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RANT: I am so done with Brooks saddles

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RANT: I am so done with Brooks saddles

Old 08-23-14, 09:01 AM
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I was fine with my 30 year old Team Pro, while actually on tour , that bike is parked now, In town I use pleather covered saddles..

on the bikes I go grocery hauling and Bar hopping on...
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Old 08-23-14, 09:20 AM
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Originally Posted by djb

earlier this summer, I saw a young fellow with a "new" Brooks, new this summer he told me. I dont know how he did it, but in a few months, this guys B17 looked like it was about 50 years old, not in the leather quality, but totally sagging, totally splayed out, it was like a banana shape. I am sure he will complain about it also, but how he managed to get it to be that banana shape I have no idea.

.
Well, while mine was not that bad that fast, my flyer will be lucky to make it another year, and its only five years old. Never gotten anything but proofide, and not an excessive amount of that. Its got a couple turns left in it, and I might lace it at some point to try to extend its life.

Since I own a lot of older brooks that are fine and get lots of miles, I tried to find out why my newest one is so soft. One explanation I found was that because of mad cow disease, available leather is from younger cows than in the past(something about not letting cows get to old now). also less toxic tanning processes don't render as stiff a leather. Cant provide a reference to these, sorry. The most common explanation is that I got a lemon, with measurably thinner leather than others I have seen.

my other thoughts are that brooks may not be for everyone not only because of comfort, but body chemistry. I do a lot of sweating while on tour, and I am one of those unfortunates who dissolves wool and cotton, has to constantly clean my top tube my sweat seems to break down paint faster than the average. Its possible that my softened hammock of a flyer is due to this effect.

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Old 08-23-14, 09:50 AM
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Well, opinions differ, and there's not much point in debating the merits of different saddles because those that work brilliantly for one person will be intstruments of torture to another. I'm pretty surprised to read of Brooks saddles being worn out after only a few thousand miles, though, because I have in excess of 10000 miles on my B17 and probably twice that on my Swift, and I have barely had to adjust the tensioning screw on either, they're in superb condition. And I'm a heavyish rider, I guess I've averaged a shade over 200lbs while I've been riding these saddles.
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Old 08-23-14, 10:00 AM
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welcome to the club. ride fast.
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Old 08-23-14, 05:22 PM
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I've got more Brooks saddles floating around my garage than I can remember. Maybe 8 or 10?

Never had a problem with any of them.

I got two that were super stiff and needed help breaking in, but the rest have been comfy right out of the box.

Living in the PNW the only thing I do is cover my Brooks saddles if I am going to leave them out in the rain for hours [ie. going to a pub]. Riding in the rain is no issue as I have fenders and my big butt covers the saddles.

I put a Brooks B17S on my GF's commuter bike. She complained it made her lady bits sore so I was going to swap back to her old saddle when I was sent out of town to work. Coming back around a month later I felt bad I hadn't swapped it out, but she told me she loved it at that point as she had ridden it daily while I was gone and broken it in.

Ultimately no one saddle will work for everyone. If you have a Brooks you don't love sell it. Life is too short to ride something you don't love and somebody else will appreciate getting it.
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Old 08-23-14, 05:50 PM
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I am in my third year with my B17 on my Salsa Casseroll. It is still pretty hard but generally very comfortable, as in not noticeable even after hours of riding. I usually ride with cycling shorts.

Based on positive reviews, I did briefly try the new Cambium and found it did not suit me. Rode it for about a month and found that my butt started to notice after an hour, really started to hurt after two hours. Live and learn. I went back to the B17 and now my son is riding the Cambium.
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Old 08-23-14, 05:56 PM
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The only problem I have had with the Brooks saddles is that I can't afford to have them on all my bikes.
It is like shoes if it don't, fit it don't fit.
I personally don't get "gel saddles" I don't want a soft squishy saddle, I want a hard brooks that makes my tuberosity of the ischium happy.
For all of you that want to throw them in the trash, just throw them my way.


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Old 08-23-14, 05:56 PM
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Originally Posted by Machka
Of course the Brooks saddle will be rock hard. And it will remain rock hard for its entire life. If it goes soft, something has gone terribly wrong.

This is one misconception ... some people think that breaking the saddle in should make the saddle soft. But that will never happen. It will conform to your shape, but will never become soft. It's not supposed to become soft. The hardness is what makes it comfortable. The hardness forces you to sit on your sitbones, where you're supposed to sit, rather than on your soft bits.


And when you install it ... install it with the nose tilted UP.


