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Old 05-10-08, 08:38 PM   #1
pgoat
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Brooks saddle bad choice for commuting?

I use an old rigid mtb for my 6-mile commute on fairly rough city roads.

Last fall I sensed my 15 year old Selle Italia Turbo was going mushy (felt it squishing up into the soft tissues) so I threw a new Brooks Swift onto the bike.

I like the width of the Brooks (I have wide sit bones, about 130 to 140mm, depending which assometer you believe) and I actually use it on my racing and touring road bikes with padded bibs.

On the commuter, the stiffness is nice for climbing the 59th st. bridge and surging through an intersection when necessary, but it is rather too hard when riding over bumps and crevices in the road (I don't wear padded shorts when commuting).

I was going to go back to a new Turbo.....I was always worried about the Brooks getting rain soaked, stolen, or ruined by constantly grabbing it to maneuver a 30 pound loaded bike in and out of buildings on a daily basis.

Does anyone else have these concerns for a new Brooks, or do you beat 'em up on a utility bike?
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Old 05-10-08, 09:00 PM   #2
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I have Brooks saddles on all of my bikes that I commute on.

Fenders, a trunk bag or even a seat pack should keep the bottom dry.

They make some good saddle covers for the top that do not seem to adversely affect comfort. Besides, unless it's raining very hard, your ass should keep the top dry.
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Old 05-10-08, 09:08 PM   #3
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Scuffs only effect them aesthetically. They're so comfy they're worth it. I don't find them so hard that they make it terrible on potholes and cracks. Then again I ride steel.

it doesn't rain too much in Colorado here, and the snow is pretty dry, but I use fenders in the winter AND saddlebags.

I dunno, like I said, I think they're worth it.
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Old 05-10-08, 09:10 PM   #4
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I have Brooks saddles on all of my bikes.
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Old 05-10-08, 09:14 PM   #5
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Originally Posted by pgoat View Post
...I was always worried about the Brooks getting rain soaked, stolen, or ruined by constantly grabbing it to maneuver a 30 pound loaded bike in and out of buildings on a daily basis.

Does anyone else have these concerns for a new Brooks, or do you beat 'em up on a utility bike?
These saddles have been around a lot longer than the newer plastic ones.

I used to hear a lot about how expensive Brooks saddles were, but it looks to me like the plastic ones are sometimes even more expensive.

I might get a new bike before I get a new saddle to replace my Brooks. When I do replace it, it'll probably be another Brooks.

As for rain, the UK gets a lot of that, where Brooks are made. Just make sure you treat it properly with Proofide. Brooks also sells a seatcover for a little over $10, but I don't know if it's necessary for rain.
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Old 05-10-08, 09:33 PM   #6
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I just bought my first Brooks saddle. Since I ride gravel roads that is quite rough, I bought a Flyer. It's working well for me but I only have about 600 miles on it so far. It's pretty well dimpled where it needs to be. I didn't do anything to it except put on proofide once.
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Old 05-10-08, 09:55 PM   #7
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If I left my bike outside 24/7 maybe I'd be concerned. If you are worried about it getting wet, buy the cover or throw a plastic bag on it.
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Old 05-10-08, 10:55 PM   #8
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Scuff or scratch a modern saddle and the chances are you have began the end of it... eventually the slight damage will get worse as rain and the weather get it and you will need to replace it.

Scratch or scuff a Brooks and you are actually adding to its charm, and it will take it for years. Think on this... you can actually buy scuffed and scratched (distressed) Brooks saddles as new. They sell a range of saddles that are intended to look years and years old. There IS a reason for that.
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Old 05-10-08, 11:05 PM   #9
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brooks are great. i have a dozen of the damned things including the first one that i bought- 35 years ago. don't worry about the rain. seriously. keep proofhide on them and they'll be fine. if you ride with fenders the bottom will barely get wet, and if you ride sitting down your ass keeps it dry. use a wal-mart bag to cover it if you've got to park it in the rain. the only worries are someone stealing the thing.
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Old 05-10-08, 11:23 PM   #10
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I'll add:

