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Brooks saddle w/o cycling shorts?

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Brooks saddle w/o cycling shorts?

Old 07-27-10, 05:58 PM
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spooner
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Brooks saddle w/o cycling shorts?

It's clear that among tourers the Brooks B17 is a popular saddle.

But does the Brooks require cycle shorts for its magic to work? Or can you buy a Brooks, cruise around in your cargo shorts, and feel that Brooks love on your backside?
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Old 07-27-10, 06:28 PM
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I have the Brooks B17 Special in green.And I don't wear special shorts at all.I just wear my blue jeans and my saddle feels good to me.It just take a little time to break it in after that enjoy your ride.My bicycle is the Surly LHT best bicycle I have ever had to date.
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Old 07-27-10, 06:38 PM
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It's going to vary person to person.

I have a B17 and it's quite comfortable to ride without cycling shorts.
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Old 07-27-10, 06:57 PM
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I rode across the US on my Brooks with no cycling shorts. My only concern is that I am wearing clothes that do not have the seems under my soft bits.
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Old 07-27-10, 07:12 PM
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New leather saddle, I'll wear cycling shorts on longer rides. After the saddle is broken in, no padded shorts are needed.
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Old 07-27-10, 07:15 PM
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Obviously some folks do it, but I don't recommend it.

The chamois is not just for padding, it's mostly for wicking away sweat. Aside from aiding comfort, you get saddle sores from a combination of chafing and bacteria, and removing sweat is a big help in reducing bacteria.

Also, the padding does help in that you won't have a big ol' seam running right up the middle.

Nothing about a Brooks affects or improves either of those aspects.
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Old 07-27-10, 07:29 PM
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Not true. The leather will prevent chaffing because it becomes slick when it becomes wet with sweat. Chaffing is only an issue with plastic saddles. The correct choice of underwear, that being of a wicking material without seems, will keep you dry but without the need to wear a diaper. The padding is unecessary with the Brooks since its a suspension saddle of sorts.
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Old 07-27-10, 07:53 PM
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I will not ride in Jeans again on any bicycle if I'm going over a half mile. Last summer I did the jeans and padded underwear combo and I got the biggest blister in the area where all the seams from the legs and zipper and rear end of the jeans came together. I was off the bike for about a week till this thing healed. You guys that ride in jeans are lucky or maybe it was just the brand of jeans I was wearing. Never again.
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Old 07-27-10, 08:26 PM
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I have 2 Brooks saddles and I ride in whatever I am wearing: jeans, cargo pants, or shorts. I have not worn chamois in years.
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Old 07-27-10, 08:35 PM
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Originally Posted by zeppinger View Post
Not true. The leather will prevent chaffing because it becomes slick when it becomes wet with sweat.
With all due respect, that's patently absurd. Unless you're wearing super-tight Daisy Dukes, the denim is not going to hold its place against your skin, and is thus likely to cause some abrasions. Nothing about a leather saddle is going to change that. Nor have I ever seen or felt a Brooks get "slick with sweat" in over 1500 miles now, including riding in 95 heat.

Plus, are you really saying that the average person sweats so much while riding that they'd soak right through a pair of underwear and jeans...?

Since you don't have the kind of convection as with, say, your torso, even if you're using wicking underwear there isn't anywhere near as absorbent a layer for the sweat to go, so a thin wicking layer doesn't do anything for you.

And again, neither a thin layer of cloth nor a leather saddle fixes the seam issue.


Originally Posted by Zeppinger
The padding is unecessary with the Brooks since its a suspension saddle of sorts.
It doesn't offer any more "suspension" than a foam saddle. Brooks just happens to have a good shape and give to work well for a lot of riders.

None of this is to say that jeans + Brooks guarantees you'll get saddle sores and suffer eternally. Some folks do fine that way. But that combo does increase the likelihood of discomfort and saddle sores on longer rides.
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Old 07-27-10, 08:36 PM
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The most important thing is to find a saddle (Brooks or other) that is comfortable for YOU. If it is a Brooks, once it is broken in, you can wear pretty much whatever 'blows your skirt up'! Personally, I like bib shorts, and usually wear them, but have on occasion jumped on my bike in whatever I had on, and took a spin. My 'butt hammock' was there for comfort.

My Brooks: B72, B67, B68.
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Old 07-27-10, 08:48 PM
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Originally Posted by Bacciagalupe View Post
It doesn't offer any more "suspension" than a foam saddle. Brooks just happens to have a good shape and give to work well for a lot of riders.
I would have to disagree with you on that. A foam saddle is usually made from a hard base, then padded. A Brooks, by its very nature is a 'suspension' type saddle. The leather is riveted at the front and rear, and your weight is 'suspended' on the leather in between these points. Not like a suspension seat post, but this is the basis for the comfort offered by a Brooks to those for whom it works. Not everyone likes them, so it is obviously not universal.

Last edited by badamsjr; 07-27-10 at 08:49 PM. Reason: semantics
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Old 07-27-10, 09:21 PM
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I usually wear padded shorts when I'm riding on most of my saddles, but I never wear them when I'm on the Brooks. One would assume 1 + 1 = 2, but it doesn't work that way for me.

I don't know why denim was brought up- that's an awful material for cycling. I generally wear cargo shorts of some kind and cotton underwear.
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Old 07-27-10, 09:31 PM
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I have a Brooks B17 Men's Standard, and I have logged a lot of kilometers without padded cycling shorts.

