Tuesday, December 14, 2010

The Skinny on Narrow Brooks Saddles?

I did not think this would happen to me in a million years, but the Brooks B17 saddle that is so blissfully comfortable on my touring bike - is now apparently too wide for me on my fixed gear roadbike. I kept lowering the handlebars on that bike (isn't it funny how our ideas of "what feels comfortable" can change?), until they've become considerably lower than the saddle. As a result, parts of my inner/rear thighs have begun to press into the hard edges of the saddle uncomfortably as I pedal. This never used to happen when the handlebars were up higher, so "saddle too wide" seems like a reasonable diagnosis.  Just when I thought that the B17 was my "perfect" default saddle for roadbikes, I guess I am proven wrong. 

I am completely lost when it comes to choosing a narrow saddle, and the Brooks classification system is not helpful. Even examining them all side by side (at Harris Cyclery) was more confusing than informative. Left to right, these are: the Swift, the Pro, the Colt, and the Swallow. I imagine the box of kleenex on the left is for clean-up, lest customers drool on the saddles. Or cry about not being able to afford them.

More frustrating still, is the fact that, once you get into the narrower-than-B17 territory, nobody seems to agree about what's comfortable. Some say that they ride the Brooks Pro exclusively and love it. Others say that the Brooks Pro is "unrideable". Reviews of the Swift and the Swallow are equally mixed. From what I read, I am beginning to think that as a lighter cyclist (125lb) I may find it especially difficult to deal with these saddles, as they tend to be harder to break in.

One model I am considering is the new (re-released) Colt. The width is similar to the Pro, but the nose is pointed down, like on these 80s racing saddles. I have tried a couple of the old vinyl and foam saddles in that style, and found their shape surprisingly comfortable (though not the material they are made of). I am not sure what the actual purpose of the downpointed nose is, but it sure is female-anatomy-friendly, which is why I am considering it. The Brooks Colt has been out for a few months, but I have not found any substantial reviews of it. The hard-as-a-rock surface does give me pause.

While Brooks saddles are fantastic when you find the right one, they are just too expensive for me to experiment with. I am open to other brands as well, though in my experience I don't do well with anything other than suspended leather. Maybe some of the imitation-Brooks that people consider "flimsy" might actually work for me, since they break in faster. Any suggestions - keeping my weight in mind - would be much appreciated.

56 comments:

  1. I love my very used Brooks Pro. It's not in great shape, with some cracked leather, and bit of stretching at the rivets, but it's held up well over a season on my Brompton. And the prices on used and abused Brooks saddles are low(er) enough to take a chance, and very nice to skip the breaking in period. That Colt is cute though. Definitely get a big hammered rivet model, for looks and comfort.

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  2. I know it may be uncouth to say this on your blog... but technology has done wonders for saddles -- and I swear by my Specialized BodyGeometry Alias 143 (they are size specific) on my road-bike.

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  3. Hi
    I am a much larger rider than you and with larger inner quads from years of lifting.. I had the same issue of my inner quads rubbing..

    so I took an olds B17 and cut it down to look like a swallow..

    this is not my site but will give you an idea of what I did and what is involved..

    http://forums.roadbikereview.com/showthread.php?t=129972

    Tim

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  4. Julian - Why would a big-riveted model be more comfortable?..

    Astroluc - Not uncouth, I am just seriously skeptical : )

    Tim - Those butchered pictures look great, but I am sharing this saddle between several bikes. Also: unless I am mis-remembering, the sides are not the only difference between the B17 and the Swallow, are they? I am pretty sure the B17 is structurally wider as well. I can't tell whether my legs rub just the sides, or the structure itself.

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  5. Peppy (the leather-smithing cat)December 14, 2010 at 12:50 AM

    I think lacing a 17 would work tons better than switching to the narrow saddles. You'll have to pay for that thigh clearances with added butthurt. :)

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  6. You might like to consider a Velo Orange leather saddle however they don't seem much cheaper than the Brooks...

