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Brooks saddle question

Old 11-28-20, 05:31 AM
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Jno
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Brooks saddle question

I understand the importance of the saddle and have read many posts about Brooks love and so on. I assume leather shouldn’t be soaked or should be cared for afterwards, and neither of those things seems possible when in rain on a trip. And I’m disinclined to buy a seat I need to cover with a plastic bag. Do advocates of the B17 just let the saddle get soaked? Do they need to manage/pamper it?
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Old 11-28-20, 06:20 AM
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Originally Posted by Jno View Post
I understand the importance of the saddle and have read many posts about Brooks love and so on. I assume leather shouldn’t be soaked or should be cared for afterwards, and neither of those things seems possible when in rain on a trip. And I’m disinclined to buy a seat I need to cover with a plastic bag. Do advocates of the B17 just let the saddle get soaked? Do they need to manage/pamper it?
I don't think letting a B17 get soaked (once, or repeatedly) will end well...no more than doing the same with a leather jacket or shoes..and a saddle is under a fair bit more stress than shoes or a jacket.

Between fenders, rear panniers, your butt, and saddle covers people can keep them dry, though you might consider a C17 instead. I have B17s, B17-Imperials(B17 with a cutout), C17's and C17s with a cutout. Both the B17 & Imperial are very comfortable, with the Imperial being better. The C17 doesn't work for me, while the C17 with a cutout is very comfortable. Not completely equal to the Imperial, but close. I currently have an Imperial on my touring bike and haven't had a problem keeping it dry, though I may switch over to the C17 cutout at some point.

If I were you, given the trip you're planning, I'd try a C17 cutout and see if it works. If it does..your good and won't need to concern yourself with potential care for a leather saddle. If it doesn't work, then step into the leather options, or consider other synthetic routes.
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Old 11-28-20, 08:32 AM
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Some people will find that the saddle is perfect when they first buy it. Some people (including me) find that they need to break in a new leather saddle first. I budget about 500 miles for break in period.

I think that for every Brooks user, there is a different recomendation on the best way to break one in. I will just say that you do not want the leather wet, but slighty moist can aid break in. When it is about half way where you want it, then and only then do I apply Brooks Proofide. The Proofide makes it much more water repellent and that means that it will continue to break in much slower once you apply it. I apply that to both top and bottom, I set the saddle in the sun on a warm day to make it warmer so that it absorbs the Proofide faster. After you apply Proofide a few times when it is fairly new, after that apply every year or every couple of years.

Some people hate leather saddles, some people strongly prefer them (including me). I find that the B17 is too wide and flat in the back for me, I prefer the Brooks Pro or Brooks Conquest over the B17. But most bike tourists prefer the B17 or Flyer shape over the other models.

Saddle covers are not that bad. Free shower caps provided by some motels are also a favorite cover for some. I do not recall if the B17 uses the large or the small Brooks cover. I use the genuine Brooks cover and put it on the saddle as soon as it threatens to rain. It is quick to put it on and I do not even notice it is there.




Do not do what this guy did, in the evening he flipped his bike upside down so that he could check his tires for any glass or anything like that, and left his bike upside down all night. The thunderstorm went through at about 4 or 5am, by the time I took the photo the puddle that his Brooks had been sitting had drained, but his saddle soaked in a puddle for a few hours.



I put a cover over my saddle in the evening in the campsite almost every night in case there is any dew, but I think a lot of other people are not that careful and manage to get by. I was not going anywhere on my bike the day I took the photo below, the cover is still on the saddle to prevent it from getting wet from the dew.



Some people have tried and like the Brooks non-leather Cambium (spell?) saddles, I bought a couple and do not like them, I prefer the leather. But the Cambium ones are another option.

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Old 11-28-20, 09:49 AM
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I have a Flyer Special (sprung version), and have since I got my bike in 2014. The combination of it and good bike shorts works well for me. If it is going to be wet I put a cover over the saddle. Like Tourist in MSN says about dew over-night - same thing there. As to riding in the rain - I don't worry about it with the cover on. Proofhide is applied about once a year. Most of it goes underneath but I smear a bit on top also, not much.


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Old 11-28-20, 11:48 AM
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The official Brooks saddle cover doesn't really cover the bottom of the saddle leather - I suppose they expect one to have 'mudguards' on the machine.

