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Old 10-05-12, 09:32 PM   #1
ChrisM2097
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My First Brooks Saddle

Actually, my first leather saddle. I had been reading such good things about them on these forums, that I just had to try it out. I picked up black B17 on Amazon for $101. Just took delivery of it this evening, and applied it's first coat of Proofide. It's already mounted on my hybrid (Trek FX 7.5), but I haven't had a chance to try it out yet.

It's much more firm that I was expecting, and I'm sure the first few months won't really be all that pleasant. I've been using the Serfas RX saddle for about a year and a half, and really like it, but have been wanting to try a leather saddle for quite some time now.

I'm hoping that being a clyde (265lb) will help speed up the break-in process.

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Old 10-05-12, 09:43 PM   #2
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I expect you will want that seat angled up a lot more. It generally takes a few tries to get the angle of a Brooks adjusted right. You want to be sitting right on your sit bones and not sliding forwards or backwards. The slipperiness of the Brooks is a good feature because it prevents chafing. But it does mean the tilt of the saddle needs to be just right. Roughly speaking, you'll want the back part of the saddle to be level.

Here's my saddle:

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Old 10-05-12, 09:45 PM   #3
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Originally Posted by ChrisM2097 View Post
Actually, my first leather saddle. I had been reading such good things about them on these forums, that I just had to try it out. I picked up black B17 on Amazon for $101. Just took delivery of it this evening, and applied it's first coat of Proofide. It's already mounted on my hybrid (Trek FX 7.5), but I haven't had a chance to try it out yet.

It's much more firm that I was expecting, and I'm sure the first few months won't really be all that pleasant. I've been using the Serfas RX saddle for about a year and a half, and really like it, but have been wanting to try a leather saddle for quite some time now.

I'm hoping that being a clyde (265lb) will help speed up the break-in process.

If that is the correct position for you then you need a new seat post with zero offset. You have way too much rail in front of the stem clamp. I had the same problem with my last saddle once I got the for aft set up correctly, I had to change the seat post to get closer to the middle of the rails. JMHO.
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Old 10-05-12, 09:53 PM   #4
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I expect you will want that seat angled up a lot more. It generally takes a few tries to get the angle of a Brooks adjusted right. You want to be sitting right on your sit bones and not sliding forwards or backwards. The slipperiness of the Brooks is a good feature because it prevents chafing. But it does mean the tilt of the saddle needs to be just right. Roughly speaking, you'll want the back part of the saddle to be level.
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If that is the correct position for you then you need a new seat post with zero offset. You have way too much rail in front of the stem clamp. I had the same problem with my last saddle once I got the for aft set up correctly, I had to change the seat post to get closer to the middle of the rails. JMHO.
Thanks for the tips. I really need a new seatpost, anyways. This one is 'notched' with interlocking teeth, so fine-tuning seat tilt is impossible. When I tilted it up just one notch, it felt like it was tilted up a bit too far...but I'll give it a shot. In the meantime, I'll save up for a decent seatpost (probably a Thompson).

As far as fore/aft position - I haven't even played with that yet. I just threw the saddle on there for now.

Last edited by ChrisM2097; 10-05-12 at 09:56 PM.
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Old 10-05-12, 09:56 PM   #5
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Congrats on the saddle! I also just got a Brooks not long ago.

It was really solid at first, but got softer and very comfy in about a month of commuting 12 or so miles round trip. I am 165 lbs.
Start by levelling the saddle and go from there.
Just put a board over it from front to back and put a level on top.
I tilted mine up at the nose a couple degrees later. But I think level is a good starting point.'
I also notice that it isn't as slippery after riding it for a while.

I would recommend a seatpost with sliding tilt adjustment, not ratchetting/notched. Much more precise and easy to get aligned.

Last edited by lungimsam; 10-05-12 at 10:05 PM.
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Old 10-05-12, 10:01 PM   #6
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My B17 was great out of the box and it gets better with every mile. You'll love it. My other bike will get a Brooks soon.
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Old 10-05-12, 10:02 PM   #7
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And tip that nose up. Jeez.
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Old 10-05-12, 10:23 PM   #8
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And tip that nose up. Jeez.
Better?

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Old 10-06-12, 04:09 AM   #9
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Better?
Marginally ... keep going! More tilt.

Go have a look at the Brooks saddles in the Your Century Bicycle thread in the Long Distance forum. I like mine with just a few degrees of tilt, Rowan likes his with a lot of tilt, and there's everything in between.
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Old 10-06-12, 04:13 AM   #10
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My bicycle is on the right, Rowan's is on the left.
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Old 10-06-12, 04:18 AM   #11
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And a few general tips after many years of riding many Brooks saddles ... (at least one of which you've already discovered ... the saddle is hard. )

