soft. Your Brooks saddle will remain hard for years and years and years to come. Your goal is not to strive to make it soft. If it becomes soft, it is badly damaged. It will, however, start to conform to your shape. It will become customised to you.

    3. You may get a small spanner with your Brooks saddle. Put it in a safe place, a place you'll remember several years from now when you might need to use it. Resist the temptation to loosen the tension on the saddle off so it will "break in" or become soft because your Brooks should never become soft, and you will regret this method of breaking in your saddle. Several years from now you may want to give it a quarter turn to tighten it a little tiny bit because it has become a little bit too loose and you're sitting on the rails.

    4. You may read about various methods to "break in" or soften your Brooks. Ignore them. The best method is to ride the saddle ... lots. Your saddle will not become soft by riding it, but it will break in ... start to conform to your shape. (There are two other methods which will work if your saddle has not broken in by about the 1000 km point)

    5. When you install the saddle, tilt the nose of the saddle up a little bit. The angle of the tilt will depend on your personal preference. Some like quite a pronounced tilt, others just a little bit of an upward tilt. The upward tilt of the nose of the saddle forces you to sit back on your sitbones, and makes the saddle more comfortable.

    6. When you first get on your new Brooks and ride, you'll notice it is very slippery. You may feel like you are sliding around all over the place. That's normal and will go away after a few rides ... and that will be the first part of the break-in process.






    And whatever saddle you get, make sure both your sitbones are firmly planted on the saddle. The worst saddle I ever had was too narrow, and I could only get one sitbone at a time on the saddle. The other would kind of slide off to the side. This meant that I was sitting on the middle bits and that is not where you want to be sitting. I could only manage about 5 km with that saddle before the agony began.


    As I mentioned in the post above, the woman's Brooks is only slightly wider than the men's. You (and anyone here) can look it up on the Brooks or Wallingford sites: http://www.wallbike.com/brand/brooks ...

    B17 Standard ("men's"): 170mm wide by 280mm long
    http://www.wallbike.com/brooks/unspr...s/b17-standard

    B17 Standard S ("women's"): 177mm wide by 245 long
    http://www.wallbike.com/brooks/unspr...b17-standard-s


    The Wallingford site says: "If you are short of leg you might prefer the Brooks B.17 S (Short) saddle." Personally, I have long legs, so perhaps that's why I prefer the Standard. But if I were you (and I did this when I ordered my first Brooks), I would shoot Bill and email and ask him a few questions.






    Incidentally, one more thing ... I mention in Point #5 above about tilting the saddle up to force you back onto your sitbones. One other thing which will help with good posture on the bicycle, and will help make just about any saddle a bit more comfortable, is to do core work. Develop a strong core and you'll be more comfortable on your bicycle for longer periods of time.

  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by catonec View Post
    rowan, your tag line says it all. Has opinion, will express..trojan horse said get the womens version, I said probably a better option...
    True, but my opinion addresses the question the OP asked.
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  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by Shellyrides View Post
    I have been hearing the boys go on and on about Brooks saddles. I went looking and found a b17 for women. Should I get a women saddle or just go with the standard one. (cant believe I am thinking about spending this much for a bike seat!)
    I'm 'one of the boys' who really likes his 1st ever Brooks B17. It was comfortable out of the box. If you push (with your thumbs....and some force) on the saddle where your sit bones will ride the saddle....it isn't as stiff as the other parts of the saddle. Stiff, yes, but not quite as stiff as the other parts closer to the frame. Probably by design this way.....

    As Machka suggested, send Wallingford bikes an email (I did, and they helped me). I'd tell them your height and bike (including size) you are going to mount this on. And if you don't like it after a couple months, use the return policy! Wallingford usually sells them on eBay.....and do get some of the $$ back.

    A couple of notes about other comments....I think one of the reasons the hate it/love it relationship with Brooks saddles is because purchasers do go the extra mile to make sure the fit is 'near perfect'. Meaning, in my case, when I decided to purchase mine, I read everything I could about bike fit, and then spent some time mounting/positioning it, testing it on a trainer, adjusting it, testing it, repeat for about an hour till it was 'in the zone' and comfortable. Then....I took it on a 10 mile ride with tools and stopped a few times and adjusted more. Did this a couple times on more rides. It's near perfect now for me. Every other bike seat I've had....I hadn't really put that much time or attention to bike fit/seat position. The ones who 'hate it'....may not go to that level of bike fitting/adjusting/testing.....but then they do when they get that $200 Selle...and poof...now it's the cat's meow.

    I also was surprised at myself for wanting....and then spending....that much on a bike seat. Always had done the $40-$80 range... But, I was tired of the 'comfort' seats (gel/cushy/etc.) NOT working for me on long rides (a long ride for me is now ~40-50 miles, hopefully longer as I get broken in). When I was younger, I had all those 'razor' racing style seats. While they worked, I don't remember them being comfortable on my longer rides (100-200 miles a week, and a couple of metric centuries a year), I mostly remember the suffering at the end of the ride (whether because of the bike seat fit or just finishing the ride). I remember always 'shuffling around' on the seat to get a comfortable spot on longer rides, and on my MTB bikes....just never sitting!

    So...now...IMHO....my Brooks was $$$ well spent, as it's comfortable for me.

    I did try letting my wife sit on it....she said 'it's stiff'.....so I've not bought her one yet, as it wasn't a 'real' test (it was on my bike, not hers, and not fit to her). I think she's fallen into the 'gotta have cushy seat to be comfortable' group for now. I'll work on that....I may still get one for her to try, and if she doesn't like it, I'll use the return to get another one for me.

