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Thread: The B-17 Blues

  1. #1
    Team Poseur Metric Man's Avatar
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    The B-17 Blues

    I got a SALE flier from Nashbar a few weeks ago, they were having a big sale on saddles and the Brookes B-17 caught my eye. Since I've heard nothing but raves about it, I decided to pop for it to see what all the fuss is about. The first thing I noticed was it's slicker than snot on a glass doorknob, as they say. And the second thing is it's hard as a rock! But I also have read it needs to be ridden a few times to break it in etc. So I've put a couple hundred miles on it, adjusted it up, down, nose up, nose down, forward and backwards...I can't get it to feel good for more than 5 miles. The numbness in the prostate area is terrible. So the bottom line is it's sitting on the shelf with a half dozen other uncomfortable saddles, although this on is a little more expensive, and I don't know how much more time or effort I can give it.

    Anyone have any wisdom on why I'm having such a problem with this supposedly "most comfortable" saddle?
    The thoughts and opinions expressed by this poster are his own and should not be misconstrued as gospel. They are and were not meant to inflame, enrage or otherwise tick anyone off, usually. ©
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    Time for a change. stapfam's Avatar
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    Only got a couple of hundred miles on it? Give it another 500 and then put it on the shelf.

    Mine came off the bike after about 400 and got sold.
    How long was I in the army? Five foot seven.


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    Senior Member curdog's Avatar
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    Mine was installed on a Cannondale Quick without a problem. Had some minor chafing, which was corrected by pointing the nose up a bit more than normal. Thinking about getting another for my road bike.
    Seems to be the case that some people love/ some hate. Anatomical differences no doubt.

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    Senior Member Wildwood's Avatar
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    Can't speak to your problem, but I've not found the B17 to be the magic saddle that many folks praise. The slick-ness will not be a problem after a while. My comfort level increased initially, but after 500 miles or so it seemed to level off with no change in the last 1,000 miles. I'm used to a narrower and longer saddle (SI Flite). I prefer the Brooks for rides over 50 miles but it's not as comfortable as I thought it would be. I may be trying one of the Specialized saddles when the fall sale prices begin.

    edit - forgot to add that on fast rides where a bit more aero position is desirable the Brooks is even less comfortable for me.
    Last edited by Wildwood; 08-18-09 at 01:49 PM.

  5. #5
    Older than dirt CCrew's Avatar
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    OMG, someone on BF that doesn't like a Brooks? Quick! Delete his account!!

    I can't do it either. Brook's are like a butt hatchet for me...

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    Team Poseur Metric Man's Avatar
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    Interesting...all I've read it seems is good about the B-17...I thought it was something I was doing wrong.
    The thoughts and opinions expressed by this poster are his own and should not be misconstrued as gospel. They are and were not meant to inflame, enrage or otherwise tick anyone off, usually. ©
    2012 Ti Motobecane with SRAM Red 2013~2008 Trek Madone with SRAM Force~2010 Specialized Hardrock 29er~2006 Trek 4300~Garmin 800 CTR
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    No my friend what you read about are people that have a magic Brooks Bottom. Doesnít make it a bad saddle it is simply one that some people like and others do not. Before I settled on my Selle SMP I seriously considered a Brooks. It was a bit heavy by modern standards but if it solved and the comfort issues it would have been worth it. However time and time again I read about having to break in the saddle for 500 to 1000 miles and it will get better. It is also needs maintaining more than most new saddles. For some people a Brooks works. It seems contradictory to even think about one on a Madone.
    There must be a reason so few people in bike clubs ride Brooks. It isnít the price so it must be something else.

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    I've been trying to get the word out on Brooks saddles for a long time. But NOOOOooo..., BF'rs just don't want to hear it. The cult of denial. bk

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    just keep riding BluesDawg's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Metric Man View Post
    Interesting...all I've read it seems is good about the B-17...I thought it was something I was doing wrong.
    Search a little more. You'll find many people who don't care for Brooks saddles. I happen to love mine, but there is no saddle that works for everyone.
    The more you ride your bike, the less your ass will hurt.

  10. #10
    just keep riding BluesDawg's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by bkaapcke View Post
    I've been trying to get the word out on Brooks saddles for a long time. But NOOOOooo..., BF'rs just don't want to hear it. The cult of denial. bk
    We all got your message long ago. You don't like them. What more do you have to add that we didn't get?
    The more you ride your bike, the less your ass will hurt.

