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  1. #1
    rhm
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    let's talk about saddles again, please! any new ideas?

    I believe in leather saddles, and recycling, and craftsmanship. So last year I started recovering old leather saddles and have done about 33 so far (see this thread if interested).

    Recently another forum member and I decided to try to collaborate and come up with a new design leather saddle. Basically it would be a compromise between popular shapes of modern saddles and the traditional materials of a century old Brooks etc. He will do the metal work, I will do the leather.

    So my question for you guys (both the ladies and the gentlemen), is this: what makes a good saddle a good saddle? H ave you ever had a saddle that was perfect except for maybe one thing that you couldn't fix (and what was it)? Have you ever wished you could get a saddle with some feature or other that was not available? To what degree does length matter? Or width? Or weight? How about a perinneal cutout?

    I would appreciate any serious suggestions, observations, etc. Especially from you guys who spend a lot of time on your saddles.
    Last edited by unterhausen; 01-17-13 at 10:00 AM. Reason: fixed tags

  2. #2
    Randomhead
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    I don't use leather saddles, but I must say that you do incredible work.

    My complaint about brooks was always that they didn't allow enough setback. Shape-wise, I have no idea what a saddle should be like. I like my Aliante, but it is a little thick through the leg area.

  3. #3
    rhm
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    Thanks for your remarks (and thanks for fixing my tags )

    Is this the saddle you're using?

    And if so (or nearly so), is your complaint that it is too wide in the area around the letters "zi"?

    The limited length of the flat part of the rails, where the seat post attaches, is a common complaint about Brooks saddles. I'm rather puzzled that they haven't solved that. The reason they haven't, to be fair, is that this would require the rails to be wider; and this, in turn, would interfere with the skirt of the saddle; so they would have to make the whole thing wider, which would lead to your complaint about the Aliante. The solution might include a redesign of the seat post.

    People also complain about the weight, of course. A Brooks saddle has a lot of steel in it.
    Last edited by rhm; 01-17-13 at 10:33 AM. Reason: fixed link

  4. #4
    7-speed doomsday prepper ThermionicScott's Avatar
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    I think Selle Anatomica saddles address the setback issue. My concern -- and this may be due to the fact that I haven't tried all of them -- is finding a tensioned leather saddle with a flat rear section like the B17, but with the width of a Pro and an even more gradual taper from front-to-back. My Pro is great in the width department (I wouldn't want anything narrower like the B17N), but it's had this roundness to the top that my perineal region doesn't always agree with.
    Quote Originally Posted by chandltp View Post
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  5. #5
    Randomhead
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    Quote Originally Posted by rhm View Post
    Is this the saddle you're using?
    And if so (or nearly so), is your complaint that it is too wide in the area around the letters "zi"?
    that's my saddle, except I have a version with no groove down the middle. The problem spot is a little hard to pin down since I'm sitting on the saddle, but I think you are right, it's right around the 'i' that it's too wide. I actually have the nose down a tick now and it improves things

    I have a Brooks pro Special I bought new in 1980 that would fit me pretty well, but it has a ridge down the middle and I find that annoying. Don't know if it would go away, but I think the saddle is pretty and I have it on my desk. Saddle probably has less than 300 miles on it.
    Last edited by unterhausen; 01-17-13 at 12:44 PM.

  6. #6
    Carpe Velo Yo Spiff's Avatar
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    I've had a Brooks Pro on my road bike for 12 years but have found the 6 month old B17 on my utility bike is slightly more comfortable. I'll probably be switching the road bike out with another B17 that is presently on my tandem. I agree on the setback issue for the Brooks I sometimes feel like I want to push mine back another cm or so, but I can't.

    One thing I do like about the leather saddles is that I can slide my butt forward and backward as needed, without having to lift up. So a smooth hard surface is important. The Selle Anatomica I am sending you has the leather so soft and worn that it grips my butt instead. Unless that's the way they make their saddles to begin with, but this is the only Selle I've ever had, so I don't really know.
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  7. #7
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    let's talk about saddles again, please! any new ideas?

    I am currently trying out a Gilles Berthod Aspin saddle which has been comfortable on the trainer for a long ride of 2 hours. I like the shape except for the fact that even with a Velo Orange setback seatpost I cannot get the saddle back quite far enough to my liking. I have it slammed as far back as I can go and would like another .5 to 1 cm to play with. Yes, I can raise my seatpost and gain a few mm further back positioning, but it increases the saddle to handlebar drop more than I like. With the Fizik Wing Flex Arione that I have been riding previously I have another 2+ cm to play with. Why can't leather saddle makers except for Selle Anatomica make longer rails for their saddles?

