Road Cycling “It is by riding a bicycle that you learn the contours of a country best, since you have to sweat up the hills and coast down them. Thus you remember them as they actually are, while in a motor car only a high hill impresses you, and you have no such accurate remembrance of country you have driven through as you gain by riding a bicycle.” -- Ernest Hemingway

Brooks B17

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Old 06-14-01, 09:13 AM
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RainmanP
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Brooks B17

After some glowing recommendations by MichaelW and a couple of other posters I got my LBS to order a Brooks B17 saddle for me. I picked it up yesterday, treated it with Proofide, and rode it this morning for the first time on my 8.5 mile inbound commute. I was pleasantly surprised. It was actually quite comfortable already, though 8.5 miles is really not much of a test. I did wear padded shorts, which I have not been doing on the shorter inbound commute.

I am a sucker for traditional and old fashioned stuff, as long as it is functional. This saddle is both. Beautiful leather with exposed copper rivets. I will post reports from time to time as it breaks in.

Regards,
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Old 06-14-01, 10:07 AM
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Keep the distances short for a few weeks, until the saddle moulds to your butt. Breaking a Brooks is like breaking in leather hiking boots, little and often.
Dont try any of those weird recipies, stick to occasional Proofhide like the instructions say. I also proof the underside of the saddle.
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Old 06-14-01, 12:03 PM
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Thanks for the tips, Michael. I re-coated it with Proofide, inside and out, this morning and have it in a warm place to encourage it to soak in.
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Old 06-14-01, 06:27 PM
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Update and request for advice.

My ride home is longer than my ride to work. By the time I got home, I was experiencing, of all things, some tenderness in the ball of my left foot like a blister trying to form. I have been wearing these shoes for weeks now with no problem. When I got home, it occurred to me that perhaps the firm Brooks saddle, compared to my padded saddle, had effectively increased my saddle height, causing me to rock slightly and perhaps reach a little with my foot, causing some excess movement where there was none before. As I thought back on it, the saddle seemed to be squeaking more than I thought it should and I wondered at the time if my pedal stroke was less smooth for some reason. I dropped my saddle by about 1cm and we'll see how it goes tomorrow. Does this sound reasonable?
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Old 06-15-01, 05:51 AM
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The Brooks will develope 2 dimples over the next few weeks, and will soften up, so you may need to raise it again. There is no standard for the distance between the rails and the top of a saddle, so your right, when you change the saddle, check the height.
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Old 06-15-01, 06:27 AM
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Thanks, Michael. As a matter of fact I noticed the beginnings of the dimples this morning. One is quite distinct; the other is barely a wrinkle in the leather. Guess I sit more on one side.

Not that I will be needing it any time soon, but I was looking at the picture of the tensioning spanner. It looks like what is called a flare nut wrench here in the U.S., sort of a box end wrench with a space cut out. I assume that when the time comes I can just use one of those if I have the right size. Have you had to tension yours yet? How do you know when tensioning is needed? The instructions say "check tension", but they don't say what to look for.
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Old 06-16-01, 02:17 PM
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My dad has had a Brookes Saddle for about 30 years, even then he found it in a small stream, near where we lived. The stream was the dumping ground from the local Kodak plant, so polluted that a group of kids managed to set it alight once.

He still insists on using it- even after giving him a Rolls San Marco for Christmas. It's so well used that it's starting to split away from the tensioning bolts.

I guess I'm quite lucky but I have used

Rolls San Marco
Tioga Control
Selle Turbomatic
Flite Titanium

all in the last 18months with no problems.
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Old 06-16-01, 02:53 PM
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Originally posted by RainmanP

Not that I will be needing it any time soon, but I was looking at the picture of the tensioning spanner. It looks like what is called a flare nut wrench here in the U.S., sort of a box end wrench with a space cut out. I assume that when the time comes I can just use one of those if I have the right size. Have you had to tension yours yet? How do you know when tensioning is needed? The instructions say "check tension", but they don't say what to look for.
Raymond, congratulations on your new leather saddle. Isn't it beautiful! It feels good, looks good. Soon it will be a part of you; tailored to the specific dimensions of your hip bone.

Don't touch the tensioning bolt unless you absolutely have too and when you do, be slow and conservative.

Many a leather saddle have been torn apart by that bolt. Frankly, I think it is mainly used during the manufacture of the seat.

The saddle may eventually stretch - especially if you don't take care of it and leave it outside to the elements. I have seen rows of bicycles that were parked mostly outside. The saddles looked like the swayed backs of old horses. I can imagine that these saddles may have been soaked to the core by rain at times and then ridden by the owners without an opportunity to dry. This would surely stretch them.

Still, I have seen many leather saddles that were treated with care and saw many miles. They maintained their gracefull lines.
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Old 02-11-04, 08:51 PM
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Originally Posted by RainmanP
After some glowing recommendations by MichaelW and a couple of other posters I got my LBS to order a Brooks B17 saddle for me. I picked it up yesterday, treated it with Proofide, and rode it this morning for the first time on my 8.5 mile inbound commute. I was pleasantly surprised. It was actually quite comfortable already, though 8.5 miles is really not much of a test. I did wear padded shorts, which I have not been doing on the shorter inbound commute.

