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  1. #1
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    Random thoughts re: Brooks saddles

    It occurred to me that the Brooks saddle is a lot like the Porsche 911, in that it's an essentially flawed design that the march of progress almost consigned to the dustbin, but were saved by zealous enthusiasts more concerned with tradition and style over substance. Even the lacing of saddles reminds me of why the whale tail spoiler was fitted to the 911, in an effort to overcome one of the many essential shortcomings of the respective designs!

    Of course, I do appreciate the style of the Brooks, and am certainly impressed with how Porsche managed to bring the 911 into the modern era (purists be damned), so I'm not bashing or wishing either were not with us today, but just indulging the thought of parallels. It would be nice if Brooks had continued to develop their saddle designs in the way Porsche did the 911; who knows what they might have come up with! Carbon fiber substrate, magnesium rivets, titanium adjuster screws, exotic leathers, carbon fiber chassis...don't lie, you know you want a Ti railed B17 in python!
    Chaad--'95 DeKerf Team SL, '02 Lemond Buenos Aires, '05 Novara Buzz, '73 Schwinn Collegiate, '06 Mountain Cycle Rumble, '09 Dahon Mariner D7, '12 Mercier Nano, '12 Breezer Venturi

  2. #2
    Old fart JohnDThompson's Avatar
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    I have six Brooks saddles here. Haven't had to lace any of them, and the oldest is from 1967. My butt has told me that if I'm going to ride a century, I need to do it on a Brooks Professional or I'll be suffering for days to come.

  3. #3
    Senior Member Looigi's Avatar
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    I had one I rode for years back in the late '70s early '80s. It eventually wound up in the parts bin, for sale at a pre moving sale, and then in the trash when it didn't sell. No love lost. Like a lot of things in cycling, what works can be a highly individual thing.

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    Uber Goober StephenH's Avatar
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    I think your fundamental assumption is flawed, that it was "saved by zealous enthusiasts more concerned with tradition and style over substance". Of the riders I know (mostly long-distance riders), I'm not aware that any of them have picked a saddle based on style or tradition. The main competitors to the Brooks seem to be the Selle Anatomica, the Rivet, etc., which are similar leather-covered saddles that try to sell better comfort, not tradition or style.
    "be careful this rando stuff is addictive and dan's the 'pusher'."

  5. #5
    coprolite fietsbob's Avatar
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    Selle Italia's Buyout added the multi color spectrum, and their Marketing savvy
    like the selling of Milanese fashions , got money invested in that , and so now the whole bike biz is abuzz
    about honey shades and grass finished select hides..

    and the new Cambium . they made regular saddles in the past for the normal rider vinyl and springs

    making something prestigious , just by the brand name promotion , is a common thing..

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    Not sure I agree with the "flawed design" perspective. Many find a leather saddle to be optimally comfortable, Brooks, Sella Anatomica and GB are good examples. Just because an item was introduced in the last century or millennia doesn't relegate it to obselesence. Bicycles are still used for transportation, even steel ones. Sam Colt had a pretty good idea, that still seems to be highly functional today, in-spite of "improvements".
    ride long & prosper

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by StephenH View Post
    I think your fundamental assumption is flawed, that it was "saved by zealous enthusiasts more concerned with tradition and style over substance". Of the riders I know (mostly long-distance riders), I'm not aware that any of them have picked a saddle based on style or tradition. The main competitors to the Brooks seem to be the Selle Anatomica, the Rivet, etc., which are similar leather-covered saddles that try to sell better comfort, not tradition or style.
    Sure, I may be wrong, but I'm just mucking around here, not going for a PHD!
    Chaad--'95 DeKerf Team SL, '02 Lemond Buenos Aires, '05 Novara Buzz, '73 Schwinn Collegiate, '06 Mountain Cycle Rumble, '09 Dahon Mariner D7, '12 Mercier Nano, '12 Breezer Venturi

  8. #8
    Senior Member Mobile 155's Avatar
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    This is always the never ending question. The problem is simple, bottom ends are not all the same so good saddles are made for different bottoms. The only Brooks I like is the copy of the Anatomica, the Imperial. But they are heavy, either of them. Still my saddle choice may or may not impress any other cyclist but they impressed me from the first ride and continue to do so to this day. But to compare them to a 911 is apples and oranges in my opinion. The Porsche started out as a light weight alternative to the big over powered Ferrari, Corvette, or other exotic race car. Brooks on the other hand is more the family sedan of bicycle saddles. It is not the light weight challenger to the Ti railed CF racing saddle you see the pros, or even most club riders, riding.
    Life is like riding a bicycle - in order to keep your balance, you must keep moving. ~Albert Einstein.

