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To Brooks, or not to Brooks?

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To Brooks, or not to Brooks?

Old 10-31-13, 11:29 AM
  #1  
Skyshroud
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To Brooks, or not to Brooks?

Hey all,

I was hoping to gather some opinions (I know that there is never a shortage here) of Brooks Saddles. Today, after a three-week wait, I picked up my 1975 Carlton Criterium from a fantastic warehouse/bike shop called The Bike Rescue Project. It looked like it had been sitting in a shed for about 20 years, and needed some serious TLC, so I figured that I should leave it to the pros.

However, based on a copy of the original catalogue that I located online, I know that my Carlton once had a Brooks saddle - alas, over the years, the original saddle had disappeared, or was possibly stolen at some point. While I have a perfectly good saddle at the moment, and the bike is far from 'original' - its more 'contemporary' - I can also buy either a Brooks Professional, or a Brooks B-15 'narrow' from the Bike Rescue outlet for 20. Now, they both need some TLC, and the leather needs to be hydrated, but 20 for a Brooks seems like a steal from what I have heard about them.

I asked the guy working there who informed me that people tend to either "Swear by them, or swear at them", and that it usually takes a good deal of use to get them to mold to your, *ahem*, posterior.

So my question is simple: To Brooks, or not to Brooks?
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Old 10-31-13, 11:33 AM
  #2  
16Victor
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When I ride either bike, both with Brooks, I never even notice my backside. It's a total non-issue, even in the springtime when my butt is not hardened. I say Brooks all the way.
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Old 10-31-13, 11:35 AM
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My only warning would once you try one you will never go back to another saddle. If you have wide sit bones the B-15 narrow you not like. If the shop has both ask if you can try both before purchase. Roger
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Old 10-31-13, 11:36 AM
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At that price, buy a Brooks anyway, even if you choose not to use it for everyday riding, it's what was originally fitted so if you sell the bike later it will add to its attraction. I'm guessing from your use of Pounds that you are also UK-based. Whereabouts - and where is the Bike Rescue Project?
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Old 10-31-13, 11:39 AM
  #5  
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Update - Found it, in York? Looks like an excellent operation.
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Old 10-31-13, 11:54 AM
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Buy both saddles, you never know which one you'll like better.
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Old 10-31-13, 12:06 PM
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I have a new B17 on my bike and even un-broken in, it is comfortable to me. My first seat was rock hard and uncomfortable. I put a gel padded saddle I had in the garage on after that, and it was comfy to sit on, but I would get chafed because it would "grab" as I pedaled. The new Brooks saddle is firm but doesn't feel like sitting on a rock. It's pretty slippery so there's zero chafing.

I have an Brooks Cambium C17 on backorder which should arrive in the next couple of weeks that I'm excited about trying.
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Old 10-31-13, 12:15 PM
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I've got an old B-15 that I absolutely adore. It is on the comparatively narrow side (for a Brooks), but depending on how low you set the bars, that might work out better for you.
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Old 10-31-13, 12:27 PM
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I'd surely give the Cambium model a try !
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Old 10-31-13, 12:40 PM
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I like my brooks and would say go for it, worst case if the saddle does not work then rehydrate and flip

If you have a saddle that you are riding now and like.....compare it to the brooks for shape......saddles are very individual

fwiw here is my personal brooks experience

B17 on an commuter/utiliyt with upright seating...... fantabulous once a I got a few twiddly settings dialed in (back of saddel leve, tip poinst up a couple of degrees) was total comfort from day one and has just gotten better

B17-N Imperial on a road bike, bars slightly below saddled height..... did not work for me....saddled top was too flat

Swift on sam road bike......comfortable day one and getting better with miles. after the b17 n I looked at my previous go to saddle a '89 turbo....and looked for a brooks withh a similar profile and top...which is why I went swift rather than Pro or Swallow
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Old 10-31-13, 12:48 PM
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Originally Posted by Skyshroud View Post
they both need some TLC, and the leather needs to be hydrated, but 20 for a Brooks seems like a steal from what I have heard about them.

Sounds like a good deal, but this sentence scares me. By "needs to be hydrated", what do you mean? If either are dry, hard and showing signs of cracks, I personally would steer clear. But at twenty pounds you might get a pretty good saddle for the money.
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Old 10-31-13, 12:57 PM
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I'd recommend the Professional. They're just about the most comfortable, despite being so hard even after breaking in. I don't understand it much but I do know what works for me. The B15 on the other hand might just be a little narrow for the average posterior.
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Old 10-31-13, 01:22 PM
  #13  
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You might like to use this guide in choosing saddle widths.
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Old 10-31-13, 02:10 PM
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Most people swear by them. I've yet to try the B17 narrow but the ones I've tried all felt too wide for me after 30-40 miles.

At the price it's worth trying, unless like Rootboy says it's unrideable, in which case it's not a deal no matter how cheap.
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Old 10-31-13, 02:41 PM
  #15  
Skyshroud
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Originally Posted by Oldpeddaller View Post
Update - Found it, in York? Looks like an excellent operation.
They are indeed in York - they have a storefront under the Lendal Bridge, but they mainly have city bikes and 3-speeds there. The treasure trove is their warehouse location on Walmgate - I think that they regularly stock c.250+ bikes there (Road, 3-Speed, Kids, etc) that are awaiting restoration and overhauls. They did a fantastic job on the Carlton, and I will try to post some pics tomorrow if I get a chance to get it out on the trails. As a bonus, they support charitable aims, which makes rescuing a frame feel better.

