Saturday, October 24, 2009

Brooks Saddles: Demystifying the System

Lately there has been some discussion about Brooks saddles in the comments sections of the posts. We have Brooks saddles on all six of our bicycles, and we have learned a lot about them. So I offer these notes for those riddled with indecision about which Brooks to get.

When choosing a Brooks saddle, there are really only two main factors to consider: width and spring. I will try to explain the role of each.

WIDTH


The basic rule is: The more upright your riding position (handlebars above saddle level), the wider your saddle needs to be. Brooks saddles come in several width categories.

For upright riding:
The B72, B66, B67, B68, and B73 are all pretty much the same, generous width and are all appropriate for a an upright bicycle. Which one of them you will prefer depends on your preference for sprung vs unsprung saddles, and whether your bicycle has a modern or an old-style seat post (for example, the B66 and B67 are identical, except the latter is designed to fit modern seat posts).

If you are heavier than 200lb and are riding a completely upright bicycle, you may want to consider the B33 or the B190. These are extra heavy-duty saddles and can take even the weightiest of riders on long upright trips.

If you are female, love Edwardian design, and have a bicycle with very relaxed geometry, there is also the B18 "Lady". This is a very wide and short saddle, designed to be ridden by women wearing skirts and sitting completely upright on a bicycle with an extremely slack seat tube. See here for a detailed discussion of this saddle.

For leaned-forward riding: If you are riding in a forward-leaning position so that your saddle is right at or above the level or your handlebars, in my opinion there are only two Brooks saddles to choose from unless you are a very aggressive cyclist: the B17 and the Flyer. These are in fact the same saddle, only the Flyer has springs and the B17 does not.

In my view, all the other Brooks roadbike saddles (the B17 Narrow, the Team Pro, the Swift, and the Swallow) are too narrow for the majority cyclists who are likely to be reading this post. Many do not want to hear that, because those racing saddles often have the coolest aesthetics and come in all sorts of crazy colours and special editions. But cycling forums are full of people who bought the narrow saddle and are not able to ride them - either due to discomfort, or because the saddle falls apart under the rider's weight. The cycling style of a serious road cyclist is so aggressive, that their butt really only floats on the surface of the saddle, rather than actually sits upon it. That is what these saddles were designed for. If this does not describe your cycling style, I urge you to get a B17 or a Flyer.

SPRINGS

Sprung saddles provide suspension, the benefit of which is that you feel more comfortable going over bumps on the road. The drawback of suspension, is that you have less "control" over the ride. Which you prefer can be only decided via trial and error. For an upright bicycle, I would venture say that most cyclists tend to prefer the sprung saddles. For a more aggressive bike, it could go either way.

It is worth pointing out that not all sprung Brooks saddles are sprung equally. The B72 has minimal springs. The Flyer has larger coils, but they are very tight and provide a feeling of shock absorbtion rather than full spring. So if you are considering putting a Flyer on a roadbike but are worried that it may be too bouncy, it may not necessarily be the case.  The B66-67 is generously sprung. The B33 and B190 are monstrously sprung, so choose these carefully.

"MEN'S" vs. "WOMEN'S" SADDLES?...

You may notice that many saddles are offered in a "woman's" version, where the saddle number is followed by the letter "S" (B66 vs B66S). I think this system is often misunderstood. The "S" stands for "short", and these saddles are simply shorter than their non-"S" counterparts - making them somewhat easier to mount and dismount while wearing a skirt without the skirt getting caught on the nose. I have ridden on both "S" and non-"S" saddles, and am still not sure whether the skirt-snagging difference is significant. 

SPECIAL FINISHES

As for things like "Special," "Aged" and "Imperial" versions of the saddles, there is some debate whether they improve the saddle or not.  The "Special" finish is more attractive and hardy than the regular finish, and features copper rivets. However, I and others have found saddles with the "Special" finish to be harder to break in.  The "Aged" saddles are supposedly treated with some polymer, which some cyclists say improves their softness, while others say worsens it. And be careful choosing the "Imperial" versions of saddles, with cut-outs, because while some find those cut-outs helpful, others find them extremely painful. In short, my impression is that when in doubt it isa safer to go with standard finishes - unless you have a chance to try the saddle extensively.

