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Old 03-21-05, 09:59 AM   #1
LordOpie
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Brooks Saddle Review Thread

If you feel like it, post your experiences too.

Over time, I'll post in this thread to describe the break-in process. I'm doing this cuz when I got the saddle, I couldn't believe how hard it was. Figure I'd follow up from my other thread asking about which saddle is right for me.

I went with the B17N, despite the advice to go standard (versus narrow) cuz it was a little wider than my current saddle. Since I like my Terry Fly, I didn't want to change the shape too much.

I put the saddle in front of a space heater to warm it up and applied Proofide. How much this helps break it in, not sure, but that seemed to be the recommendation. Plus, it should protect the saddle in various weather.

Ride 1: 3 miles -- seriously, you people like this? friggin' sickos. I stopped riding cuz of the weather, not the saddle, but still, it's a rock.

Ride 2: 35 miles. Surprisingly not too bad. No real discomfort. Maybe proofide sitting for a couple of days helped?

Ride 3: 43 miles and 5000' gain. My butt hurt, so much so that I put more pressure on my feet than normal and for the first time in six months, my feet hurt. Two days later, my butt's still sore.

HOWEVER, I'm confident that it's breaking in and will be a great saddle for years to come. I think it's gonna take 200-300 more miles before it really starts to conform. I'll put more Proofide on and see if that expedites the process.

ADVICE mostly for less serious/experienced rides (those like me):
Get your saddle after you've conditioned your bottom. I only had ~400 miles this year, after taking off a couple of months, when I started to break in my saddle. Maybe get yours towards the end of your typically season. I say this cuz it's affecting my base miles. I rode the 43 miles Saturday and didn't feel like riding on Sunday (drinking 'til 2am didn't help either ). I'll be riding tonight, but it'll hurt.

I don't want to discourage anyone from getting this awesome saddle, but there always seems to be so many questions about Brooks.

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Old 03-21-05, 10:20 AM   #2
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I ordered mine from wallbike today, and you are making me nervous. I am not looking forward to the break in. This better be good.
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Old 03-21-05, 10:59 AM   #3
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There has been a long-standing debate going on about these saddles for as long as I can remember. It seems to boil down to this: Brooks' official line is that nothing should be done to the saddle apart from riding it untill it is"broken in". Proofhide, they say does not aid this process but merely helps make the leather more waterproof and until recently was only supposed to be used on the top surface. At the end of the breaking-in you are supposed to have a saddle that is still hard but has indentations just where your sit-bones have been pressing down. When this has been achieved then your saddle is now "broken-in".
The problem in my view has been that this process either can take too long or is in fact never ever achieved. Riders have written in to www.cyclingplus.co.uk/forum to say that their Brooks is not broken-in after 11000miles.
My experience with one saddle is similar. After buying two identical Team Pro's at the same time I found that one "broke-in"while the other refused even after about 18 years. I later measured the thickness of the saddles and found that the thickness of the one refusing to break-in was twice the thickness of the other. Therein lies the problem with the offcial line in my opinion. Two factors operate; the thickness of the leather and the rider's weight. The new saddle is too hard and dry to flex therefore the leather fibres must break at the sit-bones points to give the indentations. Too thick leather or too light a rider and they refuse to do so.
The opposing argument concerns the use of an aid to the breaking-in the saddle. This argument is not helped by off- the- wall suggestions as to what to use. All of these are a big no no as far as Brooks are concerned and breaks the warranty. Here in Scotland I've ridden these saddles for 35 years and ride with friends who have used them before WW2. Personally I use a leather conditioner on the saddle before riding so my saddles need little if any "breaking-in". With this method the leather is softened and made waterproofed but is not saturated. The indentations are not as obvious as in the first process, rather the whole saddle flexes and supports somewhat like a hammock. One has to be careful in not overdoing it but I have never had a saddle that needed tensioning and my oldest is about 35 years old. Up to the present time I've treated around 50 saddles and tend to do all of the saddles belonging to club members. So--you take your pick as to what method you wish to follow. There are of course many that have followed Brooks advice and have achieved comfortable saddles, but there are many who are like yourself and found it too painful to persist.
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Old 03-21-05, 12:29 PM   #4
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LordOpie,

My experience closely mirror yours. I've had my B17 standard for one week now. This time of the year I ride in regular clothes (jeans, no bike shorts). The first ride was 7 miles to work. OMG, MY BUTT HURT!! It was the worst ride I've ever had in my life up to that point. That saddle was hard as rock. The ride home that afternoon my butt was already sore when I got on, and it hurt even more.

