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  1. #1
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    For those that ride Brooks saddles, what makes them so good?

    I am about to swap out the saddle on my Kilo Stripper and I'm interested in what makes a Brooks saddle so special. I like the idea of having something that will last for a long time and get better with age but I'm not sure how this saddle works. I mean I get how it functions (at the end of a seat post, under my ass) but to the Brooks newbie, its hard to understand how it could be comfortable with out any padding at all. It looks to be a rigid piece of leather. Does it work like a sling or a butt hammock for lack of a better analogy? Does the saddle break in like other leather items over time? Does it eventually give? If I spend $40 bucks on a saddle and find its not so good, that kind of sucks but if I spend $100+ on a saddle to find its not so good that really sucks.

    Thanks for your help.

    And, yes, I tried the search function but Brooks saddles are mentioned way too much to sort through.

  2. #2
    Utilitarian Boy Gyeswho's Avatar
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    At first you notice it and it hurts your butt. Over time, once it molds to your butt, you have to think about it just to remember it's there

  3. #3
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    rustbelt,

    Saddles are very, very personal things. Nothing but Brooks B17's or B17 narrows will ever again be sucked into my butt crack. They are that good - for my tush, anyway. A Brooks should be totally and 100% comfortable out of the box. Over time and as you apply the leather conditioner the saddle will conform to your specific body shape creating a truly custom saddle that will be the most comfortable thing you've ever ridden. Setting up a Brooks "hammock" style seems to be the way to go. It kind of goes against natural leanings. If you get on the saddle and feel "package" pressure you will be inclined to tilt the nose a bit further down. Don't. Tilt it a bit more up. It works. Give yourself about 20 minutes to set up a new Brooks. Be sure to take short rides in all positions - such as on the flats, in the drops, etc.. Also, be sure to ride over some comparatively rough stuff. Drop off small curbs and things like that (in all positions) to see how the positioning affects your body. You should find yourself working in smaller and smaller increments of adjustment. Don't be afraid of this process or be in too much of a hurry. Don't even look at the saddle. Continue to adjust in whatever manner is necessary to create all around cycling comfort. This will be "your" position. Don't sweat the lack of padding. It's just not needed on a Brooks. I know, that sounds non-nonsensical.

    The saddle will last you longer than you ever thought possible. Avoid using the tightening bolt. I've never known anyone to claim that bolt has made a positive difference. The folks I know prefer the "tie" versions of Brooks (they have holes and shoe lace material sort of in the middle of the saddle - you'll see.) to gently keep the form of the saddle. One of the things other than fit is that a Brooks is very difficult to damage to the point it has to be replaced. If your bike topples over or you lose it in a spill, the saddle will be scuffed but will require no repair. Lather on the saddle oil stuff (proofide??) and over time you will see the scarring sort of self-heal. While I don't have any use for the higher end saddles that go for hundreds and hundreds of dollars, the B17's are the bees knees for this guy. Love 'em.

  4. #4
    CCC
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    I would disagree that Brooks are meant to be really comfortable right out of the box. After some time riding, it softened up a bit and it has more give. Think of it like a baseball glove or a belt or any leather product i suppose. It gets supple over time. I like my brooks because it is really broad. I get "package pressure" every now and then, so I'll have to try the upward angling, but you can't beat how it cradles your can.

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  6. #6
    Bicyclerider4life
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    One way to speed up the softening/breaking in process is several application of neatsfoot oil to both the underside and top side, beat the heck out of it with a baseball bat, apply more oil, beat again, apply more oil, "bake" at as low a temp as your oven will go for an hour or so, remove and beat again, apply more oil, let sit 48 hours, apply light application of neatsfoot in and out, rub well on outside with lint free cloth, install and enjoy. I made my Japanese (or was it Chinese?) Brooks copy super soft that way. Shame some motherless S.O.B. stole the bike it was on, otherwise I'd still be using it.
    "Whenever I see an adult riding a bicycle, I know there is hope for mankind." (H. G. Wells)

  7. #7
    Senior Member thedutchtouch's Avatar
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    some people swear by treatments to soften the saddles, some swear by doing nothing to them other than the required maintenance. i don't have one yet myself, but i've tried a saddle that was relatively new as well as one that was super soft/worn/not that well taken care of. both were pretty comfy.

    a friend of mine took one on a 500 mile bike camping trip, while another uses one to get to and from class. in jeans/whatever.

    i'll be getting one for my winter bike build, but a better job needs to happen first to keep the hobby going strong.