To summarise it all:
If you need an upright saddle, choose one of these. If you will be cycling in a forward-leaning position, choose one of these. And unless you are an aggressive road cyclist, stay away from these. Sprung vs unsprung, and "S" vs non-"S", are personal choices within each category. Of course in the end everybody is different, but I believe this summary is applicable in the majority of cases.

55 comments:

  1. Very informative and well thought out post on Brooks saddles. I ride a Brooks B17 Classic on a daily basis. I think that this is the fourth bike that I've had it on and I wouldn't trade it for any other.

    Best regards, Jim

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  2. Hey...I have 2 swifts and 1 professional and they are great!!!! I also have 2 B17's and will agree with you...for upright riding positions they are more comfortable....but I have a swift on one of my non-aggressive bikes and I still find it way more comfortable than any other plasic piece of garbage that I've ever ridden (and I've ridden a lot!).

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  3. I ride only Brooks saddles: Professionals on my road bikes and a B67 on my upright bike.

    Sometimes the "S," or "Women's" models are somewhat wider than their men's counterparts. I know this is true for the B17 and Professional, anyway: The "S" model of each is 7mm wider. This is supposed to accommodate a woman's wider pelvic bones. That said, I've known female cyclists who were more comfortable on the men's versions of the saddles, and vice versa.

    If you're buying your first Brooks saddle, I suggest that you check out Wallingford Bicycle. They're very helpful and they will allow you to exchange your saddle for another model--or to receive a refund--within six months of your purchase.

    Another suggestion: If you like a particular model, buy a spare, if you can afford it. Brooks availability tends to be cyclical: During the 90's, they were all but impossible to find in this country. Your saddle will probably outlast your bike, but it's nice to have another if you should wreck yours in a monsoon or if you decide to buy or build another bike.

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  4. I can't thank you enough for this. I want to retrofit four of my vintage bikes with better saddles and I've been at a loss to understand the different Brooks models. A perfectly timed, clearly written and extremely helpful piece. Thank you, thank you, thank you!

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  5. I have to take issue with your comments about the Swallow! Mine suits me very well, though it is mounted as you describe, quite higher than the bars, on a '63 Legnano (road racer) ... However (!) many cyclophiles I have met who own Swallows (and Swifts, and Team Professionals) swear by them, and find wider seats simply intolerable. Perhaps we are the minority, but I disagree that one should assume such a shape will necessarily be uncomfortable just by probability!! I LOVE my Swallow, dearly, and wish the same comfort for everyone who pedals. That said, I have a Conquest (B17-Flyer, sprung, old name) on my Dahon D7 and my lady a B-18 on her Princess Sovereign. These seats suit these bikes just fine, and a Swallow would flounder with either of these geometries. So - thank you for the otherwise excellent piece on Brooks products - I'm glad to have found you! Cheers, - Mike

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  6. Glad this post is useful! To those who own saddles narrower than B17 and find them comfortable: thanks for your comments and I am completely open to different opinions on this. Clearly if you find the saddle comfortable, then it is the right saddle for you.

    My own view is that saddles narrower than B17 are not suitable for the majority of the non-pro, non-messenger population, and I stick to that despite variations in individual experience.

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  7. re Justine:

    Most of our ideas about the differences in gross physical dimensions of men and women have come from comparing men and women who are otherwise of *similar build,* with added bias weighted toward cultural ideals.

    When analyzed statistically across the spectrum, however, these differences regress to the mean; i.e. there is no GENERALIZABLE difference between men and women. Many men have wide sit bones; many women have narrow. Many men have long legs, many women short.

    Ignore the labels and buy by fit (although this advice may see many men faced with the prospect of buying pink bikes with butterfly embroidered saddles).

