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Seriously, what's so great about Brooks saddles?

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Seriously, what's so great about Brooks saddles?

Old 02-13-11, 03:20 AM
  #1  
newkie
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Seriously, what's so great about Brooks saddles?

Is it too hard to put in to words? How can a bit of leather and steel create such a cult following? What is it about this otherworldly pinnacle of bum goodness which can only be acheived with a Brooks? What model do you have and what about maintenance? Make me believe!
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Old 02-13-11, 04:14 AM
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Plastic saddles either fit you or dont. If they dont you chuck it and buy another.
Brooks leather saddles mould into your shape over the course of a few weeks. Once broken in, they fit you exactly.
The stretched leather has a built-in suspension for comfort (even without springs). Sprung saddles act as a kind of ultra-reliable and lightweight suspension system.
The leather is breathable and more comfortable to sit on in hot weather.
They last for decades and look better with age.

Maintenance is a treatment of wax once or twice a year and a tweak of the tension bolt every few years.
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Old 02-13-11, 05:03 AM
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What is so great about a Brooks saddle ?
Nothing - just shaped leather over a wire & metal frame. Compared to many of today's "modern" saddles they are plain and simple.
However - they do provide the most comfortable bike seating for many cyclists and have done so for over a hundred forty years. That is a long time of providing comfort. Why argue with what works for many ?
However #2 - it doesn't work for everyone. For some people a Brooks is more of a torture tool. Often to get a Brooks to be that perfect saddle - some adjustment is needed - both of bike and rider. Usually a number of small adjustments are needed to saddle position - nose angle up or down. saddle forward or aft. saddle height or all a combination of those factors. Different Brooks work or don't work on different style of bike. For example a B68 is intended for an upright "city" bike. A B-17, handlebars should be level or slightly above seat. A Champion flyer is usually better on a pure road bike. Those who find a Brooks uncomfortable may not have either the right Brooks or taken the time to tweak the set up. Still there are some it doesn't work for.
However #3 - there are other leather & wire saddles. Anatomica - for example is a great saddle. Also there are some asian knock offs of the Brooks - sometimes these have longer rails or a slightly different angle. Many consider the rail length to be a draw back to the Brooks on a modern bike.
However #4 - I'm biased in favor of the Brooks as I've ridden them very comfortable for a few decades. All of my upright bikes have a Brooks. Two B-17s, a B-68, an Imperial and a titanium rail Champion Flyer, my recumbent bike does not have a Brooks.
However #5 - their upkeep is not a problem. When new - coat the bottom/underside with Brooks Proofhide and ride the saddle. After a couple of weeks of riding - put a thin coating of Proofhide on the top. Then ride a couple more weeks and coat both top and underside. Then a couple times a year after that. My bikes don't get a lot of pampering - when they sit in the rain - I do cover the saddle as I don't like sitting on a damp saddle. Have often ridden in the rain [not just an afternoon shower - but days in a row of rain] - don't have to paper the Brooks. If the seat does get real soggy wet - like anything else leather allow it to dry out slowly.
There is nothing sacred about a Brooks - like many saddle they work very well for a number of people - some not at all.
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Old 02-13-11, 05:24 AM
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i like my brooks saddle for the same reason i like a firm mattress. a soft mattress might feel good at first, but i wake up uncomfortable.

brooks saddles, if you notice when you put your hand underneath, are designed more like a hammock than a mattress. there is nothing under there but air. so believe it or not, it actually gives under your weight, while the leather conforms over time to the shape of your butt bones.

i think the reason people like plastic upholstered saddles is that they expect the saddle to fit them right away, and often swap saddles a few times until they get one they like. then as their butt gets firmer, they have to change again. that's ok, but a brooks saddle takes into account that your butt will get firmer the more you ride, while the leather conforms to your shape like a favorite shoe.

its a personal preference for me.
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Old 02-13-11, 06:13 AM
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If you find a non-brooks that is comfortable, go with it. I couldn't, so I found a brooks that works extremely well. Honestly, it's not a 100% deal for me though -- with a b67 I still get a little bit of thigh rub, so I put on a tiny dab of aquaphor before I ride to work. The wide platform is extremely comfortable on the butt-area, so I stick with it.

