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Brooks vs. Synthetic Saddles

Old 05-29-14, 08:13 PM
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ChooseTheWrench
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Brooks vs. Synthetic Saddles

I understand the appeal behind Brooks saddles once they are truly broken in, but I still prefer my Fizik Arione. What does the rest of the touring community prefer and why? Are there any riding conditions when one option beats the other flat out?
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Old 05-29-14, 08:22 PM
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clayton c
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I am a Brooks fan and probably will always be. Love the comfort and looks, hate the vulnerability to water though. The new Brooks Cambium (synthetic) will be my next saddle purchase on my touring bike because of the "no maintenance" claim.
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Old 05-29-14, 08:25 PM
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I'm interested in that saddle as well. I wonder if any Brooks purists out there are offended by Brooks creating a synthetic saddle. I love being able to leave my synthetic saddle out in the rain.
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Old 05-29-14, 09:36 PM
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I am Brooks fan with all my diamond framed bikes fitted with Brooks England saddles. My Surly Long Haul Trucker has a Brooks Flyer on it ... probably overkill but for the bike; a B17 would be fine.

Andrew
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Old 05-29-14, 11:28 PM
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After trying several saddles ... I like Brooks. I've got them on all my bicycles now.
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Old 05-30-14, 04:59 AM
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I am not very fussy about saddles and have found the ones that came with my bikes were all OK for multi week or multi month tours. Of the saddles I have tried I think the Prologo Kappa is the one I'd buy if I was shopping for one today and the Brooks B17 the one I would not buy again. The B17 is the one saddle that I really disliked. The strange thing was that I found it OK when new and I disliked it a lot when it was fully broken in.

The WTB Volt that came with my new mountain bike seems pretty sweet, but I don't have enough miles on it to be positive how it will work out.
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Old 05-30-14, 05:19 AM
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I am extremely fussy about saddles and have tried many and rejected most. I currently have about 1500 miles on a Selle Anatomica Titanico X and like it a lot. It might be the one.
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Old 05-30-14, 07:01 AM
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^^^This^^^ ,
Titanico X RAWKS!!! (in my humble experience) have three, a White, a Brown, and a Graphite.
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Old 05-30-14, 07:10 AM
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I'm not a fan of leather saddles for touring because they don't deal well with water. Yes there are solutions but I stay away from them.

I like the selle italia turbo and the san marcos rolls. They're old school racing saddles from back in the day when racers weren't riding minimalist saddles.

I've also used wtb saddles extensively and like them.
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Old 05-30-14, 08:31 AM
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It would be nice to have something that was waterproof, as long as it had the shape of my Brooks B17.

As it is, I've got a rivet that's cocked a bit on a 10 year old B17. I'm trying to decide between the thicker leather of a Team Pro or rubber Cambium for the replacement.
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Old 05-30-14, 10:00 AM
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SI Turbo > SM Concor Max > Brooks Pro > Fizik Vitesse. (weather resistance a Plus , on the NWet Coast), still have 2 bikes with the Hide,
aged 25 & 30 years .. they get a plastic bag over them in the rain, & Camp, overnight.


Is the C17 synthetic ? rubber comes from tree sap..

Last edited by fietsbob; 05-30-14 at 10:19 AM.
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Old 05-30-14, 10:07 AM
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All but one of my bikes are equipped with Selle Anatomica saddles. I'm a former Brooks users, but once I tried an Anatomica, I switched over. My mountain bike is the only bike I own/ride that doesn't have a Selle Anatomica (it sports a Selle Royal Saba).
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Old 05-30-14, 10:14 AM
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Originally Posted by bikemig View Post
I'm not a fan of leather saddles for touring because they don't deal well with water. Yes there are solutions but I stay away from them.

I like the selle italia turbo and the san marcos rolls. They're old school racing saddles from back in the day when racers weren't riding minimalist saddles.

I've also used wtb saddles extensively and like them.
They deal just fine with water. I think it is funny every time I hear that statement. They aren't as fragile as people make them out to be. My Brooks has been through a lot and lived to tell about it. I usually sit on t he saddle while riding so for the most part, it is protected. I have fenders so the bottom is protected. It is also very easy, and very quick to stop and put a cover on it, a cheap shower cap works fine and goes on in seconds. I often don't bother unless I know it is going to be raining for a while and it is heavy rain. I rode through Hurricane Irene on my Brooks and it did just fine. I don't spend endless hours caressing the leather, applying protectant. I don't actually recall the last time I treated it with Proofhide. Maybe I will soon. I shall schedule a day for the job, spend all of 2-5 minutes doing it, then I will go enjoy a ride or maybe drink some beer.