BTW - I've ridden as much as 80 km in a bathing suit and beach shorts on one of my Brooks saddle ... comfy as.
I tried the nose up position but found that nose level worked best for me.
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Old 08-23-14, 05:59 PM
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Originally Posted by xuwol7
The only problem I have had with the Brooks saddles is that I can't afford to have them on all my bikes.
It is like shoes if it don't, fit it don't fit.
I personally don't get "gel saddles" I don't want a soft squishy saddle, I want a hard brooks that makes my tuberosity of the ischium happy.
For all of you that want to throw them in the trash, just throw them my way.


Amen to that.

My wife has a Serfas Gel Saddle with cutout she seems to like, so who am I to argue. I rode the same saddle a few years back and found it just OK. Not horrible, but I didn't love it either.
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Old 08-23-14, 06:31 PM
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With such wildly different results obtained using a B17, I'm wondering now if the folks that are happy with it were simply blessed with added padding where it's needed.
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Old 08-23-14, 06:37 PM
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Mine never was comfortable for me. I traded it - for a Romin Evo, surely a large change if nothing else.

I recently got a Super Sport with a dreadfully weathered B15, though it's not worse than even the worst I've seen in use. I'm going to try giving it a once-over.
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Old 08-23-14, 06:39 PM
  #37  
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Originally Posted by Route 66
No the kind of thread I was hoping to read today considering my B17 is supposed to be delivered on Monday.

Hopefully, I'll be one of the lucky ones. I won't be installing it when it first arrives because I'm going to treat the underside with Proofide in the hopes that it wont take quite so long to break in. After reading the OP's post, I may just give it a second coat.
Don't worry about it - and just stick to the recommended regime far as the Proofride goes.

I bought a B17 in desperation just under a month ago - I was having a terrible time finding a saddle that worked for me on my AWOL, I had a long weekend tour planned and I knew I'd be suffering if I stuck with any of the "anatomical" saddles I'd tried to date. So, I brought a B17 home, did the overnight Proofride treatment and started riding.

Yeah, the saddle was hard, but I could tell that it was treating me better than any of the other saddles I'd had on the bike. I've probably only got about 300 miles on it at present, but it seems like it's working out. As others have said, the saddle seems incredibly slippery at first, though I didn't find that a source of discomfort. But the slippery feel disappeared pretty quickly.

Basically, I think you'll know in short order if this saddle works for you or not. If not, you can get your money back and try something else.
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Old 08-23-14, 07:24 PM
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As an update, I took the B17 and put about 8 full turns of the screw it it. I **** you not. I then put it on my Fixie bike (1981 Trek) and that significantly helped the comfort. I think I'll keep it on the Fixie since I never ride that more than 10 miles at a time anyways and I had an old junker saddle on it before.

WTB saddle on the way for my LHT (soon to be CC).
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Old 08-23-14, 09:56 PM
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Originally Posted by ppg677
As an update, I took the B17 and put about 8 full turns of the screw it it. I **** you not. I then put it on my Fixie bike (1981 Trek) and that significantly helped the comfort. I think I'll keep it on the Fixie since I never ride that more than 10 miles at a time anyways and I had an old junker saddle on it before.

WTB saddle on the way for my LHT (soon to be CC).
8 full turns? On both of my b17s I have turned the bolts maybe 1/4 turn. Can't imagine what you have done to yours.
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Old 08-23-14, 10:09 PM
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Originally Posted by djb
8 full turns? On both of my b17s I have turned the bolts maybe 1/4 turn. Can't imagine what you have done to yours.
About 1200 miles of riding. A couple 3-block trips home from the neighborhood swimming pool with wet shorts. Several top and bottom proofide treatments in the first 6 months. 220 pounds on bumpy roads.
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Old 08-24-14, 08:42 AM
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Originally Posted by Rowan
Tell someone who cares.
I care. I spent I don't know how much time researching parts to build a touring bike. For what it's worth though I bought a WTB Rocket V Comp which I haven't tried yet. (Still more parts to buy this winter. lol)
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Old 08-24-14, 09:45 AM
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Originally Posted by ppg677
About 1200 miles of riding. A couple 3-block trips home from the neighborhood swimming pool with wet shorts. Several top and bottom proofide treatments in the first 6 months. 220 pounds on bumpy roads.
really, the only thing I can fathom is too much proofide, I dunno. I weigh 80 lbs less than you, but as others have said who are in the 200lb range, this doesnt seem to be a factor. Maybe too much proofide, maybe thinner leather than others, maybe you ride "heavy" (don't unweigh the bike and seat over potholes)--who knows.

