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Old 02-23-08, 09:29 AM   #1
macteacher
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Whats the big deal with Brooks saddles?

I keep hearing about Brooks saddles...on and on, and there is even a thread about the website. I've never had one....but whats so special about them? I don't see a groove in the middle, are they ergonomic? How do they deal with the family jewels? I don't mean to distract from the other thread out there about the website.
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Old 02-23-08, 09:44 AM   #2
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Once they are broken in, they are the most comfortable. They use good grade leather and they last a lifetime, if treated well.

The cons are that they are heavy. They can take a long time to break in. I can't say how long, since different people seem to have different lengths of time/distance to break their's in. I don't know if this is because of the differences in the saddle or how the people break them in.

They are perfect for people that ride long distances and don't care about weight. This makes it ideal for tourers.

There are other companies that make/made leather saddles also. Check Sheldon Brown's (pbuh) leather saddle page.
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Old 02-23-08, 09:47 AM   #3
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A Brooks is like riding with your butt straddled across a leather hammock, rather than sitting on a slab of padded plastic.
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Old 02-23-08, 10:00 AM   #4
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Have you read any of the numerous threads regarding brooks saddles?

To sum it up somewhat, I'll give it a try.

No groove in the middle. No issues with the family jewels for me. They break in nicely and become very comfortable for many. Other riders think differently.

Some like Brooks saddles. Some hate them. Just like any other saddles, it comes down to personal preference.

I've got 2500 miles on my first Brooks B17. I honestly cannot say that it's the most comfortable saddle I've ever ridden due to the break-in period, but it's winning me over. I think my all time favorite was the Selle Italia Flite. Of course, I was a lot lighter back then. When I ride my mountain bike with the Specialized Body Geometry saddle, it feels as though I am bouncing on the saddle because of the extra paddling.

If it matters, I'm buying another B17 to put on another road bike I am building. So I guess I like them.
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Old 02-23-08, 10:11 AM   #5
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They are great, and are heavy. Some of the more narrow ones don't break in like the B-17. I recommend the B-17 if you regularly find yourself pedaling at a very high cadence (70+), and the sprung champion flyer if you mostly pedal at a more leisurely pace (~60RPM). I have both and they are great, I truly love the champion flier. I also have a Professional and it is gathering dust in my closet. It never broke in, and I couldn't stand to ride it long enough to callous my behind enough to get used to it.
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Old 02-23-08, 10:19 AM   #6
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I guess here are the basics.

It's a slab of thick leather which does NOT fit your butt. As you ride, you break in the leather. Basically, your sit-bones break down the leather and create dents. Once broken in, the saddle basically has grooves specifically tailored to your behind. Equal support everywhere. If there is a pressure point... then that point is broken in more... get it?

They do NOT get "soft" at all... they simply get shapen to your backside.

Oh yeah, and some say the Brooks breaks YOU in . I love mine, and will be getting another.

Factors effecting break-in....
weight of rider
rider position (amount of weight on saddle)
road type. (rough road will "beat" the saddle more)
If it gets wet it gets floppy... NOT good. Mine turned to a hammock in a downpour. I pinched it back into position to dry, and laced it add some stiffness for the future. This very well could ruin it if it gets wet again and I put miles on it while wet.

Oh yeah, Brooks are all about opinions. I love my B17n, and if I wasn't a combination of a poor college student, and broke *** mini-trucker, I'd throw down the money for a higher end (and lighter) Brooks saddle.
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Old 02-23-08, 11:29 AM   #7
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Ah????

Let's see, they are tremendously expensive, especially since the USA importer doubled the wholesale price. Back when they were $50 they did not sell worth a damn, at $100 they go like hotcakes. You can get Indian or Chinese knockoff for $20-$30, but they do not say Brooks on the rear and no one buys those. That says nothing about the saddles and a lot about the buyers.

That said, I do have two of them myself. A B-72 that was on my commuter and a B-66. The B-72 is now 15 years old and still a going strong. I do not think they are any more comfortable to sit on than an expensive leather covered plastic saddle but they do seem to breath, or maybe just absorb sweat, and are more comfortable in that way; Sort of like the difference between plastic and leather shoes. I like the retro look of them myself which is as good a reason for buying one as any, I guess.
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Old 02-23-08, 11:42 AM   #8
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chevy seemed to hit the mark there. My non-bike friends often comment "that seat looks SO uncomfortable" because it looks, feels and IS hard as rock. Only, it's unique to my bum - it's fitted to perfection and is the most comfortable saddle I've ever used.

I have two, I've probably put about equal distance on both now (around 2000 miles each) - both B17s, one the standard black and I'm running a green/copper-railed one now - I love them both. The black I took off so I could break in the green saddle in preparation for when my new frameset comes in, which I'll then put the black one on.

