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Berthoud vs Brooks

Old 11-12-21, 06:51 PM
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Berthoud vs Brooks

Hi has any one ridden both Berthoud (soulor) and brooks swift? if so how do they compare?
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Old 11-12-21, 07:24 PM
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I have ridden and owned both saddles. In my opinion, the French made Berthoud is the long term winner. Heavy duty leather, repeating heavy duty leather. What ever tanning method they use, they got it correct. Long term break in is better as miles add up.
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Old 11-12-21, 10:27 PM
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I've had a Berthoud on my Trek 720 since spring... I've been splitting time between 4 bikes (for the most part) this summer- so break in has been slow. OK, it hasn't really started to break in- it's still solid and hard.

Berthoud Saddle on Trek 720 by Dave The Golden Boy, on Flickr
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Old 11-13-21, 02:18 AM
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I've had neither but I would get the Berthoud all day long as well as their saddle bag that bolts to it.
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Old 11-13-21, 04:03 AM
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I went with the Berthoud.
I have hopped on a number of friend's Brook's saddles.
I like them when my buddies have broken them in.
I like the Berthoud for a number of reasons.
There is no break in period.
Jump on the bike with a tool to adjust and that's it.
Every part is available for replacement.
If that does not put your mind at ease, watch the video's of their production.

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Old 11-13-21, 10:35 AM
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Iíve owned both and found Berthoud to be superior. I found it to have a similar break-in period to a new Brooks; about 500 miles. Premium Brooks saddles (like the Professional) are very close to a Berthoud and Iíve been just as happy on those.

these days I prefer Brooks carved Cambium saddles over both Berthouds and leather Brooks. Again tho, itís a case of small differences and one isnít drastically better than the others.
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Old 11-13-21, 01:32 PM
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Another Berthoud fan here.

I’ve had two Brooks Swifts, but never able to find that sweet spot in tilt with them. FWIW, I’ve also had several Team Pros and B-17 Champion Specials (Pro-thick leather, big rivets) over the decades. The B17’s were best of these as my riding posture rotated up over the decades, but eventually needed a slot, ala Imperials, for pressure relief. The B17 CS shown below was eventually slotted by Selle AnAtomica before they were making their own. I used it for a decade, but was never thrilled with how the skirts flared under seated pressure, before and after slotting.

OTOH, I love, love, love both my Berthoud Aravis. One has over 12,000 miles and doing great, the other a mere 1500 miles. No slots required. I’m still a bit of a “princess” when dialing in tilt, but it’s about finding the best seated location, not pressure relief.

One important difference between any Brooks and Berthoud is that the latter locate the leather attachments (rivets on Brooks, screws on Berthoud) off the seated surface, so I don’t end up actual sitting on them. I take advantage of the disassemble-ability for the annual treatment with Obenuaf’s. Nice that I could replace any part, but hard to imagine when I’d need that, short of crash damage.

My last B17 CS when it was brand new. Note the rivet location on the rear cantle:


The older Aravis at five years and 10,000 miles. See how the attachment screws are farther down? It’s a Natural finish, which darkens substantially just like that Brooks above did eventually, and seems to break in faster than black. As others have said, they’re very comfortable from the start.
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Old 11-13-21, 10:01 PM
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I have the Berthoud Galibier with the Ti rails. What I like very much is the modern design of the saddle which puts it apart from almost all the other leather saddles in the industry, plus the bonus of the saddle only weighing as much as a Selle Italia Turbo, which proves that a leather saddle does not have to always weigh like a boat anchor.
Sure it costs a lot of money, but I think you certainly get what you pay for, and more with the Berthouds

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Old 11-14-21, 05:10 AM
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Another vote for Berthoud, however, imho you can’t go wrong with either.
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Old 11-14-21, 07:03 AM
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Originally Posted by Dfrost View Post
Another Berthoud fan here.

Iíve had two Brooks Swifts, but never able to find that sweet spot in tilt with them. FWIW, Iíve also had several Team Pros and B-17 Champion Specials (Pro-thick leather, big rivets) over the decades. The B17ís were best of these as my riding posture rotated up over the decades, but eventually needed a slot, ala Imperials, for pressure relief. The B17 CS shown below was eventually slotted by Selle AnAtomica before they were making their own. I used it for a decade, but was never thrilled with how the skirts flared under seated pressure, before and after slotting.

OTOH, I love, love, love both my Berthoud Aravis. One has over 12,000 miles and doing great, the other a mere 1500 miles. No slots required. Iím still a bit of a ďprincessĒ when dialing in tilt, but itís about finding the best seated location, not pressure relief.