  11. #11
    370H-SSV-0773H linux_author's Avatar
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    another brooks story... not surprised really...

    i have five brooks: two black b-17s (one was $41 at Nashbar), one honey b-17, a honey (copper-rivet) special, and a flyer ($49 at aebike on a daily deal)

    the two black b-17s were broken in out of the box
    the flyer took a week or so of sweaty riding
    the honey special took 1,500 miles to break in
    the honey b-17 was rock hard after nearly 3,000 miles of riding

    (the honey b-17 is much better now; just took a slathering of Sno-Seal and melted it in with the wife unit's hair dryer; i expect it will be another 1,000 miles before softening)

    fortunately, my sit bones are a nice match for the saddles; i have others, such as Specialized bg, Selle Italias, etc. and none of those worked for me

  12. #12
    Senior Member George's Avatar
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    I don't know how tall you are, but my inseam is 34.5 inch's and the first thing I do is push it all the way back. I had a lot of trouble with my first one, but I have a handle on it now. I set it all the way back and tip the nose up 2 cm until the grease wears off and then I lower it to no more than 1 cm. I think the tilt has more to do with it than anything else. At times I questioned myself about the saddle, but then one day I jumped on the bike and couldn't believe. I know you couldn't possibly have more problems than I had. I had 1500 miles on mine before it felt good. I put a Brooks Swift on my Roubaix 2000 miles ago and it felt good right out of the box. Anyhow I think if you stick with it and try a few more angles it will work, good luck.
    George

  13. #13
    Immoderator KrisPistofferson's Avatar
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    Try to judge it on it's own merits, like decide it's hard as a rock after a long ride, not looking at it in the garage. It's no secret that the group of people that swears by Brook's the most are cyclotourists, so go figure.
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    Senior Member guybierhaus's Avatar
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    I think it's some kind of conspiracy. You either love the B 17 or you hate it. No in between. Makes me think the people who love the saddle are the same ones in Boy Scout camp trying to get you out on a Snipe hunt, or go see the camp cook for a smoke shifter. What only 200 miles? You need another 1000 miles of misery till it becomes cloud 9. And if it still doesn't break in, wipe it down with used motor oil. Sad to say I fell for it. Never tried so hard to get a miserable saddle to work. But when I got to be so sore I couldn't walk, off to ebay it went. Count me in it's a butt hatchet column.
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    Elite Rider Hermes's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Robert Foster View Post
    No my friend what you read about are people that have a magic Brooks Bottom. Doesnít make it a bad saddle it is simply one that some people like and others do not. Before I settled on my Selle SMP I seriously considered a Brooks. It was a bit heavy by modern standards but if it solved and the comfort issues it would have been worth it. However time and time again I read about having to break in the saddle for 500 to 1000 miles and it will get better. It is also needs maintaining more than most new saddles. For some people a Brooks works. It seems contradictory to even think about one on a Madone.
    There must be a reason so few people in bike clubs ride Brooks. It isnít the price so it must be something else.
    OMG...you took the red pill but you will definitely see how deep the rabbit hole goes. BTW, I tried a Selle SMP and thought it was the equivalent of sitting on twin ax blades. I do not have a Selle SMP @ss.

  16. #16
    Senior Member BengeBoy's Avatar
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    I have several Brooks saddles (two B17's, a Brooks Professional, and a Swift) and a Selle-Anatomica. To me the biggest advantage of a Brooks is that they feel great at the end of a long ride - no better but no worse than when you started.

    A Brooks B17 is not a good saddle if you ride in an aerodynamic position; only really works if you're sitting pretty upright.

    A Selle-Anatomica is a good option if you want to pursue something in a leather saddle that is *much* easier to get used to.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Hermes View Post
    OMG...you took the red pill but you will definitely see how deep the rabbit hole goes. BTW, I tried a Selle SMP and thought it was the equivalent of sitting on twin ax blades. I do not have a Selle SMP @ss.
    Like I said different strokes. But what I take is you discovered right away the SMP wasnít for you? You didnít have to get the oil from an unborn She Mountain goat and slather it on the saddle and then ride in the sun for no less than 500 days straight with body sweat forming the saddle into some magic cure before you decided it wasnít for you? I know legitimate cyclists arenít going to question you on why you decide not to ride a Brooks but the constant mantra Brooks zealots use is they have the special way to break in the saddle so it can fix whatever problem you are having with it. No other saddle group is like that. Not SMP riders anyway.

    I got the one with a bit of padding not the CF. A very good friend of mine got the SMP CF saddle and he only lasted a week. The thing was about as light as petrified smoke but hard as a rock. I tried several different SMPs before I got the Glider but that is because I believe you have to try before you buy. But my problem wasn't with sit bones and the SMP solved the other problem. There was some other saddles that might have worked I agree and they all had a missing section where the perineum is affected. I had decided one prerequisite for any new saddle would be it canít bother that area at all and cut out saddles became a main focus. I donít jump in and sing the praises of the saddle like some do however. Just that is was the solution for me. Specialized has had a lot of success with some of their road saddles as well. And all were designed to address the concerns raised by perineum pressure.

    Just as an unscientific observation Brooks isnít very well represented in club rides in our area. I would think there has to be a reason. In my case it was the weight and speculative break in period.