  8. #8
    Drops small screws noteon's Avatar
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    I have a Selle Anatomica on my brevet bike, and a B17 on my folder. Previously, I had B17s on both.

    The Selle Anatomica does resolve the setback problem. Also, they've got a new leather now that's supposed to be stiffer: http://selleanatomica.com
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  9. #9
    Senior Member howsteepisit's Avatar
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    For me, the ideal might be a Brooks team pro shape with b-17 leather. A softer Pro.
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    Senior Member ftwelder's Avatar
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    I noticed the B-17 has a flatter cantle plate than a lot of saddles when viewed from the back. It seems like people prefer to sit just forward of the cantle plate where on a typical road saddle one would sit on the cantle plate.
    Last edited by ftwelder; 01-18-13 at 05:49 PM.
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  11. #11
    Senior Member dwmckee's Avatar
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    I ried the Selle An Atomica. The Titanico seems more comfy then the Titanico x and I an 200 lbs. I own both.

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    Put me down as another Selle Anatomica fan. Takes a while to get dialed in, but the best saddle I've ever ridden by not a small margin.

    I do wish it was a little narrower in the middle; more T-shaped, rather than pear-shaped. (The saddle, not me.) You can find people mentioning that issue online, and I've thought about lacing it like the B-17 Imperial. But the more I ride it I'm beginning to realize that, yes, I'm aware of the middle width but it's not really causing any chafing or anything. So I'm sort of starting to just ignore it, because everything else about the saddle is so sweet. Also, the width in the middle of an SA is partially determined your personal preference on how tight you have the leather sprung. The tighter you go, the more the sides flare out.

  13. #13
    Senior Member bobbycorno's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by rhm View Post
    H ave you ever had a saddle that was perfect except for maybe one thing that you couldn't fix (and what was it)? Have you ever wished you could get a saddle with some feature or other that was not available? To what degree does length matter? Or width? Or weight? How about a perinneal cutout?
    1) Brooks B17, except that I can't move the damn thing far enough back on a normal seatpost.
    2) see #1
    3) Very little
    4) Very much
    5) Very little
    6) Not at all

    Of course YMMV. But if you could come up with a B17 with about an inch more rearward "travel" at a price I could justify, I'd buy one.

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  14. #14
    Senior Member cheg's Avatar
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    What makes a good saddle a good saddle? Long range comfort. Can't really tell if something is going to work until I ride over 80 miles on it. I use Brooks because they are not the most comfortable at the start but they pretty much stay the same at any distance.

    Have you ever had a saddle that was perfect except for maybe one thing that you couldn't fix (and what was it)? Chaffing from the old model Sele Anatomica Great out to 60 miles then not good.

    Have you ever wished you could get a saddle with some feature or other that was not available? Brooks with longer rails?

    To what degree does length matter? Moderately important. I want to be able to shift forward and back to change the wear points on my butt.

    Or width? Very important. Needs to be wide at the rear, otherwise I push back and sit on the back edge of the saddle, which is usually a piece of steel.

    Or weight? Somewhat important. I use a Ti B-17 on my rando bike for the weight difference and I won't even try a sprung Brooks due to weight. Right now my ideal saddle would be an Aged Brooks with Ti rails.

    How about a perinneal cutout? Does not seem to be very important. May have caused my problems with the Sele Anatomica. I just need to stand and shift around periodically.

    Another important feature is lacing. I put lacing on all of my leather saddles whether they come with it or not.

  15. #15
    just another gosling Carbonfiberboy's Avatar
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    So my question for you guys (both the ladies and the gentlemen), is this: what makes a good saddle a good saddle?
    It has to fit my anatomy. For me, that means T-shaped, narrow nose, smooth edges, cutout.

    Have you ever had a saddle that was perfect except for maybe one thing that you couldn't fix (and what was it)?
    I've tried a number of saddles which were good except that the roll-off from the flat rear to the vertical wasn't smooth. I would get a sore at the top of my thigh, right below my butt. Most Specialized saddles I tried had this flaw.

    Have you ever wished you could get a saddle with some feature or other that was not available?
    No. There's a saddle for everyone. One just has to experiment. I never met an LD rider who gave it up because of an inability to find the right saddle.

    To what degree does length matter?
    Not important.

    Or width?
    Has to be the right width for me.

    Or weight?
    Who wants to lug around a heavy saddle? OTOH, I never choose a saddle by weight, only comfort.

    How about a perinneal cutout?
    I have to have one. Can't ride a saddle without. I'm very particular about this. The cutout has to be a certain minimum size, both width and length, or it doesn't work. However the saddle has to be a certain maximum width, particularly in the nose and transition, or I get friction sores at my thigh/butt join. Many saddle makers build a huge cutout and thus a wide saddle, which is completely unrideable for me, or they put too much padding around the cutout, same effect.

