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Brooks saddle/seat setback

Old 07-15-16, 09:26 AM
  #1  
philbob57
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Brooks saddle/seat setback

I'm not sure where to post this, but it looks like C&V has the most posts about B17s (Brooks, not Boeing), so....

My problems are too much weight on my hands and pedaling on the nose of the saddle with my B17 Imperial. I'm much more comfortable, and maybe even faster, with an old Fizik Aliante for 5 miles or so; then perineal numbness sets in. I attribute the weight on arms/pedaling on the nose to the lack of setback with the B17.

Per the Competitive Cyclist calculator, my seat to handlebar distance should be in the 53.5-56.6 cm range. In my setup, the Aliante gives 54 cm, but the Brooks gives barely 50. I've also estimated the handlebar to sit-bone distance; 75 cm on the Aliante and 73.5-74 cm on the Brooks. It seems much easier to engage my core to hold myself up (weight off bars) with the Aliante, even though I'm slightly more stretched out.

My seatpost is a 40+ year old Zeus copy of the Campy 2 bolt post, which appears to have some setback - 1"? -, not enough in any case.

If you had this problem, or something like it, how did you solve it?

Has anyone here used the plain seatpost + clamp + Brompton 'saddle adaptor pin assembly' (for example, http://clevercycles.com/saddle-adaptor-pin-assy)? How has that worked for you? It looks like the cheapest way out ... unless I buy a new saddle and sell the Brooks. And the Aliante.

My seatpost 27.0 mm, which makes something like the VO offering a nogo.

I now weigh 225, BTW. Brompton recommends against using their part to extend reach, and I wouldn't use it that way on their bikes, but I think there's a good chance it would work for me. I'd rather not be a pioneer though....

Thanks in advance.
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Old 07-15-16, 09:47 AM
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Originally Posted by philbob57 View Post
I'm not sure where to post this, but it looks like C&V has the most posts about B17s (Brooks, not Boeing), so....

My problems are too much weight on my hands and pedaling on the nose of the saddle with my B17 Imperial.
Try tilting your saddle "up" a bit. It's very common for new Brooks saddle users to set their seat level. If you look at the saddles on most seasoned B17 users, it's tilted up a bit.

If you've got too much weight on your hands, it could be that you're using your hands and arms to push back on the saddle to counteract sliding forward on the saddle. Tilt it up a bit, and you're sitting on your "sit" bones, which will support you with a lot less pain than the soft fleshy bits between them.

Experiment with that a bit before you go and worry about setback.
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Old 07-15-16, 09:53 AM
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Yep. What gugie said. It is hard to believe that tilting the saddle up will take weight off your hands but it does.
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Old 07-15-16, 10:02 AM
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Originally Posted by philbob57 View Post
My problems are too much weight on my hands and pedaling on the nose of the saddle with my B17 Imperial.
I'm not sure I understand. If you are on the nose of the B17 now, why do you think it needs to be set back further??

I have my B17 level, but I have the handlebars at 2" drop too. Assuming your bars and saddle are set closer to even, I'd try the tilt thing first.
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Old 07-15-16, 10:11 AM
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When I first got my B17, I encountered many of the same issues. Tilting the nose up slightly kept me from sliding forward and having to constantly use my arms to push back. My seat post has notches, and I only tilted it one notch up from level.
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Old 07-15-16, 10:12 AM
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I always put a very slight tilt back to my Brooks saddles. Seems to take the weight off the hands, and keep me from sitting on the nose, and keeps the bits and tackle happy. I do prefer a slightly forward saddle position - compared to crank, so YMMV.

Edit: On preview, what everyone else said.
-J
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Old 07-15-16, 10:13 AM
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Two comments. One, 27.0 diameter is often the result of damage to or heat distortion to a far more common 27.2 seat tube. You might have a frame builder verify that you do indeed have a 27.0 or have him ream the tube back to its original 27.2 if that is the case.

And two, setback: Brookes seats are well known to have the flats for the rails well back by modern standards, making pushing the seat far enough back for good fit difficult on modern bikes with steeper seat tubes than used years ago. I don't have an easy, cheap answer for you here, but I paid a frame builder to make me two 60 mm setback seatposts for my two customs (for modern seats but I favor steep seat tubes which allow me to have a rear wheel further forward, improving my weight distribution over the wheels a lot. I end up with the same issue you have, just for a different reason.)

I did find a 25-65 mm setback post that I paid $15 for! ($60 is probably far closer to the norm.) The 25 year old (?) SR MKE-100, a post with a long "rail" the clamp slides on so you can adjust the setback. It comes with a quick release. The thinking was that the rider could push his seat back for crazy mountain bike descents. The idea never took off, but there are still some of those seat posts floating around. Well made posts, not toys. I replaced the quick release on mine with a bolt because I have no need for it and it cleans things up so a tool bag fits. THe post will probably be a much smaller diameter (I think mine and most that I have seen were 26.6) but they shim beautifully to 27.2 with 8 mil aluminum sheet. (Very common. Try any hardware store.)