I am a sucker for traditional and old fashioned stuff, as long as it is functional. This saddle is both. Beautiful leather with exposed copper rivets. I will post reports from time to time as it breaks in.

Regards,
Raymond
Ive read many responses like yours to the B-17 and bought one too, and it is by far the worst cycleing experience I can recall aside from some nasty wrecks Ive had. If they are so good why arent the LBS stocking them? I had to order mine also! And the quality that is raved about wasnt there either, I had to trim some of the leather where they didnt cut it to the stamped imperssion, and the back side had rivets that were not mushroomed out from the holes, some spots were just plain smashed into the hole! And my butt is no virgin, it went over 3,000 miles this summer on a tiny Aspide that was not much of a problem till Id hit around 60 miles. Sorry I just have a hard time buying much of the hype I read online anymore, makes me wonder who is writting all this suff? possibly the same person? and whats the B-stand for in B-17? is it blister, burise, bleed? and is it Brooks or Crooks?
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Old 02-12-04, 03:00 AM
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Originally Posted by ClevelandGuy
Ive read many responses like yours to the B-17 and bought one too, and it is by far the worst cycleing experience I can recall aside from some nasty wrecks Ive had. If they are so good why arent the LBS stocking them? I had to order mine also! And the quality that is raved about wasnt there either, I had to trim some of the leather where they didnt cut it to the stamped imperssion, and the back side had rivets that were not mushroomed out from the holes, some spots were just plain smashed into the hole! And my butt is no virgin, it went over 3,000 miles this summer on a tiny Aspide that was not much of a problem till Id hit around 60 miles. Sorry I just have a hard time buying much of the hype I read online anymore, makes me wonder who is writting all this suff? possibly the same person? and whats the B-stand for in B-17? is it blister, burise, bleed? and is it Brooks or Crooks?
It is a shame to hear that you had such a bad experience and that your Brooks was not of good quality. The news about the quality is surprising and disappointing. I would return it. The reason so many people rave about the Brooks B-17 is that the quality is so consistantly good. Perhaps you got a 'monday morning' Brooks.

Usually, the Brooks is very nice when you get it, and it gets better as you use it. Some people say that it takes a while to break in a leather saddle which may be true, but it shouldn't be miserable from the start.
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Old 02-12-04, 08:45 AM
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Is Proofhide recommended even if the saddle feels fine out of the box? My Team Pro felt like it was made for me as soon as I mounted it, and the changes are very subtle over time. I have been hesitant to treat it, since I did not want to hasten premature softening. I carry a saddle hat in case it rains, however do not use fenders so the underside would be subject to spray-up?
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Old 02-12-04, 10:08 AM
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Couple of things.
The Proofide not only helps with breakin, it conditions
the leather, protects it from H2O etc. You should apply
to both top and bottom of saddle, leave it on the bottom
as a sealant. The Proofide keeps the leather supple and
prevenst cracking etc. I will only make your comfortable
saddle more so.
Cleveland guy: RETURN it, contact Brooks and explain
that you have a poorly made saddle. They are (were?)
very particular as to what they released in terms of quality.
The reason they aren't stocked? fashion?
Racer boys don't want a heavy, old style saddle? Lance doesn't ride
one? One thing you have to do with them is play with
the orientation of the saddle a bit. The B17 likes to be
either dead on level, or slightly nose up.

Let us know what Brooks says, and if you get it
to a comfortable state.
FYI www.brookssaddles.com

Marty
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Old 02-12-04, 02:04 PM
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I don't know about the B17 but I just got a Brooks Swift last mo. It felt great at first, on my first ride I went about 11 miles I was going on a 40 mile ride and turned around I just could not stand it anylonger.I tryed it one more time on a 60 mile ride and I thought I died and gone to hell. I will never forget that ride. Now I am afraid of it I look at it and it brings tears to my eyes. I put it on my sons bike, I sure hopes it breaks in someday. I am not a new rider I have been using Selle Italia Turbos for 20 years, I do many centurys and one double every year. Does any body know were I can get a new Turbomatic, I cant find one anywhere even on line.
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Old 02-12-04, 03:12 PM
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Im my experience (and as MichaelW mentioned in post #2 of this thread), long break-in rides aren't the best idea for Brooks saddles. The B17 doesnt' seem to need much breaking in at all, but the Team Professional did take a few rides. Give it a good coating of proofhide and let it soak in for at least 24 hours, then keep the rides short for the first week or two. My Team Pro took about 100 miles to become one with my butt, with rides of 10-20 miles at a time... I've heard the Swift can even take a little longer.
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Old 02-12-04, 04:00 PM
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OK, now you guys are scaring me a little. I have been thinking about a Brooks, probably a Swift, but it seems that a couple of you are not happy. HMMMMMMMMMM....