    HTH.

  13. #13
    Super Moderator tractorlegs's Avatar
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    I'm in my first week of ownership of a B17, and from what I've experienced so far the responses from Rowan and Machka are right on. I would think you should go with the women's model since it is a little wider, although it looks like the men's B17 would be wide enough. It is substantially wider than any other saddle we have in the casa, and wider than my wife's generic "women's" saddle. Point #5 in Machka's post is good too - (although I discovered this on my own, it's good to see confirmation) - point the saddle up a bit to force your sit-bones into the wide area of the saddle.

    Mine is already quite comfortable, and after it breaks in I imagine it will be very good. It is more comfortable than any saddle I've had before. However, I know of many, many people that say the saddle is uncomfortable until broken in. However, once broken in (primarily accomplished by simply riding and riding and riding . . .) it becomes very comfortable.

    I want to re-emphasize a point made by Machka: All over the internet are a thousand "methods" to break in a Brooks. Ignore them. This is an investment: Use something to condition the leather (since, after all, it is leather) but break in in patiently by riding it.
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  14. #14
    Senior Member goldfinch's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Machka View Post
    Speaking as a woman who cycles a lot and has logged over 50,000 km on Brooks saddles ...

    1. Go to the Wallingford Bicycles site and have a chat with Bill about the saddle you want. You'll be able to try the saddle for 6 months without fully committing to it. If you really don't like it at the end of 6 months, you can return it.

    Remember ... a decent bicycle shop will give you at least a week to try a saddle, a good bicycle shop will give you a month, and great shop will give you 6 months.

    2. The women's saddle is a tiny bit wider than the men's, but quite a bit shorter. I prefer the longer saddle (I don't ride with skirts) and the width difference isn't much.



    I was very sceptical about Brooks saddles when I got my first men's standard B17 back in 2004, but after the initial break-in period, I loved it, and have been riding them ever since. I've got Brooks saddles on all my bicycles now. My favourite one right now is a green one with copper rivets and titanium rails which I have on my titanium bicycle.


    (I tried the Terry Butterfly and it had to be one of the worst saddles I ever sat on. That cutout thing was an absolute nightmare. I could only manage 20 km on it before I was in agony. Terry offers a 1-month trial, and it wouldn't take that long to figure out if you liked the saddle or not.)
    This illustrates individual differences in saddle fit. I love my Butterfly. Others can't stand it. If I tried the Brooks I probably would get the one with the short nose. Not because I ride with skirts but because my reach on the bike is so short that extra long saddle noses are kind of a pain and crowd me when I dismount. My first saddle had a much longer nose than my butterfly and I would catch myself on the nose when dismounting. Maybe in contrast to Machka it is because I have short legs.



    One thing to consider is what basic shape of saddle works for you. Pear shape or T shape? As far as width of the saddle, there is many individual differences among women and some need narrower and some need wider, to support wider sit bones. How big your butt is won't tell you how wide your saddle should be.
    Last edited by goldfinch; 09-27-12 at 07:04 AM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by tractorlegs View Post
    I want to re-emphasize a point made by Machka: All over the internet are a thousand "methods" to break in a Brooks. Ignore them. This is an investment: Use something to condition the leather (since, after all, it is leather) but break in in patiently by riding it.
    Just an added note on this....Wallingford sells Proofide at a good initial discount when you purchase it along with a Brooks seat.

    From Brooks' website about Proofide.

    -------
    A new saddle should be treated with Brooks Proofide leather dressing to help assist the ‘breaking-in’ process. Proofide keeps the leather supple as it is specially formulated from natural ingredients to condition, preserve and shower proof your saddle. Proofide is the only substance that should be used to care for your Brooks Leather Saddle.

    Apply a little Proofide to the finished side of the leather. Allow the Proofide to permeate until dry and then polish off. Proofide should be used several times during the ‘breaking-in’ period and every 3-6 months thereafter. On bicycles not fitted with mudguards, an initial application to the underside of the saddle will be beneficial, this needs not to be polished off. The leather gets its colour during the tanning process and it is possible, therefore, that some colour residues will remain. It is recommended to polish the saddle with a soft cloth before first use.
    --------

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    I don't know how to compare rail length on a brooks saddle. So for those that have the B17 are the rails longer that most saddles or are the rails shorter.

    I am looking for a saddle with long rails so that I can move the saddle back a good distance on my bike without having to get a setback seat post.

  17. #17
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    Quote Originally Posted by jim p View Post
    I don't know how to compare rail length on a brooks saddle. So for those that have the B17 are the rails longer that most saddles or are the rails shorter.

    I am looking for a saddle with long rails so that I can move the saddle back a good distance on my bike without having to get a setback seat post.


    Brooks are known for having relatively short rails compared to some other leather saddle brands.

    If you want a nice leather saddle, but would like longer rails, take a look at the offerings from V.O./GYES/Cardiff saddles. They are all made by the same manufacturer (I think the Dia Compe saddles are made by this company, too, but I can't verify that right now) and are very similar to Brooks and Berthoud saddles in style and shapes, though quite a bit cheaper. I've got two Velo Orange-branded saddles and have been quite happy with them, and even with long legs I have not required a setback seatpost.

  18. #18
    2nd Amendment Cyclist RichardGlover's Avatar
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    B17 rails are relatively short. Some people who need their seat further back get a setback seatpost to accommodate this.
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    The shorter rail length of the Brooks saddles is an issue for those who need setback, but have a non-setback seatpost or one with limited setback already.
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