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I'm giving up on my Brooks Cambium: a rant and a question.

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I'm giving up on my Brooks Cambium: a rant and a question.

Old 06-20-17, 09:49 AM
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msquared22
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I'm giving up on my Brooks Cambium: a rant and a question.

I can't take the pain anymore - I have to give up on my Brooks Cambium C17s Carved. (Reference point: I am female, mid-30s, in shape. I bike because I like to bike, but also because I can't run as much as I want anymore. My touring bike is a Salsa Vaya.)

I had a bike fitting done two years ago (which was about a year after I purchased my first real bike) where I tested a bunch of saddles as well. The Cambium felt the best of the bunch and the guy swore that everyone loved these new saddles. I was just a noob back then and I'm not sure I really knew what a properly adjusted saddle should feel like and the Brooks felt pretty good on my bike on the trainer, so I bought it. It certainly felt better than the cheap, crappy saddles I had been riding before, so I was happy enough.

I did my first tour on that saddle shortly after purchasing it -- 500 miles over 8 days. The saddle caused me pretty bad pain for the first two days until I moved it forward a smidgen. Then it was just okay. If I stood up and coasted out of my saddle frequently, I was able to keep riding. I couldn't stay seated on it for more than 15 minutes. It squished my lady bits and caused a lot of pressure. I finished the tour, but the riding part wasn't very fun.

I read everything I could on the internet about the Cambium. How I should adjust it, other people's experiences, how everyone raved about this damn saddle being the most comfortable thing ever. I tinkered with the adjustment constantly. Forward, backward, level, tilted slightly up, slightly down, raised it, lowered it, anything I could think of. Occasionally I would find a sweet spot where it almost felt pretty good, but on the quest to make it feel as good as everyone else raved, I would inevitably change it and have to start all over again. It always supported my sit bones quite well. My butt was good, but my female parts were NOT. Even when I had the saddle where I considered it to be "pretty good", my lady bits had pressure. I tried creams and different shorts with varying levels of padding, but nothing worked.

It got to the point where I didn't even want to go for short rides, but I kept powering through, figuring I was just doing something wrong because I didn't know any better and because my sit bones felt so great. On Memorial Day weekend this year, we did a 3 day/180 mile weekend tour and I was absolutely miserable on the bike. Finally arriving home was the most welcome relief ever. I resolved to never sit on one of those saddles again. EVER. (And I have two of them now! Hopefully I can sell them.)

So now I am on a quest for a new saddle. I bought some from REI (and plan on using their generous return policy) and each of them was significantly better than that damn Brooks. I was able to sit for an entire 20 mile ride on a Terry Butterfly Century saddle without ANY pain. I cried. Seriously. I also really liked the Selle Italia Max SLR Gel Flow. Those are the two saddles I am hanging onto for a while to ride/try. They are both fairly flat in the rear with generous cut outs. Looking back on my first bike fitting, the guy didn't give me anything to try that was a woman's model besides the Cambium. I tired a lot of men's saddles that didn't have a cut out and none of them felt good.

My TL;DR question is this: If the Cambium doesn't work for me, how likely is it that one of the leather Brooks will feel good? For touring, everyone is all Brooks, Brooks, Brooks, Brooks. The bees knees, the holy grail, the promised land. Should I even bother trying a B17? And does anyone else hate the Cambium as much as I do?
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Old 06-20-17, 10:01 PM
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Interesting question. I had a Brooks B-17 that I absolutely loved out of the box and liked less and less over years of use. I started this trip with it but it became too uncomfortable to continue on.

Since I loved the brand new, unbroken-in B17, I thought a Cambium would be perfect for me. Mid way through this tour I switched... I hate that Cambium with the fire of a thousand suns. I found it really painful to sit on for long distances day after day, and eventually I began getting really bad saddle sores. I have since changed it for some cheap saddle I found in a bike shop and I'm so much happier.

So... my long winded point is, you might be fine with a leather Brooks. I loved my B17 but hated the C17.
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Old 06-20-17, 10:13 PM
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your butt was not made in a factory , so the factories that actually make bike saddles

have to make a thousand + different ones, to try to offer something to work with your anatomy.

At least a leather saddle, be it Berthoud*, Brooks selle anatomica or who ever ,

has its natural tendency because of the century + old things, to break in like a pair of leather shoes, over time..

*http://www.gillesberthoud.fr/_en/








....