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  7. "Gyes" is the Taiwanese OEM for the VO-branded saddles, you can buy them direct on eBay for as little as $60. They're not just cheap knockoffs — they fixed a couple of glaring flaws in the original design that Brooks refuses to change.

    Velo-Orange's aspirations to product development are mostly BS, the same saddles were also sold here under the name 'Cardiff' by Merry Sales / SOMA before VO even got their hands on them.

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  8. I found this exact same thing happening to me! I even took the xacto to my poor B-17, which I don't recommend doing. The saddle was fine, but the chafe didn't stop! I ended up getting a B-17 Narrow which I LOVE. I was afraid to go smaller, because I'm only 110 lbs and thought, like you, that the break in would be difficult. I'm also fairly curvy in the hips. But there is no chafe with my B-17 N, and my fixie bars are significantly lower than my saddle. The old B-17 sits on my road bike, where the bars are even with the saddle.

    The Selle Italia Turbo is another comfy classic saddle for a more aggressive bike, but the B-17N has really been great for me, definitely my favorite.

    PS, I love your blog :)

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  9. I like my vintage Selle Italia Turbo more than any other saddle, including my vintage Brooks. It's so comfy, I don't even know it's there. Got it for FREE from one of the nice guys on Bike Forums in exchange for my horribly uncomfy original Avocet.

    I just bought a Selle Italia Turbo 1980 from Wiggle in the UK. Backordered until the end of the month, they tell me, but it is real leather (unlike the reissued Turbo standard version) and comes in brown. We'll see, if it ever gets here! But I'm very excited. At $60, with free shipping to the US if paired with something that puts the order over $80 total, it's a steal compared to the Brooks, and very appropriate on a steel bike.

    Check out the reviews: I'm not the only one who finds these saddles very, very comfy. I'm just a bit heavier than you, Veloria, and probably about the same height. The shorter nose of these is great, and I'm on a vintage racing bike whose handlebars are currently lower than the saddle. Not loving the bar position, but zero complaints about the saddle!

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  10. Turbo or a Rolls. No, they're not suspended leather. Yes, they are very comfy on a road bike with bars below saddle hight, even by just a little.

    It's not for nothing that your frame will probably say, "Well, hello old friend," to either of these.

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  11. My wife is about 116 pounds and she likes her men's Brooks Pro very much. She also dislikes my B17 from whenever she has tried it. Narow is better for her.

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  12. Anon 1:57 - Thanks for letting me know that the B17 Narrow worked for you; that's the one model I did not have a look at.

    boomerchop - Aha, so there goes my weight theory! Did it take her a while to break it in?

    snarkypup & kfg - I am seriously considering Turbo. kfg, is there a particular model you'd recommend for the vintage ones?

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  13. Thanks to Fred for the info on Gyes. I love my B-17 but the leather tool bag they offer is very tempting.

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  14. Have you thought about experimenting with an already broken in saddle or two? I saw a 70's pro on C-list in very good shape. I'm in Columbus (not a vintage bike haven)- I bet you would have access to a bunch in Boston.

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  15. I have Brooks or other suspended leather saddles on all my bikes. I have a Brooks team pro S that I bought in 1985 for a touring bike, but was unable to break it in sufficiently at the time, and put it away for all these years. Three years ago, I pulled it out and put it on my full suspension MTB, after a Sheldon Brown treatment. It is very comfortable, as hard as it is, which is good because I don't think it will ever take an imprint or break in at all, though it is softer and more flexible. I think the S version has less suspension and is tighter, so don't get an S if you are thinking of a Pro model. I am heavier than you and have many, many miles on that saddle now and it doesn't look at all like a saddle that has been broken in. On my road bike I dearly love my SelleAn-Atomica, more than any other saddle, EVER. I also have a Persons on my commuter, breaks in fast, and a couple of Champion flyers on other bikes. The same saddle with a smallish change of position on a bike is a completely different experience, you are certainly right in that. Apologies for the long rambling. If you are feeling adventurous, though the appearance is not the gorgeous Brooks look, the Selle An-Atomica is the most fabulous riding experience ever. Try one, I highly recommend it.

