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  1. #1
    Senior Member Waxbytes's Avatar
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    I bought a Brooks B17 but...

    So I finally decided to try out a Brooks saddle but I have a question.
    When I sit on my new B17 I can feel it sink into the hammock shape right
    away without any breaking in and the sides flare out under me. I am 200
    pounds and I worry that if I go any distance I'll end up "riding the rails".
    Is it normal for a B17 to sag that much when new? I had always thought
    it took months or years to sag like that?
    Uhmm...

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    It took my B17 less than 7 miles (really) to start to break in. That was when I felt it start to give for the first time. I weigh about 210. My Brooks was most comfortable when it wasn't "broken in". Once I started to sink into the saddle it became less comfortable, and eventually I had to stop using it. The rear arc of rivets wasn't wide enough for me, which may be unusual.

    I don't think you can actually touch the rails. If you do, be sure to let us know. Although you can tension the saddle, generally speaking you don't want to unless you really, really have to. Doing so can stretch the leather.

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    Strange - mine is, has been and likely will be harder than hell! Relatively speaking that is - after a few thousand miles it's comfy, but nothing like soft and pliant and hammock-like

  4. #4
    Senior Member FlatFender's Avatar
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    hmm... Im about 270lbs, and I LOVE my B17. No issues with it sagging. I would say put some more miles on it before you decide to change it out

  5. #5
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    I'm 210lbs and I have a b17 and brook's flyer. They get two thumbs up from me. If your saddle is sagging hammock like. Have you tried to adjust the bolt under seat to retension it?

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    Quote Originally Posted by fatall
    I'm 210lbs and I have a b17 and brook's flyer. They get two thumbs up from me. If your saddle is sagging hammock like. Have you tried to adjust the bolt under seat to retension it?
    Don't screw with the bolt. Something doesn't sound right, if it sagged that much. Are you certain?

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    Quote Originally Posted by Portis
    Don't screw with the bolt. Something doesn't sound right, if it sagged that much. Are you certain?
    I found this on the brooks web site:

    Tensioning a BROOKS saddle
    There is no exact science behind tensioning a Brooks saddle as everyone’s shape, riding position and weight are different. The last thing you want however is a hammock. When you feel that the leather is bowing, it’s time to tension but only by 90° at a time. Never allow the leather to have bowed so much that it is touching the frame, as this will cause stress to the frame and may cause it to break.
    Full instructions on how to maintain a Brooks saddle is available as a pdf download on the section Leather and Maintenance, then Caring for your Brooks.

    Straight from the horse's mouth.

  8. #8
    Senior Member Waxbytes's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by fatall
    I found this on the brooks web site:

    Tensioning a BROOKS saddle
    There is no exact science behind tensioning a Brooks saddle as everyone’s shape, riding position and weight are different. The last thing you want however is a hammock. When you feel that the leather is bowing, it’s time to tension but only by 90° at a time. Never allow the leather to have bowed so much that it is touching the frame, as this will cause stress to the frame and may cause it to break.
    Full instructions on how to maintain a Brooks saddle is available as a pdf download on the section Leather and Maintenance, then Caring for your Brooks.

    Straight from the horse's mouth.
    I don't actually touch the frame, it just feels like might soon. It's a sag in the middle with the sides flaring out a bit. Perhaps it's time to try the tension bolt just a little bit.
    Uhmm...

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    Quote Originally Posted by Waxbytes
    I don't actually touch the frame, it just feels like might soon. It's a sag in the middle with the sides flaring out a bit. Perhaps it's time to try the tension bolt just a little bit.
    You can also firm up the saddle by tying the sides together. Look for pics of "butchered Brooks" saddles. I did it with a black B17N by drilling holes in the sides and then using black zip ties to keep them from flaring. You can tie the sides to each other, or to the seat rail. Worked well, until I realized that the saddle was simply too narrow for me in the first place.

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    I've had the same experience with a B-17.

    One thing that has occurred to me over the years is that being as leather is a natural material, some individual saddles may end up being quite a bit different than others. It wouldn't surprise me at all to learn that if you put a dozen "identical" Brooks saddles through the same use, you might end up with a number of different results. This could be one reason behind the widely different experiences ("It's the best thing ever!" "It's a torture device!") described by various users.

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    The last thing you want however is a hammock.
    But they bloody well come that way! I've got three of them at home in a box right now, all of them unusable because the angles pitch me forward onto the nose regardless of how I set them up. Arg.

    In the interests of science, I may go home tonight and tension the daylights out of one of them. People tell me it should be possible to completely eliminate any sort of hammock shape and get a level surface. Hmm.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Six jours
    But they bloody well come that way! I've got three of them at home in a box right now, all of them unusable because the angles pitch me forward onto the nose regardless of how I set them up. Arg.

    In the interests of science, I may go home tonight and tension the daylights out of one of them. People tell me it should be possible to completely eliminate any sort of hammock shape and get a level surface. Hmm.
    Umm, have you played around with seat angle. With my more traditional saddles, I tend to like them dead level. But, that doesn't work with a Brooks. Try 1/4-1/2" nose high. Really. After it breaks in a bit, you can lower the nose a little, but it will still likely be a little nose high.

  13. #13
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    I think that the "heavier" you are the quicker the B17 will break in. I'm 160 lbs and have ridden over 1000 miles with my B17...still as hard as a rock.

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    Quote Originally Posted by fatall
    I found this on the brooks web site:

    Tensioning a BROOKS saddle
    There is no exact science behind tensioning a Brooks saddle as everyone’s shape, riding position and weight are different. The last thing you want however is a hammock. When you feel that the leather is bowing, it’s time to tension but only by 90° at a time. Never allow the leather to have bowed so much that it is touching the frame, as this will cause stress to the frame and may cause it to break.
    Full instructions on how to maintain a Brooks saddle is available as a pdf download on the section Leather and Maintenance, then Caring for your Brooks.