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.
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Old 10-06-12, 10:47 AM   #12
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Thanks for the tips. I really need a new seatpost, anyways. This one is 'notched' with interlocking teeth, so fine-tuning seat tilt is impossible. When I tilted it up just one notch, it felt like it was tilted up a bit too far...but I'll give it a shot. In the meantime, I'll save up for a decent seatpost (probably a Thompson).
You can order a two-bolt Kalloy for a third the price of a Thompson seatpost, FWIW.
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Old 10-06-12, 11:05 AM   #13
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Old 10-06-12, 04:20 PM   #14
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Marginally ... keep going! More tilt.
It's in the ballpark. If it's still not comfy, don't be afraid to raise the nose a little more. But if it feels good to you that way, ride it.
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Originally Posted by bragi "However, it's never a good idea to overgeneralize."
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Old 10-06-12, 04:21 PM   #15
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You can order a two-bolt Kalloy for a third the price of a Thompson seatpost, FWIW.
I just stopped by the local Performance Bicycle. I picked up a Ritchey Comp for $39.
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Old 10-06-12, 04:22 PM   #16
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It's in the ballpark. If it's still not comfy, don't be afraid to raise the nose a little more. But if it feels good to you that way, ride it.
With the new seatpost, I'll be able to fine-tune the tilt. Thanks again for the tips. Now I just need to stop playing around with the stuff, and get out and ride...
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Old 10-06-12, 04:23 PM   #17
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The way I set mine up is with the rails parallel to the deck. It's comfy and I don't slide on it. YMMV.
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Old 10-06-12, 04:27 PM   #18
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Yes, go ride. And bring tools so you can make adjustments during your ride if necessary.
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Old 10-06-12, 05:01 PM   #19
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I'd be very interest in your comparisons to Serfas Rx because i have a few bikes and i have been slowly replacing the seats with Serfas Rx. So far so good for me. I ride up to 50 miles on road/touring bikes at a time and i have no discomfort with the Serfas seats which is more than i can say for any of the old seats my old bikes came with. I am curious about owning a Brooks but have so far avoided buying due to cost and theft factor. Just today i was at an LA Metro station by the bike parking and the security guard was telling me there is a theft problem with seats. People lock up the bikes but the seats get stolen. Im sure a lot of the stolen seats are on quick release seat tubes but maybe not all of them. So far nobody's stolen any of my seats but the only ones i hvae that are new models are Serfas Rx.
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Old 10-06-12, 05:47 PM   #20
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I put a new b17 on my commuter bike about 3 weeks ago. I probably have a couple of hundred miles on it by now. The leather has acquired just enough give that I know it's breaking in well. Still hard, but a thumb can flex it a little.

On the adjustment thing, I find I prefer mine as close as possible to level. They may have just the barest nose down attitude. I find it it is too much nose down, I am sliding forward, and too much tilt back I feel like the nose is shoved up into the brothers.

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Old 10-06-12, 05:59 PM   #21
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I have to have Brooks saddles set with a very distinctive nose-up position. I cringe when I look at them (how can that possibly be comfortable?) but it works for me. Curiously enough, if the nose isn't pointing up into the air, the rear portion is angled downward and slides me onto the nose. With the rear portion level, the nose is up, and I'm comfortable - as long as my bars are high enough. Most people will tell you something similar, and freak out when they see a down-angle.

I have a good friend, though, who puts in tens of thousand of miles touring each year. His Brooks is canted downward at a severe angle - my shoulders would give out within an hour. He claims it is perfectly comfortable, though, and proves it by putting in ten hour days.

So in your shoes I'd play with the angle, using that good two-bolt post you bought, and not worrying at all about appearances. Chances are that level-to-somewhat-up will be best for you, but if you really do end up liking it somewhere else, more power to you!


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Old 10-06-12, 10:36 PM   #22
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I'd be very interest in your comparisons to Serfas Rx because i have a few bikes and i have been slowly replacing the seats with Serfas Rx. So far so good for me. I ride up to 50 miles on road/touring bikes at a time and i have no discomfort with the Serfas seats which is more than i can say for any of the old seats my old bikes came with. I am curious about owning a Brooks but have so far avoided buying due to cost and theft factor. Just today i was at an LA Metro station by the bike parking and the security guard was telling me there is a theft problem with seats. People lock up the bikes but the seats get stolen. Im sure a lot of the stolen seats are on quick release seat tubes but maybe not all of them. So far nobody's stolen any of my seats but the only ones i hvae that are new models are Serfas Rx.


I'll keep this thread updated. I really like the Serfas Rx. It has been the most comfortable saddle I'd ever used - but I still had a problem with numbness on longer rides, and after a certain point, I'd have to keep getting out of the saddle every 10-15 minutes in order to avoid going numb. Shorter rides (under 2 hours) are normally not a problem, and I plan on keeping the Serfas Rx on my mountain bike, because I rarely use it for rides longer than a couple hours...and I'm out of the saddle considerably more often.

Other padded saddles would cause pain and numbness within 30-40 minutes, so the Serfas is certainly better than all of the others I had tried.

My wife and I went for a quick 2.5 mile ride this evening. Considering how hard the leather is, it was much more comfortable than I expected. I've tilted the nose up quite a bit (it's about 1" higher than the rear), and so far feels to be about right, but I'm certainly going to be tweaking the fore/aft & tilt some more to try to find the 'sweet spot' for this bike. I'm liking it so far - but will report back after an ~20 mile ride that I plan on doing in the morning.
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Old 10-07-12, 12:12 PM   #23
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went for a 90 minute ride this morning. First time i really felt pressure on the "sit bones". Overall, it was great.
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Old 10-07-12, 04:44 PM   #24
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went for a 90 minute ride this morning. First time i really felt pressure on the "sit bones". Overall, it was great.
I got a Thompson Seat post to replace my CF Specialized off set one after I got my Tarmac. I wanted a zero offset to support the saddle closer to the mid point. To get my set up just right I had to slide the saddle way too far forward. The Specialized has a two bolt system but no way was it as adjustable as the Thompson. With the Thompson you can adjust up and down one thread at a time. And they had a life time warrantee. hey are great seat posts.
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Old 10-09-12, 10:25 AM   #25
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I rode for about 2.5 hours yesterday. No soreness. No numbness.

I think I need to shift the seat forward a bit, though, as I feel myself resting on my 'taint', and not on my sit bones. I can't really tilt the nose up any further, since it's already starting to interfere with my sensitive parts.
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