My brother's Brooks from the 1970's is still in fine shape. I don't think he has ever treated it with anything.

I prefer the comfort of leather. It breathes better than a synthetic saddle, and that helps keep me comfortable. Others may prefer a synthetic saddle, I get that, and I understand it. What I don't like seeing is the complete mistruth of the amount of coddling a leather saddle requires, it just isn't true.

For me, leather is the choice because of its breathability and the way it molds to me. It has gotten to the point that it just disappears.
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Old 05-30-14, 10:18 AM
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Originally Posted by Thulsadoom View Post
I am extremely fussy about saddles and have tried many and rejected most. I currently have about 1500 miles on a Selle Anatomica Titanico X and like it a lot. It might be the one.
I have a Selle Anatomica Titanico. I've been very pleased with the ride. Unfortunately, it keeps stretching. I've been riding it for about 6 months, 5K miles. All the tension adjustment is nearly used up. I still have several turns of the threads left, but less than 10.
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Old 05-30-14, 02:04 PM
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Originally Posted by phughes View Post
They deal just fine with water. I think it is funny every time I hear that statement. They aren't as fragile as people make them out to be. My Brooks has been through a lot and lived to tell about it. I usually sit on t he saddle while riding so for the most part, it is protected. I have fenders so the bottom is protected. It is also very easy, and very quick to stop and put a cover on it, a cheap shower cap works fine and goes on in seconds. . . . . What I don't like seeing is the complete mistruth of the amount of coddling a leather saddle requires, it just isn't true.

. . .
Beats me who said that but it sure as heck wasn't me. I've used leather saddles extensively. I like 'em fine but not for touring for exactly the reasons you gave in your post. I don't want to deal with a shower cap. I don't think leather saddles are any better than other saddles I've used. Your mileage may vary and I respect that. But there was no "mistruth" in my previous post other than in your imagination.
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Old 05-30-14, 02:15 PM
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Originally Posted by bikemig View Post
Beats me who said that but it sure as heck wasn't me. I've used leather saddles extensively. I like 'em fine but not for touring for exactly the reasons you gave in your post. I don't want to deal with a shower cap. I don't think leather saddles are any better than other saddles I've used. Your mileage may vary and I respect that. But there was no "mistruth" in my previous post other than in your imagination.
This is the statement I was referring to, "I'm not a fan of leather saddles for touring because they don't deal well with water. "

That just isn't true. Still, you need the seat that you want, not the seat I want. There are so many options out there.
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Old 05-30-14, 05:48 PM
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Originally Posted by phughes View Post
This is the statement I was referring to, "I'm not a fan of leather saddles for touring because they don't deal well with water. "

That just isn't true. Still, you need the seat that you want, not the seat I want. There are so many options out there.
Then we're in agreement since you use a shower cap for your saddle. No big deal but not my first choice on a long tour. YMMV but you can't seriously believe that water is simply not potentially an issue for a leather saddle anymore than it is not an issue for leather boots.
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Old 05-30-14, 06:05 PM
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Yeah, I just don't give it that much thought. I just ride. The saddle isn't that fragile. I only cover it if I will be in rain for a long time. It is really a non-issue to me,ut doesn't take any extra effort or thought.
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Old 05-30-14, 06:05 PM
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Originally Posted by bikemig View Post
Then we're in agreement since you use a shower cap for your saddle. No big deal but not my first choice on a long tour. YMMV but you can't seriously believe that water is simply not potentially an issue for a leather saddle anymore than it is not an issue for leather boots.
I don't see too many journals where touring cyclists ride day after day in pouring rain. My Brooks saddles have been ridden in rain for extended periods on randonnees, unprotected except for fenders, and haven't suffered overly. In fact, in several cases, the dampness has improved the shape of the saddle.

The simple fact is that other types of saddles will wear out. The foam that provides their shape will collapse, and the plastic formers are as likely to sag and break as well. A properly attached Brooks will last a long, long time.

I just find it a bit odd that a simple, thin piece of plastic in the form of a shower cap should be a huge barrier to someone using a saddle that could be comfortable and last so long. I tend to look after my whole bike, and don't leave it out in the rain if it's humanly possible, whether a Brooks saddle or synthetic one was attached to it anyway.

