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Brooks Cambium C17

Old 02-10-16, 02:08 AM
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chasm54
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Brooks Cambium C17

I bought a new tourer before Christmas, and just out of curiosity I put one of the "new" Brooks saddles on it - the C17. As far as I can see there hasn't been any discussion of these saddles in the touring forum, so now I have a few hundred miles on it I thought a review might be useful.

The Cambium is a departure for Brooks in that it isn't a leather saddle. It's vulcanized rubber, with a fabric surface bonded to the rubber. It comes in C15 (narrower, like a Swift) or C17 (similar dimensions to a B17) versions, with or without a cutout. Mine is the C17 with no cutout.

It's an impressively made item, high quality materials and well finished. And it is immediately comfortable out of the box, first impressions were extremely positive. I very much liked the fabric finish - one of the few disadvantages of the Brooks leather saddles, imo, is the fact that they are slippery when new and one tends to slide around on them for a while.

Those positive first impressions lasted throught the first few rides, the saddle felt excellent, just enough give in it to be comfortable but no cushioning. Like other synthetic saddles it's the same every time you ride it, it does not deform over time to the riders shape like the leather versions.

However, those early rides were relatively short, no more than a couple of hours. On longer three hour rides I found the firmness of the saddle began to be obtrusive. Not painful, but definitely present - it didn't disappear like my leather Brooks do, and its ride quality felt more and more like a racing saddle than a touring saddle, to me. It's likely that the cutout version might be more yielding, and that may be a better choice for tourists who wish to give one of these a try.

So, verdict. Nicely made product, immediately appealing, zero maintenance and looks pretty bulletproof, very comfortable for up to a couple of hours at a stretch. Less suitable, imo, for touring and long relaxed days in the saddle. The B17 will be going back on the bike.
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Old 02-10-16, 06:11 AM
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jonc123
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I've got 1,350 miles on mine with rides up to 60 miles per day touring. I really like it and find it is comfortable. The way I came to that conclusion was the fact that after I get done with a ride I am not thinking about the saddle. I prefer saddles with zero padding. I have longer rides planned for 2016, so hopefully it will remain that way.

The only negative is the weight; it is heavy. I put up with that because I like it so well. I can see how this saddle would not be for everyone.

I could have bought a leather model but I couldn't stand the thought of it getting wet and out of shape; having to put some type of raincover over the saddle for protection seemed like an extra step I didn't want to take the time to do or think about. I still may try one of the leather seats some day.
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Old 02-10-16, 06:49 AM
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Thanks for the review, I love my Brooks (17??) and I ride without padding of any kind. I have been wondering about the Cambiums.
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Old 02-10-16, 07:54 AM
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Funny timing- I actually just ebay'd a C17s last night. I went with the s model because it is 1cm or so shorter than the b17 and i am waiting for a b17 to show up too. A couple of my current saddles are the same length as a C17s and ive never complained about those saddle's length.

The winter trial and error of swapping saddles out on my trainer is about to begin! I snagged the C17s for $75 and its basically new, so if its terrible for me, hopefully I can sell it and not take much or any of a hit.
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Old 02-10-16, 08:03 AM
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Originally Posted by mstateglfr View Post
Funny timing- I actually just ebay'd a C17s last night. I went with the s model because it is 1cm or so shorter than the b17 and i am waiting for a b17 to show up too. A couple of my current saddles are the same length as a C17s and ive never complained about those saddle's length.

