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Brooks Saddle for a commuter?

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Brooks Saddle for a commuter?

Old 06-15-11, 12:00 PM
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bluefoxicy
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Brooks Saddle for a commuter?

These things are in the bike shop I went to. Man, that seat's hard as a stiff wooden board! I guess they soften when they break in; I don't like gooey pads though, but leather probably'll just flex a tad--much better suspension than memory-foam-style isolated vertical compression.

The big question is how to determine which to buy. I'm interested in something wide enough to sit on comfortably, but not too wide. I guess the easy way would be to sit on one.... uh. And of course I'm aware my seat needs to move forward some; I adjusted it properly, but the seat post extends further than I had wanted and so the seat is back further by a large margin.

The B17 standard Imperial seems wider than my saddle, and wide enough for me.

And of course I have a Cane Creek ThudBuster, which leaves me wondering if:
  • I should get a standard saddle
  • I should get a Flyer with springs
  • I should get a Flyer and use it with the original rigid seat post

Ah well, I'll figure something out. I'm thinking at the moment I'll go for a rigid B17 Imperial and use it on the ThudBuster. Maybe do a baptism-style initial treatment ... gotta find something to soak it in, Neatsfoot oil? SAE30 Synthetic motor oil?
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Old 06-15-11, 12:10 PM
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Follow the manufacturer's advice and use Proofide. You don't soak anything.
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Old 06-15-11, 12:20 PM
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FYI the leather doesn't soften, it molds to your shape, and yes it flexes a bit.

And FWIW I have a B17 and an imperial, and I see no benefit to the imperial, nice that it is laced, but not worth the extra $$ IMO.
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Old 06-15-11, 12:26 PM
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Not to piss on a Brooks thread or anything, but I'm B-17 user - and a convert to the Selle SMP. OMG that is the saddle to end all saddles.
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Old 06-15-11, 12:33 PM
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Sheldon Brown's got a good write up on how to break in a Brooks and why leather saddles are awesome: Leather saddles and why people use them.
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Old 06-15-11, 12:35 PM
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Originally Posted by zoltani
FYI the leather doesn't soften, it molds to your shape, and yes it flexes a bit.

And FWIW I have a B17 and an imperial, and I see no benefit to the imperial, nice that it is laced, but not worth the extra $$ IMO.
I would dis agree! I and my junk like the imperial MUCH more!

It just goes to show you that not all butts are alike!
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Old 06-15-11, 12:36 PM
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Yeah I read Sheldon's saddle article, that's why I was looking at the soaking method.

Also, the Imperial has the depression through the center, right? A la https://www.bikesonline.com/brooks-b1...hrome-rail.htm. My balls sometimes hurt when I'm riding, dunno why. Adjustments must be made ...
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Old 06-15-11, 12:58 PM
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Originally Posted by bluefoxicy
Yeah I read Sheldon's saddle article, that's why I was looking at the soaking method.
Sheldon knows his stuff for the most part, but when it comes to saddles, he has a priority that may differ from most people's: he wants it to break in fast, and he's willing to shorten its life to do it. Soaking in oil significantly softens the leather, which will make it more comfortable in the short term, but in the long term, it will sag more and wear out faster.

Particularly for commuting duty, the break in period isn't a big deal. Even when my B17 was new, it took about 25 km before I'd notice any discomfort.
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Old 06-15-11, 01:25 PM
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Good to know. There is a balance, of course.. not just between break in period versus life, but also in saddle quality. An overly saggy saddle will obviously be worse than a firm but slightly flexible saddle.

I do about 250-325km a month, always in under 20km trips. 500-ish km is the theoretical likely maximum per month. I don't want a protracted break-in period of several months to a year.
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Old 06-15-11, 02:01 PM
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The b17 seems really hard and stiff until you sit on it. somehow, the slight flex even when brand new makes it very comfortable to sit on, assuming it's adjusted correctly.
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Old 06-15-11, 02:05 PM
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I think I'm about to spend some of the birthday $ that's been burning a hole in my pocket to pick up a black Brooks saddle for my Surly and a tin of Proofide. A B17 Standard with price match only $80 at Tree Fort Bikes right now. Very excited...

UPDATE: Just pulled the trigger! Guess I drink two types of Kool Aid now... Surly and Brooks.

