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Recommend a Brooks Pro alternative for long-distance rides

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Recommend a Brooks Pro alternative for long-distance rides

Old 05-31-12, 07:43 PM
  #1  
southpawboston
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Recommend a Brooks Pro alternative for long-distance rides

I've been riding Brooks saddles almost exclusively, for everything from around-town errands to commuting to centuries. This year I'm doing more longer rides than ever before (did my first century and am hoping to pull off a 300k by year's end!) and I've been generally happy with Brooks. On my road bikes (all vintage, FWIW), I've been happiest with Brooks Pros. On one of these bikes, the bars are a few cm lower than the saddle and the Brooks Pro's width seems to work perfectly for my narrow hips. I generally feel fine after a century and have no soreness or chafing issues. I'm considering building up a more modern, lighter bike for my longer rides, and was curious about modern alternatives to the Brooks Pro. Given what I've mentioned above, what modern saddles might I like? I know a lot of people who are happy with Berthoud saddles, but I don't know which model would compare most closely with a Brooks Pro. I'm also willing to try other brands (and also other Brooks models-- swift, etc). I'm not overly concerned about weight, although it would be nice to get something lighter than a Pro. I'd also like to spend less than $250.

Recommendations? Give me a bunch of starting points...

Last edited by southpawboston; 05-31-12 at 07:47 PM.
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Old 05-31-12, 09:07 PM
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You could start with the Brooks Swallow, which is designed for sportier bikes.

Otherwise, classic contemporary saddles are things like the Selle San Marco Concour or Regal, Selle Italia Flite, Fizik Arione.

However, it's very difficult to say what saddle is going to work for anyone. Your best bet is to find a shop that does loaner saddles.
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Old 06-01-12, 08:42 AM
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My GB Aspin is nice. I have it on a bike with about 1cm of drop. It tapers very dramatically, which I like because it keeps out of the way of my hamstrings when climbing in the saddle and on the top of the bar.
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Old 06-01-12, 09:16 AM
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If you have been happy with a Brooks up to now, why not try something like a B17? Just a touch wider for a more touring like position.
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Old 06-01-12, 09:19 AM
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I fitted several Terry men's saddles to my bikes last year... one went on my folder which lays down some serious miles and the other on my hard tail and would have to say they are some of the nicest saddles I have used and are leather topped, firm, and ergonomic.
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Old 06-01-12, 09:31 AM
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The Pro Ti shaves off about 100 grams.
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Old 06-01-12, 12:05 PM
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A Swift Titanium is narrow yet has a long nose. Its fairly light weight. Looks more like a race oriented saddle and is designed for a handlebar to seat drop of a few inches or more. I like mine on my race bike, but i need a wider saddle for longer distances.


You should consider buying from https://wallbike.com. They have a return policy on Brooks Saddles for 6 months no questions asked. You can ride any saddle you think you may like, and switch it out for 10 other models over that 6 month period till you find the one you like. They are great to deal with and they want you to find the right saddle. 4 or 5 years ago I tried 4 different saddles from them and they were happy to switch them out.

Last edited by Hairy Hands; 06-01-12 at 12:11 PM.
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Old 06-01-12, 12:28 PM
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Modern bikes look awesome with Brooks saddles (as long as weight is not the #1 priority.) You see now hipsters totally digging them.

For randonneuring or long distance, use a saddle that you know it's worked for you, especially if the leather is already worn in and molded. It's futile to reinvent the wheel. You may enter a quest to find something better than your comfy Brooks and it may not exist. I personally find the B17 super comfy. Got the special version with copper rivets. It's rust resistant and looks nicer.

Last edited by Chris Pringle; 06-01-12 at 12:36 PM.
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Old 06-01-12, 12:30 PM
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Personally, I'd just stick with what works for you now. Even on a "modern" bike nobody can see the saddle when you are sitting on it!
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Old 06-01-12, 01:39 PM
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Originally Posted by Yo Spiff View Post
If you have been happy with a Brooks up to now, why not try something like a B17? Just a touch wider for a more touring like position.
Ah, I have a few bikes with B17 saddles, and while I find they're fine for bikes with semi-upright riding positions, or when the bars are roughly equal in height to the saddle, I find they're just a bit too wide around the middle when riding bikes with bars below the saddle. After an hour or longer in the saddle my inner thighs start getting chafed and I'll notice sweat stains on the sides of the saddle the stick out.

Originally Posted by Homeyba View Post
Personally, I'd just stick with what works for you now. Even on a "modern" bike nobody can see the saddle when you are sitting on it!
Yeah, I know that's the general rule of thumb. But even between different vintages and conditions of Brooks Pros that I've had, I've noticed differences. Surprisingly, my favorite one is one on which the leather is the firmest. I could just go for another Brooks Pro, but I wanted to try something new. Plus, I've heard that Brooks quality has gone downhill on their new saddles. I don't know if that's all true.


Originally Posted by Hairy Hands View Post
You should consider buying from https://wallbike.com. They have a return policy on Brooks Saddles for 6 months no questions asked. You can ride any saddle you think you may like, and switch it out for 10 other models over that 6 month period till you find the one you like. They are great to deal with and they want you to find the right saddle. 4 or 5 years ago I tried 4 different saddles from them and they were happy to switch them out.
That's an awesome tip, thanks! I will try them out. I was concerned about dropping $150 on a saddle that does me no good.
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Old 06-01-12, 01:44 PM
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I do all of my rides on a San Marco Regal. It's done PBP, so it's a comfortable long-distance saddle of the plastic/leather-covered variety. I think that what you may be seeing on hipster bikes is something like a Regal or a Regal knockoff, since actual Brooks saddles require too much care, in my opinion. You have to break them in (for each bike), you have to do the leather treatment, and you have to keep them out of the rain so bad things don't happen to the leather.