The next day I put my bike shorts under my jeans. The ride was tolerable (but by no means comfortable). The rest of the week I rode like that, a saddle sore on Friday made the ride home very unpleasant (the reason I got the Brooks saddle was part of an attempt to get rid of saddle sores).

I used the weekend to recover, no riding at all. I used Desitin on the saddle sore, and it went away. This morning I rode in wearing bike shorts underneath regular shorts. With no saddle sores bothering me the ride was surprisingly pleasant. The saddle actually felt comfortable, and I am starting to get a feel for how the breaking in will eventually feel. I'm not sure if it's the saddle or my butt being broken in, but in any case, major improvements.

The first couple of days I made minor adjustments to the saddle position, tipping it much further back (that is, up in front) than I had expected it to be. The first day I tried to level it, but I soon found that I was sliding forward. Now the "nose" of the saddle is actually quite a bit higher than the back, but the position is quite comfortable. After these adjustments, it was never the position of the saddle that was uncomfortable, it was just the hardness of the saddle.
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Old 03-21-05, 12:37 PM   #5
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I just don't think I should have to suffer for any length of time before I can enjoy a saddle.

I don't believe in breaking in shoes either. If a shoe is not comfortable when I first try it on, why would I believe it will be after I suffer in them for a few days, weeks, or months?

I don't even know what my current saddle is, it is the no name brand that came on the bike when I bought it. I have now done 4k miles (over the course of a year) on this saddle and it feels just fine.
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Old 03-21-05, 01:15 PM   #6
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I believe that a B17 (standard) shouldn't require alot of break in.
I did about 10 miles on mine, and then took it to Hotter than Hell the
next day.
I also bought a Team Pro, and it was a very different experience
( a Half hour in hell )
But now its as comfortable as the B17, just took time.

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Old 03-21-05, 06:38 PM   #7
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What's up everyone,
I just got my new B17 Championship model in the mail and rode it on the trainer for about 1 hour. I gotta say that I am officially lifetime Brooks owner. After about 5 minutes of adjusting the thing I got it right. The first minute felt really fine and it stayed about the same throughout. I rode for the hour with virtually no pain at all. It was encouraging to feel right where my sit bones were touching the saddle. I can easily see how the saddle will form to my behind.
I feel really good about this purchase (especially @ $58, new). I just gotta make sure that I keep applying the proofide.

Best,
rlh184

Last edited by rlh184; 03-21-05 at 06:53 PM.
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Old 03-21-05, 06:44 PM   #8
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I bought a B-17 Champion Special last year.
At the time I had about 800 miles on my new bike and I HATED the saddle on it.
I also had to buy a new seat post (did this one month after getting the saddle) to get it back far enough so my knees could be over the pedals.

On the first ride, it was "marginally" more comfortable that the saddle that came off the bike.

I now have over 1000 miles on this saddle, and I still don't think it is broken in.

I learned about Wallbike after I bought mine, otherwise I would be on the phone with them talking about the exchange for another model.

It is still more comfortable than my last saddle, I think it will break in in time. I am still waiting for that to happen though.
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Old 03-21-05, 07:23 PM   #9
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800 kms (just 2-3 weeks) . . . and my B-17 was perfect.


Another 8000 kms since then ... and my B-17 is STILL perfect.
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Old 03-21-05, 07:39 PM   #10
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The Swift is a bit of a shock when I first sit on it, but after ten minutes of riding I don't even think about it and it has just reached eight hours of ride time.
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Old 03-21-05, 09:39 PM   #11
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I have two B17's. I have a little over 4000 miles on each of them during the past 16 months. I was comfortable from the very start and never remember the saddles being anything but comfortable. I consider them to be the greatest purchases i have ever made and would probably give up cycling if i had to ride on something else.

This talk of "break in" is bewildering.
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Old 03-21-05, 09:51 PM   #12
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My *four* Brooks saddles have all been comfortable from day one. Gonna get a fifth one for the folding bike soon.
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Old 03-22-05, 12:43 AM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by supcom
My *four* Brooks saddles have all been comfortable from day one. Gonna get a fifth one for the folding bike soon.