Originally Posted by rootboy View Post
Sounds like a good deal, but this sentence scares me. By "needs to be hydrated", what do you mean? If either are dry, hard and showing signs of cracks, I personally would steer clear. But at twenty pounds you might get a pretty good saddle for the money.
I did not see any obvious cracks in the leather when I was there today, and they were apparently treated with a leather 'hydrator' recently. Were I to pick one up, I would probably use something like a leather conditioner before setting up on the Carlton. Some of the metal parts could do with a good clean as well, but maybe I will head back and investigate further tomorrow.
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Old 10-31-13, 02:48 PM
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I wouldn't mess with a used saddle unless it was" just like new". Buy a new Brooks, for Country and for Bum...both will be happy.
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Old 10-31-13, 03:04 PM
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Originally Posted by Velognome View Post
I wouldn't mess with a used saddle unless it was" just like new". Buy a new Brooks, for Country and for Bum...both will be happy.
Each to his own opinion Velognome, but the cost difference to buy a new Brooks could be around 100, for something the OP isn't sure he actually wants. However, Spa Cycles of Harrogate (near the OP's location) will sell him their brand new 'Nidd' leather saddle for 45, which might be a safer/better option for him............ just a thought. These are a really nicely finished item, popular with touring cyclists.

I've never had any problems with used saddles, though I was once worried by a Wrights W3N that was horribly ridged and creased on one side. With nothing to lose, - 24 hours in a bucket of water, re-shaped over a piece of tubing with wood packing and cable tied up, then days of drying - it's as good as new. Then again, I used straight beeswax, not Proofide to dress it - so it sealed and polished the surface but didn't soften (potentially weaken?) the hide. YMMV.
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Old 10-31-13, 03:26 PM
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I buy most of my Brooks saddles used, usually after someone has tried it for a short period of time.

Like a few hundred miles worth of riding.

I remember paying $75 for the last Swift I bought and it looked like brand new.

So, yes, by all means buy a Brooks, especially if you can catch a break on pricing.
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Old 10-31-13, 04:28 PM
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I bought my only brooks a (long) time back, based on the "I have to try one". its a B66 so sprung. It was OK for a while, not bad but not something to go "oh wow" about. Just about a month ago, I was getting on the bike to go for a short ride and I realized "hmmmm, this thing is NICE".....so if you get one, and it doesn't thrill you right away, just give it some time (lots and lots of time/miles)....eventually it will live up to its reputation.
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Old 10-31-13, 05:36 PM
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Originally Posted by gomango View Post
I buy most of my Brooks saddles used, usually after someone has tried it for a short period of time.

Like a few hundred miles worth of riding.

I remember paying $75 for the last Swift I bought and it looked like brand new.

So, yes, by all means buy a Brooks, especially if you can catch a break on pricing.
Catching a break on pricing for top line Brooks saddle is like trying to catch Moby Dick for me...... been watching out for any sort of bargian on new Ti railed Swifts or Swallows,.................. and so far it's been vaporware for me for the last two years......Ughhh!..... Haven't even seen any decent used ones out there yet....
Anyway, didn't Ti get cheaper since Russia opened up to the world???
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Old 10-31-13, 05:47 PM
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Originally Posted by Chombi View Post
Catching a break on pricing for top line Brooks saddle is like trying to catch Moby Dick for me...... been watching out for any sort of bargian on new Ti railed Swifts or Swallows,.................. and so far it's been vaporware for me for the last two years......Ughhh!..... Haven't even seen any decent used ones out there yet....
Anyway, didn't Ti get cheaper since Russia opened up to the world???
Been lucky.

I picked up a Brooks Professional, two Ideale 90s and a Berthoud with matching cork bar ends.

I somewhat regrettably sold the Berthoud off the pics on my Flickr two hours after I posted them.

The Berthoud literally looked brand new, but the seller mentioned her husband had hated the color.

They waited too long to return them, so she sold them at a substantial discount to me.

I have the other three beauties until I decide their fate.
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Old 10-31-13, 05:58 PM
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I have to say I like the older ones too. I recently bought a very nice old Pro from the early 70s that looked barely used, for about 60 percent the price of a new one. And its a better saddle, in my opinion.

Look around OP. good examples of nice Professional models should be available over there. Be patient and look for one that has retained most of its original shape and is still fairly firm. No big deep depressions or hard, high ridges down the center. And take a look at the adjusting nut and see if it is still located toward the front of the nose of the saddle and hasn't been adjusted too much.

If the one you're looking at meets these criteria and isn't all dried out and cracking, I would go for it.
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Old 10-31-13, 06:00 PM
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Originally Posted by Oldpeddaller View Post
Each to his own opinion Velognome, but the cost difference to buy a new Brooks could be around 100, for something the OP isn't sure he actually wants.
Ya....meant it kinda tongue and cheek. OP is British, Brooks made in England, help out the economy = Good for Country; Good for the Bum...well that should be self evident.

Used is OK, but buying a new one...the smell ahhhhh! A used one, not so much
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Old 10-31-13, 06:20 PM
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Originally Posted by Velognome View Post

Used is OK, but buying a new one...the smell ahhhhh! A used one, not so much
Dang!, someone please post that follow up green joke already!
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Old 11-01-13, 05:29 AM
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Originally Posted by Velognome View Post
Ya....meant it kinda tongue and cheek. OP is British, Brooks made in England, help out the economy = Good for Country; Good for the Bum...well that should be self evident.

Used is OK, but buying a new one...the smell ahhhhh! A used one, not so much
Technically, I am a Canadian, but I do enjoy living in Britain. Very much so, in fact.

I will head back over today and have another look, and I'll try to come to some sort of decision.
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