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Brooks saddle guide

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Brooks saddle guide

Old 09-08-15, 12:06 AM
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Brooks saddle guide

I'm meeting other touring cyclists and it appears brooks is like the golden standard. I'm told people can go day by day on a brooks without having to even wear padded shorts. That I REALLY like. In addition they last a long time if you take care of the leather like keep it out of the sun and keep moisture off. B17 seems like a standard. B72 seems like another popular one. But that makes me think there's another 98 models I done know about. I'd like to do the research myself but I've got limited data on this phone. Can someone school me on brooks saddles? I'm planning to get one for my next tour and forgo the chamois padding completely.
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Old 09-08-15, 12:22 AM
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Originally Posted by spectastic View Post
I'm meeting other touring cyclists and it appears brooks is like the golden standard. I'm told people can go day by day on a brooks without having to even wear padded shorts. That I REALLY like. In addition they last a long time if you take care of the leather like keep it out of the sun and keep moisture off. B17 seems like a standard. B72 seems like another popular one. But that makes me think there's another 98 models I done know about. I'd like to do the research myself but I've got limited data on this phone. Can someone school me on brooks saddles? I'm planning to get one for my next tour and forgo the chamois padding completely.
1) Talk to Wallingford Bicycles. For one thing, they've got a 6-month guarantee on the Brooks saddles, so if for some reason it's just not working, you can return it. For another thing, they were happy to talk to me via email when I first went Brooks saddle hunting, and answered some of my questions.
Brooks | wallbike.com

2) This is the company: BROOKS ENGLAND LTD. | Leather Saddles, Cycle Bags, Etc. ... there you can browse the full range of saddles and other Brooks products.

3) Yes, they can last a long time. They may require a little bit of extra care, but it's certainly not onerous.

4) Yes, you can ride them without padded shorts ... but it may take a few months before you get to that point. I had about 4000 km on mine before I started riding around in a bathing suit and beach shorts up in Queensland.

5) When you get the saddle, it will be hard. Rock hard. You'll have feelings of misgiving. Maybe you made a mistake. You can rub it down with proofide if you want, but do not go crazy with the various "softening" techniques you may encounter and whatever you do, do not adjust the tensioning bolt in the nose of the saddle.

Your saddle should never become soft. That is not the goal. It will always remain a hard saddle. But it should conform to your sitbones over the weeks and months.

Install the saddle and be sure to tip the nose up. How much up will depend on you and may take a few rides to sort out.

The first time you ride the saddle, it will be slippery. You'll feel like you're going to slide off the thing. That's normal, but should go away in a week or two.

After a few weeks, you should start to notice slight scuff marks where your sitbones go. A few weeks later, those scuff marks will start to appear sort of like very small divots. And then you're well on your way to breaking the saddle in.
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Old 09-08-15, 07:54 AM
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FWIW [anecdote] Drop bar touring bike , Brooks professional , shorts with synth Chamois liner, but not padded ...
... like a 'loaded' diaper. just thin sweat absorber-transporter.

many multi month tours done.
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Old 09-08-15, 08:24 AM
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6) They are leather, so wet tours might be a problem,
7) Many of the popular models have limited set-back, particularly true with the Pro, so look at your current set up and if saddle is slammed all the way back you may have fit problems with a Brooks,
8) Break-in varies leather to leather, I have a honey that took a year - and some tenderizing with a baseball bat,
9) A very few of the models, B18, B66, B72 for example, use the vintage double rail two bolt clamp and not the modern single bolt seatpost. If you attempt to use one of these with a more modern seatpost you have to buy an adapter,
10) Your saddle will be attractive to thieves, (easy sale on eBay),
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Old 09-08-15, 09:44 AM
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Re: no padded shorts: I commute in comfort 25 miles a day without them but find that I want/need them on tour at 90 to 140 miles per day. B17
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Old 09-08-15, 09:50 AM
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Originally Posted by FrenchFit View Post
6) They are leather, so wet tours might be a problem,
Except the Cambium models, which are made of rubber and canvas, and are waterproof.
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Old 09-08-15, 10:23 AM
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Originally Posted by spectastic View Post
I'm meeting other touring cyclists and it appears brooks is like the golden standard. I'm told people can go day by day on a brooks without having to even wear padded shorts. That I REALLY like. In addition they last a long time if you take care of the leather like keep it out of the sun and keep moisture off. B17 seems like a standard. B72 seems like another popular one. But that makes me think there's another 98 models I done know about. I'd like to do the research myself but I've got limited data on this phone. Can someone school me on brooks saddles? I'm planning to get one for my next tour and forgo the chamois padding completely.
I don't like them. Back in 2004-2007, when I did some tours, I did two on an old foam-padded plastic saddle (your standard 80's OEM saddle) and one on a Brooks. The OEM saddle was better and I didn't wear padded shorts in those days.

