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Old 05-01-11, 12:12 PM   #1
garagegirl
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Brooks b17 getting less and less comfy

My brooks is starting to sag. Should I turn the nose bolt or punch holes in it and lace it? It probably wasn't the best fit (for the bike it's currently on) in the first place, but it's getting noticeably less and less comfortable. I don't use a computer, but I'm sure it has a couple thousand miles. The edges are chafing my thighs as I ride and there's too much pressure on my soft tissue. I've been riding through the winter, so it's not a matter of adjusting to being back on the bike.

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Old 05-01-11, 12:35 PM   #2
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Was it comfy to begin with? You might tighten the tension on it, see if that helps.
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Old 05-01-11, 01:17 PM   #3
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Tension it first. It's easier with a Brooks tool made for tensioning.

If it is starting to spread as some saddles do, you could punch holes and lace it.

I believe there are (or were) Brooks made for women that were slightly wider. Some people cut out the center. Broks sells a model called the Imperial with the center already cut.
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Old 05-01-11, 01:22 PM   #4
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others with more experience than I will pipe in , but do be careful not to over turn the tightening bolt. I seem to recall Brooks recommending small amounts, like 1/4 turn. In any case, start with a little turn and see how it feels, its easy to do more later (and/or combined with lacing if need be)

also, I did notice that last summer I had to reposition my B17 a bit more forward so that my bum was a bit further back in the saddle (the saddle adjustment I did that caused this was my error, but only figured it out a bit later after having chafing issues)
also a slight upwards saddle angle helped me too, but you will know what works for you or not.
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Old 05-01-11, 01:54 PM   #5
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this the basic version, the others have skived edges, tapered with a tool in a worker's hand.

Hole punching, and lacing the skirt of the saddle is also done.
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Old 05-01-11, 02:11 PM   #6
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Originally Posted by garagegirl View Post
My brooks is starting to sag. Should I turn the nose bolt or punch holes in it and lace it?
I eventually did both after my B17 started sagging. Tensioning is much quicker and easier than lacing, so I'd do it first. I was able to turn the bolt with a standard hand tool, but can't remember which one. It took several turns to achieve any significant tensioning and sag reduction. I started out making a 1/2 turn, then ride, then repeat. Takes forever. I think I put about 3-5 complete turns in eventually.

I laced the sides some time later. This helped with sagging as much as the earlier bolt-tensioning. If you decide to do this, then be sure to place a 2-4 holes behind the bend in the leather. Lacing in the straight nose section ahead of the bend does little to reduce sag. The holes I punched (6 each side) are centered about 1/4" ahead of the middle ventilation hole in the top of the saddle. Be careful if you use the Brooks embossed stamp on the side skirts as a guide for punching holes - on my saddle these stamps were not placed equidistant from the nose - one stamp was ~ 1cm further back than the other, which would cause punched holes to be offset 1cm from those on the opposite side.

Here's another idea - do nothing, and instead sell the saddle and try something else. Brooks are one of the few used saddles you can sell and recover a reasonable part of the original cost. I've actually seen used Brooks saddles sell for nearly the same cost as the cheapest new ones, on the madness that is eBay. This is the best time of year to sell them, too.
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Old 05-01-11, 02:34 PM   #7
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Was it comfy to begin with? You might tighten the tension on it, see if that helps.
I've moved it around from bike to bike, and yes it was always pretty comfy. The bikes I used to have it on had more upright positioning though. Last year I put it on a bike with drop bars just barely below the saddle. It was fine at first, but then it started spreading.

Could breaking it in on bikes with different positioning have made it break in incorrectly?

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Here's another idea - do nothing, and instead sell the saddle and try something else. Brooks are one of the few used saddles you can sell and recover a reasonable part of the original cost. I've actually seen used Brooks saddles sell for nearly the same cost as the cheapest new ones, on the madness that is eBay. This is the best time of year to sell them, too
I've thought about this, and I would actually come out ahead because I bought it ages ago on nashbar before the brooks price hike. It's funny, it doesn't matter how dented the saddle is, all people seem to care about is "has the nose bolt been tensioned?" My saddle has some huge dents, I can't imagine a buyer being happy with it, but oh well.