I'd recommend them hands down. I've been riding a crappy beater fixed gear the past few weeks, and switching from that (Sekine stock saddle on an old low-end Bianchi) to my roadie with the Brooks on was just heaven, an unbelievable difference.

The price is a factor, I got a good deal on the black one online (AEBike.com) and a local deal on the green/copper one, as the local costs of them are pretty nuts - we do have the internet though.
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Old 02-23-08, 12:20 PM   #9
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I've been wanting one for a while now. But did i hear correctly you can't let them get wet? I'm an all weather commuter and that would be a deal breaker for me...
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Old 02-23-08, 12:33 PM   #10
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Yeah, I'd say they can get wet... but don't ride on it wet. The leather gets really loose, and deformed, then will dry in that shape. It can cause the saddle to buckle down in the middle and make a hammock shape. Not good.

I good bag/seat cover is a good fix. I know some people use various wax/sno-seal/conditioners to prevent water absorbtion... but don't know to what extent. Brooks recommends ONLY their proofide stuff... but read around for what others say. There are people who use them on all weather stuff.

Mine got SOAKED, and then i bagged it (after it was soaking), and then rode ~20miles on it. It was sagging and SUPER soft by the end of the ride. I pinched it into shape to lessen the effects when it dried.
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Old 02-23-08, 12:47 PM   #11
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Don't fear the wet..

Quote:
Originally Posted by ajmstilt View Post
I've been wanting one for a while now. But did i hear correctly you can't let them get wet? I'm an all weather commuter and that would be a deal breaker for me...
I commute in the rainy Pacific Northwest with one. Carradice makes an inexpensive ($20 or so) cover for the Brooks B-17, or you can just make your own cover out of the material of your choice... whether it be a plastic grocery bag or something fancier. They can take getting a little wet even without any kind of cover... especially if your treat the saddle with a little Proofide or Obenauf's leather preservative every now and then.

I love my B-17 Champion (it has the larger copper rivets), and my wife has the Champion Flyer with the springs. I had an Avocet saddle back in the 80s that I was fond of, and out of the other conventional saddles I've used the only one I cared for was a Selle Italia Flite... but only on my racing bike. I don't think I'd like the Flite on a bike where more of my weight is on the saddle. The B-17 is definitely the most comfortable saddle I've owned. I have had numbness problems with other saddles, but the B-17 seems great even without cutouts. There is a lot of give with a broken-in Brooks. Think of it as a flexible but supportive mattress as opposed to many conventional saddles that remind me of a mattress that is hard but has only a thin layer of foam to make you think it is soft at first.

I've owned one other leather saddle: It was a beautiful Lepper Voyager that was shaped more like a racing saddle and was lighter than my B-17. Unfortunately one of its titanium rails broke, so I bought a steel-railed B-17.

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Old 02-23-08, 01:18 PM   #12
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http://www.selleanatomica.com/

I forgot that there is a leather saddle that has a cutout called Selle Anatomica:
http://www.selleanatomica.com/

Rivendell sells them. Personally I love my Brooks and do not feel the need for a cutout saddle, but if I did I might give one of these a try. Maybe on my next bike.

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Old 02-23-08, 01:21 PM   #13
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I keep wishing for a Brooks but, I am afraid my saddle karma will kill it. Are the rails on a Brooks replaceable? I have bent the chromoly rails on several low cost saddles in very low speed falls to the right. I always fall to the right for some reason. Maybe because I'm lefthanded?
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Old 02-23-08, 03:44 PM   #14
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TRUMPHENT: I came across a site that sells replacement parts for a several different Brooks models. I will try to post it here if I still have it listed in my favorites on my home computer.
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Old 02-23-08, 04:23 PM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ajmstilt View Post
I've been wanting one for a while now. But did i hear correctly you can't let them get wet? I'm an all weather commuter and that would be a deal breaker for me...
I've ridden mine in all sorts of rainstorms and snowstorms and other PNW craptastic weather. When I bought my B-17 from Wallingford Bicycle, I spent the extra $8.00 on a Velox seat cover. Totally waterproof, and tight fitted (unlike a shower cap or the Brooks brand cover.) Never had a problem with it. I've got about 3600 miles on my B-17, and I'm diggin' it.

I'll admit, it's been a high maintenance saddle, though. Plastic shells I've used were 1000 miles and chuck 'em in the bin. The Brooks I've tightened the nose bolt, and when that didn't resolve my issue, I bought a leather punch and laced the sides. Was it more effort than I'd usually put into a saddle? Sure. Was it worth it? Every minute of effort has given me 10x return in comfortable mileage, at least.
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Old 02-23-08, 08:38 PM   #16
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I have 3 of them. Out of the box, each one was more comfortable than any non-Brooks saddle I've ever ridden.

