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Question about Brooks saddle

Old 03-27-20, 06:36 AM
  #1  
Siwash
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Question about Brooks saddle

I'm just getting into this and know Brook makes a good saddle.

Do I get the B-17 or the saddle with the cut-out. Hoping to ride across America in another two years.
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Old 03-27-20, 07:38 AM
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Do a little more research. Several models including the B17 come with cut outs.

You can't go wrong trying a B17. The Pro model fits me a bit better.
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Old 03-27-20, 07:58 AM
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I agree that Brooks makes a good saddle. Ensure you're following the manufacturer recommendations regarding protection of the leather. A rain cover is a great idea, though I just recycle a Tyvek or plastic shipping bag to and a small bungee cover the saddle when I'm not on it. You'll also hide the saddle from potential thieves, as there's a thriving eBay market for all Brooks saddles. I use a worn out bike chain sheathed in an inner tube and re-pinned as a 'permanent' security tether for the saddle and seatpost as well.

You're the only one that can answer the question about the cut-out, and if it's necessary. If you use a cut out now, or if you're not comfortable in your setup with the saddle nose slightly up or level, a cut out could be right for you.
For me, the saddle felt best in my 75% of the time riding position of about 45 degrees with hands on the hoods. It would disappear after the first 10 minutes, especially with padded shorts. To keep from sliding forward, I (and many others) ride with the nose tilted a few degrees up. For the time I'd use the drops (in headwinds or downhill, etc.) I noticed an uncomfortable pressure on my perineum. I could avoid that by arching my back more, but it's most comfortable to rotate my hips. I installed a Selle Anatomica X1 saddle this winter and I'm looking forward to seeing if it changes anything regarding comfort in the drops.
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Old 03-27-20, 07:36 PM
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I've ridden exclusively with three different B17s for about 10 years, and all have been significantly more comfortable than other saddles with cut-outs that I used before that. And there were many. I know Brooks makes a saddle with a cut-out, but I have no reason to try it!

But your mileage (kilometrage?) may vary.
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Old 03-27-20, 08:21 PM
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Gotta weigh in here... I have the Brooks Imperial. That's the cut out model. I've had two of them over the years and love it. The cut out not only helps with the man bits, but it also lets the saddle flex a bit more in the middle. The tension you choose by loosening or tightening the "shoelaces" that come with one. You get black, blue, red, and white with the saddle when you buy one, at least I did.



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Old 03-27-20, 09:26 PM
  #6  
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I use a Brooks Imperial, a B17 with a cutout. I've got over 5,000 miles on it so far and have been happy with it. I also have a Sele Anitomica, but have not used it enough to give an opinion about it.
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Old 03-27-20, 09:52 PM
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Had a $58 leather Persons #77 DELUXE for 10 years till it disappeared and my favorite over my Brooks. I've had male numbness from other saddles but not this one. Time for another, thanks. https://www.permaco.com/en-us/dept_7.html
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Old 03-27-20, 11:37 PM
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Rail adjustability

Take a look at your current setup and see where the clamp is on there saddle rails. Brooks saddles are notorious for the short clamping area and limited fore-aft adjustability. If you're in the middle of your rails, you're probably fine. Other tensioned saddles aren't that much better.
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Old 03-28-20, 05:58 AM
  #9  
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I have 4 B17's and have modified them with cutouts and copper rivets!
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Old 03-28-20, 12:48 PM
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My Persons saddle after 100 miles broke in and a few of my bicycle fantasy's back when https://www.flickr.com/photos/63218948@N05
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Old 03-28-20, 01:05 PM
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I'm a fan of the one with the cutout personally.
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Old 03-28-20, 03:00 PM
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I've owned several B-17's over many many years and presently have a Brooks Imperial on my touring bike. For me personally, I find them both equally comfortable with little difference noted. YMMV

Edit: I should say that the Imperial's "break in period" was shorter than some of my B-17's over the years.