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  8. Thanks for this... there was a lot of Brooks info hiding away in the Comments of a couple of posts. Good advice... and of course ultimately it's whatever saddle you feel comfortable on that's right for you. There's sure to be the perfect fit somewhere in the Brooks range ;-).

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  9. kfg - You hit the nail on the head and described what I had meant to express in the "Men's vs Women's" paragraph, but ran out of brain energy & time. Maybe I will paste it into the main text as a quote from you if you do not mind.

    I also neglected to acknowledge that Justine is right about the "S" road saddles being 7mm wider than the standard versions. That is important to note. However, the B72-S, B66-S, etc. are the same width as the standard versions.

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  10. This is the most helpful guide to Brooks saddles I've ever read. Thank you! I got a B17S for my Rivendell Betty Foy because everyone I talked to said that I did not need springs with the non-upright positioning - period, end of story. The saddle works wonderfully, except for longer rides I really wish I had springs. After 5 months the saddle has not yet broken in to be anywhere near as comfortable as the B67 on my Dutch bike, which broke in after a mere two weeks. In retrospect, I would get a flyer for the Rivendell. The B67 would be too wide, but the B17S with springs would be perfect.

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  11. Dottie - I think the Flyer and the B17 are stiff saddles that are especially difficult to break in. My experience parallels yours almost exactly. The B66S on my Pashley broke in after 2 weeks. The Flyer has not broken in yet after 3.5 months and I get pain in the tailbone area after rides longer than 25 miles. I have treated it with Proofide and that softened it up a bit, but it is still not broken in. I think I will try Neatsfoot Oil next.

    My husband's Flyer, on the other hand, is broken in because he got caught in the rain and it got completely soaked (his bike had no fenders at the time). After that, his Flyer went from rock-hard to perfect.

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  12. My aged B67 is breaking in slowly. I tilt it up slightly at the front. Decided on that angle after experimentation today. I still have the saddle moved back as far as it will go and still wish the seat was a wee bit wider. Maybe I should have got a "short" model though I am a male. It feels like I am very close to riding the rivets.

    Unfortunately I got a flat while testing saddle adjustments so will continue later. I may try moving the saddle forward a little though that would crowd the "cockpit" a bit I think. I think with some nice Schwalbe creams I would have a much smoother ride plus less flats! Also riding shorts might help, not the lycra type (horrors!) but the padded "regular" shorts. I do note a difference when wearing different kinds of pants.

    Anyway I am a true Brooks man so I shall soldier on! Thanks for all the info on Brooks products.

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  13. Threespeeder - The B67S is the same width as the B67 non-S (210mm), so that won't help. What sort of bike is it? Have you considered the B-33? It is considerably wider (235mm). My husband loves his B33 on his Pashley.

    You should not need padded shorts on an upright bike if your saddle is right and proper. I just rode 30 miles on my B18 and it's pure hammock-like goodness.

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  14. "Maybe I will paste it into the main text as a quote from you if you do not mind."

    Not at all, although you may want to Strunk & Whiteize it a bit (use italics and/or bold where I have used non-HTML emphasis); or feel free to just rephrase it in your own words and style to spiff up what you've already written - my own infamy was secured long ago, so I have no issues with official credit.

    And as an aside I will take the opportunity to point out that if you poke around the web a bit you will find many WOMEN who are discontent with the fact that although a "women's specific" bike is what fits them, it is only available in a "Barbieized" version. Put it down to marketing goofiness and take a tip from Alexander Calder - you can spray paint anything bright red or flat black.

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  15. Filigree, Thanks for your suggestion to try the B-33. I saw your pic of it and it looked substantial. I have a 73 Sports and the current B 67 should work. The break in time for the aged line is supposed to be "immediate" but I have heard others say it takes about 200 miles. I don't think I have gone that far yet.

    I plan to customize my bike with new Shwalbes and a bullet headlight perhaps plus a nice basket or rack on the front. Also I need some new brake cables. Maybe a new Saddle too but I will give the B 67 a few more weeks. I only ride about 15 miles or so a week but would love to ride more.