I do the plastic bag or two as a cheap (well, free, really) rain cover and there is a heavy duty drive chain lashing it down to the frame. I use a little leather conditioner (proofhide or other products I trust) if it gets wet - which has never been bad, actually. I have a blackburn style rear rack with trunk which acts as a fender.

as far as abuse - I was mainly referring to lifting the bike or shifting it sideways when trying to squeeze through doorways and in hallways to make room for people passing by. I wind up grabbing the bike by the handlebars in one hand and the rear of the saddle in the other.......I recall reading in various places that this is a no-no with brooks, as the leather can tear from the metal frame. Since most of my bike's weight is at the rear, this concerns me.
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Old 05-11-08, 02:16 AM   #11
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Does anyone else have these concerns for a new Brooks, or do you beat 'em up on a utility bike?
Nope. no concerns at all. It isn't made of glass. If you leave it out in the rain, just stick a plastic bag over it. Leave the bag in the rails of the saddle while riding.

After the bicycle, Brooks saddles are the greatest invention ever. I have 8 of them.
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Old 05-11-08, 04:16 AM   #12
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These saddles have been around a lot longer than the newer plastic ones.

I used to hear a lot about how expensive Brooks saddles were, but it looks to me like the plastic ones are sometimes even more expensive.

I might get a new bike before I get a new saddle to replace my Brooks. When I do replace it, it'll probably be another Brooks.

As for rain, the UK gets a lot of that, where Brooks are made. Just make sure you treat it properly with Proofide. Brooks also sells a seatcover for a little over $10, but I don't know if it's necessary for rain.
I agree, Pete. These days, the Brooks saddles are a surprisingly good bargain. With the strength of the British Sterling, I hope that we don't see a big jump in prices of Brooks.

Rain, by the way, is bad for the saddles. I waterproof my saddles with a special formulated wax based leather balm. Even that isn't perfect. When leather saddles get wet, they get soft. When they get soft, they can get mis-shaped. This is one big drawback of leather saddles. I have a small saddlebag on most of my bikes. In it, I have shower caps that I gleened from stays at hotels that give them away in the room. These make great seat covers for when the bike is parked outside in the elements. I suppose a better quality shower cap from the Dollar Store would be even better.

One thing I notice is that scuffs get polished out of the leather as you ride it. I remember the first couple scratches and scuffs. I was so dis-heartened. Imagine my reclaimed joy as I watched the blemishes disappear over a couple days of riding.

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Old 05-11-08, 04:21 AM   #13
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I use an old rigid mtb for my 6-mile commute on fairly rough city roads.

Last fall I sensed my 15 year old Selle Italia Turbo was going mushy (felt it squishing up into the soft tissues) so I threw a new Brooks Swift onto the bike.

I like the width of the Brooks (I have wide sit bones, about 130 to 140mm, depending which assometer you believe) and I actually use it on my racing and touring road bikes with padded bibs.

On the commuter, the stiffness is nice for climbing the 59th st. bridge and surging through an intersection when necessary, but it is rather too hard when riding over bumps and crevices in the road (I don't wear padded shorts when commuting).

I was going to go back to a new Turbo.....I was always worried about the Brooks getting rain soaked, stolen, or ruined by constantly grabbing it to maneuver a 30 pound loaded bike in and out of buildings on a daily basis.

Does anyone else have these concerns for a new Brooks, or do you beat 'em up on a utility bike?
If you have wide sit-bones, you might really enjoy the Brooks "S" models. They are a little "S"horter and wider.

Just look at this gorgeous Brooks B-67 S saddle. It is so lovely and so comfortable. I like the springs which take a lot of the jarring out of a ride on a stiff road bike.

Honestly, when I go out to hop on my bike, it gives me great joy to see that rich leather saddle just shining and greeting me. The first thing I do is put my hand on that smooth leather and joyfully prepare for my ride. The steel frame is cold and hard. The drive train can be filthy. The tires dark and aggressive. But the saddle is always a source of loveliness and welcoming comfort like the reclining leather chair in my living room.

