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  1. #1
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    Breaking in a Brooks B17 (Chamois or no)

    So I just got my new Brooks B17 Saddle, my question is for the break in period, should I be wearing shorts with a Chamois or not? Right now my riding mostly consists of a 10 mile each way commute to work, so I don't usually bust out the bike riding shorts for a trip that short.

    On the one had, I'm thinking I should be wearing what I'll wear while on tour, so wear the shorts with the chamois. On the other hand, I'd think while not wearing a chamois the saddle would conform better to me. What do ya'll think.

  2. #2
    cyclopath vik's Avatar
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    I find my leather saddles are less comfortable with a padded short on then without.
    safe riding - Vik
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    Depends

    I don't mean the adult diapers. I ride on two Brooks saddles on two different bikes (obviously). I'd say it doesn't really matter. For the kind of commute riding you're doing, street clothes are fine. If I'm out for more than 20 miles or so, I usually opt for Andiamos-type padded undershorts and loose shorts. I like pockets, and I feel as if I'm being stared at sometimes when I go into a cafe or store wearing the racerboy kit.

    The reason it doesn't make a difference what you're wearing is that break-in is governed by your pelvic structure -- your sit bones. I've found with Brooks that saddle position is more touchy than with the other saddles I've ridden. I've always just taken a level to my saddles, and forgotten about them after I got them level. That makes many riders slide forward on their saddles, putting more strain on their hands and wrists as they push themselves back in the saddle. Brooks, for me and quite a few others: nose just SLIGHTLY up.

  4. #4
    Senior Member diesel_dad's Avatar
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    Bib shorts with a chamois all the way. I am breaking in a Brooks Swift Ti at the moment. Did a sweaty 55 km of rolling hills last night until I lost a tire. It was tough enough with Assos padded bib shorts -- can't imagine a new Brooks with unpadded shorts.

  5. #5
    cyclopath vik's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by diesel_dad View Post
    -- can't imagine a new Brooks with unpadded shorts.
    Everyone's Brooks experiences are unique. I weigh 160lbs and have never had to break in a B-17...I just ride 'em straight out of the box in street clothes. A 100kms is no problem.
    safe riding - Vik
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    rhm
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    Quote Originally Posted by vik View Post
    Everyone's Brooks experiences are unique.
    Clearly, the preceding statement cannot be true, since the following one applies to me and you as well!
    Quote Originally Posted by vik View Post
    I weigh 160lbs and have never had to break in a B-17...I just ride 'em straight out of the box in street clothes. A 100kms is no problem.

  7. #7
    Deluxe Member mattm3's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by rhm View Post
    Clearly, the preceding statement cannot be true, since the following one applies to me and you as well!

    I also weigh 160 lbs and had no break-in issues with my B17!
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    Wear what you want to ride with for the long term. It's your butt that gets broken in.

    The two little dimples that eventually form on the Brooks where your sit bones contact it are just that: two little dimples. They can't significantly alter the feel of the saddle.

    The leather itself doesn't soften and stretch. If it does, you need to use the special wrench to re-tension it anyway.

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    Quote Originally Posted by xyzzy834 View Post
    Wear what you want to ride with for the long term. It's your butt that gets broken in.

    The two little dimples that eventually form on the Brooks where your sit bones contact it are just that: two little dimples. They can't significantly alter the feel of the saddle.

    The leather itself doesn't soften and stretch. If it does, you need to use the special wrench to re-tension it anyway.
    I thought that was the whole point of leather saddles, that they conform to shape you. That supposedly alters the feel of the saddle. If that's not the case I think 99.999% of Bike Forums owes us a retraction.

  10. #10
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    I tried my brooks with padded biking tights last summer and my butt started cramping. Not a fun feeling. That brooks was/is fully broke in and fits my rear nicely. Since then I no longer wear the gel padded shorts at all. Off post just a bit.....this spring I bought a new brooks special saddle for a different bike. I'm a bit perplexed because this saddle seems to have softer leather and I don' t anticipate the lengthy break in I had on the other saddle. This new saddle starts out stiff then seems to form to my rear before the end of a 30 mile ride. The other saddle took at least 500 miles to break in before it felt comfortable. It makes me wonder if Brooks uses different grades on different priced saddles??

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    nope just different cows.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Agentbolt View Post
    I thought that was the whole point of leather saddles, that they conform to shape you. That supposedly alters the feel of the saddle. If that's not the case I think 99.999% of Bike Forums owes us a retraction.
    I have a couple of thousand miles on my Brooks B17 Champion Special. I could say it's well broken in and fits my butt like a glove. If you held it up next to a brand new B17, you'd be hard pressed to find any substantial differences in the two shapes except for a couple of shallow depressions where my sit bones ride. The color of mine shows a bit of age but I doubt you could tell mine from a new one by the feel of the leather if you were blindfolded.

    In my opinion (not necessarily a statement of fact), two things happen during the "break in" period of a Brooks saddle. One, the owner's butt does in fact get acclimated to the rather unique shape of a Brooks saddle. Unlike many modern road saddles, the only flat (front to back) portion of a Brooks is on the nose and nobody wants to be sitting on the nose. The rear third of the saddle slopes upward and that takes a bit of getting accustomed to. That lack of a flat place to perch your sit bones make the Brooks very sensitive to tilt adjustments. I think the other thing that happens during break in is that a new Brooks owner fine tunes the tilt as well as the fore/aft position of the saddle.

    I've been riding a Selle San Marco Regal saddle on one of my road bikes. My first ride on it was about 25 miles and I didn't think I'd like it. After some fine tuning of its position and another hundred or so miles of riding it, I came to feel it fit me like a glove. If you're ever picked up a Regal, you'll know it's essentially a stretched piece of (fake) leather over a plastic base. It hasn't conformed to my butt at all, but I'm very comfortable on it now. So much so that I'm replacing the Brooks on my touring bike with it for an upcoming 600 mile tour around Lake Ontario (I leave at the end of next week). Surely I'm not the only person who has experienced a non-Brooks saddle break in period.

  13. #13
    ah.... sure. kayakdiver's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by mrpincher View Post
    I tried my brooks with padded biking tights last summer and my butt started cramping. Not a fun feeling. That brooks was/is fully broke in and fits my rear nicely. Since then I no longer wear the gel padded shorts at all. Off post just a bit.....this spring I bought a new brooks special saddle for a different bike. I'm a bit perplexed because this saddle seems to have softer leather and I don' t anticipate the lengthy break in I had on the other saddle. This new saddle starts out stiff then seems to form to my rear before the end of a 30 mile ride. The other saddle took at least 500 miles to break in before it felt comfortable. It makes me wonder if Brooks uses different grades on different priced saddles??
    Saddles and bibs are not a place for gel. Get some non gel padded bibs. Go for a long ride and find out what it really can feel like.
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