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    Wow. Do people really feel that much discomfort on a new, leather saddle? I mean, I'm totally in agreement that leather gets better with age. Of this there is no doubt. I drop a new saddle on a bike (because I've gotten a new or new to me bike) and there is no doubt the saddle feels "tight". But, it also feels comfortable. Not perfect but absolutely no discomfort. Within a month the saddle has clearly begun to conform and become a custom. That said, this is interesting to me because if I can take a new Brooks and say within a few hundred miles have that truly custom feel I'm all for it.

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by thedutchtouch View Post
    i'll be getting one for my winter bike build, but a better job needs to happen first to keep the hobby going strong.
    I don't know what winter is like where you are. But here in Minnesota winter is the only time to swap out your Brooks for a padded and therefore insulated saddle. Any temp below about 15F and your sit bones will feel damn cold. Below zero is no fun at all. Brooks brags that their saddles are cooler and in the winter you can really notice this.

    I don't know how they work and we resisted buying them for 35 years. Now we have 20 of them. Like Jane tells her friends, "When you first sit on a padded saddle it feels pretty good, but that's the best it's going to feel all day. When you start your ride on a Brooks it feels hard, but that's the worst it's going to feel all day".

    I've never owned a men's Team Professional, but I've heard they can take a while to break in. But the B-17s break in quickly and all of the wider, roadster models are cushy right out of the box. A lot of people who have ridden Brooks' for decades say they use thinner or cheaper leather now so break in time is less. Trade off might be you might not get 40,000 miles out of one anymore.

    I've got 7 different models but my favorites are the B67 for bikes with upright bars and the Team Professional "S" for bikes with drop bars. I know the "S' is supposed to be a chick saddle but I wouldn't care if they were pink with little bunnies on them. With the same width in the rear as a B17 and the narrow Pro nose they fit me perfectly.
    Last edited by MnHPVA Guy; 11-06-09 at 11:42 PM.

  10. #10
    Gears? CliftonGK1's Avatar
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    Ugh, this crap again.
    OK, a Brooks is great for the same reason a steel frame is better than aluminum, DT Swiss rims are better than Mavic, straight gauge spokes are better than butted, Levis are better than Wranglers, Jeep is better than Toyota, and black licorice is the best candy ever... Because it's a matter of opinion.

    And I can't stress it enough: Stop with the garage alchemy to try and magickally transmogrify your uncomfortable, hard-as-a-rock Brooks into an overnight ass-orthotic that feels like the hand of the almighty cupping your buttocks. If it isn't comfortable, adjust the position. If that still doesn't work, then buy a new saddle. Would you spend $250 on a pair of shoes that you had to soak in neatsfoot compound and bake in the oven (? ?) and wail on with a bat before they were comfortable enough to wear? A Brooks will get more comfortable with time and miles and proper care (i.e. not neatsfoot and smacking it with a bat), but it should not be uncomfortable to begin with.
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  11. #11
    a.k.a. QUADZILLA LoRoK's Avatar
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    The real satisfaction in owning a Brooks is knowing that YOU CONTRIBUTED TO THE MURDER OF THOSE POOR COWS!

