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Thread: Brooks saddle

  1. #1
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    Brooks saddle

    Sorry if this has been asked (I have searched but not found anything)

    I'm deciding on a saddle for a 2000 km first tour through the USA. Brooks are coming highly recommended but I'm not sure which to go for.

    I was thinking about the B-17 Special but noticed this had no springs! Surely on such a long ride spring would be a good idea?
    Also, what is the point in going special because as far as I can see the only difference between standard and special is one has copper rivets.. Do these serve a purpose or just look nice?

    Thanks in advance for any replies

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    Quote Originally Posted by gordyb View Post
    Sorry if this has been asked (I have searched but not found anything)

    I'm deciding on a saddle for a 2000 km first tour through the USA. Brooks are coming highly recommended but I'm not sure which to go for.

    I was thinking about the B-17 Special but noticed this had no springs! Surely on such a long ride spring would be a good idea?
    Also, what is the point in going special because as far as I can see the only difference between standard and special is one has copper rivets.. Do these serve a purpose or just look nice?

    Thanks in advance for any replies
    If you want springs, you can always get the Brooks Flyer. It's B17 leather on a sprung frame.

    I don't know about the rest of your post. I don't have a Brooks, nor have I ever ridden a bicycle equipped w/ one.

    It's on my wish list.
    '83 Fuji S-12S LTD
    '88 Peugeot Orient Express

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    Senior Member burbankbiker's Avatar
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    You're correct that the big difference between the B17 and the special is the copper rivets/rails. While some people have suggested the hammered copper would avoid clothing getting snagged in the rivets, I think the difference is almost 100% an aesthetic choice. I just bought the special over the B17 for my upcoming tour and it was absolutely done as a 60 dollar vanity tax.

    If I'm spending 2k on a new touring set up with panniers, racks, frame, components, saddle, lights, and camping gear for the trip... why not spend the 60 bucks and massage my eyes with the beauty of the vintage copper rivets every time I look at my bike? At least that was my thinking.

    As for the springs thing, my personal choice has been to go without the springs because the leather saddle is itself designed for long rides without the need for springs. I've ridden a Brooks B17 before and I ride a Swift on my current bike (the non-touring bike I ride). I've never wished I had springs on them and I've ridden long days. Since the springs therefore add unneeded weight, the choice was easy for me to skip them.

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    Quote Originally Posted by gordyb View Post
    ...I was thinking about the B-17 Special but noticed this had no springs! Surely on such a long ride spring would be a good idea?
    Also, what is the point in going special because as far as I can see the only difference between standard and special is one has copper rivets.. Do these serve a purpose or just look nice...
    Springs are not as common as you think. The B17 is the most popular Brooks saddle, probably because it's the least expensive. Some owners of the sprung models comment that the springs are too rigid and don't seem to do much. Some have changed the springs to a lower-load-rating spring to improve the suspension of the saddle. If you use larger diameter tires on your bike, the saddle spring becomes a little less useful.

    The Special saddle's improvements are cosmetic and functional. The rivets are larger and copper, vs stainless steel on the Std B17, and this is purely cosmetic. The improvement to the saddle rails is functional. On the Std, they're powder coated (PC) mild steel, and this plastic coating can peel off, leaving the rails unprotected from inevitable corrosion. I scraped and lightly sanded the rails on my B17 to remove the flaking PC and painted them black. Special saddles are better in that they get copper clad steel rails to match the rivets, and these will not flake or readily corrode.

    The dimensions of the Std and Special and the rest of the tensioning and support hardware are the same.
    Last edited by seeker333; 08-28-12 at 03:52 PM.

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    mine was comfy from day one B17 champion special with copper rivets brass rails, eccellent saddle could not fault it. wiggle do good prices on them .

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    I have seen a lot of Brooks saddles that were obviously ridden wet. Put a plastic bag over it every night and use a cover to protect it in the rain. I use a cheap lycra cover that is not water proof, I put a plastic bag under the lycra, the purpose of the lycra is to protect and hold the plastic bag in place.

    For every Brooks user you will find a different recommendation for maintenance and breaking in. I am not going to elaborate too much on this but I think you want to get it broken in before you apply any Proofhide. And, if you get a tension wrench for it, resist the urge to use it. There should be no need to use a wrench for the first several thousand miles, provided that you do not ride it when it is wet.

    20IMGP3547.jpg

    The owner of the bike in the photo was looking at his tires in the evening to see if there was any debris to remove before it causes a flat. He left his bike upside down over night and there was a thunderstorm in the middle of the night. His Brooks was soaked in a puddle for several hours. That is not a good way to care for your leather saddle.

    I use a Conquest, it is a discontinued model, essentially a Brooks Pro with springs. But, most prefer the B17 or Flyer.

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    Just received a B17 'regular version' late last week. Finally had time to put it on my Lemond Zurich 2 days ago. Purchased from Wall Bike (for their 6 month return policy in case it doesn't work out). First class packaging and presentation on both the parts of Brooks and Wall Bike. Reminded me of the packaging/presentation used by Apple and their products. IOW, kind of takes the sting out of the price tag

    Out of the box with first application of Proofide....it's awesome! I did an hour on a Kreitler trainer to get it fine tuned for fitting, and will start on some longer rides tomorrow morning. From reading the reviews, I'm sure it will only get better.

