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Old 09-03-10, 03:26 PM   #1
FreddyV
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New Brooks saddle hurts (advice needed)

So my new Brooks saddle (B17 Narrow) is causing me some serious pain. The sitbones are fine, the little fellow in front is fine as well, but the perineum is getting seriously painful after two days of riding (4x1 hour).

Anyone have some advice on how to angle the saddle?

Am I alright to loosen up the tension bolt of the saddle to give my perineum some more softness?
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Old 09-03-10, 03:40 PM   #2
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If you loosen the tension bolt, the leather will be allowed to sag, and you'll actually end up with more perineal contact than previously. Try angling the nose just slightly down from where you have it now. That should put the rear end higher and allow you contact on just the sit bones and remove the perineal pressure.
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Old 09-03-10, 03:54 PM   #3
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Mine did that still after ~400 miles. Brooks told me it might take over 1000 miles to wear it in. I sold it promptly. According to Brooks B17N takes much longer to wear in than the regular B17.
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Old 09-03-10, 04:10 PM   #4
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I agree with CliftonGK1 in not loosening the tension bolt. You actually might want to adjust the saddle height if it is replacing a saddle as some platforms sit higher or lower on the rails than others (not by much usually, but it could make a difference).

Some saddles also work better than others regardless of how many people rave about a particular one. Also some Brooks are great right out the box (mine was although it is a different style than yours) while others may take a while to break in. I haven't experienced your problem and mine is tilted back slightly.
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Old 09-03-10, 04:22 PM   #5
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Mine did that still after ~400 miles. Brooks told me it might take over 1000 miles to wear it in. I sold it promptly. According to Brooks B17N takes much longer to wear in than the regular B17.
Diddo. That's what they told me on my B17. I'm on my third Brooks. After reading hundreds of threads and talking to countless people who all had their own experience with different Brooks saddles, I sold my B17 AND Conquest (B17 with springs). I easily put 500 miles on the B17 and over 800 miles on the Conquest. I just couldn't take any more.

I scored a Brooks B72 and wouldn't trade it for anything. I think the saddles are a little 'person specific'. My anatomy just didn't work with the narrower saddles (and I'm a lightweight!) The B72 has a shorter nose and a little wider area for sit bones. The down side is that it is a little heavier. It's on my commuter so I really don't care.

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Old 09-03-10, 05:11 PM   #6
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I have a new Brooks B-17 that's not broken in and I actually find it reasonably comfortable. If you have actual pain I think I'd give up on the saddle. It sounds like you might benefit from the Imperial which has the cut out if you want to stick with Brooks.
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Old 09-03-10, 05:31 PM   #7
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Usually people will tell you to angle the nose up on a Brooks, not down, because that will make the slippery surface keep your sitbones sliding onto the back where they're supposed to be.

This is how mine are angled and I've got no pain issues. The Swallow on my Sputnik is only a couple months old and feels great.


The Swift on my Aurora, over a year old, (I ride over 100 miles/week for break-in reference) seems to have a lot of angle, but it's suprisingly comfy like that.
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Old 09-03-10, 05:45 PM   #8
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FWIW, I bought two identical B-17 saddles and noticed right away that one of them was significantly more comfortable in the perineal area than the other. The only difference that I can see is that the more comfortable saddle has slightly less tension on the leather. I tried loosening the other one, but it's at the stop and I can't loosen it any more than it is, so I guess I need to wait for it to break in more. Both were bought at about the same time and treated with proofide in the same way.

So despite advice to the contrary, I would try loosening the tension a little to see if it helps. If not, just crank it back to where it was.
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Old 09-04-10, 01:05 AM   #9
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Thanks for all the advice guys.

I've already tried tilting down the saddle, but my body just tilts along and the issue remains. Besides that I keep sliding forward when the saddle is tilted down.

So first I will be tilting it upwards, see what comes of that. If the pain remains, I will loosen the tension slightly to see what happens.

I'm sure I don't want to get rid of the saddle at all. The original saddle I used created friction in the perinial area, causing little bumps to emerge and pop open once in a while. Even with the pain the Brooks has been giving me, it's already caused all the bumps to go away and get rid of that pain, so it's quite a good buy already.
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Old 09-04-10, 06:00 AM   #10
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I may give the Imperial a try one day, or one of the wider saddles. I'm still intrigued by Brooks I just think I bought a wrong saddle (it was the cheapest Brooks after all) or the saddles may vary within the same model/type due to differences in leather thickness.