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Old 03-28-20, 06:35 PM
  #13  
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I have a Flyer Special - sprung saddle. It does not have the cut out, but has holes in the top. Everyone is different in how they are shaped and thus what shape seat works for them. That having been said, the good thing about the Brooks saddles is they "break in" and form to your sit bones over time. This can take quite a while so I would recommend that in switching to a Brooks saddle you do so while being able to work it in to your riding routine/training as opposed to at the start of a long trip. If you find the saddle doesn't "fit" right off the bat - if it is a really bad fit change the saddle. If it isn't too far off, but not "quite right" - give it time to break in. That could be a thousand miles or more. Depending on how sore your rear end is during that break in period you may need a bit more recuperation time.

Or, you might find the Brooks saddle fits great right out of the box. No matter what Brooks you get - they all stretch over time an loosen up. You will probably go through 3-4 tightening increments in the tension bolt.

Something to consider - the springs on the Flyer Special do absorb shock, like the unexpected pothole or joint between asphalt and concrete that ends up being more than you anticipated. I am a light weight and find the springs actually too stiff. I did look for softer springs a couple years back but didn't have too much luck. They still do absorb hard hits, though, and I'm glad I have them. The combination between padded bike shorts and the sprung saddle is a winner for me.

Good luck with what ever you choose.
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Old 03-28-20, 10:02 PM
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I have an imperial saddle and found it very comfortable.
Then I bought a B17 and couldn't break it in to make it comfortable. I cut out the slot the same as on my imperial and it has quickly become broken in and comfortable.
Perhaps you could try the B17 first and cut out the slot if you find it uncomfortable. It is easy to cut with a sharp blade.
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Old 03-29-20, 04:12 AM
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If you are a committed leather saddle user who has a history with them already feel free to ignore this.

Reading the glowing reviews you'd think the Brooks is a magic answer for everyone. That just isn't so. I know that my experience with my one and only B17 was that it was only okay when new and gradually went downhill from there. It was probably the least satisfactory saddle I have owned if you don't count the saddles I had on paper boy bikes of the 50s. After it was really broken in it got to be pretty terrible.

In practice every saddle that came with my bikes was actually okay if not great and could be adjusted too. Even the one that came with my Windsor Touring ($599 delivered) which seemed pretty uncomfortable when I got it wasn't bad after a few hundred miles of me breaking in to it. I rode coast to coast with it and did a number of other long tours and never gave it much thought.

I have found that I do have a saddle preference though and it is for WTB (Wilderness Trail Bike) Volt line. For me they are comfortable, not terribly expensive, and not too heavy.

If you have problems with numbness you may need to either experiment with position and saddle adjustment or a different saddle, but that doesn't necessarily mean that leather will be better. Also remember that when it comes to general saddle comfort gradual breaking in of the rider to the saddle is a big part of the equation. Also riding form is part of it. I think some riders just ride with all of their weight on the saddle while others support more on their legs.
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Old 03-31-20, 02:53 AM
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If your perineum flesh is low up front then the sagging hammock shape will make the flesh bump the bridge of the nose. Every person's anatomy is different but it was more uncomfortable without the cutout. As the saddle wears, the sagging increases. So I decided to cut the bridge to get it as low as possible. This solved my problem and now it's the most comfortable saddle I've tried. A lot of the synthetic foam saddles didn't work for me either because they were too narrow, too sharp, too soft, or too much fall off curvature. The modified Brooks was the best compromise. The narrow version was painful for me though. If you have wide sit bones like 13cm then I recommend the standard width.
the rails are short so you may find that it's too far forward. My thudbuster has a setback of around 12mm unloaded and maybe 18mm when loaded but I only put 100% of my weight on it when I am coasting so the setback keeps moving between the two as I pedal. I wish it were 1 to 2 cm further back. You may want to search for a seatpost with greater setback.




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Old 03-31-20, 02:13 PM
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Originally Posted by staehpj1 View Post
...Reading the glowing reviews you'd think the Brooks is a magic answer for everyone. That just isn't so...I have found that I do have a saddle preference though and it is for WTB (Wilderness Trail Bike) Volt line. For me they are comfortable, not terribly expensive, and not too heavy...
+1

I had a B17. It was slick, hard and offered no comfort advantage when new. With use it began to sag in the center, like all tensioned leather saddles do, and then became less comfortable than conventional saddles, at which point I set it in a bin for years, before eventually giving it away.

