I wasn't sure where to post this. I've been asked to post about my experiences with a new Brooks saddle. The saddle is on my 'cross bike, but I use the bike for 20-mile early morning nasty-road training rides. Since it's a 'cross bike, here it is.
I tried a Brooks Swallow last year on my road bike. I Proofided it, gave it every benefit of the doubt and stayed with it for a long time, but it was an experience in pain. It left pain in my backside that stayed with me all day long. Anytime I sat down, even in a chair, it hurt. When I stood, there was still the tingle of pain on my backside. Because of all the hype, I figured I would eventually adapt to it. I didn't. I sent it back. It might have been too narrow. It was a beautiful saddle, though.
This week, I took delivery of a Brooks Team Professional. I ordered honey, they sent black. They offered to ship a honey immediately with a call tag for the black one, but I decided black was a better choice for my 'cross bike anyway and kept it.
I come into this half expecting the worst. The Team Pro is a tad wider than the Swallow, but I wonder if it will make that much difference. It's a hard saddle with thick leather. But the return terms are generous. I'll give it a shot.
Last night, I used the "soak" method and soaked the saddle in neatsfoot oil for an hour to assist break-in. (Now, how do I pour all this neatsfoot oil back into the bottle??) This morning, I took the saddle on its first 20-mile ride.
First mile impression: Wow. This saddle feels good! It's smooth where it counts. It's "firm"-to-hard. It's slick on top (requiring occasional intentional repositioning as I slide forward). To some extent, it decreases the leverage my backside is able to exert on the saddle on bumpy direction changes. I can probably adapt to that. So far, so good.
Ten miles: With the stock saddle (a Ponza with seams right where the sit bones contact the saddle), I would stand up briefly about now to relieve the pain. At this point, with the Brooks, the feeling is remarkably comfortable. This definitely isn't a Swallow (or a Ponza)!
Fifteen miles: Still very comfortable. I'm beginning to feel a little pressure, but it's not cutting, burning, or painful. It's probably about what I would feel from sitting on a chair for this amount of time.
Twenty miles: The saddle has been comfortable for the entire ride. For most of the distance, I forgot I was riding a new saddle. No pain. No untoward pressure. Other than the slickness of the surface, the saddle never drew attention to itself. Not recliner or sofa comfort, but pretty nice. So far, so good.
Appearance: This is a beautiful saddle out of the box. After the neatsfoot oil soak and a 20-mile ride, some of the leather under the sit bone area looked as if it had bubbles under the surface of the leather -- kind of a pebbling. I'm concerned that the bumps mean the leather has been damaged. We'll see what happens in the days ahead.
Thoughts: For the first ride, this saddle is far more comfortable than the Swallow I rode last year. Much better than the Ponza that came on my Conquest Pro. Probably even better than the trusty multi-thousand mile Fizik Arionne on my road bike. Very nice. But one ride does not make the saddle. The proof will come in repeated rides. Hundreds of miles.