    Just kidding. They're super comfy. They're also super heavy, as far as saddles go. My Team Pro was the most comfortable saddle I'd ever sat on first day out of the box. My Swift, however, gave me some serious butt-discomfort for a couple days which really surprised me. It felt like I had been sitting directly on two little chunks of gravel directly under my sit-bones. After a couple days riding it's just about as comfortable as my Team Pro on short rides, and well more comfortable on the long rides (50+). One thing that I love about them is that they are almost like a project. You know that all the miles you put in are making it YOUR saddle. Every time you slap on some proofide, you are adding to it. Spending time with it, feeling it, smelling it, admiring the sheen, watching it change color over the seasons. There is nothing like that on some crabon fibré race saddle, or some crappy gel saddle. I proofide my saddles every 3 months, on the day the seasons change so I don't forget. When new, I proofided them every day for the first three days (extra heavy coats on the bottom side), then every two days for a week, then once a week for each of the next two weeks. I don't foresee myself not having a Brooks on any bike I own (since I'll never be fast enough to need to shave the weight).

  12. #12
    I am Noobert.
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    I wonder what a goat skin saddle would be like

    Probally legit

  13. #13
    cs1
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    Quote Originally Posted by rustbelt View Post
    If I spend $40 bucks on a saddle and find its not so good, that kind of sucks but if I spend $100+ on a saddle to find its not so good that really sucks.
    If you drop $40 on a saddle and use it a few times you can resell it for maybe $10. Do the same with a Brooks and you get about 90% of what you paid. Check out the closed auctions on ebay. Used Brooks aren't a deal because they have such a high resale. When something is that popular it must be good.

    I'm using a B17 Special and a B67 springer on 2 of my bikes. They work great. The B17 was perfect out of the box no break in required.

    1999 Waterford RSE-11, 1995 Waterford 1200, 1989 Specialized Rockhopper Comp
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    1984 Specialized Stumpjumper, 1986 Specialized Stumpjumper and just way too many projects to list.

  14. #14
    ɹǝqɯǝɯ ɹoıuǝs wheeldeal's Avatar
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    How about you borrow a buddy's bike that has a Brooks and take it for a spin? You're telling me you can't find a single person to swap bikes with you for 5 minutes?
    http://i28.tinypic.com/nlapfo.gif
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  15. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by CliftonGK1 View Post
    an overnight ass-orthotic.
    I laughed until I cried.

  16. #16
    littlecircles bmike's Avatar
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    order one from wallingford, you can try it out and return it if you don't trash it.

    Warranty
    We honor all manufacturers warranties for the products we sell. In addition, we offer an UNCONDITIONAL SATISFACTION GUARANTEE on most of our products.

    * 6 Month UNCONDITIONAL SATISFACTION GUARANTEE - new BROOKS saddles. Return your new saddle at any time within six-months of the ship date for a full refund of the price of the saddle. Shipping will not be refunded unless there is a manufacturing defect that would make the return a factory warranty issue.
    * 30 Day UNCONDIT
    IONAL SATISFACTION GUARANTEE - Almost everything else we sell, with a couple specific exceptions, listed below.
    * No UNCONDITONAL SATISFACTION GUARANTEE - Books, magazines, tea, waterbottles, tires and tubes that have been used. Tires and tubes must be returned in their original packaging so we can re-sell them as new to be eligible for a refund.

  17. #17
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    Any softening treatments will shorten the life of you saddle. Softening treatment work by accelerating the way leather breaks down naturally and becomes more pliant.

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    Yep, I think that conditioner should be used to prevent the leather from drying and cracking, but never to make it softer. A B17 yields and breaks in super fast already if you're a decent sized dude, and if you have it set up right it won't hurt you during the break in period.

  19. #19
    Senior Member Nigal's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by bmike View Post
    order one from wallingford, you can try it out and return it if you don't trash it.



    GEEZUS! That's one beautiful saddle. I'm ordering two!

  20. #20
    Old fart JohnDThompson's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by LoRoK View Post
    I proofide my saddles every 3 months, on the day the seasons change so I don't forget. When new, I proofided them every day for the first three days (extra heavy coats on the bottom side), then every two days for a week, then once a week for each of the next two weeks. I don't foresee myself not having a Brooks on any bike I own (since I'll never be fast enough to need to shave the weight).
    That's way too much Proofide. Once a year is plenty. I have 3 Brooks saddles here, 2 of them are 25 years old (had them since new) and the 3rd is about 35 years old. Annual Proofide treatment is plenty. Too much Proofide will led to terminal sagging and premature death of your saddle.