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Old 06-20-17, 10:21 PM
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I found the Cambium very comfortable right out of the box, but started noticing tailbone (I think) pain after longer rides on rougher terrain. Went back to my all time favorite saddle, WTB Rocket V, which is slightly padded and a perfect fit. I now have the same saddle on four bikes, except for the CF road bike (Specialized Toupe). Happy days have returned. Maybe we should start a Used Cambium for Sale thread.
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Old 06-20-17, 10:24 PM
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I rode on a multi month tour with a Brooks team pro I had been riding for a decade, before the tour..
we were used to each other...

a touring rider last month took her saddle off, a Brooks, because she started the tour on a brand new one.

and had no ongoing relationship with it.





.....
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Old 06-20-17, 10:36 PM
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The most important thing to know about saddles is not to listen to anybody else.

The only arbiter of what you sit on is what you sit on it with. the theory of leather saddles is that they break in to a perfect fit, the same way shoes do. Unfortunately, like with shoes, some will NEVER be comfortable.

There are many nice covered plastic saddles, some covered in leather, some in man made material, and most are padded with foam of various densities. The key is that the rear area has to be wide enough to support you well. On average women will want a slightly wider saddle because they tend to be wider there.

Then it has to be narrow enough to clear your thighs, and if all is right, you'll sit in the middle where there's the most suspension.

All I can say, is try a variety of saddles on actual rides of at least 2 hours to get a sense of which will be right. In truth, you'll be able to reject many in minutes, so the long tests will only be for the few serious possibilities.

Many shops offer some sort of try before you buy deal on saddles, so this may be an example of the benefits of a good local shop.
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Old 06-20-17, 10:45 PM
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Brooks isn't the same company it once was. Yes they still make their iconic leather saddles but they are more into "Bike Bling" these days. The C-17 IMO is more about bling than comfort. Many people who profess to be tourists are also all about bling.

My humble experience with women's saddles is with one woman for 29 years. All 3 of my wife's bikes have Brooks , A B17s on her road bike and a sprung Brooks B67 on our tandem and her tourer. That said I have known women who can't stand a Brooks. Another popular women's saddle is the Terry Liberator. Terry has a 30 day return policy.
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Old 06-20-17, 11:16 PM
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I put a Cambium c17 on my road bike because I like the B17 and Champion Flyer so much. I've had it on for almost a year and I'm not really getting on with it. Initially it was causing some saddle sore issues until I coated the top with some shellac and sanded it down some. It got a lot better after that, but since it will never break in, I don't think I'll ever like it as much as their leather saddles.
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Old 06-20-17, 11:50 PM
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Originally Posted by brianmcg123 View Post
I put a Cambium c17 on my road bike because I like the B17 and Champion Flyer so much. I've had it on for almost a year and I'm not really getting on with it. ....
Don't take offense, but you and apparently many others are wa-a-a-a-a-y too patient.

I can understand giving a saddle some time, especially a leather one that needs to break in, but if a saddle isn't comfortable after 30 days or so, it never will be.
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Old 06-21-17, 12:53 AM
  #10  
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I have a Brooks Cambium C17 Carved on my Giant TCR ....

took a while to find the correct position (I have it set level but needed to move it as far back as it could go). Love the saddle and when I ride, I don't even think about the saddle. I have done some longish rides (11 hrs+) and it works for me

My son has one fitted on his Canyon Endurace and he likes it aswell

Other saddles that I have owned include a Gilles Berthoud Aravis which I had fitted on my Surly LHT .... was comfy from day 1, but is not waterproof .... I've also owned a Brooks B17, a Fizik Airone, a Charge Spoon and a few others

I will buy another Brooks Cambium C17 Carved if my existing one needs replacing
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Old 06-21-17, 06:31 AM
  #11  
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Originally Posted by FBinNY View Post
The most important thing to know about saddles is not to listen to anybody else.

The only arbiter of what you sit on is what you sit on it with. the theory of leather saddles is that they break in to a perfect fit, the same way shoes do. Unfortunately, like with shoes, some will NEVER be comfortable.

There are many nice covered plastic saddles, some covered in leather, some in man made material, and most are padded with foam of various densities. The key is that the rear area has to be wide enough to support you well. On average women will want a slightly wider saddle because they tend to be wider there.

Then it has to be narrow enough to clear your thighs, and if all is right, you'll sit in the middle where there's the most suspension.

All I can say, is try a variety of saddles on actual rides of at least 2 hours to get a sense of which will be right. In truth, you'll be able to reject many in minutes, so the long tests will only be for the few serious possibilities.

Many shops offer some sort of try before you buy deal on saddles, so this may be an example of the benefits of a good local shop.
pretty much sums up the whole bike seat thing.

and M222, I first tried a leather Brooks a bunch of years ago and found that it worked better for me than previous seats over the last 25+ years of touring and general riding. It pretty much followed the script of taking a while for it to start to form to my keester and sitbones, and then became a seat that I didnt really think about anymore while riding. Liked it so much that I ended up getting others for my other bikes just because they work for me.