One of my longest rides was up in Queensland on a very hot day. I wore a bathing suit and beach shorts for the 80 km ride. I've done about that again touring in France wearing normal underwear and convertible pants.

I do recommend riding without padded shorts at least some of the time. On the very hot day in Queensland, for example, I discovered that my padded shorts were useless. They were horribly uncomfortable and left me with massive itchy sore hives all over the area where they touched ... legs, butt, abdomen .... And believe me, if you're on a tour, you do not want massive itchy sore hives all over that area! I switched to the bathing suit and beach shorts and didn't have another problem like that. The beach shorts breathed enough and allowed enough air up the legs to keep me comfortable.
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Old 07-27-10, 11:46 PM
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Canuck down under--will take that into consideration and try it one day. Am new to using a Brooks, but wear bike shorts with padding as I always have. Does make sense that once properly broken in, it would fit your bottom well even sans bike shorts. And to be honest about the suspension aspect of a leather saddle, I actually do feel the "give" over stuff compared to a regular seat (on which I have spent all of my riding on until this summer with the B17)--but more so when it is warm out and it gets sweated on a bit, softens up hte leather I imagine. I can also see the pt of view that a good pair of bike shorts with padding will always keep the moisture away from directly on your skin, soless friction and etc etc..that has always been my experience, positive, with bike shorts.

Machka, mon dieu thats a lot of posts...

cheers from Montreal
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Old 07-28-10, 12:29 AM
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When touring I always wear cycling shorts or pants with padding, but I don`t need special padding for daytrips. I have never had saddle sores, so I plan on keeping this practice. Obviously one can wear, at least Chamois, and cycle on a leather saddle and get saddles sores, happened all the time when leather was state of the art, but it hasn`t caught up with me.
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Old 07-28-10, 02:48 AM
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Originally Posted by Peterpan1 View Post
I have never had saddle sores
Yes, I should add that in 128,560 km of cycling I have only had one saddle sore ... and that was caused by loose padded cycling shorts + a gel saddle + rain. I've put something like 45,000 km on Brooks saddles, and a reasonable percentage of those without padded cycling shorts, with no saddle sores.
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Old 07-28-10, 05:13 AM
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I find that either is fine with the Brooks. I don't like riding in jeans in any case, find it very uncomfortable, but I ride to work in my work clothes every day. In fact, it seems to fit a tad bit better in my regular clothes, though my new cycling shorts, which have a wider and thicker pad than my old shorts, are good too. I usually only bother with that if I plan to be out for more than an hour or two with the bike.
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Old 07-28-10, 06:44 AM
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I ride a B17 every day, in everyday clothes, and have toured using the same too. And in my experience, I've found jeans to be more comfortable on the B17 than super-technical, super-expensive, lightweight, seam-free pants.

I hate cycling shorts.
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Old 07-28-10, 07:25 AM
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Originally Posted by Bacciagalupe View Post
Obviously some folks do it, but I don't recommend it.

The chamois is not just for padding, it's mostly for wicking away sweat. Aside from aiding comfort, you get saddle sores from a combination of chafing and bacteria, and removing sweat is a big help in reducing bacteria.

Also, the padding does help in that you won't have a big ol' seam running right up the middle.

Nothing about a Brooks affects or improves either of those aspects.
If you have the proper undies and shorts (wicking materials, gusseted crotch or flat seams) you don't have those problems or a need for cycling shorts. The biggest advantage to cycling shorts/bibs has nothing to do with the chamois...but rather with the compression, fit and leg grip.
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Old 07-28-10, 07:42 AM
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So in the end it seems some do all the time, some do some of the time, some do none of the time, and all do it right. I, personally, am in the some of the time camp.
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Old 07-28-10, 08:37 AM
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I have a bunch of bikes with a bunch of different saddles, from rigid racing saddles, to brooks B17 to padded comfort saddles.
In all honesty I am more comfortable on my Brooks in any type of shorts or jeans than I am on a racing saddle with really good chamois. I also feel a little silly riding a brooks in cycling shorts, it just sort of feels like you need to be in street clothes.
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Old 07-28-10, 10:58 AM
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I find that i need to buy dark colored shorts for riding due to the awkward looking Brooks *** stain.
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Old 07-28-10, 11:44 AM
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Originally Posted by icebiker76 View Post
I find that i need to buy dark colored shorts for riding due to the awkward looking Brooks *** stain.
It stops after a few thousand miles, though.
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Old 07-28-10, 12:10 PM
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I did a 1000-mile tour through Europe on a Brooks many years ago wearing what was called "jogging shorts" back then (1970s). Halfway through the trip I got a pair of wool shorts with a leather chamois. I never did get used to that saddle, with or without bike shorts.

Personally, I wouldn't use a Brooks saddle with or without padded shorts. Too hard for me and not ergonomic.

I now wear unpadded tightish synthetic shorts for all rides. They offer protection from chaffing, they're breathable, and they dry fast---so much more convenient on a tour. I get the padding I need from the seat.

Regarding the comment that foam seats compress and leave you sitting on hard plastic, seats are available in all densities. My current gel seat doesn't compress much. I would rather ride on a gel seat than have a diaper between my legs.

Last edited by GetUpnGo; 07-29-10 at 07:00 AM.
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