    Check out the Classic Rendezvous mailing list archives and read Brooks restoration expert Tony Colgrave's recommendations for leather saddle care.

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    Quote Originally Posted by oldfixguy View Post
    rustbelt,

    Saddles are very, very personal things. Nothing but Brooks B17's or B17 narrows will ever again be sucked into my butt crack. They are that good - for my tush, anyway. A Brooks should be totally and 100% comfortable out of the box. Over time and as you apply the leather conditioner the saddle will conform to your specific body shape creating a truly custom saddle that will be the most comfortable thing you've ever ridden. Setting up a Brooks "hammock" style seems to be the way to go. It kind of goes against natural leanings. If you get on the saddle and feel "package" pressure you will be inclined to tilt the nose a bit further down. Don't. Tilt it a bit more up. It works. Give yourself about 20 minutes to set up a new Brooks. Be sure to take short rides in all positions - such as on the flats, in the drops, etc.. Also, be sure to ride over some comparatively rough stuff. Drop off small curbs and things like that (in all positions) to see how the positioning affects your body. You should find yourself working in smaller and smaller increments of adjustment. Don't be afraid of this process or be in too much of a hurry. Don't even look at the saddle. Continue to adjust in whatever manner is necessary to create all around cycling comfort. This will be "your" position. Don't sweat the lack of padding. It's just not needed on a Brooks. I know, that sounds non-nonsensical.

    The saddle will last you longer than you ever thought possible. Avoid using the tightening bolt. I've never known anyone to claim that bolt has made a positive difference. The folks I know prefer the "tie" versions of Brooks (they have holes and shoe lace material sort of in the middle of the saddle - you'll see.) to gently keep the form of the saddle. One of the things other than fit is that a Brooks is very difficult to damage to the point it has to be replaced. If your bike topples over or you lose it in a spill, the saddle will be scuffed but will require no repair. Lather on the saddle oil stuff (proofide??) and over time you will see the scarring sort of self-heal. While I don't have any use for the higher end saddles that go for hundreds and hundreds of dollars, the B17's are the bees knees for this guy. Love 'em.
    Thanks for this. This was really, really helpful.

  22. #22
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    Quote Originally Posted by wheeldeal View Post
    How about you borrow a buddy's bike that has a Brooks and take it for a spin? You're telling me you can't find a single person to swap bikes with you for 5 minutes?
    That's a good idea and I plan to do just that but I figured the point of forums like this was to get multiple views, which I have. And actually, I'm really glad I asked. The input has actually been extremely helpful. I'm going to buy one. I just have to decide which model and which color.

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    Quote Originally Posted by bicyclridr4life View Post
    One way to speed up the softening/breaking in process is several application of neatsfoot oil to both the underside and top side, beat the heck out of it with a baseball bat, apply more oil, beat again, apply more oil, "bake" at as low a temp as your oven will go for an hour or so, remove and beat again, apply more oil, let sit 48 hours, apply light application of neatsfoot in and out, rub well on outside with lint free cloth, install and enjoy. I made my Japanese (or was it Chinese?) Brooks copy super soft that way. Shame some motherless S.O.B. stole the bike it was on, otherwise I'd still be using it.
    And actually, its the fact that people have such strong opinions about the saddles that pushed me over the edge. I totally dig these voodoo like rituals people go through to get their saddles in the right place. It reminds me of the rituals of breaking in a new baseball mitt.

  24. #24
    Senior Member Retro Grouch's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by rustbelt View Post
    I am about to swap out the saddle on my Kilo Stripper and I'm interested in what makes a Brooks saddle so special.
    I can ride one of my Brooks equipped bikes 60 or 70 miles and not suffer from "numb manhood". That's not true of any other saddle that I've tried.

  25. #25
    Utilitarian Boy Gyeswho's Avatar
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    I never had the numb problem, but I've had the oww my butt hurts really bad because of this saddle problem after doing 40-60 mile rides. There is just something to the way a Brooks supports your sit bone where it doesn't hurt on really long rides.

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