The point being, not that Brooks are bad and that you'll hate them, but they are not universally beloved, and ditching the chamois may not be about the leather. The right saddle could be anything.
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Old 09-08-15, 10:44 AM
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I was trying to find information on restoring the original saddle on a 1968 Collegiate Schwinn, but unable to find anything..
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Old 09-08-15, 11:19 AM
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Originally Posted by Machka View Post
1) Talk to Wallingford Bicycles. For one thing, they've got a 6-month guarantee on the Brooks saddles, so if for some reason it's just not working, you can return it. For another thing, they were happy to talk to me via email when I first went Brooks saddle hunting, and answered some of my questions.
Brooks | wallbike.com

2) This is the company: BROOKS ENGLAND LTD. | Leather Saddles, Cycle Bags, Etc. ... there you can browse the full range of saddles and other Brooks products.

3) Yes, they can last a long time. They may require a little bit of extra care, but it's certainly not onerous.

4) Yes, you can ride them without padded shorts ... but it may take a few months before you get to that point. I had about 4000 km on mine before I started riding around in a bathing suit and beach shorts up in Queensland.

5) When you get the saddle, it will be hard. Rock hard. You'll have feelings of misgiving. Maybe you made a mistake. You can rub it down with proofide if you want, but do not go crazy with the various "softening" techniques you may encounter and whatever you do, do not adjust the tensioning bolt in the nose of the saddle.

Your saddle should never become soft. That is not the goal. It will always remain a hard saddle. But it should conform to your sitbones over the weeks and months.

Install the saddle and be sure to tip the nose up. How much up will depend on you and may take a few rides to sort out.

The first time you ride the saddle, it will be slippery. You'll feel like you're going to slide off the thing. That's normal, but should go away in a week or two.

After a few weeks, you should start to notice slight scuff marks where your sitbones go. A few weeks later, those scuff marks will start to appear sort of like very small divots. And then you're well on your way to breaking the saddle in.
++++1^^^^^^ THE most reasonable post I've read concerning Brooks quality. On my Dutch Azor with a step-thru frame (I'm male, 6ft and 230#) I use a B67 and on my 1993 Rockhopper, I'm vacillating between a well broken in B17 and a Selle NSX. They're all great quality saddles and it's just a matter what fits and what doesn't fit. Former chiro.
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Old 09-08-15, 11:28 AM
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Be aware the wider and touring saddles "tend" to work best for most riders with the handlebars equal to or higher than the saddle as opposed to the more sports oriented which are narrower and are reported to work best with bars below the saddle.
Note this "rule" has exceptions as not everyones butt is the same and indeed some people can't get on with any model Brooks.
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Old 09-08-15, 11:52 AM
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I have two Brooks saddles. The B17 on my tourer is certainly comfortable enough to ride for longish distances in street clothes. I have well over 10000 miles on that saddle and although well broken in, it has not stretched much, I've hardly had to resort to the tensioning screw at all.

that is also true of the Brooks Swift (with Ti rails) that I have on a road bike. Again a very comfortable saddle, but being a narrower racing style than the B17 I wouldn't spend all day on it without cycle shorts.

