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Old 04-24-08, 06:09 PM   #1
ellerbro
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3000 Miles on a Brooks B17...Results

I figured this is where most of the Brooks people hang out so I thought I'd post some info about my experience so far with a B17 Champion Special British Racing Green.

Out of the box it was rock hard of course. The first couple hundred miles left me with some sitting bone soreness but not bad. Then the leather began to soften, and soften, and soften, and became more and more hammock-like over time. Not a trace of dimples even after 3000 miles. The leather just sags. I've read some people saying that they like the sag but I can't believe that's how it's supposed to be. It lowers and moves forward your position and puts more pressure on the middle soft tissue and less on your sit bones.

So I tensioned it up a bit after maybe 1500 miles and that reduced the sag, but the sag returned. I tensioned it again a couple days ago about 2 full rotations which helped and produced a noticeably more comfortable ride. It's still not as firm as I'm sure it should be. I expect to have to repeat the tighten, sag, tighten routine until the leather breaks, which probably won't be long.

The saddle came on the bike my LBS built up for me and they initially applied what I assumed was proofide, though now I'm beginning to wonder. I've applied light amounts of proofide to the top maybe 3 times over the last year since I got it.

I've noticed when searching for other people's experiences that a number of people have also written about their Brooks sagging and not moulding to their shape. Does Brooks have a quality control issue?
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Old 04-24-08, 06:46 PM   #2
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Lots of variables here.
Rider weight, exposure to water and humidity ect.
I have seen some Proofhide slathered saddles that do look like hammocks and can't be comfortable. As a lighter rider I have never had an issue with this problem.
But once the saddle is stretched beyond hope I don't think there is any way to tighten it up further unless you punch some holes and lace it up.
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Old 04-24-08, 06:59 PM   #3
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Pictures we need pictures
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Old 04-24-08, 07:25 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ellerbro View Post
I've noticed when searching for other people's experiences that a number of people have also written about their Brooks sagging and not moulding to their shape. Does Brooks have a quality control issue?

Jan Heine at Bicycle Quarterly
has reported several Brooks QC issues like you describe. I wouldn't say the problem is pandemic, but clearly others are having the same issues. I would contact your vendor and ask for a warranty replacement.

My Brooks saddles are fine and I wouldn't hesitate to buy another. As long as they stand behind their products I can live with some isolated QC issues.
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Old 04-24-08, 07:52 PM   #5
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Have you considered lacing the saddle?
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Old 04-24-08, 08:26 PM   #6
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I haven't considered lacing it. Isn't that just to bring in the sides if they're rubbing your inner thigh too much?

Here are some pics. The shape is pretty much like it was when new. When I sit on it though it gives. Hard to show that in pics.
Attached Images
File Type: jpg Brooks1.jpg (97.4 KB, 81 views)
File Type: jpg Brooks2.JPG (60.5 KB, 90 views)
File Type: jpg Brooks3.JPG (89.2 KB, 70 views)
File Type: jpg Brooks4.JPG (92.8 KB, 57 views)
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Old 04-24-08, 08:39 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ellerbro View Post
I haven't considered lacing it. Isn't that just to bring in the sides if they're rubbing your inner thigh too much?

Here are some pics. The shape is pretty much like it was when new. When I sit on it though it gives. Hard to show that in pics.
Press down on saddle with your hand in the area where you feel the give...if you notice that the sides flare out some as you do, lacing the sides together will help.
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Old 04-25-08, 04:55 AM   #8
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These saddles are broken-in by the seat-bones pressing down and breaking the leather fibres making the dimples. If you have a well-covered bahooky then the sit-bones will be prevented from breaking the fibres but eventually the leather will give until it works like a hammock. This is why even very light-weight riders can create dimples and break-in a saddle, in that their seat-bones are exposed enough to break the fibres.

Incidentally this is also why Brooks recommend that nothing be applied to the saddle to soften the leather as this would allow the fibres to slip over one another and not to break, which is needed in order to form the depressions.


Lacing is the only answer and riders have been doing this for decades.
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Old 04-25-08, 06:28 AM   #9
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Eller,
Interesting reading. I have a Brooks Pro with about 7000 miles on it and it is still hard as a rock. It is the first Brooks that I have had so am not sure what the norm is. I am just reading along with you to see what I can learn.
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Old 04-25-08, 06:33 AM   #10
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Instead of tensioning the leather, try re-adjusting your saddle tilt. I have thousands of miles on my touring Brooks (I have 6 others), and I have never had to tension the leather screw.

