I made sure my Brooks B17 saddle was comfortable on its first ride

Originally published at: I made sure my Brooks B17 saddle was comfortable on its first ride | Boing Boing

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My hiney would not fit, like ever.


I rode on a Brooks for years, and now I don’t. After an event that involved a consultation with a urologist, I switched to a gel seat with a relief channel and proper support under your bones.

Also, your Brooks will not like being out in the wet weather, and the Brooks-branded cover is crap that will not last long.

ETA: there’s no way it can comfortable on your first ride. Out of the box it is as hard as a coconut, and needs to break in.


This stuff is pricey; but it’s like magic on leather. Reconditioned purses, shoes. Fab.


Brooks is the best. Next time get the B17 aged though to get a comfy ride right away without all the work!

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I read the headline and thought “I’ve never heard of Brooks saddles. Are they Western?”

Around here we ride in Stubben. But of course, we ride English. :face_with_monocle:


I discovered years ago that the saddle shape means everything in my road ride comfort. Flat and really firm does the trick for me. A friend and I swapped bikes for a couple of miles and his slightly curved saddle was agonizing to sit on.

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… and hard on your coconuts.

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Yeah, don’t get the modern ones wet at least, which is a real problem if you live in the PNW. I got one and rode it in the rain just a few times and despite oiling regularly it bowed out. A fellow bike nerd told me that Brooks had gone bankrupt some years ago and Selle (one of the bigger bike saddle companies) bought them out. As a cost saving measure they started using a thinner leather. Supposedly you can still get the thicker leather but only on the upper end $400+ saddles.

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Curious, honest question:
That’s a thing? O_o

I mean, was is a specific nut, something custom?

I thought the diameters were standardized, and even the same between imperial and metric systems? And while small hardware stores selling single items (so-calle Eisenwarenläden) died out in Germany, and many other place, the huge ones (as swiss-owned Bauhaus, Obi and the like) are typically having basically everything available in Germany (but often are inconveniently situated out of cities, a nightmare for cyclists).

Hooray for your Brooks, BTW. I ordered a carved C17 a long while ago, and saved on it. Looking forward trying it out. Not as beautiful as a leather one, but I can leave it in the rain with no worries. Which, sadly, happens more than I thought first.

That’s Selle Royal, BTW. Their saddles were always among the best from Italy. I ride one on my city bike. I had to look it up, that was 2003 already!

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I suppose if you don’t ride very much, this treatment will work out fine. However, one of the problems I see with leather saddles that have been soaked with some type of waterproofing/softener/cleaner product is that over time they stretch and sag to the point where the adjusting bolt will no longer help.


Brooks do now do the Cambium rubber range, which is waterproof, but doesn’t break in in the same way that leather does.


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I put a C17 on the cyclocross bike I use as my all-rounder.

No break-in needed on these, very comfortable from day one. The canvas-like surface is pretty grippy, so will take some getting used to if you have used a leather saddle previously.


General consensus seems to be that if a Brooks is a shape that suits you to start with, it will gradually go from being comfortable to being a perfect fit as it breaks in, but if it doesn’t, no amount of breaking in will make it comfortable.


Yeah, but the breaking in can take a few weeks. The promise of a leather seat is that it forms itself to you. Over time, it will stretch and need adjustment and maintenance.

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Indeed. I had a brooks saddle as a young man. It never got comfortable and I got rid of it a year later. I have a new bike now and I am in the process of finding a comfortable saddle. I am on my third saddle right now, and the best fitting one is a $10 ugly generic that the bicycle shop had in their pile of seats taken off of other bikes.

If your bike shop has such a pile, it is a great way to try different shapes until you find something that works.

Oh, and I will never buy a saddle without the channel down the middle. I am past the age where I care about reproduction issues, but the channel seems to help comfort by promoting blood flow.

I also stay away from gel saddles as the two I have had dried up in a few years.


Correction: Proofide is their name for the leather dressing product. I have it and use it for my shoes too. It does a much better job than the usual shoe polish, particularly with brown ones that don’t match any particular color of polish.

The Brooks ingredients have changed over the years, so they might not still use the same stuff in the same proportions today as they used to.

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It’s easy to go overboard on Proofide and Obenauf’s, so be careful! I wouldn’t advise any more treatments until the leather looks dried out (could be a long time.)

Use is the best way to break one of these in.


Bike saddles are a very personal thing, and only work decently if they fit your physical contours well. One of the physical therapists who helped design the Kontact bicycle saddle - back when it was being sold by Performance as E3 Form - gave a presentation on how it was developed to our bicycle club. They did their best to leverage science to determine that their saddle provided the least interference to blood circulation and oxygenation to the tissues in the nether regions of their test subjects. You can read about their approach and technology at their website.

This presentation included some rather specific diagrams of cyclists’ anatomy, and was held at one end of a local Mexican restaurant. Customers and wait staff kept stopping and staring at the screen while passing by. They tested several volunteers and used direct measurement to check how well blood circulation worked with their design and several other popular saddles.

I tried one of their saddles and it worked very well for me. After Performance Bicycle discontinued selling them prior to closing down, they launched their own retail business. I have no relationship to the company other than being rather relieved to find a consistently effective saddle. If nothing else is working well, might be worth a try.