To put things in perspective with my two Brooks, you have ridden 1200 miles, or about 1900km---on one of my B17s I've ridden over 2000km this season, and havent touched the tension bolt for a few years. Even if my memory isnt right, the most I've turned the bolt is maybe 1/2 turn over 4 years, and on that seat it must average 2000km per year, so roughly 8000km or 5000 miles with practically no adjustment.
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Old 08-24-14, 01:13 PM
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Originally Posted by ppg677
About 1200 miles of riding. A couple 3-block trips home from the neighborhood swimming pool with wet shorts. Several top and bottom proofide treatments in the first 6 months. 220 pounds on bumpy roads.
Maybe you should just buy a cheap plastic saddle and ride it until the gel topping has been flattened. I've got about 30,000 miles on one, weight more than you, and it MAY have been tightened 4 turns, total, in that time.
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Old 08-24-14, 01:20 PM
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Originally Posted by Route 66
With such wildly different results obtained using a B17, I'm wondering now if the folks that are happy with it were simply blessed with added padding where it's needed.
LOL. I'm not going to tell you I'm a lightweight, but lots of the miles I've put on my B17 (touring bike) and swift (road bike) have been when I've been at my racing weight. For me, they have been comfortable from the start and have got more so as they have subtly changed shape over time.
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Old 08-24-14, 04:13 PM
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Originally Posted by pdlamb
Maybe you should just buy a cheap plastic saddle and ride it until the gel topping has been flattened. I've got about 30,000 miles on one, weight more than you, and it MAY have been tightened 4 turns, total, in that time.
Then what was it? Too much proofide (I did several applications in the first year)? The couple times I rode home with wet shorts? Or maybe I got a dud? I even carried a plastic baggy with me for the few times I commuted during the rain.

I've got a friend who has put 6000 miles, this year (with 4 months to go), on his Fizik saddle.
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Old 08-24-14, 04:51 PM
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How about this, I've got a B67 on my LHT and since this is the first bike I've ridden since I was a kid I don't have enough experience to tell whether it's a decent ride or not! However, I can say for sure that it's been a better ride since I got past the 500 mile mark, which is the recommended breakin distance. Who knows, somewhere between Seattle and Miami I may just chuck it and buy something covered with sheep's wool!
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Old 08-24-14, 05:47 PM
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Originally Posted by ppg677
Then what was it? Too much proofide (I did several applications in the first year)? The couple times I rode home with wet shorts? Or maybe I got a dud? I even carried a plastic baggy with me for the few times I commuted during the rain.
All of the above, perhaps.

I apply proofide once a year at most.
Riding in the rain will cause the saddle to sag, as will riding with very wet shorts.


But I'm puzzled by what you mean when you say, "they just lack surface area". The B17 tends to be slightly wider than a lot of saddles ... more surface area ...



Originally Posted by ppg677
I've got a friend who has put 6000 miles, this year (with 4 months to go), on his Fizik saddle.
I put about 45,000 km on my first Brooks before the bicycle it was on was stolen. It broke in at the 800 km point, 3 weeks after I got it and 400 km into a 1000km randonnee. Somewhere around the 35,000 km point, we did a quarter turn to tighten it a little bit because I had started to sit on the rails.

I've put many thousands of km on the rest of my Brooks. They all broken in quicker than that first one ... maybe because I knew what angle to tilt them and what works to very gently break them in.

For me, I need a slight upward angle and the nose of the saddle needs to be slightly to the left. The height of the saddle matters as well. There's a sweet spot for when I first install the saddle, then I usually need to raise or lower the height of the saddle a few weeks later ... and again a few weeks later.



In response to some of othe other comments ... yes, a Brooks saddle is slippery in the beginning, but by the time you've done half a dozen rides, it should lose most of its slippery-ness. Another half dozen or dozen rides, and you should start seeing sitbone patches on the saddle.

And no, I don't have a lot of extra padding ... especially not when I was using my first Brooks. I was a skinny little thing for most of that time.
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Old 08-24-14, 06:07 PM
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Originally Posted by ppg677
About 1200 miles of riding. A couple 3-block trips home from the neighborhood swimming pool with wet shorts. Several top and bottom proofide treatments in the first 6 months. 220 pounds on bumpy roads.
Was it a recent B17? I had a problem with a new one a couple years ago. it seemed like the leather was thinner and it needed regular adjustment. My previous B17, from the mid-70s, had never been tightened. I ended up selling the new one, trying a ti Swift and selling that before getting a B17 Special. I've used the Special now for 9 months and it seems fine.
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Old 08-24-14, 06:41 PM
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Originally Posted by Rowan
Tell someone who cares.
Yeah guys, stop polluting the touring forums with discussion of bicycle touring gear! /s
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Old 08-24-14, 07:57 PM
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Originally Posted by mdilthey
Yeah guys, stop polluting the touring forums with discussion of bicycle touring gear! /s
Ah, but you see, there are those who are claiming that their saddle is failing faster than its supposed to. Thus, they must be doing something wrong. Therefore its not worth discussion, because in millions of miles their saddle or saddles have not done it. Sometimes a manufacturer has a bad run, sometimes it is user error. No one can tell which is which over the net, and that's made harder by refusal to concede that it may be the former.

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