Funny you mention the WTB Volt, it has been the standard saddle on Surly LHT, Disc Trucker, Troll, etc, and Salsa bikes too, for years. It is evidently a low cost, popular, highly rated saddle.

I realized an improvement in saddle comfort when I rebuilt my favorite frameset, replacing the silver Thomson setback seatpost I had used for years with a black Thomson no-setback post. Going "all black" on components inadvertently made the bike more comfortable.
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Old 03-31-20, 02:53 PM
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I genuinely don't get Brooks Saddles. They have been around for ages. They are dramatically different from other saddles and unique in design and material combo. Most people that comment about them swear by them and frequently are long-time high mileage users.

So the obvious question is why aren't they way more popular than they are. At best in terms of production and sales, they seem to be a niche saddle.

What's the explanation?
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Old 03-31-20, 03:08 PM
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Originally Posted by BengalCat View Post
I genuinely don't get Brooks Saddles. They have been around for ages. They are dramatically different from other saddles and unique in design and material combo. Most people that comment about them swear by them and frequently are long-time high mileage users.

So the obvious question is why aren't they way more popular than they are. At best in terms of production and sales, they seem to be a niche saddle.

What's the explanation?
Heavy for the performance-minded, not as beneficial if you use padded shorts, not that important if your rides are short, and IMO require a more precise positioning to get the benefits. And on the expensive side.

They're not for everyone.
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Old 03-31-20, 03:30 PM
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Originally Posted by BengalCat View Post
...What's the explanation?
Brooks saddles obviously are heavy, large, relatively expensive, and boldly feature 19th century technology. To the average shopper, the only logical explanation for their popularity is "they must be comfortable, why else would anyone use one?". Marketing based largely on internet forum hype and customer curiosity. Before the internet took off in 1995, Brooks saddles had mostly disappeared from bikes and LBS shops.
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Old 03-31-20, 07:38 PM
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For my touring bike, I ride a Brooks B17 Imperial (with the cut out) because I can't tolerate other thin saddles that come with many bikes. Those long, thin saddles are like a crotch anvil for me. My CF road bike has a U shaped ISM Adamo road saddle.
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Old 03-31-20, 08:48 PM
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Originally Posted by BengalCat View Post
I genuinely don't get Brooks Saddles. They have been around for ages. They are dramatically different from other saddles and unique in design and material combo. Most people that comment about them swear by them and frequently are long-time high mileage users.

So the obvious question is why aren't they way more popular than they are. At best in terms of production and sales, they seem to be a niche saddle.

What's the explanation?
The explanation is different butts, and most usually, people trying to run the seat too high. and sometimes too much reach.
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Old 03-31-20, 10:43 PM
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Originally Posted by seeker333 View Post
Brooks saddles obviously are heavy, large, relatively expensive, and boldly feature 19th century technology. To the average shopper, the only logical explanation for their popularity is "they must be comfortable, why else would anyone use one?". Marketing based largely on internet forum hype and customer curiosity. Before the internet took off in 1995, Brooks saddles had mostly disappeared from bikes and LBS shops.
Ouch! I've tried several Brooks saddles but their quirky shape never fit me at all. OTOH many experienced tourists say Brooks is their favorite for all-day comfort so I'd think a B-17 or Imperial would be worth a try.
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Old 04-01-20, 04:29 AM
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Just one other note...
Reading on forums it is easy to get the idea that the Brooks is the saddle for touring and everyone is using them. Out on the road I have found them to be a small minority. That isn't to be taken to mean they are good or bad, just don't be swayed by the notion that everyone is using them, they aren't. It is pretty much a niche product.
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Old 04-01-20, 09:18 PM
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I looked at the photo of the wtb volt but it seems like it's got too much curvature along the center line for me. I need a flat sit area with a level bridge and nose. Just by experience I can tell that if I tried to get the bridge leveled then I'd slip forward. If I were to try tilting back until I don't slip then the nose will rise and hit me. But everyone is different.
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