The official Selle Anatomica saddle cover wraps up around the seatpost, providing full coverage. It costs more.
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Old 11-28-20, 11:55 AM
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Thank you. This degree of care seems do-able.
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Old 11-28-20, 02:07 PM
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If I could find a reasonably priced plastic saddle which requires little to no care and that I could ride comfortably for hours I would. Unfortunately the Brooks is about the only thing that works for me and so I find the additional care well worth it.
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Old 11-28-20, 02:19 PM
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I just shove a shower cap above the rails of the saddle. When it rains, it only takes a couple seconds to remove it and stretch it over the top of the saddle.
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Old 11-28-20, 02:41 PM
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Jno
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C17 ?

Is the all-weather model as comfortable and well-loved? Or are there features that make folks prefer to attend to the needs of their B17?
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Old 11-28-20, 03:27 PM
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Originally Posted by Jno View Post
Is the all-weather model as comfortable and well-loved? Or are there features that make folks prefer to attend to the needs of their B17?
I think there is no way that you can tell if you are likely to prefer the Cambium saddles or not. I suspect that the people that like a new leather saddle right out of the box might be the same people that like the Cambium saddles. I mentioned above that I need about 500 miles to break in a new leather saddle, but the Cambium saddles do not break in, they stay about the same from day one to years later.

I bought a C17S and an all weather C17, did not like either one. The C17S is on my errand bike that I rarely ride farther than 6 miles at a time, I can ride on that saddle that far without any trouble. But I find over 15 miles that it is a torture device. The C17 all weather saddle appears to be slightly more flexible, not sure why they would be different from each other, but I do not like that one either.

That said, I have met several randonneuring riders that like the C17 or C17 all weather, and the shortest brevets that they do is 200 km. So, it is clear that some people like them a lot more than me for a long distance ride.

If you can borrow a C17 from anyone you know that has one, take advantage of that and see what you think of it for a long ride.
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Old 11-28-20, 03:48 PM
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You have to ride one to find out. Suggestions are helpful, though one person's dream saddle is the next person's torture device.

I found the standard C17 (not carved, not C17S..a women's, short design..I think) uncomfortable within a few miles. 25-30 miles in, after several adjustments, it was no better. I tried riding it several times on 40ish miles rides..no dice..not for me. I have one that I'd be willing to part with..brand new condition.

The C17 carved..very different. It's much more flexible. The first couple times I rode it, it was "OK". I still felt some discomfort. After several rides and about 200 miles..either I broke to it, or it broke to me (sure seemed like a break in period), but either way..I find it very comfortable now. Tilt seems to have a marked impact on comfort. While a B17 is typically more comfortable with a slightly nose-up tilt, the C17 carved is better dead level or very very slightly just low of level.

B17s or Imperial..I'm fortunate that a new one of either is comfortable from the first ride forward.
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Old 11-28-20, 04:24 PM
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I like to ride in the drop-position and my opinion of the B17 is not favorable. After about 25 miles using it, my perineum was in so much pain that I decided to dismount so that I could push my bicycle up a hill that I normally ride up. On my next ride, it started happening earlier than that. I switched to the C17 w/cutout, which has been a lot better for me. It's not perfect but, still tremendously better for me than the B17 was. I might try the C15 w/cutout next. I know your question was about taking care of the leather rather than saddle comfort. I chose the Cambium so that I wouldn't have to worry about the leather getting ruined, and the cutout to make riding possible.
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Old 11-28-20, 11:02 PM
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I put 6k miles on my Brooks B17 and it never broke in, still just as rock hard as the day I got it. I put a thin clear showercap from a hotel stuffed under the rails, where it seemed to stay put very securely, and was very convenient to put on when needed. Rode plenty of light rain days but generally I took care of it, put the Brooks wax on periodically, etc.

In California in 2017 I crossed paths with a couple riding from Ushuaia Argentina to Alaska. They both had Brooks, they both had suffered through the tropical rainy season in Central America and southern Mexico. Both saddles were soft like suede, and had stretched out and sagged to where they were perfectly molded around the clamps and hardware on the top of the seatposts. They said the saddles were fine up until the nonstop soaking tropical rain. Looked terribly painful but they said they didn't really feel anything any more, but were planning to replace them in SF anyway. Wish I had gotten a photo.