  9. #9
    Senior Member Flying Merkel's Avatar
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    I have a B17 on my Gran Turismo. It has lived up to all the hype.
    Pronounced "Murkle"

  10. #10
    Long Distance Cyclist Machka's Avatar
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    I have tried a lot of saddles and I select my saddles based on comfort. That's why I've got Brooks saddles on all my bicycles now.

    And one of mine has titanium rails.

  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by martianone View Post
    Not sure I agree with the "flawed design" perspective. Many find a leather saddle to be optimally comfortable, Brooks, Sella Anatomica and GB are good examples. Just because an item was introduced in the last century or millennia doesn't relegate it to obselesence. Bicycles are still used for transportation, even steel ones. Sam Colt had a pretty good idea, that still seems to be highly functional today, in-spite of "improvements".
    Brooks' and the 911 are both essentially flawed designs because they both force compromises that other designs don't, e.g. the rear engine placement creates handling anomalies not seen and harder to manage than front or mid engine designs, and the Brooks relies on inconsistent leather qualities for rider support, is comparatively heavier, costlier, and requires more care and maintenance than nylon shell saddles.

    Again, that's not to say either design is bad per se, but they are flawed from an ideal design and function perspective. Human determination always trumps bad design.
    Chaad--'95 DeKerf Team SL, '02 Lemond Buenos Aires, '05 Novara Buzz, '73 Schwinn Collegiate, '06 Mountain Cycle Rumble, '09 Dahon Mariner D7, '12 Mercier Nano, '12 Breezer Venturi

  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mobile 155 View Post
    The Porsche started out as a light weight alternative to the big over powered Ferrari, Corvette, or other exotic race car. Brooks on the other hand is more the family sedan of bicycle saddles. It is not the light weight challenger to the Ti railed CF racing saddle you see the pros, or even most club riders, riding.
    But of course the 911 started out as the original peoples' car, the 'volkswagen,' Hitler's Kraft durch Freude-wagen, quite exactly a family sedan. Porsche adapted his primitive, economical design to racing later on ("run what you brung!"), but it certainly was not initiated as a racing car design.
    Chaad--'95 DeKerf Team SL, '02 Lemond Buenos Aires, '05 Novara Buzz, '73 Schwinn Collegiate, '06 Mountain Cycle Rumble, '09 Dahon Mariner D7, '12 Mercier Nano, '12 Breezer Venturi

  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by fietsbob View Post
    Selle Italia's Buyout added the multi color spectrum, and their Marketing savvy
    like the selling of Milanese fashions , got money invested in that , and so now the whole bike biz is abuzz
    about honey shades and grass finished select hides..

    and the new Cambium . they made regular saddles in the past for the normal rider vinyl and springs

    making something prestigious , just by the brand name promotion , is a common thing..
    I agree with this; Brooks was dead until Selle Royal bought them, recognizing the niche marketing opportunities.

    Selle Royal founder Riccardo Bigolin explains: "Brooks is a return to the real essence of things, to the reasons why people invent a product. In 1866, John Boultbee Brooks decided to make a leather saddle for his new velocipede because he found the wooden saddle very uncomfortable. I also began making leather saddles for not too dissimilar a reason". (http://www.bike-eu.com/Home/General/...ks-BIK000817W/)

    So while Bigolin was concerned with tradition, he also saw an opportunity to market a style. He didn't sink money into Brooks not expecting it to be successful, of course.
    Chaad--'95 DeKerf Team SL, '02 Lemond Buenos Aires, '05 Novara Buzz, '73 Schwinn Collegiate, '06 Mountain Cycle Rumble, '09 Dahon Mariner D7, '12 Mercier Nano, '12 Breezer Venturi

  14. #14
    Ding! Bandera's Avatar
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    When the B-72 that has been fitted to whatever served as my town bike started to split at the front rivets after >40 years of service I replaced it with another Brooks. Never considered anything else.

    -Bandera
    '74 Raleigh International - '77 Trek TX900FG - '92 Vitus 979 - '10 Merckx EMX-3- '11 Soma Stanyan

  15. #15
    Senior Member Retro Grouch's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by chaadster View Post
    Brooks' and the 911 are both essentially flawed designs because they both force compromises that other designs don't, e.g. the rear engine placement creates handling anomalies not seen and harder to manage than front or mid engine designs, and the Brooks relies on inconsistent leather qualities for rider support, is comparatively heavier, costlier, and requires more care and maintenance than nylon shell saddles.

    Again, that's not to say either design is bad per se, but they are flawed from an ideal design and function perspective. Human determination always trumps bad design.
    Can you give me an example of an un-flawed design? Something that can't possibly be improved from your point of view?