Last edited by EKW in DC; 06-15-11 at 03:22 PM.
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Old 06-15-11, 02:15 PM
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I have been waiting a month now for my brooks flyer to get here. Seems they have become very popular. What is proofhide made of anyway, unobtanium. The glands from something on the endangered species list? That stuff is expensive!
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Old 06-15-11, 02:16 PM
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I ride a road bike and use a B17 Narrow. I've tried a few different saddles, from which one was supposed to be better for the b...s as there's a nice hole in it. Both didn't cause me anything but rubbing and painful perinium.
Since I've been using the B17, I've still had the same painful perinium, but only after I ride it twice as long. It starts getting a bit less comfy after around 75km, but it's manageable for at least 110km. Will do a 120km ride in a few weeks, maybe if the verdict gets busted I'll post here again to restate my conclusion.
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Old 06-15-11, 02:38 PM
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Originally Posted by perspiration
The b17 seems really hard and stiff until you sit on it. somehow, the slight flex even when brand new makes it very comfortable to sit on, assuming it's adjusted correctly.
This is unsurprising. When I press with my hand, I am not lifting my entire body. My ass supports my whole body weight when I sit on something.
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Old 06-15-11, 02:47 PM
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If memory serves, the B17 is supposed to be level or slightly below the bars for optimum comfort, no?

Which is the Brooks that's for bars that are lower than the saddle?
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Old 06-15-11, 02:52 PM
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Sheldon Brown may have known a lot about bikes but his soaking a leather saddle to break it in is a bunch of bull. Follow the directions that come with the saddle. then ride on the saddle let time break it in.
Take the wrench and use it to open beer bottles
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Old 06-15-11, 02:53 PM
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Originally Posted by himespau
If memory serves, the B17 is supposed to be level or slightly below the bars for optimum comfort, no?

Which is the Brooks that's for bars that are lower than the saddle?
The B15 or the Swift.
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Old 06-15-11, 02:56 PM
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Originally Posted by SouthFLpix
The B15 or the Swift.
ok that sounds about right. at one time I was thinking about switching my selle san marco regal for a brooks saddle and I think the recommendation for the most similar one was the swift.
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Old 06-15-11, 02:57 PM
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The brooks saddles stay hard (insert joke). The secret is how slick they are, how they mold to your bones and flex. The slickness keeps your skin from shearing the way it does with gel or squishy saddles.
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Old 06-15-11, 03:18 PM
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I've got 320km on my pre-aged B17. One thing I've noticed is that unlike my stock saddle, "close enough" doesn't cut it for positioning. I noticed that I was sliding forward a bit, so today I raised the nose about 1mm or less and it made a huge difference in comfort. It takes a while to find the position that is just right. Unfortunately I think that position might be slightly different for the two pairs of cycling shorts I have (different thickness of chamois).
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Old 06-15-11, 03:21 PM
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If you are using a thud buster seat post don't get the Brooks with springs. The standard Brooks b17 seems to be the gold standard of saddles.
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Old 06-15-11, 03:38 PM
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The stark and simple design of the leather saddles like the Brooks is initially off putting, so I understand your concern.

I had to get rid of the stock WTB saddle so I used a Forte gel saddle until numbness necessitated I get a better saddle. I selected the Selle Anatomica. It is a Brooks style leather seat but has a cut out down the middle, and I really like it. I'm glad I waited to get the right saddle, but had I known how comfortable these are, I wouldn't have waited. Selle has a reputation of not needing a break in period, but some people say that not every Brooks needs a break in period either.

Some people have been tempted to get the Brooks models that have a spring, but they are a bit bouncy for any faster riding.
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Old 06-15-11, 03:41 PM
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I think that whole "below/above the saddle" thing is using the bar/saddle difference as a litmus test for how aggressive a rider you are and extrapolating that into whether you want a narrow or wide saddle. Harris Cyclery has some of those on their product pages, and I think the Brooks site does too. Those rules might work some of the time, but I think the elusive sit bones fit metric through divine inspiration or the Specialized ass-o-meter is the real trick, then adjust for style based on personal preference (sprung, cutout, etc.). On my well worn in B17 special, I can see the sit bone dents and measure there.

As far as break in, I did the Proofide only approach with the B17 and it was OK right away, good within a short distance, and great within a couple hundred K. Much slower and a little less comfy with the Team Pro. I wound up going in for the soak on the Pro. That leather is so darn thick it will probably outlive my grandkids, with a little care.
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Old 06-15-11, 03:45 PM
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My B17 was a nice addition to my commuting bike. I ride 20 miles R/T and after 300 miles on the B-17 it feels so nice that I can go with or without padded shorts.

I got lucky with the B-17 being right for me, on the first try. YMMV - Hope you get it right on the first one. I think these saddles are worth the hype, but the shape of the saddle, coupled with the adjustment (fore/aft and nose angle) have a major piece of the comfort puzzle.
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Old 06-15-11, 03:53 PM
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Originally Posted by Terrierman
Not to piss on a Brooks thread or anything, but I'm B-17 user - and a convert to the Selle SMP. OMG that is the saddle to end all saddles.
I sold my Swift after two years and went back to the Selle Italia Flite (original) on my road bike.
I just put a Selle SMP Glider on my touring bike, and took it out for a 50 miler last weekend.
It was comfortable right from the start and required no further adjustment.
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