Anyway point is your experience will vary wildly according to conditions.
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Old 11-29-20, 01:13 AM
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Originally Posted by Jno View Post
I understand the importance of the saddle and have read many posts about Brooks love and so on. I assume leather shouldn’t be soaked or should be cared for afterwards, and neither of those things seems possible when in rain on a trip. And I’m disinclined to buy a seat I need to cover with a plastic bag. Do advocates of the B17 just let the saddle get soaked? Do they need to manage/pamper it?
i don’t understand what the issue is with putting a shower cap on it in the rain to protect it. When you’re on the bike your butt covers the saddle so no shower cap necessary. (Likely) You lock your always, why not protect your saddle once in a great while with a shower cap? Maybe some saddle wax once a year? Takes 5 minutes. Na, takes 3. Anyhow, I have 4 of them in my stable. My tour across Canada 72 days maybe 3 times covered. My tour to the Arctic 35 days covered 4-5 times. Big deal.
I don’t think I pamper it.
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Old 11-29-20, 05:30 AM
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B17, B17, B17...It can sound like a broken record and with so many singing it's praises I joined the refrain and tried it in leather and also the cambium with NO JOY, But the the Brooks B67 was a wonderful addition to my bike and I have logged thousands and thousands of pain free miles in all weather conditions with it. I do cover it at night and in the rain while it takes but just a few seconds to apply the cover and I apply proof-ride every now and then.
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Old 11-29-20, 09:35 AM
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I mentioned above that I prefer the Brooks Pro or Conquest over the B17. The Conquest is essentially a Pro with springs. I use the drops about a third of the time. On a bike where I sit more upright, the B17 or Flyer works well for me, but not when I am in the drops. A Flyer is a B17 with springs. My B17 in on a bike that permanently is on my indoor trainer.

A note on color, the Conquest in the photo is about 10 years old. It was the Honey color but I have used that saddle for most of my tours, and with age and more applications of Proofide over the years, it has gotten darker and darker.

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Old 11-29-20, 09:36 AM
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I've had a B17 for about 3k miles of mostly long days. It makes 10+ hour rides as comfortable as a road trip in a car, but it is kind f a drag knowing it shouldn't get wet. With full fenders on my bike, it's really mostly a concern when I'm not riding, like at camp over night. I carry a nice, heavy mil plastic supermarket bag and just cover the whole thing, using one of those rubberized wire ties to close it around the seat post. You can ride it this way too.

It's only ever gotten completely soaked once and it did suffer. It got really soft, stretched, and, although it firmed back up, it did not return to shape. Fortunately, this happened early in its life so it could afford the impact.

As something of an aside, one thing I wish I knew before I bought it is that the B17 has no aft-adjustability. If you need your seatpost to intersect a point in front the centerline of the saddle, you'll need to buy a long-setback seat post such as a Velo Orange. A surprise $100 purchase I resented having to make.
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Old 11-29-20, 08:46 PM
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"When man first set woman on two wheels with a pair of pedals, did he know, I wonder, that he had rent the veil of the harem in twain? A woman on a bicycle has all the world before her where to choose; she can go where she will, no man hindering." The Typewriter Girl, 1899.

Love this quote
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Old 11-30-20, 03:52 AM
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I don't care for my saddle I proof hide it once a year or so, if it gets wet it gets wet
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Old 11-30-20, 07:00 AM
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Originally Posted by Jno View Post
I understand the importance of the saddle and have read many posts about Brooks love and so on. I assume leather shouldn’t be soaked or should be cared for afterwards, and neither of those things seems possible when in rain on a trip. And I’m disinclined to buy a seat I need to cover with a plastic bag. Do advocates of the B17 just let the saddle get soaked? Do they need to manage/pamper it?
I keep a plastic bag or shower cap hidden tucked in under the nose, you can buy an official brooks waterproof one cover too. I did this with all my non leather saddles anyway just so I wouldn't have to sit on a wet saddle when I leave the bike locked up outdoors. Its ideal not to let the saddle get soaked by the rain often or it will soften too fast.

I think the brooks is worth the small bit of extra effort which includes a small bit of proofhiding at the start , keeping it dry and turning the nose bolt a quarter turn every few years. Its the only saddle I can use comfortably with out padded shorts for anything other than a short ride.
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Old 11-30-20, 08:30 AM
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I keep an Aardvark saddle cover handy for long, hot, humid days when sweat is pouring off me (and running down my butt and legs). I can cover the Brooks, keep it dry, and keep riding. It's also handy for heavy rain (think a couple inches of rain in a day) or overnight rain or dew.

On the play bike without fenders, I'll sometimes stuff a plastic grocery bag under the saddle to keep spray from coating the bottom. Sometimes it stays there for weeks...
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Old 11-30-20, 01:45 PM
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Originally Posted by tcs View Post
The official Brooks saddle cover doesn't really cover the bottom of the saddle leather - I suppose they expect one to have 'mudguards' on the machine.