They last a long time. You don't want to get them soaking wet, though, so mudguards/fenders are important if you ride in rainy conditions. The small amount of moisture that gets at them from the top when riding is no problem. As for leaving them outside in the rain, I keep a shower cap under the saddle and slip it over it when off the bike.
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Old 09-08-15, 01:35 PM
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I think people over react to their saddles getting wet. I have had 4 Brooks and two VO saddles over the years. All of them have gotten soaking wet many times and I have had no problems. I smear some Mink Oil Paste on them a couple of times a year and ride on.

Marc
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Old 09-08-15, 01:49 PM
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Originally Posted by irwin7638 View Post
I think people over react to their saddles getting wet. I have had 4 Brooks and two VO saddles over the years. All of them have gotten soaking wet many times and I have had no problems. I smear some Mink Oil Paste on them a couple of times a year and ride on. Marc
but don't you have to wait for them to dry before riding?
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Old 09-08-15, 01:52 PM
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Originally Posted by rumrunn6 View Post
but don't you have to wait for them to dry before riding?
You probably shouldn't ride more than you have to until they dry out, but they aren't going to be ruined automatically if they are wet. I don't leave them out in the rain, but certainly have learned not to worry about it if it happens once in a while.

Marc

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Old 09-08-15, 01:54 PM
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I was OK with riding on plastic bags over the saddle, when it was raining .. Ireland in March and April.

I melted a table spoon worth of proofide in an upside down hot saddle decades ago & its been fine ..

just use the Pleather ones in this locality . Fizik Vitesse is kind of B17 like

took the Brooks off so they dont get moldy (on their surface in the basement bike storage .. moved them upstairs )

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Old 09-08-15, 02:23 PM
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I mostly agree with a few quibbles.

Originally Posted by Machka View Post
1) Talk to Wallingford Bicycles. For one thing, they've got a 6-month guarantee on the Brooks saddles, so if for some reason it's just not working, you can return it. For another thing, they were happy to talk to me via email when I first went Brooks saddle hunting, and answered some of my questions.
Brooks | wallbike.com

2) This is the company: BROOKS ENGLAND LTD. | Leather Saddles, Cycle Bags, Etc. ... there you can browse the full range of saddles and other Brooks products.

3) Yes, they can last a long time. They may require a little bit of extra care, but it's certainly not onerous.
All good stuff. The only thing that I do special with my saddles are to cover them during rain. If I'm touring, I always put on a cover since my bike is going to be sitting outside. If I don't have the actual Brooks cover, I use a simple plastic grocery sack. I put Proofhide on the top and underneath about yearly...if I remember.

Originally Posted by Machka View Post
4) Yes, you can ride them without padded shorts ... but it may take a few months before you get to that point. I had about 4000 km on mine before I started riding around in a bathing suit and beach shorts up in Queensland.
This is one of my quibbles. Other than a trip to the grocery store (less than a mile round trip), I simple don't ride without padded shorts. I don't see padded shorts as being that onerous and they beat the alternative...saddle sores! Long, long ago, I rode without padded shorts and suffered the consequences. Saddle sores aren't any fun.

Originally Posted by Machka View Post
5) When you get the saddle, it will be hard. Rock hard. You'll have feelings of misgiving. Maybe you made a mistake. You can rub it down with proofide if you want, but do not go crazy with the various "softening" techniques you may encounter and whatever you do, do not adjust the tensioning bolt in the nose of the saddle.

Your saddle should never become soft. That is not the goal. It will always remain a hard saddle. But it should conform to your sitbones over the weeks and months.
Almost absolutely. I have 4 Brooks and everyone of them is as hard as the day I bought it. That said, the B-17Ns I have were softer out of the box and remain softer than the Pros I have. I have one Pro that has over 14,000 miles on it and I've never adjusted the tension bolt at all.

Originally Posted by Machka View Post
Install the saddle and be sure to tip the nose up. How much up will depend on you and may take a few rides to sort out.
This is where I will quibble more. I install my Brooks saddles dead level flat just as I do all of my saddles. I even use a level on them. I experimented a little with the tilt but never found anything but dead flat to be beneficial.

I would also add that almost all of the Brooks saddles are taller than most plastic saddles. After installation, the saddle will probably need to be lowered to get the proper height.