One important difference between any Brooks and Berthoud is that the latter locate the leather attachments (rivets on Brooks, screws on Berthoud) off the seated surface, so I donít end up actual sitting on them. I take advantage of the disassemble-ability for the annual treatment with Obenuafís. Nice that I could replace any part, but hard to imagine when Iíd need that, short of crash damage.

My last B17 CS when it was brand new. Note the rivet location on the rear cantle:


The older Aravis at five years and 10,000 miles. See how the attachment screws are farther down? Itís a Natural finish, which darkens substantially just like that Brooks above did eventually, and seems to break in faster than black. As others have said, theyíre very comfortable from the start.
I don't see a picture of the B17 slotted by S-A. I remember when they used to do that, I'd sure like to see it! Also, have you had an S-A? How did they compare? I certainly like a very well-broken S-A X model, and the H model.
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Old 11-14-21, 07:05 AM
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Can anybody throw a comparison or at least review of the new Ideale 90 into the discussion?
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Old 11-14-21, 06:04 PM
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Originally Posted by Road Fan View Post
I don't see a picture of the B17 slotted by S-A. I remember when they used to do that, I'd sure like to see it! Also, have you had an S-A? How did they compare? I certainly like a very well-broken S-A X model, and the H model.
Here’s a shot with the same B-17 CS, after slotting and lots of miles/years, not the best for your question but it gives a pretty good idea of the slot, which is quite similar to what S-A uses in their own saddles, and the Brooks Imperial that wasn’t being made when this was slotted:


I had an S-A X, purchased new, for about 500 miles in 2013. In that distance, the bolt needed quite a lot of adjustment (I weigh about 170-175, FWIW) and didn’t care for the more triangular shape (plan view), since I pedal with my thighs in, particularly the right thigh that almost brushes the TT. So there was quite a bit of rubbing on the skirt. I’ve heard that they’ve improved the bolt adjustment aspect, and lots of folks love them, much like my deep affection for Berthouds. But they are very different saddles for similar purposes.

BTW, I also used a Rivet Independence for about 2000 miles, non-slotted and not needed for me. But it never broke in to my peculiarly posterior in that time. Lovely saddle, just not my Mama Bear solution that are the Berthoud Aravis’s.

Here’s an plan view of the Rivet, which is very similar to the Aravis. No comparable shot of the triangular S-A.

Last edited by Dfrost; 11-14-21 at 06:07 PM.
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Old 11-16-21, 01:50 AM
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@Road Fan, I just came across these better shots of my former B-17 Champion Special slotted by Selle AnAtomica. Iíd forgotten that they added a reinforcing layer underneath, clearly visible in the second photo. It obviously had a titanium frame. Must have taken these just before I sold it.



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Old 11-16-21, 02:04 AM
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I have several thousand miles on each of my Berthouds (Aravis and Galibier). Well worth the investment, especially for longer rides. The leather is thicker and of a higher quality than the Brooks Swift or B17s I've owned.
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Old 11-16-21, 04:31 AM
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Hi has any one ridden both Berthoud (soulor) and brooks swift? if so how do they compare?
Well first up, one thing to note is that despite their apparently similar widths and intent those two models are VERY different to sit on!

The Swift has a very sharp drop off from the seating area to the wings and is heavily biased towards a position with a large saddle-to-bar drop, to the point that for a lot of people it's very difficult to find a comfy tilt angle for anything but a racy position with a Swift

The Soulor on the other had is more of a narrower version of the Aravis/Aspin, it is slightly more biased to a racy position with a some drop but is much flatter across the back and doesn't have the steep drop off to the wings, which makes it entirely usable as an everyday saddle in a more relaxed setup for those that simply need a narrower saddle width.

Have you ridden on either option before or are they both unknowns to you?
What kind of position is the bike set up for, lots of saddle to bar drop or more relaxed?
Do you run a lot of setback or are you a saddle forward kinda rider?

The Swift is a very love it or hate it saddle, and quite unique in shape within the Brooks range. If it works for your backside then you'll likely declare all other saddles as torture implements and never look back. On the other hand if it doesn't you'll probably spend ages adjusting it and getting it 'nearly' comfy before finally giving up and trying something else.

The Soulor/Galibier is a great saddle but it is quite narrow across the back, if you need or like narrow saddles then it'll likely work well for you, but be very sure you really do want a saddle that narrow first.