    Purchase decisions can be as simple or as complex as we choose to make them. If you are so smart that you can completely understand human motivation, you're wasting your time posting here. 911s and Brooks saddles, while not for everybody, still have significant markets. If you don't personally want one, nobody is forcing you to buy one. To fluff off other people's purchase logic as flawed is, I think, insulting.
    My greatest fear is all of my kids standing around my coffin and talking about "how sensible" dad was.

  16. #16
    The Left Coast, USA FrenchFit's Avatar
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    Brooks benefited greatly by the age-wave, older men returning to cycling and sitting more upright. Not sure I've ever seen a young cyclist with a Brooks saddle, but I've never been to Amsterdam. My 20-something kids have zero interest in Brooks, it's like metamucil. I've read the average age is of a 911 owner is 46, I suspect it might be even higher for Brooks saddles in the US.

  17. #17
    Bandolero Bandrada's Avatar
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    My ass is permanently sore from the few days that I rode one in 2005.
    Nothing better than a good chain lube thread...

  18. #18
    Senior Member DEW21's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by FrenchFit View Post
    Brooks benefited greatly by the age-wave, older men returning to cycling and sitting more upright. Not sure I've ever seen a young cyclist with a Brooks saddle, but I've never been to Amsterdam. My 20-something kids have zero interest in Brooks, it's like metamucil. I've read the average age is of a 911 owner is 46, I suspect it might be even higher for Brooks saddles in the US.
    Hey, I resemble that remark, just got one for my 50th Bday.
    2012 Giant Escape 2

  19. #19
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    I think you're drilling too deep. Cow hide, along with celluloid and a few other materials were the plastics of the 19th century. Simple as that. If they had other more modern materials they would have used them.

  20. #20
    Senior Member SmallFront's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by FrenchFit View Post
    I've read the average age is of a 911 owner is 46,
    And what is the average age of a Ferrari owner?

    It's not like most twenty-somethings can afford a super car, regardless of it being a Porsche or a Ferrari.

    I bought into Brooks saddles when I was in my twenties. Now I'm forty. So at least 11 years ago (more like 15-16 in reality).

  21. #21
    Speed is Life... UnfilteredDregs's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by fietsbob View Post
    Selle Italia's Buyout added the multi color spectrum...
    It also added the Fi'zi:k Kurve if I understand correctly. Selle owns them as well, by buying Brooks it allows Fi'zi:k to leverage the Brooks' patents and voila...Kurve.

  22. #22
    Speed is Life... UnfilteredDregs's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by chaadster View Post
    ...It would be nice if Brooks had continued to develop their saddle designs in the way Porsche did the 911; who knows what they might have come up with! Carbon fiber substrate, magnesium rivets, titanium adjuster screws, exotic leathers, carbon fiber chassis...don't lie, you know you want a Ti railed B17 in python!

  23. #23
    Senior Member SmallFront's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by lenA View Post
    I think you're drilling too deep. Cow hide, along with celluloid and a few other materials were the plastics of the 19th century. Simple as that. If they had other more modern materials they would have used them.
    I can't help but think of nylon shirts. Luckily we have come full circle and are back to mostly cotton and linen, not to mention a few Merino and silk shirts.

    Yup, natural materials do sometimes have benefits that are difficult to better with man-made fabrics. There is a reason that we are seeing wood returning in window frames for passive houses: They insulate better than alu and plastics, and don't have cold/heat bridges that funnels the cold or heat.

    Anyway, It is not a question of style. Obviously I like the looks of it, but if it were bad to ride or any worse than something more "modern" I would have bought that. I like the style, however, just like I like the style of the old Land Rover Defender or a Thinkpad.

    /run-on train of thought.

  24. #24
    coprolite fietsbob's Avatar
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    Brooks was dead until Selle Royal bought them ..
    Well I got the Seat, selle and the Italian part , Selle Royal more a non racer saddle company ,
    as I perceive..

    IDK what the sales figures in Italy are, they may be on a lot of unflashy bikes in greater numbers
    in Europe , than gets American attention.

    for that sector the Pacific Rim is where bike companies order the utility saddles I see Most.

    and the race bike sector starts to source Italian and other saddles
    when the customer's money flows more generously..
    Last edited by fietsbob; 12-15-13 at 09:31 AM.

  25. #25
    aka Phil Jungels Wanderer's Avatar
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    I'm almost 68 years old, and have ridden lots of different saddles.

    While a Brooks isn't for everyone, it's the only saddle that is truly comfortable for me.

    I have punched holes for laces, but never had to lace one yet.

    "Retirement is the best job I ever had!" Me, 2009


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