Originally Posted by Machka View Post
The first time you ride the saddle, it will be slippery. You'll feel like you're going to slide off the thing. That's normal, but should go away in a week or two.

After a few weeks, you should start to notice slight scuff marks where your sitbones go. A few weeks later, those scuff marks will start to appear sort of like very small divots. And then you're well on your way to breaking the saddle in.
Well, I'll agree that Brooks saddles are slippery. But they remain that way nearly forever in my experience. I just got used to the feeling...much in the same way that I got used to hardness of the saddle.

I also disagree about the "divots". Even on the saddle that has 14,000 miles on it, I can see no discernible changes in the saddle. I have several other Brooks with varying mileages on them and none show any kind of divots.

Finally, I believe that you don't "break in" a Brooks saddle. The saddle remains as unyielding as ever. The saddle "breaks in" the rider. In fact the saddles that most people would call broken in are mostly broken in my experience because they have done a bunch of goofy treatments that damage the leather.
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Old 09-08-15, 02:31 PM
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I got to test the B17 Imperial when it was being re-released... that saddle has been perfect since the first ride and that was 6 - 7 years ago and it still looks new.

Most of my bicycles have leather saddles which include Brooks, Ideale, and Wright's (W35)... my Ideale 92D touring saddle might be the only one that can equal the B17.

I also have a number of Terry saddles (leather) which are also excellent and use one of these for touring.

After that there is nothing wrong with the right synthetic saddle... I race on a Turbo Matic which is also a great distance saddle and has an advantage in that it is very sticky.
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Old 09-08-15, 02:41 PM
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Originally Posted by cyccommute View Post

Finally, I believe that you don't "break in" a Brooks saddle. The saddle remains as unyielding as ever. The saddle "breaks in" the rider. In fact the saddles that most people would call broken in are mostly broken in my experience because they have done a bunch of goofy treatments that damage the leather.
My partner used to tell me that if you wanted to break in a Brooks all you had to do was loan it to him for a week... he is a big guy and having his 250 pounds on that saddle put a little stretch in the leather.

My wife's saddles conform to her lovely rear and after riding other people's bikes with the same models of saddles can tell you that there is some subtle breaking in as they do not feel the same as my own.

I'll agree with not doing too much goofy stuff... my B17 Imperial has always been rather stiff, bears a few little divots, and all it gets is Proofhide to protect it from rain.
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Old 09-08-15, 11:17 PM
  #19  
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Also a point to remember that Brooks touring and race saddles are actually quite narrow. You choose a leather saddle differently from a plastic saddle.
With a plastic saddle you choose a saddle that is 1-3cm wider than your sitbone width (center to center) since the padding reaches the edges and you're supposed to be sitting quite near the edges. With touring saddles I prefer even the plastic saddle to be a bit wider than normal so I use a Terry Figura which is 165mm wide with my 130mm wide sitbones.

With a leather saddle the edges are not the place where you want your sitbones to be sitting since the steel frame is there holding up the leather. The metal frame takes about 2cm from the saddle width so the Brooks B17 for example is effectively 150mm wide. But another point to remember is that with a plastic saddle it doesn't matter if a tiny portion of your side sitbone is "hanging" outside the saddle edge. Only a small portion of the sitbone is touching the saddle anyways. But with a leather saddle you DO NOT want any of your sitbone to touch the steel frame. It will feel really, really bad if that happens. So instead of measuring your sitbone width center to center as with a plastic saddle you measure outside to outside. If that outside to outside width is wider or even the same as the effective width of the leather saddle you need to go wider.
So while the Brooks B17 has 150mm of suspended leather the ACTUAL usable width number when compared to plastic saddles is nearer to 130mm. So if you can ride a 130mm wide plastic saddle you can probably fit a Brooks B17 (I'm using a B17 as an example since all other leather saddles are then narrower)

But going wider is not always an option. A Brooks b17 is already pretty wide. Going wider than that (considering there are no middle width models) can cause then issues with the saddle being too wide (Brooks b67 for example) and interacting badly with the pedaling action. I got a 205mm wide leather saddle to try out for my tourer and it was causing me electric shocks due to it pressing against my hamstring so badly. Now that saddle is on my drunk bike where it belongs.