    Now winter is coming I plan to stable my Sports (Sidney) and start riding my IceT Trike. It's a little safer in the snow and ice here in Dayton WA just N. of Walla Walla.

    Thanks for your suggestions and wondefully delicious site. I love your vintage Raleigh DL 1 by the way!

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  16. Two quick comments: women who plan to wear pants/shorts (not skirts) on their saddles should not get the S models because a longer nose provides both stability and a much bigger leather hammock to absorb shocks. Just look at Selle Anatomica saddles for a comparison.

    And two: if you didn't already know--now you don't have to think that it's just you--anyone who buys a Brooks saddle better be prepared to tinker with it, adjust it endlessly, grease random parts to quiet the noises and otherwise obsess with the saddle for a LONG time, sometimes months after purchase until it is finally done and perfect. You might think it won't happen to you, but it might, especially if you go on 20-30+ mile rides. So if that's not your idea of fun, beware. Having said that, I think it's worth it, in the end.

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  17. KFG: I fought long and hard for my right to ride a pink saddle with butterfly logos on it. And now I ride Brooks. LOL.

    I think I made the point you also made: that the "men's" and "women's" labels in saddles are meaningless. At least they are for me!

    That said, Filigree's article is very good and, as she points out, her advice will work for many more cyclists than what we find in most other cycling sites, books and magazines.

    Although I've raced and been a bike messenger, have done several long bike tours and still like to ride a fine road bike, I am also thinking more about "practical" cycling. I'd like to ride to work without having to change clothes; also, sometimes I just want to look and feel dignified on a bike. So I'm finding this site interesting and useful.

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  18. Justine: "I think I made the point you also made"

    Yes, I simply generalized it a bit to include frame geometry.

    "I fought long and hard for my right to ride a pink saddle with butterfly logos on it."

    Well, if it comes to that some guys still do, or at least to do so free of harassment; and to ride in skirts as well. Takes all kinds to make a cycling world.

    "Although I've raced . . . I am also thinking more about "practical" cycling."

    That's the path that eventually led me to a Quickbeam. Although I think most would challenge it as a "practical" bike I think most ex-racers/messengers would find it delightfully so. I certainly do. Bummer about the "availability" (although I believe a few of the smaller sizes might still be lying around Walnut Creek and Grant promises a similar bike in future).

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  19. That's quite useful, thanks a lot. Since I haven't got around to buy a new bike yet, I thought we could maybe go on a trip through some Viennese bike shops once you're here. You just seem to be an expert on everything concerning bikes! :)

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  20. your site has lots of informations for us kind of peoples thanks for sharing this in internet.. Sure will return for an update.. http://ww.dmaxonline.com

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  21. Anna - You know, I have not found a Viennese bike shop that actually carries a bike I would recommend. Maybe there are additional, secret ones, that I missed : ) I wonder whether Retro-Velo has a distributor in Austria and can arrange for us to test-ride their bicycles... For some reason, I can really see you on one of those!

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  22. Very useful - but having done a bit of research since I got my saddle, I'd be a bit careful about applying neatsfoot oil (or anything but proofide) to your saddle. From what I understand, the breaking in process is not meant to soften the saddle - the softer the saddle, the less time it will last - but to gradually stretch it to shape. The faster it's worn in, the faster it will wear out. The end result of a broken-in saddle will be comfortable not because it's spongy soft, but because it's moulded to your sit bones and if it isn't too soft, it will stay that way for longer. Although why different saddles take different lengths of time to break in, I don't know.

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  23. Lots of good Brooks Saddle info when and if I am ever in the market for a new saddles. Thanks!

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  24. kfg: I am the sort of woman who believes that my right to ride a Brooks obligates me to defend the right of others (of whatever gender) to ride their pink saddles with butterfly logos. Isn't that what freedom and tolerance are all about?

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  25. Townmouse: You're right about "breaking in" Brooks saddles. It is indeed about attaining the right shape, not making the saddle softer. That is also the reason why buying "pre-treated" (translation: "pre-softened) saddles makes no sense.