Also, have you used Proofhide on it?
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Old 04-25-08, 07:04 AM   #11
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I just wanted to say that I had a similar issue at first. I laced up the skirts and the saddle has been excellent. I understand Brooks actually offer(ed) a laced version.

e.g.
http://www.wallbike.com/b17aged.html

I also had a problem with the tensioning mechanism. I didn't work, kept slipping. Luckily I found that a regular bolt and nut fit in there quite nicely, and are easier to tighten and do a better job over-all. I think I've only had to tighten the saddle once since I laced it - about 3 years ago. I do about 3000miles/yr of commuting - it's a magnificent saddle.
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Old 04-25-08, 07:31 AM   #12
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Your B17 doesn't look "saggy." My B17s were comfortable right away -- after I got them adjusted properly. I found that I had to adjust the front higher than the back or I always felt like I was slipping forward. It looked funny, but otherwise the saddle just wasn't right.

I had two B17s at the time, both Champion Specials like yours with the large copper rivets. One was black and the other honey. The leather on the black one was noticeably thinner, and tended to sag more and was less comfortable. The honey saddle was thicker and firmer but more comfortable. I ended up selling or trading the black one, but kept the honey one. However, I've since switched to Fizik Vitesse saddles that are just as comfortable (for me) as the B17s but weigh less than half as much.
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Old 04-25-08, 08:31 AM   #13
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It's hour-after-hour, day-after-day comfort that matters to me, not shape, design, or anything else. Finding a saddle that suits can be a long, difficult struggle, but once you find "the one", it's all worth it. I've heard countless glowing reviews of Brooks, but also a few who absolutely didn't like theirs. Saddle fit is a personal thing.
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Old 04-25-08, 10:08 AM   #14
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I've wondered about the extent to which odd Brooks reshaping might be due to where you wind up sitting on the thing, which can be adjusted by moving it fore/aft or tipping it up (probably not down).
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Old 04-25-08, 07:45 PM   #15
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"Your B17 doesn't look "saggy." My B17s were comfortable right away -- after I got them adjusted properly. I found that I had to adjust the front higher than the back or I always felt like I was slipping forward. It looked funny, but otherwise the saddle just wasn't right."

The saddle doesn't look saggy, but when you apply pressure to the top it definitely gives, and quite a bit before I retensioned it the other day. What you can see though is the complete lack of forming to my sit bones. I'm fairly lean and don't have much padding getting in between the saddle and sit bones so I don't think that's an issue.

I have played with saddle angle and fore-aft position and I feel that I've found a pretty good setting. However, the bottom line is that the leather is loose.

I wonder why the tops of some saddles--like Brooks--aren't flat. You need the rear level so you don't slide forward, but that requires the nose to be inclined. The inclined nose just seems to make riding in the drops and hoods less comfortable since you're leaning forward more into the nose. Perhaps the B17 was only intended for fairly upright positions? (I ride a touring bike with saddle and handlebars about even)

"Instead of tensioning the leather, try re-adjusting your saddle tilt. I have thousands of miles on my touring Brooks (I have 6 others), and I have never had to tension the leather screw.
Also, have you used Proofhide on it?"

The saddle's been proofided a few times over the year that I've had it.

So I'll probably try lacing the sides and tensioning as needed to keep the leather taught. When it eventually gives out I might try a Brooks Professional or look into other options. Thanks for the advice so far. I know there are tons of posts about B17s already but I thought the more info out there the better.
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Old 04-26-08, 01:41 AM   #16
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I also had a problem with the tensioning mechanism. I didn't work, kept slipping. Luckily I found that a regular bolt and nut fit in there quite nicely, and are easier to tighten and do a better job over-all. I think I've only had to tighten the saddle once since I laced it - about 3 years ago. I do about 3000miles/yr of commuting - it's a magnificent saddle.[/QUOTE]

Did you look into this? Could be your solution??
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Old 04-26-08, 01:56 AM   #17
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The standard B17 is designed for more upright riding.

Since most people report a very high level of satisfaction with their Brooks saddles and I see very few complaints I would think this is an isolated or rare incident and if you contact Brooks they will most likely set things right.
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Old 04-26-08, 03:35 AM   #18
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You've proofide it several times? I've done over 3000 miles on mine since last year and only used the stuff once. Mine still looks brand new (a bit less shiny) and is as hard as a rock. Comfy though.
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Old 04-26-08, 06:44 AM   #19
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Quote:
Originally Posted by vik View Post

Jan Heine at Bicycle Quarterly
has reported several Brooks QC issues...
I just mail-ordered a B-17, my first experience with a Brooks. Looked a little crooked out of the box, but I gave it a pass thinking 'it's a natural product-- a little asymmetry is ok...?' The crookedness was more pronounced as mounted on the bike. That is, the nose points off to the right when the sit part is centered, and vice-versa. I rode it. Very comfortable except horrible pain in the area of the left hip after about 10 miles. May have been set too high. Going back to my old saddle & a lower setting to see if I can still ride that w/o the problem. Might send it back. Is 'dis-symmetry' one of the quality issues mentioned by Mr. Heine?
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Old 04-26-08, 11:39 AM   #20
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^^^^ This is far from common and I've experienced it myself. My advice would be to return the saddle as there is nothing you can do to rectify this. Some variation or texture is acceptable in a leather product but this a structural fault.
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