Such a warm, beautiful, comfortable leather saddle is a great way to start my day on the commute to work and it is a calming lovely way to end my work day on the commute home.


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Old 05-11-08, 08:56 AM   #14
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If you have wide sit-bones, you might really enjoy the Brooks "S" models. They are a little "S"horter and wider.

Just look at this gorgeous Brooks B-67 S saddle. It is so lovely and so comfortable. I like the springs which take a lot of the jarring out of a ride on a stiff road bike.

Honestly, when I go out to hop on my bike, it gives me great joy to see that rich leather saddle just shining and greeting me. The first thing I do is put my hand on that smooth leather and joyfully prepare for my ride. The steel frame is cold and hard. The drive train can be filthy. The tires dark and aggressive. But the saddle is always a source of loveliness and welcoming comfort like the reclining leather chair in my living room.

Such a warm, beautiful, comfortable leather saddle is a great way to start my day on the commute to work and it is a calming lovely way to end my work day on the commute home.

Nice words. I feel the same way-in a sense my Brooks makes me look forward even more to riding than anything else.
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Old 05-11-08, 09:15 AM   #15
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Mike, it's good to know that there's another person out there just as passionate about a Brooks.

I'm a big fan of the B17 and don't baby mine at all. I treat the leather of my Brooks like I treat my leather foot wear, jackets and full suits. I don't go to great lengths to prevent them from getting wet or dirty but I do clean and condition them regularly to prevent the leather from drying out.

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Old 05-11-08, 09:19 AM   #16
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I never cease to be amazed at the love and loyalty people have for these saddles! but I agree they definitely are more beautiful and interesting than the typical plastic shell seats.

The swift is plenty wide for me; I slapped my old Turbo Special on the commuter last night and spun around the block. It felt like I was sitting on a yardstick with padding! We're talking a difference of about 5cm width but also the shape and firmness.

Still, the Special has width at the very rear where I need it for climbing, and it definitely is nice to have a nasty saddle on the commuter that you can just use as a bike handle, get rain-soaked and not worry about theft with...

So, no one feels the lifting/moving the bike around by the back of the Brooks saddle is a bad move? I was very careful with this at first but it is just too difficult to avoid doing in actual use - I work in a very cramped building with a lot of foot traffic, so I am constantly maneuvering through tight spots to wheel the bike in and out of the office. My apartment building is also a headache to access, with heavy spring loaded doors, so you are always yanking the bike through tight spots.

I am not a prig who doesn't want to get a scratch on the Brooks; I'll be glad to see a patina on there. But a commuter bike lives a VERY hard life in these parts. In addition to the abuse of adjacent bikes locked alongside it on the street, the theft and rain issues, I am most worried about the constant grabbing it by the rear.....just to be clear, I don't do this with the Swifts installed on my racing or touring bikes. When riding those bikes, I have the space and time to grasp them properly (by the seat post, etc.), when I even need to hoist them at all (taking them off the car carrier, etc.). For daily commuting, when I am throwing the bike around constantly, it just isn't happening.
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Old 05-11-08, 08:58 PM   #17
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wow...I thought I was wierd for hanging onto my Brooks. Good to know I am not alone. I use neatsfoot oil on mine. I don't know how that compares with other products. Tried silicone waterproofing once..bad idea.. kept slipping off the seat!
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Old 05-11-08, 10:09 PM   #18
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Originally Posted by pgoat View Post
I use an old rigid mtb for my 6-mile commute on fairly rough city roads.

Last fall I sensed my 15 year old Selle Italia Turbo was going mushy (felt it squishing up into the soft tissues) so I threw a new Brooks Swift onto the bike.

I like the width of the Brooks (I have wide sit bones, about 130 to 140mm, depending which assometer you believe) and I actually use it on my racing and touring road bikes with padded bibs.

On the commuter, the stiffness is nice for climbing the 59th st. bridge and surging through an intersection when necessary, but it is rather too hard when riding over bumps and crevices in the road (I don't wear padded shorts when commuting).