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  26. No matter which saddle I use, and I have several Brooks, I still get saddle sores on my Batavus over 20 miles. So if I am out for a long day, I have padded under shorts that a nice full skirt hides very well : ) I don't think it is the saddles, I think it is just me.

    The "S" feature for me helps in one area- when I am mounting the saddle while starting, standard length saddles always grab my waist band or back pockets and that drives me nuts!!!

    Also, instead of neetsfoot (I sold leather products for years and that stuff is not good) try the Obenauf's that Riv. sells on their site. It will not damage your saddle at all, it is even great for Coach bags and my leather skirt and blazer. It softens the leather very slowly and really protects the colour and surface well.

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  27. Adriene,I was wondering if my Brooks B 67 "aged" would have a shorter life seeing as it has been pretreated with leather conditioners prior to sale? That would be frustrating! Has anyone else had feedback on Brooks Aged line?
    Also does anyone have a source for Schwalbe's cream tires, the 26 X 1 3/8 inch size that fits a Raleigh? They seem to be in short supply on several web sites I have checked. Thanks

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  28. Adrienne - Thanks for sharing the info about leather treatment!

    Threespeeder - I don't think that the Aged B67 should not have a shorter life span; pretreating with conditioners is fine.

    The Schwalbe cream Delta Cruisers can be gotten directly from the distributor:
    11140712 37-590 26 x 1-3/8
    Puncture Protection Creme-Reflex

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  29. townmouse - The Neatsfoot / no Neatsfoot issue is a grand debate when it comes to Brooks. Some are emphatically for it, others vehemently against. For what it's worth, Sheldon Brown swore by it (scroll down to "Breaking in a leather saddle"). The break-in process is not meant to make a saddle entirely soft, but it is meant to make it somewhat softer - softer than "hard as a rock" at least, which is the state of my Flyer.

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  30. Justine & kfg - I also defend the right of anyone who wishes to ride a saddle with pink butterflies to do so in peace. At the same time I resent it when "women's bikes" are automatically fitted with such saddles. I find bubblegum-pink nauseating, and question the wisdom of believing that such an aesthetic is desirable for grown women who need a bicycle. Do you hear that, marketing people?

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  31. Filigree, Thanks for the info on the Schwalbes. Maybe I will treat myself for Christmas!Thanks too for the comforting comment on my B67!

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  32. Justine: "Isn't that what freedom and tolerance are all about?"

    Yes.

    Filigree: "Do you hear that, marketing people?"

    Only if you've taken a poll or participated in a focus group. They are otherwise deaf and blind. Would that they were also dumb (as opposed to stupid, which they are more often than not).

    See ( and hear) Bill Hicks.

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  33. Could someone tell me the proper name for the chrome plugs in the Raleigh forks and where I could get replacments? I checked the Harris Cyclery site once but didn't know what the do-dads were called. Oh and if anyone could direct me to a Vintage/urban bike mecca in Portland OR or Seattle I would be much obliged.

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  34. "Could someone tell me the proper name for the chrome plugs in the Raleigh forks"

    The proper name is "thimble," but they are generally referred to as a "dimple."

    " . . .and where I could get replacments?"

    From a Raleigh fork.

    ". . .if anyone could direct me to a Vintage/urban bike mecca in Portland OR or Seattle . . ."

    That would be in Iowa.

    Sorry I'm not being particularly helpful, but reality is like that sometimes.

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  35. kfg - That's some tough love : )

    Threespeeder - I suggest joining bikeforums and posting your question on the Classic & Vintage subforum. Lots of knowledgeable collectors there; someone will know.

    kfg - The latest trend is for marketing geniuses to troll the internets for blogs and reviews, so my anti-butterfly cry may actually reach someone out there!

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  36. Filigree, I agree with you. I'm probably old enough to be your mother, so I resent having the "Barbie" aesthetic (Is that an oxymoron?)forced on me as much as you do. I prefer classy and functional to all else.