Ben
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Old 07-15-16, 10:15 AM
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Also, one of the nice things about the old 2-bold design is that there is infinitely fine tilt adjustability. 1-bolt posts have notches, whereas you can fine tune the tilt on a 2-bolt by slightly tightening/loosening the front/rear bolts.
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Old 07-15-16, 10:23 AM
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Thanks. I always find it difficult to include all the relevant details when I open a thread....

I tilt the nose of both saddles up slightly; though not as much with the Aliante.

I should have added that with the Brooks, I start sitting on the saddle with sit-bones where they should be. Within a few minutes, I've moved forward to pedal on the nose. I then push myself to the back of the saddle and move forward. Then the cycle repeats throughout the ride. With the Aliante, I place my butt on the saddle when I start up, and it pretty much stays where I placed it.

I keep my back straight and pivot from my hips.
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Old 07-15-16, 10:38 AM
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B17 saddles are relatively long -- roughly 2cm longer than a typical modern racing saddle. I squirm back and forth on mine all the time, but I never feel like I'm sliding forward if I don't want to. You may want to try adjusting the nose up a tiny bit more.

Alternatively, you could try a different Brooks. I got a Swift for my next bike because it has a profile very similar to the old racing saddle I've done a gazillion miles in. Even a Brooks Pro is about 1cm shorter than a B17, IIRC.
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Old 07-15-16, 11:10 AM
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Originally Posted by philbob57 View Post
Thanks. I always find it difficult to include all the relevant details when I open a thread....

I tilt the nose of both saddles up slightly; though not as much with the Aliante.

I should have added that with the Brooks, I start sitting on the saddle with sit-bones where they should be. Within a few minutes, I've moved forward to pedal on the nose. I then push myself to the back of the saddle and move forward. Then the cycle repeats throughout the ride. With the Aliante, I place my butt on the saddle when I start up, and it pretty much stays where I placed it.

I keep my back straight and pivot from my hips.
If you're sliding forward and pushing back all the time, you should tilt it more. Stretched leather saddles "sag" a lot more than other types when you sit on them, which changes the shape while you're sitting on it. You can't see it happen, once you get off they "spring" back to shape.

I know it seems like tilting it up more will get the nose up in your tender parts, but try it. I imagine it doesn't work for everyone, but every person I've given this advice to tells me it works. I have to remember it myself - I have 2 B17's, a B17 Imperial, and a Pro on different bikes. Every one of them I set them up slightly tilted up, and after a few minutes find myself sliding forward, then have to tilt up a bit more until I find the Goldilocks position.
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Old 07-15-16, 11:18 AM
  #12  
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I don't tilt my saddles up at all and I don't slide. We're all different.
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Old 07-15-16, 11:22 AM
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Originally Posted by gugie View Post

If you've got too much weight on your hands, it could be that you're using your hands and arms to push back on the saddle to counteract sliding forward on the saddle.
THIS is exactly what I experienced. The effect is exaggerated by the slickness of the leather too.

Tilt, tilt, and more tilt, until you are stable, weighted, and balanced over the saddle/crank without holding yourself with your hands.
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Old 07-15-16, 12:03 PM
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Yep, I'm with the others. My Brooks Swift was pushing me forward, too much pressure on the hands. Tilted the nose up until I felt balance. I actually just got done doing 50 miles on this and all is now well.
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Old 07-15-16, 02:01 PM
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Thanks. I'll see what more tilt will do for me, and I'll look for that Suntour seatpost.
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Old 07-15-16, 02:31 PM
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Originally Posted by 79pmooney View Post
The 25 year old (?) SR MKE-100, a post with a long "rail" the clamp slides on so you can adjust the setback. It comes with a quick release. The thinking was that the rider could push his seat back for crazy mountain bike descents. The idea never took off, but there are still some of those seat posts floating around. Well made posts, not toys. I replaced the quick release on mine with a bolt because I have no need for it and it cleans things up so a tool bag fits. THe post will probably be a much smaller diameter (I think mine and most that I have seen were 26.6) but they shim beautifully to 27.2 with 8 mil aluminum sheet. (Very common. Try any hardware store.)

Ben
I happened on one of the SR MKE-100 posts on a Miyata 610 recently and I agree it is well made and could be a good solution.

My B-17 was sagging and I had the same sliding problem that tilting kind of resolved but eventually resulted in too much pressure from the nose of the saddle. I laced mine up and now I can have it pretty close to level and am very comfortable on it.

For infinite tilt I bought this Brompton clamp and it has worked nicely to really dial in where I'm comfortable.

Brompton Brompton Pentaclip (Saddle Clamp) - Harris Cyclery bicycle shop - West Newton, Massachusetts
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Old 07-15-16, 03:29 PM
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Are you certain that your reach is not too far and that you are sliding up to compensate? Competitive Cyclist calculator is good but it's not the end-all be-all of bike fit.

I set in this order...