Anyway, thanks for the help everyone. I will try tensioning it a bit and see how that goes. I may give a team pro s a try, although I think I'll miss the longer nose. The longer nose is great for steering, but I'm sure it's part of the problem I'm having with soft tissue pressure.

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Old 05-01-11, 02:50 PM   #8
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My older Brooks had the same issue. Too much "hammocking" can put pressure in the wrong places.

I laced it and adjusted the tension. It's been quite comfortable ever since.
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Old 05-01-11, 07:01 PM   #9
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I adjusted the tension on mine and I also buff it with some shoe/leather wax every couple of months this seems to have helped.
Happy travels
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Old 05-02-11, 04:43 AM   #10
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if you use the tension nut be aware that most of the time there is a little slack in the bolt. So it might not move at all for a full turn as it's not even pushing the leather yet then, BAM! it will tighten all of the sudden, so turn it slowly and keep checking it. I over tightened my new flyer and am now just getting it comfy again.
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Old 05-02-11, 07:34 AM   #11
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Originally Posted by garagegirl View Post
I've thought about this, and I would actually come out ahead because I bought it ages ago on nashbar before the brooks price hike. It's funny, it doesn't matter how dented the saddle is, all people seem to care about is "has the nose bolt been tensioned?" My saddle has some huge dents, I can't imagine a buyer being happy with it, but oh well.
When I was in the same boat I dumped the Brooks and got something else. I found the Brooks reasonably comfy when new, but nothing special. The more "dented" it got the less I liked it. I figure that since it wasn't any more comfortable for me than other saddles it wasn't worth the weight penalty. Since in fact after it got some age on it it was less comfortable, dumping it was a "no brainer" for me.

I'd suggest trying the re-tensioning and lacing others suggest, but if you are like me in that you just don't find a thoroughly broken in leather saddle especially comfortable get something else.

I guess that I am lucky in that I found all of the original saddles that came on my bikes comfy enough for a coast to coast tour and the heavier leather saddle less comfy. Perhaps that is the case for you as well?
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Old 05-02-11, 02:03 PM   #12
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Could breaking it in on bikes with different positioning have made it break in incorrectly?
Sounds to me like you don't have it positioned correctly on the bike it's on now. Can you try adjusting the "level" a bit? (Do you have a two-bolt stem? Very useful for keeping track of where you started.)

If that doesn't work, I'd vote with the "adjust the tension" crew.
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Old 05-02-11, 05:22 PM   #13
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I experienced exactly the same problem as you. Tensioning helped a lot, for a while. Then had to tension it again. Then again as the leather kept stretching. Finally gave up and went to another, much cheaper saddle that required no TLC and, for me, was no more uncomfortable. All this over a period of 3 years and several thousand miles.

Good luck.
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Old 05-02-11, 09:22 PM   #14
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Sounds to me like you don't have it positioned correctly on the bike it's on now. Can you try adjusting the "level" a bit? (Do you have a two-bolt stem? Very useful for keeping track of where you started.)

If that doesn't work, I'd vote with the "adjust the tension" crew.
It's fairly level, with a slight upward tilt. If I could tilt it down a tad I would, but then I slide forward and wind up with too much weight on my hands. A 2 bolt saddle would be helpful, but I don't have one with enough setback to use with the brooks.

And again, thanks everyone for the input, you've all been very helpful. Hopefully I'll get this sorted before my upcoming tour.

Last edited by garagegirl; 05-02-11 at 09:27 PM.
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Old 05-02-11, 09:52 PM   #15
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in the end, its just a seat, and our posteriors and other bits are more important than screwing around with something that isnt comfortable, so all the best with whatever works.
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Old 05-03-11, 05:54 AM   #16
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If it's the flaring that's bothering you, I'd lace the sides first. It will add structure and related support that's being lost as the leather breaks in. That's what I did when the flaring bothered me.

IMO, tigtening is for when the saddle starts to sag in the middle more than desired.
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Old 05-03-11, 06:50 AM   #17
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I had the same issue with one of my B17s. I could never figure out which way to turn the bolt to tighten it, and eventually sold it for about what I paid. I still have another B17 that never sagged. However, I have replaced my B17s with Fizik Vitesse saddles on all of my bikes. They are relatively wide like the B17 but much lighter, and for me just as comfortable.
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