See, and this is why I think I may have the wrong model for my bike.
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Old 03-22-05, 02:42 AM   #14
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karlfitt, a lot depends on where your handlebars are located. The key seems to be:

-- Low bars (an inch or more below seat height) use the Pro or similar.

-- High bars (from and inch below to level or above seat height) use the B17 or similar.

Go from there, maybe.
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Old 03-22-05, 09:15 AM   #15
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Having a B-17, a Conquest, a B-66 and a Champion Flyer on my bikes, I certainely prefer the sprung Brooks saddles over the unsprung, if you don't mind the extra weight. The Conquest is a narrow, sprung saddle that is comfortable in the drops. If they aren't breaking in enough, liberal applications of some kind of leather dressing and a baseball bat will help with the break in process, but this may shorten the life of your Brooks.
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Old 03-22-05, 11:51 AM   #16
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ONbike 1939. Thanks for the long, informative post. From some of what you say it sounds like a little guy like me (128 pounds) is taking an even higher risk than most that I may NEVER break in a Brooks...especially if I happen to get one with leather that's a bit thicker. Would you agree?
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Old 03-22-05, 04:23 PM   #17
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Selle Italia SLR.

Comfortable from the get-go (no "break-in" period required). Of course, YMMV (especially with saddles).

Nearly a pound lighter than the Bricks (14.29 oz / 405g).

Cooler looking.

Ducking and running...

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Old 03-22-05, 04:28 PM   #18
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bolo Grubb
I just don't think I should have to suffer for any length of time before I can enjoy a saddle.
I hear ya. My Terry Fly was comfortable from day one and is still comfortable. However, if there's a chance that the Brooks can provide a better ride, then I'm gonna find out. I want to do long distance rides and if the Brooks is a little better, then the break-in will be worth it.
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Old 03-22-05, 06:13 PM   #19
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I have a Brooks Swift for my road bike and a B17 Standard on my hybrid. The descriptions on the Brooks website are dead-on accurate. For a more upright position, such as with a hybrid, you want something the shape of the B17 Standard. For a typical road bike position, even if you primarily ride on the tops, you want a narrower Brooks, like the Swift or the B17 Narrow. I started with the B17 Standard on my road bike and it was excruciating, but on the hybrid it's a dream.
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Old 03-22-05, 07:09 PM   #20
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Quote:
Originally Posted by smoore
ONbike 1939. Thanks for the long, informative post. From some of what you say it sounds like a little guy like me (128 pounds) is taking an even higher risk than most that I may NEVER break in a Brooks...especially if I happen to get one with leather that's a bit thicker. Would you agree?

I don't agree at all!! I'm a girl who weighed 125 lbs when I got my Brooks saddle, and I had it broken in in no time ... 800K -- just a few weeks.
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Old 03-22-05, 07:59 PM   #21
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Just a thought to increase the longevity of a Brook (or any saddle really).

Don't lift the back of the bike up by the saddle. Use the top tube or seat tube or rear rack.

I suspect is stresses both the rails and on a Brooks, the leather around the rivets.
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Old 03-22-05, 08:05 PM   #22
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Rowan
Just a thought to increase the longevity of a Brook (or any saddle really).

Don't lift the back of the bike up by the saddle. Use the top tube or seat tube or rear rack.

I suspect is stresses both the rails and on a Brooks, the leather around the rivets.

Also don't turn your bicycle upside down, resting the saddle on the ground, to change the tires.
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Old 03-22-05, 08:18 PM   #23
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Machka
Also don't turn your bicycle upside down, resting the saddle on the ground, to change the tires.
Good advice but not always avoidable. It is very handy to place a bike upside down when you are 20 miles from home and have a flat.
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Old 03-22-05, 08:28 PM   #24
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ranger
Good advice but not always avoidable. It is very handy to place a bike upside down when you are 20 miles from home and have a flat.

The "funny" thing about that situation was this ... it was the guy I was riding with who turned my bicycle upside down, in an effort to be helpful, so I could change my tire easier. Problem was, I've never turned my bicycle upside down to change a tire, so everything was backwards, and I couldn't even remove the tire! I had to turn the bicycle back upright to finish the job. Unfortunately the damage to the saddle was done.
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Old 03-22-05, 08:35 PM   #25
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What is your saddle made of, tissue paper? I have leather saddles (Brooks) and they are tough as, well....leather.
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