    Listen to us, marketing people. If you don't, well, you don't want to deal with the wrath of both genders! ;-)

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  37. Filigree: "That's some tough love"

    What, who, ME? In a "mood"? Never!

    "The latest trend is for marketing geniuses to troll the internets. . ."

    Bastards are getting be like sand.

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  38. kfg. Thanks for the "tough love"! and Filligree I will check the bike forum. Thanks again. By the way there just has to be a mecca around the NW somewhere. Maybe Vancouver B.C or Victoria on the Island.

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  39. Threespeeder: If you had asked as recently as five years ago I might well have been able to give you rather more helpful answers, but there's this little thing called "Supply and Demand."

    Thimbles are now gone from the stocks of the usual suspects. New ones, such as are still available, will be found on an old shelf, in an old store room, in an old bike store, covered with old dust, somewhere in the midwest.

    The NW is where demand for such bikes is highest, so where availability is lowest and prices highest. In Iowa they're still just "that old bike in the barn."

    The thing to do is what old Citroen/Hupmobile afficionados do; find another unrestored one cheap somewhere and keep it as a parts donor; and you don't even have to keep it up on blocks on your front lawn. Break it down and put it in Rubbermaid under your bed/sofa.

    You can probably find one in Idaho, which is at least closer than Iowa.

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  40. Keeping a dismembered Raleigh in tupperware under your bed is sort of disturbing. Instead, I'd keep it in the freezer in the garage.

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  41. "Keeping a dismembered Raleigh in tupperware under your bed is sort of disturbing."

    "Society" just doesn't understand. Think inside the box.

    "Instead, I'd keep it in the freezer in the garage."

    Now THAT's creepy. Freezers are for vintage road bikes. How about a kimchi pot buried in the yard? Pickling is good for steel.

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  42. kfg; Thanks for the "bike under the bed idea" unfortuately that area is full but I should be able to hang a relic in the shop. I am always on the lookout for one.
    In the meantime I will use wine corks for my "thimbles" and cycle on my merry way! Walla Walla our nearest "big" town is a wine mecca after all!

    You might be interested to know that the Brooks B67 is beginning to feel really good now. I guess it was simply a matter of toughing it out! Thanks again!

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  43. Nice comparo, but I disagree with the statement suspension = less control. It's just he opposite; no one would drive a car w/o suspension. Whether you use your legs or spring in the saddle, or optimum tire pressure, the goal is to keep the tires glued to the road.
    You may also have lighter tires with less rolling resistance and greater inertia to account for the greater speed on the Raleigh.

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  44. While we talk about the horse then saddle also comes in an important role.There are many products of different brands in the market.western show saddle is a very good saddle.

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  45. I agree with your comments, saddle choice is very dependent on riding style and position.
    I tried to come to terms with a Brooks Professional for YEARS before giving up on it.
    I've got a B66 and a B72 on two of my bicycles and love them.

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  46. Thank you for posting that article. I can share my experience with B67. After 2 years riding on it I can not find right position. Although on shorter rides it feels OK, on longer rides I have problems with my soft parts. The rear part of saddle gradualy got the shape of my posterior, but the hard front part of the saddle is now to high, and I cannot do anything to get it right. So I think I will drop Brooks for now and try something else.

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  47. Thanks for a great article. Unfortunately, it doesn't solve my dilemma of which model to choose were I to switch to a Brooks. I agree with your comments concerning the B17 being right for my type of riding -- riding a road bike but not racing -- but someone else commented that the Swallow was fine for him. Compounding that is that you are saying the Swallow is too narrow for the non-aggressive riding that I do, but it is still wider than the Selle Italia SLR that I am currently using and am content with. So....I think I will go with the Swallow when the time comes to buy a new saddle. I think. Or the B17? Ah, who knows?

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  48. If you are satisfied with the narrow Selle Italia, Swallow should be right for you. I myself consider to cut my B67 to look more like the Swallow since I also have problems with tigh chafing.