I look forward to seeing how this goes. Rainman, please keep us informed.
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Old 02-12-04, 04:11 PM
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True.....of all my Brooks, the Swift took the longest to feel comfortable in.....but we're talking only about a dozen or so rides here. I adapted to my recently purchased Team Pro (pre-softened) in no time. And although I've owned my B17 for many many years, I don't remember it being uncomfortable from the get go.

George
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Old 02-12-04, 04:15 PM
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Fixer,

Are you back on the bike, or still out of commision?
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Old 02-12-04, 04:18 PM
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Sorry I just have a hard time buying much of the hype I read online anymore, makes me wonder who is writting all this suff? possibly the same person?
I would be more interested in knowing who writes the negative reviews. The positive reviews on MTBreview.com and other places outnumber the negative 10-1. I am not saying this saddle is for everyone but apparently it is for most people.

It is definitely for me. I have spent $130 on 2 of them in the last 6 months. I consider them my best bike related purchase yet. When i first put this saddle on my bike I only made it about a block before my blood pressure went up. It didn't go up because of the pedaling but because i thought i had just wasted $65. I thought man this thing feels horrible. What is up?

I only rode it a couple blocks because i had to go back to work. Later in the day i rode it over 10 miles and it wasn't long before the picture started to clear up. It's not so much what this saddle is as much as it is about what it isn't. After awhile you just totally forget it is there.

I don't care if mine ever gets broken in because frankly it is great out of the box. I have about 700 miles on one seat and 200 on the other. I can't really tell any difference between the two.

Sometimes I have noticed that my sitbones are sore after a ride. I think it might be from hitting hard bumps while the sit bones are on the rivets. However this is a minor soreness and I would much rather have a sore sit bone than anything else in this region of the body.

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Old 02-12-04, 04:37 PM
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it's probably similar to leather soled shoes.

i've got a pair of loakes that i hated when they were new... but now they're wearing in, they're actually quite comfortable. i've noticed that there are some depressions on the inner sole where my heel and the balls of my feet are. i guess that's what they mean when they talk about shoes moulding to your feet...

not hugely comfortable, but great for the pure fact of wearing something crafted on my feet. i might get me one of these brooks things. anyone know when the swallow is released? [i'm only thin]

fssb
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Old 02-12-04, 06:32 PM
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Originally Posted by Avalanche325
OK, now you guys are scaring me a little. I have been thinking about a Brooks, probably a Swift, but it seems that a couple of you are not happy. HMMMMMMMMMM....

I look forward to seeing how this goes. Rainman, please keep us informed.
Just for the record, I was never comfortable on my B17 either. It could be I didn't break it in correctly 30 yrs ago. I remember finally using Neatsfoot oil on it overnight, to make it soften and flex a little, and I may have overdone it. Also it did get wet a few times. It's got a sag now, which causes me to sink in forward of the metal rail. Have the tension bolt way tight already. It's still on the Raleigh Gran Sport, which now does trainer duty for me. Of course, no saddle lasts forever.

Our local PBP rider loves his Team Pro, and it seems to me the solid leather would have to be cooler and drier than the nylon/composite saddles. I may try another one someday, but without any break-in oil next time.
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Old 02-13-04, 09:15 AM
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Avalanche,

You do realize that RainmanP started this thread in
June, of 2001! I think he is way beyond the breakin period .
Saddles like everything else are a personal thing. what works for me, won't necessarily work for someone else.
Since I'm breaking in team pro now (a 20 year old one)
I can say its not as easy as a B17. Short rides for the
first 100 miles on the pro

Marty
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Old 02-13-04, 01:00 PM
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My saddle has been a WTB SST. What would be the closest to that? A Swift?
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Old 02-13-04, 01:07 PM
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A little OT....

..but this company has a very good price on Brooks saddles and they provided me with excellent service when I purchased one.

http://www.permaco.com/cgi-local/Sof...d5e+1086819188
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Old 02-13-04, 02:19 PM
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Agree with DaveT, Permaco is really good as is Wallingford bikes www.wallbike.com.
Brooks saddles are raising their prices, (product of Selle Italia buyout) so
if you want one at existing price get em while you can.
Some saddles have been discontinued:
Brooks Professional (small rivet)
Burgundy saddles
They are just not on the Brooks website. This was originally
posted over on CR list.

Marty
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Old 02-13-04, 08:05 PM
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Ooooh, I just did it!

Originally Posted by lotek
Agree with DaveT, Permaco is really good as is Wallingford bikes www.wallbike.com.
Brooks saddles are raising their prices, (product of Selle Italia buyout) so
if you want one at existing price get em while you can.
Some saddles have been discontinued:
Brooks Professional (small rivet)
Burgundy saddles
They are just not on the Brooks website. This was originally
posted over on CR list.

Marty
I put a Brooks B-17 on my new Litespeed Tuscany (gasp!). Now I can relax. Very comfy. It replaced an Aspide that was trying to crawl up my a$$.
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