Measuring your sitbone width beforehand is a good idea since the width issue might not present itself before the saddle has been properly broken in. When those divots appear you might realize that while you were not touching the frame when the saddle was still hard, but now that you're sitting a bit lower you are actually touching the frame. This happened to me.
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Old 09-09-15, 08:33 AM
  #20  
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Originally Posted by Sixty Fiver View Post
My partner used to tell me that if you wanted to break in a Brooks all you had to do was loan it to him for a week... he is a big guy and having his 250 pounds on that saddle put a little stretch in the leather.
I'm not too far off of your partner's weight and after 10 years of riding my Pro, there's no sign of any stretch nor divots. But that may be the manner in which I ride a bike...I'm very light in the saddle, especially for a big guy.
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Old 09-09-15, 09:01 AM
  #21  
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Brooks saddles are vastly over-rated; almost any gel-padded saddle is more comfortable. The more cycling you do on any one saddle will make it seem more comfortable as your bum gets used to it. It's a bit like walking bare-foot everywhere in the Summer; at first, it can be a problem but after your feet become accustomed; then it is easy.
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Old 09-09-15, 09:59 AM
  #22  
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Originally Posted by Lou Skannon View Post
Brooks saddles are vastly over-rated; almost any gel-padded saddle is more comfortable. The more cycling you do on any one saddle will make it seem more comfortable as your bum gets used to it. It's a bit like walking bare-foot everywhere in the Summer; at first, it can be a problem but after your feet become accustomed; then it is easy.
But the thing is, there are people who feel the exact opposite. I think holding up any generic type or brand of saddle as the "golden standard" (as per the OP) and expecting it to make your life wonderful is a mistake. Brooks saddles aren't comfortable for everyone; as I said, I don't care for them. That said, that opinion is based on having used one model, the B17, on one bike, when I knew less about my own riding style. Maybe there's one out there that I would love! The only way to find out whether or not they'll work is to try.

One thing I will say for Brooks is they seem to have amazing durability if they are treated well. My experience with most saddles is that the shell inevitably breaks down over thousands of miles and becomes soft and flexy. This has held true for saddles that cost quite a bit more than a typical Brooks B17 or Professional. Of course, I managed to wreck that B17 I had, too, so maybe it's just me!
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Old 09-09-15, 10:00 AM
  #23  
phughes
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Originally Posted by irwin7638 View Post
I think people over react to their saddles getting wet. I have had 4 Brooks and two VO saddles over the years. All of them have gotten soaking wet many times and I have had no problems. I smear some Mink Oil Paste on them a couple of times a year and ride on.

Marc
Well Mink Oil is a water proofer so getting it wet wouldn't matter. I wouldn't use Mink Oil on mine though. I treat it once in a while with Proof Hide and don't worry about it. By once in a while I mean, when I think about it, which has been maybe twice after the initial treatment five years ago.

Mine gets wet once in a while and it is no real issue. I prefer to not ride it when it is wet, but if I am miles from home, and it is wet, I really don;t have a choice. The seat is very comfortable.

My brother has a Brooks on a bike that was purchased used when we were kids, back in the mid-70's. It came with the Brooks and the same Brooks is still on it. It has done numerous Ragbrais, a trip to Oklahoma from Iowa, across Oklahoma and general riding over the past 40 years and it is still good. I don't think he has ever treated the seat at all.

I cover mine if it looks like it will be retained on while parked, but don't get all freaked out about it.

Gotta go now, riding to work with heavy rain clouds in the sky.
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Old 09-09-15, 10:17 AM
  #24  
TheReal Houdini
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I think the whole wetness issue is overblown. Treat with sno-seal or proofide periodically and forgetaboutit.
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Old 09-09-15, 11:06 AM
  #25  
nun
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Originally Posted by TheReal Houdini View Post
I think the whole wetness issue is overblown. Treat with sno-seal or proofide periodically and forgetaboutit.
Agreed. I like the Swift more than the B17.
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