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  49. Hi I'm enjoying your Blog immensely
    I've had a number of different Brooks over the years on different bikes, wide, narrow, sprung and unsprung. Saying that roadies hardly touch the saddle is a bit of an exaggeration . A good cycling bike position should always aim to balance the weight between the contact points, the hands, bottom and less so the feet.
    The second thing I'd like to say is that the narrowness of the saddle depends on how far far forward you have to lean to reach the handlebars as well the steepness of the seat tube. Here a narrow saddle might stop your inner thigh chaffing on the the saddle edge. This is where other Brooks saddles can be really painful. I'd venture to say the equator line of your saddle being level with the bars is the limit for say a B17 (above or level) or a Team Pro (below).
    To me springs only seem to make sense if you're putting a lot of weight on them i.e. to really get them moving. Otherwise its better to seek the comfort in the leather which softens and adapts to your anatomy over time. Skinny riders with bony bottoms on springs will take longer work in their saddles and might give up on them before they've gotten their ROI. Being one of these rider myself I found the sprung saddle inclined to spring back rather than adsorb the bounce. I've never had a really fancy sprung saddle with the shock absorber though. I'll have to build a cruiser to warrant one of those.

    Keep up the good blogging
    PB

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  50. Good stuff!

    I've been riding a B17 Imperial for a few thousand km now. It's outrageously comfortable and I don't get any discomfort at all. That's just one person's experience.

    The other advantage of the Imperial model is that it breaks more quickly than other models, although my concern is that it will shorten the life of the saddle. Only time will reveal if this is the case.

    I would like to try other versions of the B17 but I can't really afford to. I have to say that the special models look so much nicer though.

    My girlfriend is riding a Selle An-Atomica. She swears by it.

    www.couchonwheels.com

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  51. thank you so much. I just ordered the Flyer Select which I rode across the Country last year but gave the bike and saddle to my mom. So when I got this one today in the post I saw it was an "S" model. It seems to make sense for my big bottom build to have the "S" version but really was still on the fence about it until I read your blog. Now I am going to stay with what I ordered and not call them about the error in what I ordered... Thanks BTW if you want to see the blog from my Ride Across America check it out at: christopherlangham.blogspot.com

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  52. Thank you for the informative post! I just purchased my first Brooks saddle and am glad to have found this, only wish I'd seen it a little sooner!

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  53. Thank you for writing this very useful article on Brooks saddle. I use B17 and B67 and like both of them very much. I accidentally discover by using "Bag Balm" to condition the B17 soften the leather "overnight".
    Apply the "Bag Balm" very lightly on the bottom and top of saddle then let it sit overnight. wipe off any excess oil and took it for a ride for couple of times. The Bag Balm soften the leather so much I had to crank two turns on the under-nut to tighten the leather. Now it supper comfortable!
    Bag balm is perfect for this job, but don't let it stay on it for too long, try over night first, if not soften enough for you try little longer but make sure you wipe the excess off.
    My B67 don't need conditioning it felt great on its first ride.
    I hope this help!

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  54. That is very interesting the way you describe the different types of Brooks Saddle - I have just got the "Brompton" mens B17 Special saddle and it seems pretty good after the standard synthetic Brompton saddle. Those sprung saddles certainly look quite comfortable and I have seen them used on Bromptons.

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  55. For years I rode a road bike (Specialized Roubaix alu) and could never really get comfortable on the stock saddle. Last year I bought a slightly used Salsa Vaya whose owner had installed a basic B17. I was curious about the brooks, but anticipated a long, painful break-in period based on the stuff I had read.

    The general wisdom was that leather saddles promise eventual bliss, but you've got to pay the piper by enduring several hundred miles of torture before the bliss kicks in. You can imagine how happy I was to find that the Brooks was exquisitely comfortable from my first ride. I always thought I was cursed with being too sensitive in the you-know-where, but now I know that even a sore posterior can find relief! Obviously, not everyone finds a brooks comfy from the get-go, but despite the saddle feeling quite firm to the touch, it really does give a very comfortable ride.

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