    What are saddle you riding now?


    There is a great article in Bicycling for September. It is called "Saddle Problems Sloved." The guy tries just about every saddle you can imagine it says there is no perfect saddle for everyone. Not even Brooks.

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    Senior Member bobbycorno's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Metric Man View Post
    Anyone have any wisdom on why I'm having such a problem with this supposedly "most comfortable" saddle?
    Could well be its shape just plain doesn't fit you. Just like most saddles I've tried (in 35 years of riding) don't fit me. And the one that fits me best (Cinelli Unicanitor Mod 50 or 55) provokes expressions of horror from most folks. It's a plain plastic shell, supposedly designed (in the '50s or early '60s) to mimic a well-broken in Brooks, but no Brooks I've ever tried fits as well. Every butt is different.

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    Team Poseur Metric Man's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by KrisPistofferson View Post
    Try to judge it on it's own merits, like decide it's hard as a rock after a long ride, not looking at it in the garage. It's no secret that the group of people that swears by Brook's the most are cyclotourists, so go figure.
    I haven't been able to sit on it longer than 20 miles...and by then the numbness is, well let's just say that I'm not going to be chasing Mrs Metric around the house for a couple of hours.
    The thoughts and opinions expressed by this poster are his own and should not be misconstrued as gospel. They are and were not meant to inflame, enrage or otherwise tick anyone off, usually. ©
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    When you like them, you like them--- and they need no breaking in, just small tweaks to the initial installation. I'm sorry your B-17 did not work out for you. Go over to C&V and post it for sale and you should be able to recoup your investment rather quickly.

    Quote Originally Posted by Robert Foster
    It seems contradictory to even think about one on a Madone.
    There must be a reason so few people in bike clubs ride Brooks. It isn’t the price so it must be something else.
    The "something else" is most likely the weight of a Brooks. Even the titanium framed Swift (maybe the lightest Brooks), tips the scales too much for weight weenies. Any of the steel frame and copper riveted models weigh in at 50-75% more then the Swift. When you don't really care about weight, the difference is no big deal. For me style and comfort trump weight.
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    Senior Member semsd's Avatar
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    I have three Brooks saddles and I will not ride anything else. One is new and the other two are over 25 years old. That being said you must prep the saddle, most use the Brooks Proofide.

    This link will take you to their site. http://www.brookssaddles.com/en/Shop...oofide+40g+Tin

    I don't use it, No joke I use A&D ointment it's cheaper and works very well. Spread the stuff allover especially the underside. then let it sit somewhere warm for three or four days wipe off the top and ride. FYI A&D is mostly Lanolin and Mineral Oil. Reapply a little yearly.
    Last edited by semsd; 08-18-09 at 09:22 PM.

  22. #22
    just keep riding BluesDawg's Avatar
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    There is more misinformation going around about Brooks saddles and the people who use them than anything this side of health care reform. It is not true that Brooks users secretly want to euthanize granny. I use my granny quite often while sitting on my Brooks.
    The more you ride your bike, the less your ass will hurt.

  23. #23
    His Brain is Gone! Tom Bombadil's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Metric Man View Post
    I haven't been able to sit on it longer than 20 miles...and by then the numbness is, well let's just say that I'm not going to be chasing Mrs Metric around the house for a couple of hours.
    So ... is she for or against you riding on the Brooks?

  24. #24
    Senior Member Road Fan's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by BluesDawg View Post
    Search a little more. You'll find many people who don't care for Brooks saddles. I happen to love mine, but there is no saddle that works for everyone.
    This is the absolute truth. If it works for you, great! If not, well, your search must just continue. Ignore anyone who gives you a positive or negative absolutist tale about Brooks saddles, or any other. You just need to find what works for you.

    There are some 'diagnostic' questions that are worth thinking about. One is related to handlebar height. I think if the bar is too low (more than a few cm below the saddle) you might be bending too much for a B17. People seem to like it best with the bars nearly level with the saddle.

    Another is related to fore-aft placement. High perineal pressure, pain, and numbness suggest that the saddle is too far back and you are sliding forward - remember, it's slick. When you slide forward your sit bones move away from the wide area of the saddle, where they can be supported. Instead your weight becomes supported by the softer middle areas, which is a bad situation. I use a B17N, and a Pro, and I don't find tilting the nose up to help me in any way. To protect your investment, experiment a bit more with positioning. What works best for you might not be what works well for others here. I also think Brooks gave some pretty good guidance in the booklet that was packed in the box, for how to adjust the saddle for comfort, better than much of what is on the Internet.

    Don't mess with the tension screw or the proofide, beyond what Brooks says.

  25. #25
    Senior Member semsd's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by BluesDawg View Post
    It is not true that Brooks users secretly want to euthanize granny. I use my granny quite often while sitting on my Brooks.
    NFC! ? What ? Sorry I'm slow. What are you saying?

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