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Old 09-04-10, 08:00 AM   #11
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Blanket statements about tensioning should be taken lightly. I've backed off my B-17CS 15 turns in addition to immersing the damn thing in neatsfoot oil for a half hour. And that was after ~3,000 miles of perseverance/frustration. It is not sagging. I am 6' & 170lbs and have relegated the Brooks to my commuter. You and I seem to be alike in that an upright riding position is the only solution unless some perineal relief is employed...such as...

Another option would be to send it to Selle Anatomica for their Brooks upgrade. They cut it out so it's similar to the Brooks Imperial.
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Old 09-04-10, 08:33 AM   #12
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Mine did that still after ~400 miles. Brooks told me it might take over 1000 miles to wear it in. I sold it promptly.
In the words of the great Al Swearengen: The congregation says Amen!
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Old 09-04-10, 08:49 AM   #13
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FreddyV, what sort of saddle to handlebar relation do you have? Many people find B-17s uncomfortable when they are riding smaller frames or frames with more aggressive geometry.
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Old 09-04-10, 09:02 AM   #14
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Have you tried softening it? If not, put it in a plastic bag after covering the top and bottom surface liberally with neats foot oil. Soak it for a day or two. Wipe dry and ride. I never touch the tensioning bolt, I have only ruined the saddle by doing so. Read Sheldon Browns web site on care of Brooks saddles and breaking them in. The B-17N is fairly narrow at 151 mm. For me this is too narrow and I had to sell them and go with the 170 mm wide models. The narrow models, swift, swallow and b-17n end up feeling like the symptoms you describe. I have found any tilt ends up being uncomfortable and go level. As i have posted earlier in other threads, for me , a wide hipped cyclist, the brooks is the only comfortable saddle I have ever ridden. I have never needed more than 200 miles to break one in. If it is still uncomfortable at that point than I have found I needed a different model which has always meant wider.
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Old 09-04-10, 09:24 AM   #15
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FreddyV, what sort of saddle to handlebar relation do you have? Many people find B-17s uncomfortable when they are riding smaller frames or frames with more aggressive geometry.
I'm riding the Giant OCR mentioned in my signature (including picture). So the saddle is higher than the handlebar, although not adviced by Brooks.

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Have you tried softening it? If not, put it in a plastic bag after covering the top and bottom surface liberally with neats foot oil. Soak it for a day or two. Wipe dry and ride. I never touch the tensioning bolt, I have only ruined the saddle by doing so. Read Sheldon Browns web site on care of Brooks saddles and breaking them in. The B-17N is fairly narrow at 151 mm. For me this is too narrow and I had to sell them and go with the 170 mm wide models. The narrow models, swift, swallow and b-17n end up feeling like the symptoms you describe. I have found any tilt ends up being uncomfortable and go level. As i have posted earlier in other threads, for me , a wide hipped cyclist, the brooks is the only comfortable saddle I have ever ridden. I have never needed more than 200 miles to break one in. If it is still uncomfortable at that point than I have found I needed a different model which has always meant wider.
I'll have a look at the Sheldon Brown website to see whether he has some nice ideas in breaking them in. Haven't tried softening it yet.
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Old 09-04-10, 10:32 AM   #16
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Good Luck
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Old 09-04-10, 10:42 AM   #17
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I used a Brooks B17 and Team Pro for a few years. The best they ever felt was new, the older they got the less support they provided. I finally gave up and got a Aliante. It was the best thing I've ever done for my cycling. So much more comfortable and I never have to worry about the weather or saddle care.
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Old 09-04-10, 10:51 AM   #18
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So first I will be tilting it upwards, see what comes of that. If the pain remains, I will loosen the tension slightly to see what happens.
This is a good idea, in my experience. YMMV, of course, but I have always found that having brooks saddles just fractionally nose-up works, because it prevents you sliding forward and placing your weight on the narrower part of the saddle - which, of course, means placing weight on the perineum. The other thing you could try is lowering your seatpost just a tiny bit - even a couple of millimeters might make a difference.
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Old 09-04-10, 11:42 AM   #19
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This is a good idea, in my experience. YMMV, of course, but I have always found that having brooks saddles just fractionally nose-up works, because it prevents you sliding forward and placing your weight on the narrower part of the saddle - which, of course, means placing weight on the perineum. The other thing you could try is lowering your seatpost just a tiny bit - even a couple of millimeters might make a difference.
+1
Tilting the nose up slightly made all the difference for me. Make sure you are using a level on the saddle with the bike on a level surface. If you are without a level a half full water bottle could be used.
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Old 09-04-10, 05:28 PM   #20
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I
I'll have a look at the Sheldon Brown website to see whether he has some nice ideas in breaking them in. Haven't tried softening it yet.
He does and Brooks recommend against them. Be careful!
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Old 09-05-10, 12:38 AM   #21
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He does and Brooks recommend against them. Be careful!
Of course Brooks recommended against him. If he has a good idea that doesn't include Brooks Proofide, people will follow after him with the cheaper option. Brooks is losing some amount of income I guess.