The winter trial and error of swapping saddles out on my trainer is about to begin! I snagged the C17s for $75 and its basically new, so if its terrible for me, hopefully I can sell it and not take much or any of a hit.
That's an excellent price. And I hope it works for you, it's a nice saddle, I wanted to like it. It just doesn't suit me like the leather models do.
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Old 02-10-16, 08:20 AM
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Originally Posted by chasm54 View Post
That's an excellent price. And I hope it works for you, it's a nice saddle, I wanted to like it. It just doesn't suit me like the leather models do.
That is exactly my experience with the C17. Felt great on a 30 minute test ride. When I took it out on 3 hour club rides, I started to notice a bit of irritation at about the halfway point in the ride, where as I don't have any irritation, or even awareness of the B17. After a month, I put my B17 back on the bike.
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Old 02-10-16, 08:22 AM
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Originally Posted by chasm54 View Post
That's an excellent price. And I hope it works for you, it's a nice saddle, I wanted to like it. It just doesn't suit me like the leather models do.
Yeah, I decided this would be the year i spend a small fortune to find a saddle that i dont think about. What I use right now for most rides is a Serfas RX Performance saddle and I like it for up to about 40mi. After that, it gets progressively more and more uncomfortable. Ive done 75mi on it, and that wasnt exciting.
It has some cushion to it and is split down the middle, so since its such an odd design, I cant figure out if the cushion after a long time is what hurts(as is so often reported), if the split design is good for up to a certain point, or if a wider saddle would just be better.
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Old 02-10-16, 08:48 AM
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The C17 is narrower than the B17.

C17 Width = 162mm according to:
BROOKS ENGLAND LTD. | TOURING & TREKKING | CAMBIUM C17

B17 width = 175mm
BROOKS ENGLAND LTD. | TOURING+&+TREKKING | B17+STANDARD

I think the C17 is much closer to a Brooks Pro, which = 160mm
BROOKS ENGLAND LTD. | ROAD+&+MTB | TEAM+PRO+CLASSIC

A friend of mine did not like his C17, he loaned it to me, I suspect he was hoping I would buy it from him. I planned to give it a 20 mile test ride, but after I got a quarter mile, I turned around back home to put my broken in leather saddle back on the bike.

Some people need a long break in time on Brooks saddles and I am one of those. Other people like them straight out of the box. I think that the crowd that likes them out of the box is more likely to prefer the C17. But if you needed to break in your leather saddles, I suspect that the C17 won't be your first choice.

I was hoping I would like the C17 so that I do not have to worry as much about getting my leather saddle wet on a long tour where it would be hard to dry it out. But, it did not work out for me. I use a Brooks Conquest which is very similar in shape to the Brooks Pro. (On one bike I have a Pro.) So, the size and shape of the C17 was what I wanted. But that was not enough to make me like it.
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Old 02-10-16, 09:00 AM
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Originally Posted by Tourist in MSN View Post
The C17 is narrower than the B17.
True, I should have been more precise. I don't think the width is the issue, though - at least, it isn't for me. I have a 150mm Swift on a road bike that suits me just fine. And, ironically enough, I'm one of those who gets on with the leather Brooks right out of the box - they start out OK and get better. The issue with the Cambium, for me, is that it just doesn't feel as forgiving, it's as if instead of settling underneath you it just keeps pushing back. Others may feel very differently, of course - we all know how personal a choice saddles are.
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Old 02-10-16, 10:05 AM
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If it doesn't have the self-adjusting feature of leather (and it doesn't), it's just another shape in the multitude of shapes available with minimum or no padding. It becomes a matter of detailed fitting of a particular design to one's anatomy.

I'll be ordering soon a Brooks B17 most likely with the cutout (is there anyone who tried the cutout and didn't like it? Please speak up...).

I have a Serfas Rx 921L, which I like, but past 25 miles starts giving me a burning/friction sensation at the contact points. Also, the frame is attached with a few Allen screws which seem to loosen with use and creak. I am not sure how much life is left in them after I re-tightened them a few times already...
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Old 02-10-16, 10:34 AM
  #11  
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I've mentioned on this forum before that I was intrigued by the C17, more from the angle of not having to worry about rain at all. I was tempted by it, and looked and held them in stores and wondered, but my misgivings were enforced by the fact that its a $200 ca seat, so you are putting out $230 cad. to try it out.

My misgivings were that the fabric would be a bother-I in fact like on my leather saddles that there is so little friction, I feel this is a real plus factor for bottom comfort over a long day.
-I do like the fact that the leather does take your shape, and for me, the leather ones really do work well because of this
-one of the things I noticed with a leather seat is that in hot muggy riding conditions, it really does seem that everything is less hot and sweaty than with a plastic non breathing saddle surface. Could be wrong, but thats how it seems to me, so I have concerns with a rubber seat in this regard.