I have in various states of worn out/broken in:

1x GB Soulor
1x GB Galibier
1x GB Aravis
1x BG Aspin
2x Brooks B17
1x Brooks B17 Narrow
2x Brooks Swift*
3x Brooks Team Pro
2x Brooks Professional

So have had plenty of time and miles on most of the normal options, but they are all used on bikes with different setups that suit their shapes, ie: the bikes that run Swifts I would never use a B17 on, and vice versa.

Overall I'd rate Gilles Berthoud as better quality, and definitely the more modern construction has benefits for both weight saving and repair-ability, but a better quality product doesn't necessarily mean it'll fit your backside any better! As pointed out above the GB saddles all have their screws set outside the seating area so snagged shorts from lifted rivet edges are a thing of the past.

The GB saddles are also more consistent in terms of leather quality and hold their shape better, I don't mean breaking in wise, but they don't (can't) suffer from 'twisted nose syndrome' that Brooks often develop, and they also maintain their symmetry on the wings better like the
Brooks Professional and Team Pros do Vs B17 or older B15 (not the B15, but the B15 'cheaper version of B17 from days of yore). I think this is a result of using a better cut of leather.

Also worth pointing out that the Soulor and Galibier do seem to break in quicker than the Aravis/Aspin, and do need tension a little more frequently, not not unexpected given they have significantly less leather but worth pointing out.

My Aspin, well it's actually a very early prototype from before they were named, is on my commuter/town bike and has done more miles than I care to count and I've only ever tweaked the tension once and it's like a glove for my bottom every time I sit on it :-)

*I've been slowly replacing my Swifts with GB Soulors and Galibiers as I find them a better fit for my backside. My first ever ride on a GB Galibier was when I bolted one to my bike 10mins before a 200K audax as a rail broke on my Swift on the way to the start. Got to the end of the ride and had forgotten it was a new saddle!

Last edited by amedias; 11-16-21 at 04:37 AM.
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Old 11-16-21, 07:54 AM
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For those new to tensioned leather saddles who might wonder onto this thread:
Berthoud - France
Brooks - UK
Gyes (Cardiff, Dia Compe, Fenix, Fyxation, Lekker, Origin8, Papillionaire, Shinola, Sobdeall, Spa, Torelli, Velo Orange, Zimbale, etc.) - Taiwan
Ideale - France
Lepper - Netherlands
Nasiruddin (Persons) - India
Rivet - AFAIK manufactured in Taiwan by Gyes but to their own proprietary designs
Sella Italia - Italy
Selle Anatomica - USA
Selle Monte Grappa - Italy
Tabor - Portugal

[(Disclaimer: Your money, your derriŤre. I got no ax to grind and I don't need anyone else to buy what I have to validate my choice.)]

Edit: This is NOT an exhaustive list of every company that has manufactured tensioned leather saddles over the last 150 years. It was only meant to be a list of current manufacturers. I'm only too happy to update this if anyone can give me a link to others.

Last edited by tcs; 11-18-21 at 12:35 PM.
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Old 11-16-21, 08:33 AM
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My Swift with TI frame feels light and soft in the hand, but as suggested Iím having trouble setting it up so I can sit on it without either slipping forward or having too much pressure up front, even with two bolt micro adjust. I donít think itís for me! Itís not just a matter of platform size, since Iím perched pretty well on a modern B15 Swallow and a Team Pro. The B17, Selle Anatomica, and the Ideale 92 are more ďroomy,Ē but Iím feeling itís worthwhile to break in a Professional, and not at all so much for the Swift.
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Old 11-16-21, 08:38 AM
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As is true in every saddle thread, what works for one won't necessarily work for another. And what worked for me for a long time (Brooks B.17) is no longer comfortable for long rides. I've pretty much given up on leather suspended saddles for my regular riders. However, I have a couple of Ti Brooks Swifts still in the rotation and find that works for me without the fussing with angles and positioning reported here. That's what I rode on my Cino bike (an early 70s Wes Mason). I've also commuted on it for years. I also have a Berthoud of unknown model on one of my commuters, where it's been for many years. When I first got it, I expected to experience some kind of French comfort magic, but, no, it pretty much felt like a Brooks to me, but a bit firmer. I have found that i need to attend to the screws holding the leather top on as they loosen up over time.
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Old 11-16-21, 09:26 AM
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Originally Posted by tcs View Post
For those new to tensioned leather saddles who might wonder onto this thread:
Berthoud - France
Brooks - UK
Gyes (Cardiff, Dia Compe, Fenix, Fyxation, Lekker, Origin8, Papillionaire, Shinola, Sobdeall, Spa, Torelli, Velo Orange, Zimbale, etc.) - Taiwan
Ideale - France
Lepper - Netherlands
Nasiruddin (Persons) - India
Rivet - AFAIK manufactured in Taiwan by Gyes but to their own proprietary designs
Sella Italia - Italy
Selle Anatomica - USA
Selle Monte Grappa - Italy
Tabor - Portugal
Don't forget:
Belt - Japan
Fujita - Japan
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Old 11-16-21, 11:36 AM
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Thanks all so far this has been really helpful,