I've ridden enough saddles to know what minor problems I'll deal with for excellent butt-comfort, and which saddles immediately can be trashed.
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Old 02-13-11, 08:00 AM
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pain of adjustment can develop a committed following. I don't see the need.
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Old 02-13-11, 08:51 AM
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It's all very simple: If you get the right width, a Brooks is supremely comfortable right out of the box. If you don't get the right width, you'll either need break-in time or it will never ever become comfortable. With the right fit, there is no saddle more comfortable than a Brooks.

As for maintenance? I apply Proofide once, then forget it for the (nearly eternal) life of the saddle. Once a year, check the tension and adjust.

BUT: If you wear khaki pants on your commute, and sweat much at all, the Brooks dye is likely to come off on your pants.
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Old 02-13-11, 09:00 AM
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"...,what's so great about Brooks saddles?"

Seriously, I dunno. But both my Brooks saddles are century proven comfortable! I ain't going to argue with that fact. That being said, my Aegis is Brookless, the Specialized saddle on it is also century proven...only difference is; it took me 5 or 6 non-Brooks type saddles to find it. From what I understand about it, it is a MTB saddle vs. a road saddle. Like the two Brooks, I wouldn't swap it out either.

Last edited by Gus Riley; 02-13-11 at 09:48 AM.
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Old 02-13-11, 09:37 AM
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My first one was annoying as heck and I ditched it.
That being said, I am pondering picking up a honey b17 narrow for my salsa casserole and giving it a go again. I'm slowly making it more of a retro themed bike.
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Old 02-13-11, 09:46 AM
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Like any other saddle, if a Brooks doesn't fit properly then there's nothing great about it.

I find the B-17 to be comfortable, but many people do not. It is what it is.
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Old 02-13-11, 10:01 AM
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The break in creates a perfect lock-in position for your sit, but the smooth leather lets you micro-slide fore and aft as ride might dictate - big payoff on long rides. It's also one of those saddles where the small adjustments in the tilt yield a noticeable shift in balance and weight on hands. On the other side, the big nose (B17 for example) makes them not so comfortable for riding in the drops.
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Old 02-13-11, 10:07 AM
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Why I like my Brooks saddle is that they are really slick, which cut down the friction burns in my groin area dramatically, couple that with sports style underwear and I avoided having to go to the use of lubes to reduce groin chaffing. Another thing is that my Brooks are fairly stiff, which let me ride higher on my sit bones and avoid squishing my genitals on the saddle, a great relief from genital numbness after my commutes.
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Old 02-13-11, 11:49 AM
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I've only used a b17 and the factory saddle that came on my bike. The b17 was a lot more comfortable for me, especially after it broke in.

I think a big part of it is style - I think they look pretty cool.
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Old 02-13-11, 12:04 PM
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I think the resurgent popularity came after Selle Italia bought out the British Company ,
added colors models and Marketing..

Then raised the prices to make them more valuable.. Psychology of being fashionable.
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Old 02-13-11, 12:08 PM
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Originally Posted by DataJunkie View Post
My first one was annoying as heck and I ditched it.
That being said, I am pondering picking up a honey b17 narrow for my salsa casserole and giving it a go again. I'm slowly making it more of a retro themed bike.
For 2-3 years I ran a Brooks Swift Ti on my touring bike, and an original Selle Italia Flite on my road bike.
At the end of that period I finally came to the realization the Brooks would never be as comfortable as the Flite, so I sold it, and bought another Flite.
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Old 02-13-11, 12:30 PM
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Originally Posted by fietsbob View Post
I think the resurgent popularity came after Selle Italia bought out the British Company ,
added colors models and Marketing..

Then raised the prices to make them more valuable.. Psychology of being fashionable.
This.

A lot of the "greatness" has only recently been discovered, which leaves me skeptical... there are lots of similar seats out there which will work just as well.
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Old 02-13-11, 12:48 PM
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I went through 4 other saddles before breaking down and trying the "probably overrated" Brooks saddle. I then found out it wasn't overrated and was the best saddle I had owned. I have the Brooks Flyer (the 2 spring model) and it's great for me. It's slick so as others said, less friction. Coupled with a firm surface that's the right width for my sit bones, it proved to be the most comfortable saddle I had ever tried. I've put roughly 750 miles on it since I got it. I can see very slight indentations from the sit bones on the saddle now though. I didn't want to oversaturate the saddle with proofide to make it too pliable.