    Straight from the horse's mouth.

    Tension Adjustment
    Most leather saddles have a tension-adjusting nut located under the nose of the saddle. Fortunately, this nut usually requires a special wrench, so most people leave it alone. In almost every case that I know of where someone has tried to adjust the tension with this nut, the saddle has been ruined. My advice is to leave it alone.
    If a leather saddle gradually becomes too soft and too wide after many thousands of miles, it is sometimes useful to punch a few holes in the bottoms of the side flaps and lace them together under the saddle frame.
    This allows the width and firmness of the saddle to be adjusted to the rider's taste. Some older models came with a row of holes along the lower edge of the side flaps, for this very purpose.
    I realize that this sounds like a lot of trouble, but most cyclists who take the trouble find it well worth while--in the end.

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    Umm, have you played around with seat angle. With my more traditional saddles, I tend to like them dead level. But, that doesn't work with a Brooks. Try 1/4-1/2" nose high. Really. After it breaks in a bit, you can lower the nose a little, but it will still likely be a little nose high.
    I use a two-bolt microadjust seatpost for leather saddles as it allows perfectly precise adjustments. The trouble with the Brooks is that with the nose high enough to keep me from sliding forward -- which is about 1/2 inch high -- it's digging into nads. And if I lower the nose any, then the rear of the seat angles downward and forces me onto the nose anyway. Believe me, I've tried every possible angle, and there's just no way.

  16. #16
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    I've got mine set near perfectly level, just a hair nose high and it works ok, however, it took over 1000 miles before the thing started breaking in properly. Keep in mind that the handlebar position and even seatpost angle will have an effect so the angle that works on one bike won't necessarily work on another.

    If you're big, your pelvic bones may be set too far apart for the B17 and they'll dig into the area above the metal support where the leather is rivetted. Brooks makes wider saddles if that's the problem.

  17. #17
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    For me, the B-17 is too wide, and I prefer the Pro. If they'd just make a flat one, I think I'd be happy. Bmike showed me some pics of the Swallow, which looks a lot flatter, but the price tag...

  18. #18
    Senior Member George's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Six jours
    But they bloody well come that way! I've got three of them at home in a box right now, all of them unusable because the angles pitch me forward onto the nose regardless of how I set them up. Arg.

    In the interests of science, I may go home tonight and tension the daylights out of one of them. People tell me it should be possible to completely eliminate any sort of hammock shape and get a level surface. Hmm.


    I had to keep the nose about 1cm, or a little more up, until it started to break in more, good luck.
    George

  19. #19
    Senior Member George's Avatar
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    I should have read all the post, before replying, sorry.
    George

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    No worries, mate. I understand the desire to proselytize a bit, when one has found the perfect saddle. I'm just afraid the Brooks is not the magic bullet, at least not for everyone on the planet.

  21. #21
    Gears? CliftonGK1's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by IronMac
    I think that the "heavier" you are the quicker the B17 will break in. I'm 160 lbs and have ridden over 1000 miles with my B17...still as hard as a rock.
    I've been saying this in a couple other forums since I got my B-17 a couple weeks ago. I'm 250 pounds, and after only 50 miles I was very comfortable on it. There was a visible difference to the texture of the leather at my sit bone contact points, and I can press firmly on saddle and feel some 'give' to it (except where it narrows down at the nose; that's still really stiff.) I've got about 300 miles on mine now, and the only gripe I've had is needing to grease the rails a bit at the clamp to keep them from the infamous "creaking" when going over rough roads.
    There's enough 'give' to the leather that it's comfortable now, but certainly not enough that I'm in danger of bottoming out on the rails. While the side skirts do flare out a bit when I sit on it, they don't interfere with my riding.
    "I feel like my world was classier before I found cyclocross."
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  22. #22
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    if the skirts on the sides are annoying you, consider cutting them off, though I say this more as a question.

    I recently chopped my B17 because the stitching on my shorts rubbed on the bottom of one side, creating extremely painful abrasions. I figured this was caused by a combination of Rapha's bib design, my crooked hips and the saddle's extra leather. I figured the most economical solution would be to chop off the offending skirts rather then buy new shorts or adjust my hips. This solved the shorts/friction problem but it also feels much much different. I will get some real miles on it this weekend but I'm worried that doing something like this might create a new problem.

    FWIW, I'm 140 pounds and the saddle has been rained on a few too many times.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Staggerwing View Post
    Umm, have you played around with seat angle. With my more traditional saddles, I tend to like them dead level. But, that doesn't work with a Brooks. Try 1/4-1/2" nose high. Really. After it breaks in a bit, you can lower the nose a little, but it will still likely be a little nose high.
    I found i needed to tip my nose up pretty high to make it comfy and stop sliding forward

  24. #24
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    Quote Originally Posted by Six jours View Post
    But they bloody well come that way! I've got three of them at home in a box right now, all of them unusable because the angles pitch me forward onto the nose regardless of how I set them up. Arg.

    In the interests of science, I may go home tonight and tension the daylights out of one of them. People tell me it should be possible to completely eliminate any sort of hammock shape and get a level surface. Hmm.
    I'd not be averse to assisting you in acquiring another data point for your study.
    The search for inner peace continues...

  25. #25
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    Heh. You know the Selle An-Atomica ended up being so comfortable that my Brooks collection is gathering dust in a corner somewhere. Assuming the An-Atomica lasts a reasonable number of miles -- and the company stays in business -- I won't be bothering with Brooks any more.

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