I am very aware saddle fit is very personal, for me: Sella Italia Turbo fits, B17 fits for upright riding, but not for drop bar riding, Swift is good on my road bike, B17 Imperial narrow, was virtually a pain, got rid of it after 50 miles, I can ride a selle italia Flyte for under 15 mile distances
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Old 11-16-21, 06:34 PM
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Originally Posted by JohnDThompson View Post
Don't forget:
Belt - Japan
Fujita - Japan
Also:
Middlemore - England
Wrights - England
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Old 11-17-21, 03:01 AM
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Originally Posted by squirtdad View Post
Thanks all so far this has been really helpful,

I am very aware saddle fit is very personal, for me: Sella Italia Turbo fits, B17 fits for upright riding, but not for drop bar riding, Swift is good on my road bike, B17 Imperial narrow, was virtually a pain, got rid of it after 50 miles, I can ride a selle italia Flyte for under 15 mile distances
My recommendation would be buy a Soulor and give it a go!

It's a more versatile saddle than a swift so chances of you liking it are high, but it will also hold it's resale value so likely even if you hated it you'd only be out small amount if you sold it on.
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Old 11-17-21, 12:55 PM
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I have Berthoud on all my bikes
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Old 11-17-21, 04:30 PM
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This will have been an expensive thread to click on, I just know it!

Originally Posted by amedias View Post
Well first up, one thing to note is that despite their apparently similar widths and intent those two models are VERY different to sit on!

The Soulor on the other had is more of a narrower version of the Aravis/Aspin, it is slightly more biased to a racy position with a some drop but is much flatter across the back and doesn't have the steep drop off to the wings, which makes it entirely usable as an everyday saddle in a more relaxed setup for those that simply need a narrower saddle width.

The Soulor/Galibier is a great saddle but it is quite narrow across the back, if you need or like narrow saddles then it'll likely work well for you, but be very sure you really do want a saddle that narrow first.

I have in various states of worn out/broken in:

1x GB Soulor
1x GB Galibier
1x GB Aravis
1x BG Aspin
2x Brooks B17
1x Brooks B17 Narrow
2x Brooks Swift*
3x Brooks Team Pro
2x Brooks Professional

Overall I'd rate Gilles Berthoud as better quality, and definitely the more modern construction has benefits for both weight saving and repair-ability, but a better quality product doesn't necessarily mean it'll fit your backside any better! As pointed out above the GB saddles all have their screws set outside the seating area so snagged shorts from lifted rivet edges are a thing of the past.

The GB saddles are also more consistent in terms of leather quality and hold their shape better, I don't mean breaking in wise, but they don't (can't) suffer from 'twisted nose syndrome' that Brooks often develop, and they also maintain their symmetry on the wings better like the
Brooks Professional and Team Pros do Vs B17 or older B15 (not the B15, but the B15 'cheaper version of B17 from days of yore). I think this is a result of using a better cut of leather.

My Aspin, well it's actually a very early prototype from before they were named, is on my commuter/town bike and has done more miles than I care to count and I've only ever tweaked the tension once and it's like a glove for my bottom every time I sit on it :-)

*I've been slowly replacing my Swifts with GB Soulors and Galibiers as I find them a better fit for my backside. My first ever ride on a GB Galibier was when I bolted one to my bike 10mins before a 200K audax as a rail broke on my Swift on the way to the start. Got to the end of the ride and had forgotten it was a new saddle!
Having ridden all those saddles, maybe you can help me spend my money. The B17 Narrow is my favorite Brooks so far (the regular B17 being too wide, and the Pro too rounded on top), but every so often I can swear I'm feeling the cantle plate through the top. Especially with my B5N, which was a cheaper version of the B17N with thinner leather. So something that rides like a slightly wider B17N would be perfect. Given all that, would you say the Soulor or the Aspin is closer to my ideal?

Thanks!
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