I tell everyone that the hardest part about cycling is finding the right saddle for them. There is no one perfect saddle in the world. Everyone needs to find what works for them.
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Old 02-13-11, 12:54 PM
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Originally Posted by electrik View Post
This.

A lot of the "greatness" has only recently been discovered, which leaves me skeptical... there are lots of similar seats out there which will work just as well.
Internet forums only came on the scene in recent years, I didn't even know about Brooks saddles until just a few years ago.
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Old 02-13-11, 01:19 PM
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I was riding Brooks saddles before Al Gore invented the internet...and before the first PC's hit the market.

They aren't for everybody, however if they work for you they are the best saddle out there. I can ride a brand new Brooks out of the box and it only gets more comfortable as I ride. I have a Wrights (very similar to Brooks) that I have been riding on various bikes since the early 70's, it has about lived out it's life span. There are other leather saddles out there and they may be more comfortable to other people. I have had Ideale and Persons and prefer the Brooks.

They do not work well on a bike with a very aggressive riding position, where the bars are substantially lower than the saddle. None of my bikes are set up that way.

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Old 02-13-11, 01:28 PM
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I keep trying other saddles, trying to find something as comfortable to me as a Brooks, but keep failing and end up going back to Brooks. The standard B17 is slightly wide for my preferred setup, so I go with either the B17N or the Professional.

Oh, and all the cool kids are riding them.
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Old 02-13-11, 02:04 PM
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Can't say I'll make you a believer or not, but I do recommend you at least try it once. I have had at least three other saddles prior to my B17 Imperial. All were stock saddles and by the time the third saddle rolled around I could tell whether it would work or not within the first 6 miles of riding on it. Why? My genitals would go numb, and saddle sores were always a problem. The moment I had the Imperial installed on my LHT it was pure bliss, it just felt "right" and I haven't had any complaints with my saddle for several hundred miles. It's by far my most comfortable saddle right out of the box, and fits me perfectly. Try one, you may or may not like it. Mine worked perfectly the first time out.
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Old 02-13-11, 02:34 PM
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Originally Posted by wahoonc View Post
I was riding Brooks saddles before Al Gore invented the internet
I think part of the allure of the Brooks saddle is, that some perceive it as one of the last things made by hand in the west. One of the last few quality hand-built products, which is still somewhat affordable.

btw, I am going with Newt Gingrich who said ""In all fairness, it's something Gore had worked on a long time. Gore is not the Father of the Internet, but in all fairness, Gore is the person who, in the Congress, most systematically worked to make sure that we got to an Internet"
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Old 02-13-11, 02:50 PM
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Originally Posted by fietsbob View Post
I think the resurgent popularity came after Selle Italia bought out the British Company ,
added colors models and Marketing..

Then raised the prices to make them more valuable.. Psychology of being fashionable.
Forums yes, marketing no. I've never seen anyone with anything of the standard colors, black, honey or brown. And, I do not see the cool kids riding Brooks. And, nobody knows or cares who owns Brooks. And, the cost of my SMP drawfs Brooks.

My 2cents is: current popularity is fueled by users on forums, modern word of mouth, and purchases are by internet vs. LBS. I very much doubt the "cool" bike stores in my very hip bike community carry any Brooks products, Brooks popularity is not mainstream cool where I live.
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Old 02-13-11, 02:56 PM
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Originally Posted by LeeG View Post
pain of adjustment can develop a committed following. I don't see the need.
Anyone who would say that would own a plastic boat. Probably a Sea Rey
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Old 02-13-11, 02:58 PM
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In the UK, Brooks are only used by members of the Cyclists Touring Club, a deeply uncool group of people who ride long distances every weekend and have an age profile tilting to the grey-haired. You will find at least one Brooks and usually several on every group ride. These are not recent purchases but old trusted bits of kit. Brooks popularity predates the Internet by a several generations.
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