    I went with the standard B17 because I wanted it in the Eccentric Blue (which in the version I received, a very dark navy). If all goes well, I may get more for our tandems and/or my daily errand cruiser (which may get the Black standard B17 with springs). But, I will think on the springs option, cause they have been reported as pretty stiff (as mentioned above)...so I may just adjust tire pressure a bit. The 'Special' version really doesn't go with any of our bike's color scheme (our bikes being modern bright colors and looks).....but if any of our bikes had a retro color scheme/look, the Special wouldn't be a bad decision.

    Just do it.

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    Long Distance Cyclist Machka's Avatar
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    I've been riding Brooks saddles on long rides since 2004 ... without springs. I'm not sure I'd want springs. The springs seem so big and heavy and I'm not sure they'd be at all useful.

    And regarding the colour ... I've got black on all my bicycles except my titanium. On that one I got the titanium railed green special. It's nice! Probably my favourite one right now. I really want the blue one for my touring bicycle too, but just couldn't justify the price before we left on our tour.

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    Thanks for all the feedback. Will definitely make sure I look after whichever saddle I go for and avoid any water damage.


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    I do almost 100 times more reading than posting here on BF....

    If you go through some of the 'picture' threads or touring links to photos, it's rather amazing to see all the various touring setups in use, but then see a good majority of those setups using Brooks saddles. Doesn't surprise me, just was an interesting exercise while looking at all the cool setups and locations photos.

    Like this one I found just last night in the 'weekend camping' thread http://www.flickr.com/groups/s24o/pool/with/4404839663/

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    I am kind of an outlier, but I have a B135 - one of the crazy ones with all the springs underneath - on my MTB turned cruiser/tourer/whatever and I love it. The model you choose is probably best selected by finding one of Brooks dealers with a good size inventory and going there with your bike to check out the selection. A really huge stockist of Brooks saddles is here in Portland. I went there with my bike, and tried out some options until I settled on this totally crazy one.

    Now, I mostly sit upright on this bike. When I convert my drop handlebar 30+ year old Fuji I'll probably go with either a Brooks Flyer or a Brooks B66S or B67S.

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    I ride a Brooks B17 special and absolutely love it. It is the most comfortable saddle that I own. One thing about buying a Brooks is that they need to be broken in. Having read your other thread, it seems that you are picking up everything when you arrive, putting it together, and heading off on your 2k journey.
    A Brooks saddle can take a significant amount of miles to break in, and be very uncomfortable in the process. You may want to buy your saddle at home, put it on a bike, and start the break-in process before you leave for your trip. Just take it off and bring it with you. Your but will thank you.
    On the other hand, mine have always been comfortable out of the box. YMMV
    Just something to think about so you don't start your trip on a painful note.

  13. #13
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    I have a B-67, which is sprung, on my LHT. I ride very upright while touring, and the springs do help when riding pot-holey back country roads. It's very heavy (30 ounces) but works for me (~160 lbs). I ride a B-17 (20 ounces) on my cross-check with the bars and seat near the same height. On paved only tours that works for me.
    Last edited by BigAura; 08-29-12 at 08:00 AM. Reason: added weights

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    I can't imagine spending the money or break in discomfort for a Brooks saddle.

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    Senior Member burbankbiker's Avatar
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    I've never experienced the Brooks break-in discomfort. In fact, this past week I got a new LHT build together with a new B17 Special and went for a 60 mile christening ride and felt no problems whatsoever. My Brooks have all felt instantly comfortable. I can't say the same for other saddles I've tried to use. When people talk about how hard Brooks are to break in and get to the comfortable stage I often wonder if they've got them positioned wrong at the start or if I've just got a numb bum that doesn't realize it's supposed to be miserable for the first 500 miles.

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    I have Brooks Flyer on my old Paramount. Absolutely no butt buzz on chip seal. Yes, the springs work. That's why cyclists rode them for about 80 something years.

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    'nother Brooks fan here. I like the Brooks Flyer on my touring bikes. The springs only come into play on really rough roads. For me the Brooks are great right out of the box and only get better with age.

    Aaron
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    I rode a Brooks B-15 (similar to a B-17) for well over 30 years. It finally got too stretched out, but 30+ years of service isn't too bad!

    I replaced it with a pre-aged Brooks Flyer. I did ride it while wet once or twice, my fault, and I think that caused it to get too soft. I replaced it with a standard B-17 Flyer with springs, not pre-aged, and it's better than the pre-aged saddle. Comfortable from day one on my Trek 720.

    I also have a standard B-17 on my sportier bike, it also was comfortable from day one, but I once switched it over to the Trek 720 just to compare it to the Flyer, and sure enough, the springs do give a plusher ride which I like. Still, the B-17 without the springs is plenty comfortable.

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    Here's my take on Brooks saddles:

    Brooks B17 - Your touring bike has somewhat of a relax frame geometry. You ride mostly on the hoods and occasionally on the drops.