Last summer I bought a used C17, as I had always been curious about how they are, but didnt want to spend $260 to find out ($200Can. here + taxes). The appeal also was not having to think about rain etc, I was planning a long trip in Latin America and figured it might be handy not to have to worry about it getting wet if in very rainy areas.
In the end, after riding with it for a while, I realized a leather one was just more comfortable, and I went with "what I knew" and left it at that.
Personally, I feel the C17 would be fine on a bike where one stands often, or hammers or ride hard on more often, but for me touring, I really do tend to be in the seat all the time, and the fact that the leather really does form those little depressions where our sitbones are, combined with a diff sort of flex than the rubber, and the fact that leather does breath better than plastic seats, it all adds up to my various leather ones working and not being a factor of discomfort with long riding and day after day riding.

I recently finished a two month trip and along with padded bike shorts that work well for me, proper daily handwashing of my bike shorts and all that, my keester and other bits were fine on a trip that was physically challenging at times due to mountainous terrain and heat.

Both my daughter and wife like Terry seats, but again, gotta try stuff yourself.
My wife in the past has borrowed one of my Brooks and loved it, but it is worth mentioning that with any leather seat, you do have to think about protecting it with a plastic bag so it doesnt get rained on. A soaked Brooks if ridden on will stretch out the leather, taking years and years off its life and riding comfort due to sagging.

Thinking about rain is just part of taking care of a Brooks seat, but its worth doing if you find that it is more comfortable than other seats, I know it is for me. If you are someone who leaves a bike outside, and or dont want to thnk about stuff like that, perhaps a non leather seat would be better, and seats like Terry seats or whatever are good options.

good luck with finding something that works. You should be able to sell the C17 fairly easily when you find something that works better for you.
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Old 06-21-17, 07:00 AM
  #12  
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Originally Posted by msquared22 View Post
I resolved to never sit on one of those saddles again. EVER. (And I have two of them now! Hopefully I can sell them.)
Sell them to someone in Des Moines!

I could use 1 more, but in all seriousness- I am 6'5 230# and use a C17s, the women's version, on my gravel bike. Its the same as the regular C17 but with a 1cm shorter nose...or something like that. Anyways, the dimensions are the same as many male saddles and it works great.
Point being, like others have said- its all individual and though Brooks is a default response for a touring saddle, there is more than one way to skin a cat. A tall guy using a women's saddle shows that.
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Old 06-21-17, 07:22 AM
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I like my B-17, but my riding is a casual 25 mile jaunt. for that, I could probably just use the Laprade and get away with it.
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Old 06-21-17, 07:28 AM
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I've never had a Brooks saddle - never want one.
Have always had basic lite gel saddles - low cost.
100K miles and never had a problem.

Brooks are not for everybody - and I don't get the hype.
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Old 06-21-17, 08:05 AM
  #15  
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My wife tried hard to love Brooks B17 and in the end went to B67. It made all the difference for her.
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Old 06-21-17, 08:36 AM
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Originally Posted by msquared22 View Post
I can't take the pain anymore - I have to give up on my Brooks Cambium C17s Carved. (Reference point: I am female, mid-30s, in shape. I bike because I like to bike, but also because I can't run as much as I want anymore. My touring bike is a Salsa Vaya.)

I had a bike fitting done two years ago (which was about a year after I purchased my first real bike) where I tested a bunch of saddles as well. The Cambium felt the best of the bunch and the guy swore that everyone loved these new saddles. I was just a noob back then and I'm not sure I really knew what a properly adjusted saddle should feel like and the Brooks felt pretty good on my bike on the trainer, so I bought it. It certainly felt better than the cheap, crappy saddles I had been riding before, so I was happy enough.

I did my first tour on that saddle shortly after purchasing it -- 500 miles over 8 days. The saddle caused me pretty bad pain for the first two days until I moved it forward a smidgen. Then it was just okay. If I stood up and coasted out of my saddle frequently, I was able to keep riding. I couldn't stay seated on it for more than 15 minutes. It squished my lady bits and caused a lot of pressure. I finished the tour, but the riding part wasn't very fun.