I would happily try one if I saw one for $75 or whatever, as you say, it should be easy to resell, I'm just very hesitant to spend over 200 bucks to find out I should have spent the money towards another leather one that I know I get along with very well (or just some other bike or camping stuff).
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Old 02-10-16, 10:54 AM
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Originally Posted by djb View Post
I've mentioned on this forum before that I was intrigued by the C17, more from the angle of not having to worry about rain at all.
It's a little OT, but in the light of this and @jonc123 's comment above, maybe I should say that I've never had a problem with the B17 and rain. I have mudguards/fenders on the bike, which pretty much deals with spray from the road, and my backside protects it from above. If I need to leave it outside in the rain when I'm not riding it, I simply slip over a shower cap that I leave tucked under the saddle the rest of the time. I've had that saddle about 6 years, it's been ridden in all weathers, it's fine.
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Old 02-10-16, 11:01 AM
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I've been using the C15 for almost a year now for touring and commuting, and find it to be very comfortable. I don't want a leather saddle since I ride in wet conditions. No idea how it compares to a leather Brooks.
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Old 02-10-16, 11:05 AM
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have had tourists ending their transcontinental tours on the coast using the C17..

[I boxed the bike and shipped it back east for them, for the LBS]

Now that an Italian Company Bought the British Brooks Firm, yes the Cambium line is Made in Italy.



I have used Brooks Pro Model on my Drop Bar touring Bikes .. Was treated to be kind of waxy.

Still, saddle choice Is Between You, your Butt and the saddle ..
Popularity matters Little ..

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Old 02-10-16, 01:08 PM
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Not personal experience, but I have been looking at the C17 because I have heard mostly good things and because I don't want a leather saddle. The price has been a hang up as I have a serviceable saddle (Specialized Body Geometry) that costs about 1/3 the price (well, it would have been more if I bought it new). But I've been thinking that there's room for improvement, comfort wise, and went to my LBS to ask if anyone had tried and had any opinions on the C17. He said, yes, they had opinions: Pretty much everyone at the shop had tried one and it was now their preferred saddle. They have a loaner saddle that I may try out first, but it is currently loaned out. The shop guy also said just about everyone who tried out the loaner saddle also ended up buying the Cambium.

I can't remember if it was at the shop or elsewhere that there seemed to be a preference for the cut out version. Not only did it relieve pressure in sensitive areas, but the cut out gave the saddle a little more flex, which seemed to improve comfort on longer rides.

None it first hand, but it all sounded good to me, and I may have to overcome my thriftiness and pick one up.
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Old 02-10-16, 01:24 PM
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I did a Adventure Cycling tour with 15 other riders, several had Brooks. Two of them had an unbelievable amount of sag in their leather, I almost laughed when they said that their saddles were perfect and did not require any treatment or water protection.

One of those guys with the sag in the saddle put his bike upside down to check the tires and wheels in the evening, left it upside down all night - and we had a big thunderstorm that night. Next morning his Brooks was sitting in a puddle. That is not the right way to treat a saddle.



By the time I got around to taking the photo, some of the puddle had soaked into the ground so it was no longer in a puddle, but it had been in a puddle for a few hours.

Originally Posted by chasm54 View Post
..., maybe I should say that I've never had a problem with the B17 and rain. I have mudguards/fenders on the bike, which pretty much deals with spray from the road, and my backside protects it from above. If I need to leave it outside in the rain when I'm not riding it, I simply slip over a shower cap that I leave tucked under the saddle the rest of the time. I've had that saddle about 6 years, it's been ridden in all weathers, it's fine.
Same here, BUT, I get a little tired of having to be almost obsessive about keeping it covered at night, even if that is only from the dew, or putting a cover on it during daytime if I am riding it in rain. I did ride it in several days of rain, it did develop a bit of extra sag, but when I got it dried out I tightened up the adjustment screw a tiny bit.
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Old 02-10-16, 01:30 PM
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Originally Posted by Tourist in MSN View Post
The C17 is narrower than the B17.