I prefer the modern saddles because they require no break-in, and the same model of saddle is consistent right out of the box. I've got Regals on all three of the bikes I normally use, and I'll likely put one on the tandem as the Rolls is getting uncomfortable.

I don't like Ti rails. Every saddle I've ever owned that had Ti rails has broken. The last one I broke was a Regal with Ti rails late last October after a summer of use (including PBP). I don't think saddle rails are a good application for Ti, unless they redesign the rails so they are either bigger around or flat.

Luis
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Old 06-01-12, 11:32 PM
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The best fitting saddle for me happens also to be the best value, a Performance Forte Classic, about $40. It's very similar to a Terry Fly, but much better made and a slightly better shape. For that money, and with the Performance money back guarantee, why wouldn't one try it? Well, I know the answer to that rhetorical question - because it's too, way too working class ordinary. Drawback is that, in common with most but not all saddles, it only comes on one width.
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Old 06-02-12, 08:22 AM
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Forgot to mention that I keep reading many good reviews about the Selle SMP line. Haven't tried one, yet.
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Old 06-02-12, 02:33 PM
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Originally Posted by Chris Pringle View Post
Forgot to mention that I keep reading many good reviews about the Selle SMP line. Haven't tried one, yet.
I've tried a couple. You have to have a lot of room between your thighs for this puppy. I don't, but I know people who've found a good fit there. If you're rubbing thighs on a Brooks skirt, probably not good.
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Old 06-06-12, 04:29 AM
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Selle Anatomica? I have had one for a year now. Brooks, for me, is good. Anatomica is heaven. Fits your price range too.
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Old 06-06-12, 08:05 AM
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Originally Posted by Worknomore View Post
Selle Anatomica? I have had one for a year now. Brooks, for me, is good. Anatomica is heaven. Fits your price range too.
2 Pros.

Funny, I'm switching to the An-Atomica for long distance. I have high hopes. A little nervous how it will feel in the drops, but I'll find out soon enough. Modern? - not by the looks.

I also have an SMP, but that's was moved to my MTB after a few long rides.

Last edited by FrenchFit; 06-06-12 at 08:33 AM.
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Old 06-06-12, 03:37 PM
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Lunch stop at the 600K brevet last Saturday: 5 bikes on the rack, 3 Selle Anatomica, 2 Rivet.

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Old 06-06-12, 06:09 PM
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Comfort on the Selle Anatomicas apparently is amazing... right out of the package is ready to go and really comfortable! Durability has been an issue, however. I've read several reports about the S.A. suffering from too much sagging over time. Many people report tightening the leather but after 5,000 miles or so the saddles are toasted needing full replacement. It surely gets pricey if you're doing long distance riding and have to change the saddle up to twice a year. They have a new 2012 version that addresses this particular issue with sturdier leather. Too early to tell as it still being tested by riders.

Southpawboston: Curious to know if you've made a decision or narrowed down your choices.
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Old 06-06-12, 06:45 PM
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Originally Posted by Chris Pringle View Post
Comfort on the Selle Anatomicas apparently is amazing... right out of the package is ready to go and really comfortable! Durability has been an issue, however. I've read several reports about the S.A. suffering from too much sagging over time. Many people report tightening the leather but after 5,000 miles or so the saddles are toasted needing full replacement. It surely gets pricey if you're doing long distance riding and have to change the saddle up to twice a year. They have a new 2012 version that addresses this particular issue with sturdier leather. Too early to tell as it still being tested by riders.

The sagging issue was an issue in previous versions for some riders. It seems to have been remedied, especially with the newer model- the Titanico X. It was in testing earlier this year, but has been in production for a few months now.
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Old 06-06-12, 10:55 PM
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You can see the yellow S-A saddle in my picture has quite a few miles on it. I am told that some saddles are more prone to sagging, depending on the particular cow, the cut of the leather, and the color (different colors are tanned differently).
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Old 06-07-12, 12:06 AM
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Originally Posted by Chris Pringle View Post
Comfort on the Selle Anatomicas apparently is amazing... right out of the package is ready to go and really comfortable! Durability has been an issue, however. I've read several reports about the S.A. suffering from too much sagging over time. Many people report tightening the leather but after 5,000 miles or so the saddles are toasted needing full replacement. It surely gets pricey if you're doing long distance riding and have to change the saddle up to twice a year. They have a new 2012 version that addresses this particular issue with sturdier leather. Too early to tell as it still being tested by riders.

Southpawboston: Curious to know if you've made a decision or narrowed down your choices.
Yeah, Selle is aware of of the problems with the original saddles. They introduced the Clydesdale model, followed by the Titanico X. Now you select the saddle for your weight. I have no issues with tightening it after a season, as long as I can get a good fit for fast riding. I also like the fact it's a small California company, not a British company ... owned by an Italian company.
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Old 06-07-12, 08:11 AM
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Originally Posted by FrenchFit View Post
Yeah, Selle is aware of of the problems with the original saddles. They introduced the Clydesdale model, followed by the Titanico X. Now you select the saddle for your weight. I have no issues with tightening it after a season, as long as I can get a good fit for fast riding. I also like the fact it's a small California company, not a British company ... owned by an Italian company.
Great info! Concur that this is a good company to buy from. I just noticed they also have an option ($94) to revamp your old Brooks with their new reinforced leather skin. The O.P.mentioned having several Brooks B17 lying around, so this might be of interest.
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