The official Selle Anatomica saddle cover wraps up around the seatpost, providing full coverage. It costs more.
I purchased a rain cover for my wife to use with her B17 and unlike my older Brooks rain cover, this one is like you describe the Selle one. ie it has much more material and cinches up and protects the bottom of the seat also. I'd have to check who makes it, can't recall as I bought it a bunch of years ago.
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Old 11-30-20, 01:52 PM
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Originally Posted by Jno View Post
I understand the importance of the saddle and have read many posts about Brooks love and so on. I assume leather shouldn’t be soaked or should be cared for afterwards, and neither of those things seems possible when in rain on a trip. And I’m disinclined to buy a seat I need to cover with a plastic bag. Do advocates of the B17 just let the saddle get soaked? Do they need to manage/pamper it?
Jno, once I realized how much more comfortable a leather B17 was for me compared to other bike seats Ive used over the decades, it wasn't a big deal to just keep in mind that I should cover it when riding in rain, or when it is parked outside overnight when camping. To me it was just worth it, especially after my B17s were just so much better than older seats, so I did not want to shorten the B17s lives by letting them get soaked and then ridden on.

Ultimately, you have to try diff seats. They certainly isnt a perfect answer for everyone, and many factors come into play, like your padded bike shorts etc etc etc.

I also ride on a C17, which is alright, but its on my faster bike, so Im generally not spending all day on it, and I stand often, which gives everything more of a break than on my touring bike where Im seated more in a day.

but we always come back to how its personal. No way to ask people what works for you bike seat wise I'm afraid.
but no, to me its not a big deal to keep rain off it, having a plastic bag in my stuff was standard and you get used to thinking of doing it.
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Old 12-01-20, 10:30 AM
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I never found the one and only Brooks B17 I owned all that comfortable to start with. It was just okay when new and went downhill from there for me. I really don't see the big fuss over them. It was after long break in the worst saddle I have owned. Different strokes I guess.

Personally I found I could adjust to most of the saddles that came with my bikes well enough after a period of me breaking into them that they were not a big hardship even on a multi month tour. That is true of even the cheap ones people bad mouthed, some of which seemed terrible the first few hundred miles. That said I do have a favorite, the WTB Volt Race 142.

My points are:
1. It is important that you give yourself a chance to gradually let your body get used to a saddle. I think the body breaks into a saddle way more than the other way around. For me at least the Brooks only got worse as it broke in.
2. Given some patience in adjusting to saddles you can probably live with most of them.
3. There are a lot of saddles out there and one or more models are probably better for you than the others. That might be a Brooks, but there is no reason to assume that will be a Brooks just because it is for others.
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Old 12-01-20, 11:19 AM
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Originally Posted by staehpj1 View Post
I never found the one and only Brooks B17 I owned all that comfortable to start with. It was just okay when new and went downhill from there for me. I really don't see the big fuss over them. It was after long break in the worst saddle I have owned. Different strokes I guess.

Personally I found I could adjust to most of the saddles that came with my bikes well enough after a period of me breaking into them that they were not a big hardship even on a multi month tour. That is true of even the cheap ones people bad mouthed, some of which seemed terrible the first few hundred miles. That said I do have a favorite, the WTB Volt Race 142.

My points are:
1. It is important that you give yourself a chance to gradually let your body get used to a saddle. I think the body breaks into a saddle way more than the other way around. For me at least the Brooks only got worse as it broke in.
2. Given some patience in adjusting to saddles you can probably live with most of them.
3. There are a lot of saddles out there and one or more models are probably better for you than the others. That might be a Brooks, but there is no reason to assume that will be a Brooks just because it is for others.
stae, funnily enough I recently just started riding my winter bike on a slightly narrower volt wtb 135. We had it kicking around as it had come on a bike I got for my wife a while back and was taken off when she took over one of my B17.
I usually put one of my other seats onto my winter bike, but the weather has been all over the place, so didnt want to take either my C17 or the sprung B17 off bikes to put onto my winter bike as Ive done in years past.
I agree, its fine, and Ive been riding it without bike shorts, but not much longer than 45 mins.

Jno, Stae's three points are really good ones, especially about small adjustments making all the difference.
One thing to add that I brought up before is your choice of padded bike shorts. Some of the higher quality ones really do have higher quality pads that give more cushion and often are better designed for shape, thickness and all that--but of course, they are just like bike seats in that one size and brand and model certainly does not work for all people in the same way.
Yet another reason to ride a lot and to figure out stuff that works for you. Find what works or what doesnt, make changes and get it all sorted out with lots and lots of riding long before you do a bike trip.
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