C17 Width = 162mm according to:
BROOKS ENGLAND LTD. | TOURING & TREKKING | CAMBIUM C17

B17 width = 175mm
BROOKS ENGLAND LTD. | TOURING+&+TREKKING | B17+STANDARD
Ive read a few times over that the c17, while narrower than the b17, has the same effective width when used. No idea if thats accurate or just an opinion thats now been recited a bunch.
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Old 02-10-16, 02:37 PM
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Originally Posted by mstateglfr View Post
Ive read a few times over that the c17, while narrower than the b17, has the same effective width when used. No idea if thats accurate or just an opinion thats now been recited a bunch.
It's probably close to being true, because the way the leather is stretched over the rails reduces the effective width of the B17
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Old 02-10-16, 03:21 PM
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Originally Posted by chasm54 View Post
It's probably close to being true, because the way the leather is stretched over the rails reduces the effective width of the B17
plus perhaps the frog factor

ribbit ribbit ribbit, I mean rivet, rivet, rivet
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Old 02-10-16, 03:24 PM
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Originally Posted by chasm54 View Post
It's a little OT, but in the light of this and @jonc123 's comment above, maybe I should say that I've never had a problem with the B17 and rain. I have mudguards/fenders on the bike, which pretty much deals with spray from the road, and my backside protects it from above. If I need to leave it outside in the rain when I'm not riding it, I simply slip over a shower cap that I leave tucked under the saddle the rest of the time. I've had that saddle about 6 years, it's been ridden in all weathers, it's fine.
me too, both my bikes have rear fenders, and I always have my handy dandy brooks rain cover in my seat bag, or a plastic bag.
In the end, stopping to put a bag on it or my cover is nothing compared to a seat that doesnt leave my tush sore after riding all day, day after day.

but like I always say, its only a seat, whatever one works for you.
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Old 02-10-16, 04:17 PM
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Originally Posted by djb View Post
I in fact like on my leather saddles that there is so little friction, I feel this is a real plus factor for bottom comfort over a long day.
+1, this exactly why I've been afraid of that carpet like rough texture of the C17, not sure I would like the added friction and wondering if it will more likely wear your shorts out?
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Old 02-10-16, 04:41 PM
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Originally Posted by robow View Post
+1, this exactly why I've been afraid of that carpet like rough texture of the C17, not sure I would like the added friction and wondering if it will more likely wear your shorts out?
I wear LL Bean Sport Shorts nearly everyday. I have about 5 or 6 pairs and wear them to the gym, hiking, biking, lounging, water or whatever. I regulated 2 of them just for biking to test exactly what you are talking about. So far, no problems at all but I only have 1350 miles on the saddle which works out to 675 miles per shorts. They look just as good as the ones I don't bike in.
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Old 02-10-16, 05:01 PM
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Originally Posted by chasm54 View Post
True, I should have been more precise. I don't think the width is the issue, though - at least, it isn't for me. I have a 150mm Swift on a road bike that suits me just fine. And, ironically enough, I'm one of those who gets on with the leather Brooks right out of the box - they start out OK and get better. The issue with the Cambium, for me, is that it just doesn't feel as forgiving, it's as if instead of settling underneath you it just keeps pushing back. Others may feel very differently, of course - we all know how personal a choice saddles are.
Do you find that your seating on the edge of the frame of the swift. I really liked mine, but I thought it may have been to narrow. When I got fit, they told me I had narrow sit bones. Sometimes while riding the swift, I didn't feel it, but looking at the saddle after break in, you could see I was on part of the frame. By chance could you post a picture of yours. Thanks.
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Old 02-10-16, 05:05 PM
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Originally Posted by George View Post
Do you find that your seating on the edge of the frame of the swift. I really liked mine, but I thought it may have been to narrow. When I got fit, they told me I had narrow sit bones. Sometimes while riding the swift, I didn't feel it, but looking at the saddle after break in, you could see I was on part of the frame. By chance could you post a picture of yours. Thanks.
Er, I suppose so, but it's not clear to me that a picture of my saddle is going to help you decide whether yours fits you. Either it's comfortable or it isn't.
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Old 02-10-16, 06:03 PM
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Originally Posted by chasm54 View Post
Er, I suppose so, but it's not clear to me that a picture of my saddle is going to help you decide whether yours fits you. Either it's comfortable or it isn't.
Thanks anyhow, I just looked at some pictures on google and most looked like mine. Mine was comfortable like I said, but I didn't know if sitting on part of the frame was suppose to be that way.
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