By the way, isn't the San Marco Rolls covered in leather?
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Old 05-30-14, 06:13 PM
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Originally Posted by Rowan View Post
I don't see too many journals where touring cyclists ride day after day in pouring rain. My Brooks saddles have been ridden in rain for extended periods on randonnees, unprotected except for fenders, and haven't suffered overly. In fact, in several cases, the dampness has improved the shape of the saddle.

The simple fact is that other types of saddles will wear out. The foam that provides their shape will collapse, and the plastic formers are as likely to sag and break as well. A properly attached Brooks will last a long, long time.

I just find it a bit odd that a simple, thin piece of plastic in the form of a shower cap should be a huge barrier to someone using a saddle that could be comfortable and last so long. I tend to look after my whole bike, and don't leave it out in the rain if it's humanly possible, whether a Brooks saddle or synthetic one was attached to it anyway.

By the way, isn't the San Marco Rolls covered in leather?
Yep and so is the Selle Italia Turbo. I like them better than a Brooks; YMMV. I don't like carrying a shower cap, no big deal but not my preference. This is all about preferences; my objection is to calling a preference or a taste a fact.

I like my leather saddles and use them extensively for different bikes. I won't take one touring but that's my preference.

I also think they're oversold. There are a lot of fanboys on this thread who are pretty defensive about Brooks saddle when the fact is that people have used all different kinds of saddles for touring and the OP, at the end of the day, will make up his mind based on his preferences.
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Old 05-30-14, 06:55 PM
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Originally Posted by phughes View Post
What I don't like seeing is the complete mistruth of the amount of coddling a leather saddle requires, it just isn't true.
I guess it depends on what you call coddling. I consider the things you mention to be coddling, at least they are extra attention that other saddles don't need. That includes the need to use fenders, the need for a cover, and the need for Proofhide.

The B17 that I had was in the rain a lot and was very very broken in to my anatomy in only two or three months. The funny thing is that it was probably broken in like some folks strive for but I hated it more the more it broke in. It was OK when new but nothing special and went downhill from there. It definitely wasn't worth the extra weight for me since for me it very quickly went from just OK to very poor comfort wise.

I am sure it is worth a little extra care for those who find them more comfortable and I recognize that the coddling required is pretty minimal. I'd probably not quibble over the extra care if I liked the saddle. I still would prefer not to need to run fenders and am inclined to balk at the extra weight.
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Old 05-30-14, 07:08 PM
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Have Brooks, Sella Anatomica or GB leather saddles on my various bikes- each in their use more comfortable than the hoard of synthetic saddles they replaced. Frequently ride in rain or snow, slush, sleet etc., perhaps I may be a little more mindful about putting a bag over a leather saddle if I think the bike is going to be parked in the rain and if the saddle does get soggy wet - careful about letting it dry. Otherwise don't think about the leather saddle.
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Old 05-30-14, 07:29 PM
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I have a brooks on my touring/daily commuter here in seattle.

It turned to jello.

Imagine jello on your bum.
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Old 05-30-14, 09:11 PM
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Originally Posted by bikemig View Post
Yep and so is the Selle Italia Turbo. I like them better than a Brooks; YMMV. I don't like carrying a shower cap, no big deal but not my preference. This is all about preferences; my objection is to calling a preference or a taste a fact.

I like my leather saddles and use them extensively for different bikes. I won't take one touring but that's my preference.

I also think they're oversold. There are a lot of fanboys on this thread who are pretty defensive about Brooks saddle when the fact is that people have used all different kinds of saddles for touring and the OP, at the end of the day, will make up his mind based on his preferences.
All true, I suppose.

Although as one of the original fanboys on BF when almost everyone scoffed at Brooks, I think my work is done. There will always be contrarians and that is their right, and I dare not waste my time on them.
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Old 05-30-14, 09:16 PM
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I had an OEM synthetic saddle on my Fuji Touring which was OK. But the foam got squelchy wet and was most uncomfortable to sit on first thing in the morning if it had rained overnight. Then I started putting a plastic bag over it if rain was expected, and it was fine... until it rained during the day and soaked up the moisture to become squelchy again.

I've used saddles with smooth vinyl coverings on them, too. But they end up collecting the sweat from my butt and retaining it there. I've got off and there have been drops of sweat smeared across the saddle.

But as bikemig says, to each their own.
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