It's important to note that just like every cow is different, so is every Brooks different. My first one took some time to break in. My second needed to be punched and laced right away. My most recent one feels perfect after only about 60 miles.
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Old 02-23-08, 08:57 PM   #17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MrCjolsen View Post
I have 3 of them. Out of the box, each one was more comfortable than any non-Brooks saddle I've ever ridden.

It's important to note that just like every cow is different, so is every Brooks different. My first one took some time to break in. My second needed to be punched and laced right away. My most recent one feels perfect after only about 60 miles.
Sounds similar to my experiences. All of mine have been comfortable right away, but the black ones seem be more flexible than the brown. Almost like they're made from thinner leather, though I don't think that's the case. Regardless, they've all been more comfortable than other saddles I've tried. Apparently, some people simply can't get comfortable on a Brooks, but I think some people may also be trying the wrong saddle for their application. On my touring-ish bikes the B-17 and Champion Flyer are the perfect width, but on my commuter they are slightly too narrow. On my more aggressive road bike they are slightly too wide. Luckily, Brooks has saddles in quite a few different widths. Still, I'd recommend trying a basic B-17 first (unless you lean forward quite a bit on your bike), that way if you don't like it you haven't spent too much money.
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Old 02-23-08, 10:58 PM   #18
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I have two Brooks Pro's that are more than 10 years, one was left in the car and beat up by the sun (my bad). It's still ridable but not for my Century rides. The second is in better condition and is currently on my Giant. I have a third (not a Pro) but it's not installed yet. It's going on the commuter and the oldest seat will move to my backup bike.

When a Brooks saddle works for you no other saddle will do. The Pro's were broken in in less than 50 miles. The second Pro was ridden out of the box on a 20 mile test ride and then a Century. The Pro is the only saddle that I'd put on my bike new and ride a Century with. I don't worry about the weight as I carry much more on my body (and in my Camelbak).

The late Sheldon Brown convinced me to try the saddle and I haven't regretted it.
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Old 02-24-08, 01:21 AM   #19
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Quote:
Originally Posted by macteacher View Post
I keep hearing about Brooks saddles...on and on, and there is even a thread about the website. I've never had one....but whats so special about them? I don't see a groove in the middle, are they ergonomic? How do they deal with the family jewels? I don't mean to distract from the other thread out there about the website.
http://uk.youtube.com/watch?v=z9w-y24Waz4

http://uk.youtube.com/watch?v=aYirlnS19-s

See for yourself.

I was also clueless about these until I saw a 'How Its Made' program on the Discovery Channel, I want one... I am saving my pennies. The saddle I eventually buy will probably be worth more than my bike, but I also know I can pass it over to my next bike.

It says a lot really. In this day of carbon fibre, and high tech metals... it is an old seat that is still regarded as the best thing to plant your butt on.
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Old 02-24-08, 02:02 AM   #20
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For me, it's quite simple. There is no other quality saddle out there that fits my sit bone span.
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Old 02-24-08, 12:03 PM   #21
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Those are great videos, thanks for posting them.
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Old 02-24-08, 12:48 PM   #22
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If you don't want to spend $75 or $100 on a Brooks, go here:
http://www.irofixedgear.com
They have a small selection, but it rotates out every couple of weeks.

I got my standard honey B-17 for $54
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Old 02-24-08, 03:29 PM   #23
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I ride a b-17 on my commuter and it's been great. I ride in the rain a lot and fenders keep the underside from getting wet. I'm sitting on it when riding which keeps the topside from getting wet (although the nose has received a little moisture). I have a covered area to store my bike while working so no getting wet there either. I wouldn't worry too much about mositure unless your bike sits outside in the rain.
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Old 02-24-08, 05:35 PM   #24
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I ride a B17 on my mtb and a Swallow on my road bike. I agree with many comments made by the above people. I'd like to add that although all Brooks work as hammocks there are stiffer and "softer" ones (easier to break in).
Among the racing models:
-Team Pro is the stiffest because of the high skirts (or flaps)
-Swallow is the most elastic, because of the cut away design (no skirts)
-Swift is somewhere inbetween the above two

Regarding the B17, the B17 Std is stiffer thand the B17 Aged, which is made out of a more elastic leather.

Last, but not least I work at Brooks, so mine is not a third party endorsement!

Andrea
marketing manager
BROOKS ENGLAND LTD.
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Old 02-24-08, 05:42 PM   #25
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Andrea - would you say that a swift is better than a Team Pro for a bike with an aggressive racing position? I am contemplating my fifth Brooks purchase and up until now I've gone for B-17s and team pros. This saddle will be for a racing bike.
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