Though, I'm looking into oil/wax for horseback riding saddles righ now. Did some googling and it turns out that for breaking in the saddle that should be sufficient too. I'm not too keen on the price to pay for Proofide...
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Old 09-05-10, 09:06 AM   #22
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Of course Brooks recommended against him. If he has a good idea that doesn't include Brooks Proofide, people will follow after him with the cheaper option. Brooks is losing some amount of income I guess.

Though, I'm looking into oil/wax for horseback riding saddles righ now. Did some googling and it turns out that for breaking in the saddle that should be sufficient too. I'm not too keen on the price to pay for Proofide...
It's not about lost revenue. The company recommends against oil based treatments (Neatsfoot, Mink, Silicones, etc.) because they are bad for the saddle. A leather bike saddle isn't the same as a horse saddle. There's a much smaller area bearing the rider's weight on a bicycle, the leather is thinner, and the attachment points (to the saddle frame) are considerably smaller. When you saturate a bicycle saddle with an oil based treatment you're weakening the fiber structure of the leather (not to mention reducing the breathability of the material.) It can lead to tearing of the material at the rivets and/or premature sagging at the midpoint. Partial alleviation of the problem can be had by lacing the skirts of the saddle, but again, that's going to be a temporary measure.
Additionally, oil based treatments, particularly Neatsfoot oil, need more frequent reapplication. The oxidation of compounds in Neatsfoot can lead to brittling of leather if not reapplied often enough to keep the item pliable; you'll end up with surface cracking and eventually fiber dusting if you're not careful. The nature of Neatsfoot also makes it a good breeding ground for bacteria and mold which can prematurely destroy an item.

If you don't want to spend the money on Proofide, there are less expensive alternatives of similar formulation. Sno-Seal is avalable just about anywhere work boots are sold. It's less than $5.00 a tin and a single tin will last you a lifetime for at least 3 saddles. My personal favourite is Obenuaf's LP (Leather Protectant). $8.00 will get you a bigass tub of the stuff; enough for a garage full of bikes with Brooks saddles. No need to spend the $17 on a teensy 40g tin of Proofide.


***
All 3 of my bikes have Brooks saddles. A B-17 Champ. Std. (butchered and laced) on my utility bike, a B-17 Champ. Std. (laced) on my fixed gear, and a B-17 Imperial on my long-distance bike.
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Old 09-05-10, 10:44 AM   #23
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It's not about lost revenue. The company recommends against oil based treatments (Neatsfoot, Mink, Silicones, etc.) because they are bad for the saddle. A leather bike saddle isn't the same as a horse saddle. There's a much smaller area bearing the rider's weight on a bicycle, the leather is thinner, and the attachment points (to the saddle frame) are considerably smaller. When you saturate a bicycle saddle with an oil based treatment you're weakening the fiber structure of the leather (not to mention reducing the breathability of the material.) It can lead to tearing of the material at the rivets and/or premature sagging at the midpoint. Partial alleviation of the problem can be had by lacing the skirts of the saddle, but again, that's going to be a temporary measure.
Additionally, oil based treatments, particularly Neatsfoot oil, need more frequent reapplication. The oxidation of compounds in Neatsfoot can lead to brittling of leather if not reapplied often enough to keep the item pliable; you'll end up with surface cracking and eventually fiber dusting if you're not careful. The nature of Neatsfoot also makes it a good breeding ground for bacteria and mold which can prematurely destroy an item.

If you don't want to spend the money on Proofide, there are less expensive alternatives of similar formulation. Sno-Seal is avalable just about anywhere work boots are sold. It's less than $5.00 a tin and a single tin will last you a lifetime for at least 3 saddles. My personal favourite is Obenuaf's LP (Leather Protectant). $8.00 will get you a bigass tub of the stuff; enough for a garage full of bikes with Brooks saddles. No need to spend the $17 on a teensy 40g tin of Proofide.


***
All 3 of my bikes have Brooks saddles. A B-17 Champ. Std. (butchered and laced) on my utility bike, a B-17 Champ. Std. (laced) on my fixed gear, and a B-17 Imperial on my long-distance bike.
Thanks! Crystal clear explanation. I needed that
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Old 09-05-10, 11:25 AM   #24
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Brooks are not a cure-all for everybody. they weren't for me, and I tried several. if you're in pain, I'd say get rid of it! that's your body saying, "no." Saddles are tricky. I still fee like I don't have the right one, but it's better than the brooks for me.
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