    Brooks B17 Special (copper rivets) - Same as above, but you live or will be riding in areas exposed to lots of ocean breeze. Copper will not rust! For example, many people riding the Panamerican Hwy report their regular B17 saddles looking pretty rusty at the end of their tours. Furthermore, copper rivets are hammered really flat. It is true that you experience less snagging of your shorts on these. So, the copper rivets are not just "cosmetics." The aesthetics is definitely a big bonus.

    Brooks Team Pro - Narrower than Brooks B17. Use this saddle if your bike has more of a race geometry. You spend a considerable amount of time on the drops.

    Brooks Sprung Saddles (Flyer, B66, B67) - Your bike is set up to ride in a very upright position to activate effectively the spring mechanism. These are great on urban bikes, but some tourists with flat or butterfly bars like them. If your bike is set up with drop bars, sprung saddles might not be the best choice.
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    I'm currently using a team pro on my LHT with the saddle height right at the handlebar height. I have to tilt the saddle a little more than usual and push it forward probably more than it should be but it puts me in the right position and feels comfy to me. I'm using it because I switched bikes. You probably want a B17 for touring. No springs suggested here too. Rather unnecessary once it's broken in.

    The team pro takes for flippin' ever to break in. At least 2000 miles, though I am not on the heavy side.

    Copper rivets I have found look nice, never snagged really, but are on there because they look pretty. : ) I think a normal one would do just fine. I think the Brooks folks say that they prevent tearing or separating of the leather from the rivets, but at least on my team pro I don't see how that's possible with 5mm of leather under me.

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    the skirt skivving , in the bottom edge is a extra step that gets done with the Cu rivet.
    tapering the bottom edge is a nicer feel over time..

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    Senior Member wahoonc's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Chris Pringle View Post
    Here's my take on Brooks saddles:

    Brooks Sprung Saddles (Flyer, B66, B67) - Your bike is set up to ride in a very upright position to activate effectively the spring mechanism. These are great on urban bikes, but some tourists with flat or butterfly bars like them. If your bike is set up with drop bars, sprung saddles might not be the best choice.
    The sprung saddle being discussed is the Flyer which is a B-17 top with springs. It works in the same application as the regular B-17, it does add a 340g penalty over the regular B17, but then again Brooks saddles are not usually the choice of weight conscious folks.

    Aaron
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    OK, I'll be the discenting opinion again as usual

    I will advise that the Brooks may be for you, but it is also fairly likely that it won't be. I know that I found the one I had to be nothing special. I found it just OK out of the box and liked it less and less as it broke in. By the time it had deep dimples I hated it and took it off.

    I have found that the saddles that came with my bikes were all fine once I got my butt broken in to suit them and I would use any of them for another coast to coast trip without hesitation. I always advise putting in at least several hundred miles on the saddle that you have on your bike and giving it a good chance before swapping.

    The Brooks saddles are all quite heavy and the ones with springs especially so. It may be worth it to some, but it definitely was not for me.

    I think that much of your weight should be carried by your legs and your legs should act as the springs. That is best acomplished by having your bars fairly low and having your core muscles fairly strong. A sit up and beg posture will not suffice if you want to minimize the weight on the saddle. You should also have elbows bent and a relaxed upper body with finger draped loosely over the bars. If having your bars lower than the saddle is a problem for you, I'd advise having you bars as low as is comfortable for you and easing into lower yet as you log some miles and adjust to the posture. I found the sweet spot for me is about 4" below the saddle, but that will vary rider to rider.

    I have found that wide and/or highly padded saddles are to be avoided and racing saddles are surprisingly comfortable <b>once you adjust to them</b>.

    All just one man's opinion, but it is based on a fair number of longish to long tours and a lot of local riding over many years.

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    Quote Originally Posted by staehpj1 View Post
    OK, I'll be the discenting opinion again as usual

    I will advise that the Brooks may be for you, but it is also fairly likely that it won't be.

    <big snip>

    All just one man's opinion, but it is based on a fair number of longish to long tours and a lot of local riding over many years.
    Brooks saddles do have a love it/hate it customer base, this is why, since I've never had one, went with Wall Bike as my retailer, as they have a very generous 6 month return on Brooks saddles.

    And....while Brooks doesn't specifically rule out your riding style (and body position/setup), the general idea I got out of all my reading about Brooks saddles is that they aren't the most comfortable used with that type of setup/body position. Some web site retailers specifically say they work best with the seat/handlebar equal in height, if not some even saying (on the upright saddle options) that it's better with the handlebars a bit above the seat (upright/comfort bike/MTB style).

    If I was 18 again (or even at my current age) and could handle your body position, my Zurich would probably still have it's original Selle Italia Flite on it!

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    djb
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    As someone who likes Brooks, it is worth emphasizing that if you would rather not have to worry about rain, not covering it at night if it rains etc etc, there are all kinds of good bike saddles out there that you dont have to be so careful about getting wet. For some people this could very well be a deal breaker if your inclination is not to to ever think about your bike seat.

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