    This is currently my perfect saddle. Great on the bar tops, great on the aero bars. Note how little saddle there is beside the cutout and how smooth the roll-off is. The $40 cost is very good. The materials quality is also very good, much better than similar saddles from Terry for instance. 292g, not too bad. I wonder if I should buy a couple more, just in case they ever go out of production.

  16. #16
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    I've tried and not liked a wider Gilles Berthoud saddle. I like how the cantle plate has the screws securing the leather positioned away from contact with my shorts but the plastic was a little too flexible and flexed at the ends, meaning too much weight along the centreline. I've gone back to B17 Selects, the shape suits me well. I just wish Brooks saddles didn't hammock so quickly.
    Last edited by LWaB; 01-20-13 at 01:59 AM.

  17. #17
    rhm
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    To all who have replied so far: thanks! This is great stuff. I am taking it all in. --R

  18. #18
    Senior Member dwmckee's Avatar
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    The one thing I'd change on my Selle An Atomica Titanico is that the front is not smooth and rounded like most other seats because of the tensioner up there. I guess they need to put the tensioner somewhere, but the rough mechanical parts on the nose always seem to catch my shorts when I go from standing to sitting and I have to fiddle around to get them unsnagged before I sit...

  19. #19
    Long Distance Cyclist Machka's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by rhm View Post
    So my question for you guys (both the ladies and the gentlemen), is this: what makes a good saddle a good saddle? H ave you ever had a saddle that was perfect except for maybe one thing that you couldn't fix (and what was it)? Have you ever wished you could get a saddle with some feature or other that was not available? To what degree does length matter? Or width? Or weight? How about a perinneal cutout?
    I struggled with various saddles, but once I tried the men's standard B17 Brooks, that was it. I had found the perfect saddle. Right shape, right comfort.

    Something to remember is that a saddle is not just length + width ... you can also make saddles completely flat or curved up in the back. I need a saddle that curves up in the back. I've tried completely flat saddles and they leave me with lower back pain. Fortunately, when a Brooks is broken in, there's quite a bit of curve ... another reason why it works so well for me.

    As for the cutout ... I tried that on a couple saddles and it is horrible. I would not want something like that on a saddle.

  20. #20
    Curmudgeon Wil Davis's Avatar
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    Nice reply, and I entirely agree with you. My oldest Brooks (B17N) is from the early 1970s and to a while to break-in, but every Brooks I've owned since then has broken-in very quickly which leads me to believe that it's not necessarily the saddle which gets broken-in but my rear!

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  21. #21
    rhm
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    Quote Originally Posted by Machka View Post
    As for the cutout ... I tried that on a couple saddles and it is horrible. I would not want something like that on a saddle.
    I haven't tried the cutout. Well, I have one saddle that someone put a DIY cutout into, and though they did a pretty good job, it makes the saddle sag. I will try lacing it. I do not like a sagging saddle!

    On the other hand, I suspect the advantages of the cutout are not meant for you. Elsewhere I mentioned that I rode centuries every month last year except for May, but I did not give the specific reason for May's failure. Prostatitis. That painful episode did much to increase my interest in the cutout saddle design.

  22. #22
    Drops small screws noteon's Avatar
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    In my experience, the "Brooks break-in period" is entirely fictitious, and has more to do with people not knowing how to position them.
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  23. #23
    rhm
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    Quote Originally Posted by noteon View Post
    In my experience, the "Brooks break-in period" is entirely fictitious, and has more to do with people not knowing how to position them.
    I don't know about that. I agree that part of the process is learning what to expect and knowing how to position the saddle. Once you know what you're doing, you will find a truly new saddle to be comfortable right away. But it is also true that a new leather saddle is harder than one that has been ridden a lot. Furthermore, this may have been more true of Brooks saddles made 30 years ago than of the ones they make today (this is my suspicion, anyway; i have no way of testing the hypothesis).

    I have definitely seen this with the saddles i have recovered in the last year: they start out as hard as rock, but they soften a bit during the first few months of riding. After that, they don't seem to soften further. Of course, it remains to be seen how my saddles will hold up over the long term.

  24. #24
    Drops small screws noteon's Avatar
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    It probably varies some with leather stiffness and rider weight. Still, at the very least, I do think it's much exaggerated.
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  25. #25
    7-speed doomsday prepper ThermionicScott's Avatar
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    Exaggerated, perhaps, and likely over-reported by those newer to Brooks, but definitely not ficticious.
    Quote Originally Posted by chandltp View Post
    There's no such thing as too far.. just lack of time
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