I was going to go back to a new Turbo.....I was always worried about the Brooks getting rain soaked, stolen, or ruined by constantly grabbing it to maneuver a 30 pound loaded bike in and out of buildings on a daily basis.

Does anyone else have these concerns for a new Brooks, or do you beat 'em up on a utility bike?
I have Brooks saddles on all of my bikes with the exception of my '07 Sirrus which has a specialized anatomic on it (and it may also be switched to a Brooks if I find that it does not perform to my liking), but I have not ridden the bike enough to come to any sort of conclusion yet.

It's a general rule of thumb that Brooks saddles may be a little uncomfortable at first while they are breaking in; however, once they do they are like sitting on a cloud. The Conquest that is on my Monitor Pass is nicely dished to the shape of my sit bones. I also do not sweat maneuvering the bike by grabbing the saddle and my bike is running around 75 pounds with racks and panniers installed.
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Old 05-11-08, 10:35 PM   #19
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Scuff or scratch a modern saddle and the chances are you have began the end of it... eventually the slight damage will get worse as rain and the weather get it and you will need to replace it.
I left a cheap $10 synthetic plastic saddle outside that was all torn up from crashing out and in about 6 months, the worst thing that happened was the rails got rusty from all the rain.

Just out of curiosity, what would happen if I did the same thing to a brooks all leather saddle without caring for the leather?
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Old 05-11-08, 10:41 PM   #20
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I left a cheap $10 synthetic plastic saddle outside that was all torn up from crashing out and in about 6 months, the worst thing that happened was the rails got rusty from all the rain.

Just out of curiosity, what would happen if I did the same thing to a brooks all leather saddle without caring for the leather?
The leather might crack a bit.
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Old 05-12-08, 06:36 AM   #21
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I left a cheap $10 synthetic plastic saddle outside that was all torn up from crashing out and in about 6 months, the worst thing that happened was the rails got rusty from all the rain.

Just out of curiosity, what would happen if I did the same thing to a brooks all leather saddle without caring for the leather?
It would help illustrate one of life's important lessons. The things that are worth having demand care and attention whereas crap is difficult to destroy or get rid of.
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Old 05-12-08, 07:50 AM   #22
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I wouldn't advise too many lifts directly by the leather, instead use the rails, top tube, seat tube, seat post, etc... Other than that, go for it - the saddles are supposed to be used, and like said above - they're not glass, just treat them as per the care instructions included (Proofide) and you're good to go.

Plastic bag under rails for rainy outside lockups is exactly what I do, too - perfect low/no budget solution. Oh, and fenders

I've got 2 B-17s, both on my primary use bikes, I frankly wouldn't want it any other way - they're so comfortable.

I've ran my saddles through winter/fall/summer weather, used them on my main bikes exclusively, including scratches against bricks/store walls, bangs down to the ground at alleycat checkpoints, the odd time I've gone down to the asphalt and other use and abuse - they stand up remarkably well, just take care of them.
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Old 05-12-08, 08:25 AM   #23
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Where should I purchase a B17? It seems that a lot of the online stores are out.
I really like the honey saddle with the copper rivets.

thanks~
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Old 05-12-08, 08:30 AM   #24
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I commute daily on a brooks B17 Champion. *shrugs* Sometimes it gets wet. The bottom edges soak it up. It was $50 recently, I'm sorry I can't recall where I got it online, but I found out about the deal here in the commuter forum about 7 months ago.
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Old 05-12-08, 09:04 AM   #25
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I had a B-17 Champ. Std. until recently (testing the B-17 Imperial, currently), and with over 4000 miles on it, there was never a worry about it being the "wrong" saddle for commuting. It's comfortable and durable. Here's my personal list of do's and do not's when it comes to a Brooks saddle (your opinion may differ):

- Do use a seat cover in the rain
- Do treat it with Proofide or Obenauf's LP
- Do give it time to break in
- Do expect to adjust it a few times before getting the position right

- Do not use combinations of garage science and medieval alchemy to soften the leather
- Do not get it sopping wet in the rain
- If you do get it sopping wet in the rain, do not ride on it when it's like that.
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