Saddle height
Saddle setback
Reach

...and got close enough that a Retul fit only changed 2 things, rotated handlebars ever so slightly and shimmed one of my cleats. I knew going in that the cleat was a problem.
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Old 07-15-16, 04:40 PM
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Originally Posted by philbob57 View Post
Per the Competitive Cyclist calculator, my seat to handlebar distance should be in the 53.5-56.6 cm range.
I missed reading that part my first post.

A follow-up question should be, are you a competitive cyclist? If so, you're definitely a follower of The Rules, and will trade suffering for speed. On the other hand, if you're just riding for pleasure and health and don't want to suffer, I'd ignore those calculators. When I was much younger (30 lbs ago), I rode a smaller frame than I do now, long top tubes, and 14 cm stems slammed down. In the drops my back was damn near perfectly flat, all for the want of speed. Now my saddle and handlebars are at the same height, I ride a 10cm stem on frames with a bit shorter top tubes. I rode a 200km brevet in February, not much soreness at all the next day.
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Old 07-15-16, 04:44 PM
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As Peter White says, measurements are a poor prediction of what will work. Use his method instead.
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Old 07-15-16, 04:47 PM
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Originally Posted by Grand Bois View Post
I don't tilt my saddles up at all and I don't slide. We're all different.
Exactly. YYMV. If you're not sliding, you're probably dialed in.

I've seen some Brooks saddles on bikes with what I would consider too much tilt (if it were my bike). I ask the guy riding them, they say it's that way so they don't slide forward. Also, as the saddle ages, some adjust the tilt to accomodate.

Vive la difference!
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Old 07-15-16, 06:02 PM
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Careful you don't tilt the nose up too much, or the "numb nutz" syndrome may pay you a visit!
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Old 07-16-16, 09:54 AM
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Originally Posted by St33lWh33ls View Post
Are you certain that your reach is not too far and that you are sliding up to compensate? Competitive Cyclist calculator is good but it's not the end-all be-all of bike fit...
I find their seat-to-handlebar recommendations particularly problematic since there is such a wide variety of saddle lengths and shapes out there.
Brent
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Old 07-16-16, 10:23 AM
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Originally Posted by obrentharris View Post
I find their seat-to-handlebar recommendations particularly problematic since there is such a wide variety of saddle lengths and shapes out there.
Brent
There is no simple answer because you have to take the riders physical condition and riding style into account. That said even though the article-method that Tom points out above is strictly against the KOPs method I think it gets you in the ballpark. Once you are close you can make small adjustments until it feels right to you. This would be after using the heel on the pedal method to set saddle height.

Bicycles are very adjustable, nothing is permanent, so adjust away until it feels right.

I just wanted to add that the saddle shape-size should not matter, if you ride the bike for a few minutes before adjustment your can will find its natural position. The method they use at bike shops now to measure your sit bone width helps a lot in finding the right size saddle, unfortunately vintage Brooks only come in one width.

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Old 07-16-16, 10:38 AM
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Has anyone here used the plain seatpost + clamp + Brompton 'saddle adaptor pin assembly' .(404). How has that worked for you? It looks like the cheapest way out..
I have.. plain seat post is 7/8" the tube of the SAP is same .

Mine is now on my winter bike, [I had a Mk2 Brompton, shorter top tube, I used it there, sold Mk2 and bought a Mk 4 Bike (longer TT) , so it migrated.]

JRA.. I wouldn't do jump on the saddle CX or single track on it..
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Old 07-16-16, 03:56 PM
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I experimented with the Brooks and different tilts. I can get my butt to stay where I plant it at several angles, but at those angles, my hands get numb from too much weight, and my crotch gets numb from too much tilt & weight. Still, I guess it's some sort of progress.

My bike is from 1973, the angles are 72 or 73 parallel. I just have a long torso for my height.

I find their seat-to-handlebar recommendations particularly problematic since there is such a wide variety of saddle lengths and shapes out there.
I agree absolutely, which is why I estimated my sit-bones to bar distance.

In any case, the numbers are for reference. My goals are to stop sliding forward, to minimize weight on my hands (which I think is mainly a conditioning issue), to not get my crotch numb, and to do these things on a low budget. (A lot to ask, I know.) IOW, making my bike match the CC calculator's output is not a goal. If the Brooks had 1-2 cm more adjustability, I think I'd achieve all the goals - since with the Aliante, which is 1-2 cm further back than the Brooks, my butt stays planted where I put it and weight comes off my arms.

27.0 is a known ID for Reynolds 531, IIRC. Neither the tube nor the seatpost looks at all deformed; the post is round, and it fits the tube very well.

I'll continue to experiment with tilt and I'll look for the SR seatpost, but right now I think my best choices are between 1) go back to slight uptilt and live with pushing myself back, in order to ride with no perineal numbness; 2) decide the Brooks is just not for me; 3) stay with the increased uptilt with no pushing myself backwards and just stand up frequently.

Thanks for your help. I wouldn't have thought of tilting the seat more on my own.
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