I read everything I could on the internet about the Cambium. How I should adjust it, other people's experiences, how everyone raved about this damn saddle being the most comfortable thing ever. I tinkered with the adjustment constantly. Forward, backward, level, tilted slightly up, slightly down, raised it, lowered it, anything I could think of. Occasionally I would find a sweet spot where it almost felt pretty good, but on the quest to make it feel as good as everyone else raved, I would inevitably change it and have to start all over again. It always supported my sit bones quite well. My butt was good, but my female parts were NOT. Even when I had the saddle where I considered it to be "pretty good", my lady bits had pressure. I tried creams and different shorts with varying levels of padding, but nothing worked.

It got to the point where I didn't even want to go for short rides, but I kept powering through, figuring I was just doing something wrong because I didn't know any better and because my sit bones felt so great. On Memorial Day weekend this year, we did a 3 day/180 mile weekend tour and I was absolutely miserable on the bike. Finally arriving home was the most welcome relief ever. I resolved to never sit on one of those saddles again. EVER. (And I have two of them now! Hopefully I can sell them.)

So now I am on a quest for a new saddle. I bought some from REI (and plan on using their generous return policy) and each of them was significantly better than that damn Brooks. I was able to sit for an entire 20 mile ride on a Terry Butterfly Century saddle without ANY pain. I cried. Seriously. I also really liked the Selle Italia Max SLR Gel Flow. Those are the two saddles I am hanging onto for a while to ride/try. They are both fairly flat in the rear with generous cut outs. Looking back on my first bike fitting, the guy didn't give me anything to try that was a woman's model besides the Cambium. I tired a lot of men's saddles that didn't have a cut out and none of them felt good.

My TL;DR question is this: If the Cambium doesn't work for me, how likely is it that one of the leather Brooks will feel good? For touring, everyone is all Brooks, Brooks, Brooks, Brooks. The bees knees, the holy grail, the promised land. Should I even bother trying a B17? And does anyone else hate the Cambium as much as I do?
I love my B17, but didn't much like the Cambium. I started with the B17 about 5 years ago, used it for 2 years successfully. When the Cambium came out, I figured I would try it, even tried it out on a 10 mile test ride, and really liked it. However, much to my chagrin, I found that after about an hour and 15 minutes, I would start to notice some irritation, which became painful after about 2 hours. Never noticed that on the B17. So I went back to the B17 and gifted the Cambium to my son, who goes back and forth on whether or not he likes it. I think in hindsight, the Cambium is narrower than the B17. That works for some folks, not for others.
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Old 06-21-17, 09:15 AM
  #17  
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Originally Posted by msquared22 View Post
I can't take the pain anymore - I have to give up on my Brooks Cambium C17s Carved. (Reference point: I am female, mid-30s, in shape. I bike because I like to bike, but also because I can't run as much as I want anymore. My touring bike is a Salsa Vaya.)


My TL;DR question is this: If the Cambium doesn't work for me, how likely is it that one of the leather Brooks will feel good? For touring, everyone is all Brooks, Brooks, Brooks, Brooks. The bees knees, the holy grail, the promised land. Should I even bother trying a B17? And does anyone else hate the Cambium as much as I do?

So slightly unrelated to finding a new saddle but what color is your old saddle and what are your plans for it? I happen to be someone who has a rear end that just loves the Cambium and actually need another one for another bike. I actually have the C17s on my touring bike and it is just fine (a touch shorter but that is it) I think I bought it accidentally and then got another C17 in the regular version and noticed it.

Thanks a bunch for the response
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Old 06-21-17, 09:33 AM
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Originally Posted by DanBell View Post
Interesting question. I had a Brooks B-17 that I absolutely loved out of the box and liked less and less over years of use. I started this trip with it but it became too uncomfortable to continue on.
Huh, your experience with the B17 becoming more uncomfortable as it broke in sounds so different than everyone else. Glad to know I'm not the only one on the internet who hates the Cambium though!
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Old 06-21-17, 09:35 AM
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Originally Posted by velonomad View Post
My humble experience with women's saddles is with one woman for 29 years. All 3 of my wife's bikes have Brooks , A B17s on her road bike and a sprung Brooks B67 on our tandem and her tourer. That said I have known women who can't stand a Brooks. Another popular women's saddle is the Terry Liberator. Terry has a 30 day return policy.
I initially read that as "all 3 of my wives" Hehe. I have a Terry I'm testing right now. It was great for a 20 mile ride - hoping to give it a good 3 hour ride this weekend.
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Old 06-21-17, 09:41 AM
  #20  
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Originally Posted by msquared22 View Post
Huh, your experience with the B17 becoming more uncomfortable as it broke in sounds so different than everyone else. Glad to know I'm not the only one on the internet who hates the Cambium though!
For sure. It's certainly not the only way in which I am a weirdo. But hey, butts are different, so the experiences will be different too. Which is why saddle threads are... well, not totally a waste of time, but certainly no substitute to just trying a whole bunch of saddles. That being said, it is good to vent sometimes, and it's reassuring to find other people with similar experiences.
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Old 06-21-17, 09:44 AM
  #21  
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Originally Posted by msquared22 View Post

