Should you buy a Brooks saddle?

I have been cycling for over 10 years and transitioned from a road bike to a Brompton to take it a little slower. As with any hobby, you start to fiddle and research and try to improve. One of which bothers most bikers is the search for the perfect saddle. That brings me over to Brooks, a name that is legendary when it comes to saddles.

Brooks bicycle saddles are one of those objects that you either love or loathe, and they’ve become a hot topic among cyclists all over the world. A short search of any cycling forum will uncover countless complaints from first-timers who moan about their hurting buttocks due to the firm leather saddles. Brooks purists frequently dispute this by assuring them that with with time and care, the saddle will conform to fit your back end. But I am getting ahead of myself, let’s swing back to Brooks’ heritage.

Brooks is a bicycle saddle company based in Smethwick, England. Brooks originated as a leather goods company in Hockley, Birmingham, in 1866, and developed its first leather cycle saddle in 1882. According to legend, John Boultbee Brooks determined that the traditional wooden bike saddle was too uncomfortable and stretched leather over a metal frame, securing it with rivets. This legendary Brooks bicycle saddle design has hardly changed since that day and is widely recognized as the most comfortable saddles available that don’t produce saddle sores once broken in.

Brooks is most known for its leather saddles, but company also makes non-leather saddles, as well as backpacks, bags, and cycling helmets. Brooks is now owned by Selle Royale, a popular Italian saddle manufacturer, after been purchased out by Raleigh in 1962 and then surviving liquidation in the late 1990s.

And mind you, Brooks sadlles are not cheap. Even the most basic saddles are around $100. The exact price, however, is determined by the model and materials utilized. Steel rails are the most affordable, whereas carbon rails are the most costly. Brooks offers a couple of lightweight performance saddles with carbon rails. These are the most expensive, costing around $200 and are designed for road racing.

Brooks saddles are widely regarded as the most comfortable saddles available. This can be perplexing to someone who has just purchased a new leather saddle because it appears to be rather difficult at first. Natural leather, on the other hand, has the advantage of gradually conforming to your body’s shape and the position of your sit bones. This “break-in time” might last anywhere from a few days to several months, depending on the individual. However, after the saddle molds to your bottom, you’ll be able to ride for hours without feeling sore the next day.

The B17, arguably Brooks’ most popular saddle, has remained virtually unchanged for over a century. It sports a classic steel frame with riveted leather and three ventilation holes. An elderly, thin, and female version, as well as a B17 Imperial and B17 Titanium edition, are all available.

Brooks has also released the Cambium saddle, which is constructed of an organic cotton canvas and vulcanized rubber combination for comfort and waterproofing. Steel rails and a reinforced plastic backplate with accessory clip-in loops are included. Depending on personal desire, different Cambium models have variable widths and cuts. They require less upkeep than leather saddles. Right away, the rubber feels softer and more comfy. As a result, there isn’t much of a learning curve. This might be desirable for many bikers. However, after breaking in, a leather saddle is more comfortable than a cambium saddle or so they say.

Given the high cost of Brooks saddles, it’s fortunate that they’re also fairly durable. And if it makes a difference, it takes about 3 days to make a Brooks leather saddle.If you take excellent care of a leather saddle, it should last at least 10 years. Natural leather is of excellent quality and can withstand a lot of abuse (except moisture). On the other hand, Cambium saddles are slightly less durable. They are, however, weatherproof and require very little upkeep. The rivets and, in particular, the nose are vulnerable spots where the canvas could tear. Because of its superior build quality, Brooks saddles may be relied on more than other bike saddles.

Furthermore, the saddles are much heavier and more expensive than modern plastic and nylon saddles, making them unappealing to weight-conscious professional riders or those on a budget. This is why the devoted bicycle touring and bikepacking sector is where they find their biggest market.

Leather saddles also do require a significant amount of upkeep. They must not come into contact with moisture, or the leather will be damaged totally. You should also avoid leaving them in the sun for too long. If you predict rain, you will need to purchase and carry a waterproof saddle cover.

Proofide, a conditioner sold by Brooks, is also required. This prevents the leather from drying out and softens it to aid in the break-in process. Proofide should be used right away and then every 3-6 months.

The leather will sag somewhat as you continue to utilize the saddle. The tension bolt under the nose can be used to alter this. A half-turn every 6-12 months is all that’s required. In the rainy season, make sure your bike has fenders because the spray might harm the underside of the saddle.

Cambium saddles, on the other hand, require very little upkeep. They can survive the sun and rain without any problems. The canvas top is the only flaw with these. If you bike a lot in cotton pants, the canvas will ultimately wear through. To avoid this, alternate your pants or invest in a leather saddle.

Although appearances are subjective, most bikers can agree that the Brooks leather saddles are stunning. Touring bikes, urban bikes, and old-school mountain bikes all look great with the leather and rivets. The saddle changes shape depending on the rider and is exposed to varying levels of sunlight and moisture, giving each saddle a distinct personality. The cambium saddles are more useful, but they are also very attractive. If you’re looking for style, however, a leather saddle is the best option.

You can choose from a variety of rail materials and colors in addition to the seat material. Rails are available in steel, titanium, or carbon. Rails and rivets on some types are copper plated. Brooks leather saddles come in a variety of colors, including black, brown, and honey. However, there are a variety of additional colors available.

It’s easy to locate a saddle that is instantly pleasant to sit on nowadays, because to the abundance of economical, low-cost materials accessible for saddle construction. Hard leather was the only option when John Brooks created his first saddle. As a result, the creator had to take the time to mold the saddle to fit his back, and it quickly became a very comfortable saddle to ride cheval in.

This procedure might not be essential for many casual bikers. Any regular saddle will suffice for short excursions of less than an hour. Cheaply produced gel saddles, on the other hand, quickly lose their softness and become rigid, causing chafing and bruising over long distances. In addition, few low-quality saddles last more than a year before the nylon breaks or the seams come apart.

Check out my related post: Do you cycle?


Interesting reads:

https://gearjunkie.com/biking/rubber-vs-leather-head-head-brooks-saddle-review

https://bikexchange.com/brooks-saddles-review/

https://www.cyclingweekly.com/group-tests/everything-need-know-brooks-saddle-range-328834

https://www.wired.com/2009/11/gadget-lab-faq-six-things-you-should-know-about-brooks-saddles/

https://soundofmotion.com/best-brooks-saddle/

https://www.apexbikes.com/are-brooks-saddles-worth-it/

https://www.reddit.com/r/bicycletouring/comments/3a6g0a/saddle_painshould_i_buy_a_brooks/

https://myfavoritebikeparts.wordpress.com/2020/01/08/brooks-b17-saddle-long-term-review/

https://www.modernbike.com/how-do-i-buy-a-brooks-saddle

https://forum.bikeradar.com/discussion/12942476/is-a-brooks-saddle-comfortable-without-cycling-shorts

https://soundofmotion.com/best-brooks-saddle/

https://www.pinch-flat.com/brooks-saddle-got-wet/

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