My TL;DR question is this: If the Cambium doesn't work for me, how likely is it that one of the leather Brooks will feel good? For touring, everyone is all Brooks, Brooks, Brooks, Brooks. The bees knees, the holy grail, the promised land. Should I even bother trying a B17? And does anyone else hate the Cambium as much as I do?
I suspect your issue is the curved top, (fall-away?). The flat top B17 is very comfortable for me, the Cambium is on probation, and its not looking good. I can't ride a Brooks Pro, pure misery. So, learn what profile you bottom needs, and then the selection becomes easier to navigate.
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Old 06-21-17, 09:47 AM
  #22  
msquared22
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Originally Posted by mstateglfr View Post
Sell them to someone in Des Moines!

I could use 1 more, but in all seriousness- I am 6'5 230# and use a C17s, the women's version, on my gravel bike. Its the same as the regular C17 but with a 1cm shorter nose...or something like that. Anyways, the dimensions are the same as many male saddles and it works great.
Point being, like others have said- its all individual and though Brooks is a default response for a touring saddle, there is more than one way to skin a cat. A tall guy using a women's saddle shows that.
Originally Posted by veganbikes View Post
So slightly unrelated to finding a new saddle but what color is your old saddle and what are your plans for it? I happen to be someone who has a rear end that just loves the Cambium and actually need another one for another bike. I actually have the C17s on my touring bike and it is just fine (a touch shorter but that is it) I think I bought it accidentally and then got another C17 in the regular version and noticed it.

Thanks a bunch for the response
I will definitely be selling them. I have a black one that is essentially brand new - purchased in late 2016, ridden maybe 500 miles? The other is slate colored, but has some fading from the sun. (I actually like the faded look.) Purchased in early 2015, has more miles on it (2,000-3,000?). My bikes are always stored indoors, never outside. My mom currently is trying the slate one on her bike, but I very much doubt she'll keep it as she seemed very skeptical about trying it and she's not a serious cyclist by any means. If anyone is seriously interested in buying, drop me a PM.

Maybe I should drive out to RAGBRAI (I'm in Wisconsin) and stand on the side of the road with them!
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Old 06-21-17, 09:50 AM
  #23  
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Originally Posted by FrenchFit View Post
I suspect your issue is the curved top, (fall-away?). The flat top B17 is very comfortable for me, the Cambium is on probation, and its not looking good. I can't ride a Brooks Pro, pure misery. So, learn what profile you bottom needs, and then the selection becomes easier to navigate.
Yes, I think you're absolutely correct. The lateral curve of the saddle is what I think is my issue. So the B17 is flatter on top? The saddles I am testing right now are very flat and they feel so much better!
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Old 06-21-17, 09:50 AM
  #24  
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I have several different leather saddles and prefer the Brooks B17 Narrow. I bought a C15 about a year ago and the shape and fit was very similar to the Narrow and felt great in that regard but it was just too hard. I tend to ride back on a saddle and the Cambium just does not have the give back there that a leather saddle does. I sold the Cambium and bought a B17 Narrow Imperial model and it is heaven.

At least in my experience there is a definitive difference between the flex of the Brooks Cambium and their other leather saddles - even out of the box. For that reason I would not write off trying a leather B17. The OP's comments seemed to indicate that the design of the cutout portion of the Cambium may be the source of the discomfort. It is different than the cutout shape of the Brooks B17 models.
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Old 06-21-17, 10:23 AM
  #25  
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Originally Posted by msquared22 View Post
I initially read that as "all 3 of my wives" Hehe.
me too

yup, those bike stores in and around polygamist communities do a cracking business in womens bike seats.....

re leather Brooks shapes. I will try to take some photos of a couple of my B17s to show how they look after X km's on them. Essentially, with proper care (not left out in rain and ridden on, not putting on stupid amounts of that Proofide stuff, the Brooks leather treatment stuff) they will go years without sagging downwards, but the sitbone divet areas become accentuated, and perhaps with a slight bowing.

I think its fair to bring up that with any bike seat, leather or not, small positional changes, whether levelness or fore/aft position, can and do make all the difference to riding comfort.
Add in body shape, bike shorts, bike layout (bar height in relation to seat, bar reach from seat) and how much one rides to a certain extent....lots of factors also come into play, along with and beyond "X" or "Y" specific bike seat.
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