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    Replies
    1. I am a 125lb female who just returned a selle an-atomica seat. The seat itself was comfortable but I had to return it because of rubbing of the inner thighs on the hard edge of the seat. I would not recommend this seat for anyone with the inner thigh rub issue.

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  16. i have brooks pros on both of my road bikes with low-positioned drop bars (and nearly identical riding positions), and i swear by them. i have ridden both bikes on 50+ mile rides, and haven't experience any discomfort or rubbing with either saddle after those rides. interestingly, one saddle's leather is very hard, while the other is very soft (both were purchased used, but one must have been treated very often to retain its suppleness). yet despite the differences in pliability, both are equally comfortable.

    you can find brooks pros new for under $100.

    the saddle you linked to on the bianchi looks identical to the selle italia suede racing saddle that came on my trek. i found it very uncomfortable compared to the brooks pro.

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  17. another thing about brooks and buying new versus used: the whole thing about a brooks saddle not being suitable for anyone other than the "original" owner because it has broken in to the shape of that owner's butt is myth: the leather can be easily re-shaped by wetting it. water temporarily softens the fibers (for many reasons but for simplicity's sake let's say for the same reason that water causes hair to lose its shape-- both leather and hair are primarily composed of protein fibers). you can just soak the saddle in warm water, reinstall it on the bike and go for a ride. the saddle is now re-broken in to the shape of your butt. when it dries, the leather will re-harden, locking in its new shape. make sure you then let the saddle thoroughly dry and then treat it.

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  18. Obviously saddle choice is highly personal and somewhat unpredictable from person to person. However, if you do decide to go the route of a non-suspended saddle, you might check out the Selle San Marco Regal (image at http://www.amazon.com/Selle-San-Marco-Regal-Brown/dp/B001PRX91Y). It is an older model that is not so garish looking. Many "serious" women riders also find it comfortable, in that it is not a full-on wide woman's saddle, but does have a slightly wider base than many racing saddles, providing better support for a wider pelvis.

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  19. I like the B17 narrow on my fixed-gear and road bikes. It's actually a bit narrower than the Pro, but has the same flat shape as the B17. The Pro has a more or less convex seating area.

    Check eBay or Wallingford for slightly used saddles.

    BTW: I used to ride the Turbo when I was racing and training heavily. The vintage models had nice leather, relatively firm padding and a strong nylon base. If I were going to ride a non-suspended leather saddle, I'd want an '80's Turbo.

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  20. I agree with Anon that the B17-N is probably the answer, and as an Englishman I can't possibly recommend any other brand. Not sure what the glaring flaws of design Fred refers to are, perhaps the shorter rails, but its only 10mm diff, no biggie. If the B17-N doesn't work out you could prob sell it for 80%ish of purchase price. You could then try the next narrower saddle which would be a pro or a colt, and if that doesnt work out, 80%, try the Swift etc etc....On the other hand, and i realise the double standard here, I very much do NOT recommend buying a second hand brooks or similar saddle, at least not sight unseen anyway. A lot of people use far too much proofide, or not enough, or over tighten the tensioning bolt, or let the saddle get soaking wet underneath, and you never quite know what you are buying into until its too late in my experience anyway. Plus a broken-in saddle will have the impression of someone else's sitbones which won't match yours and that can be very uncomfortable.
    Hmmm - Maybe Brooks would like you to review the various models on this blog and you could discover your preference that way? or is that naughty?

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  21. while i was posting before, Somervillain's post about soaking of saddles came up. with all respect to Somevillain's encyclopaedic knowledge as evinced on his blog, the idea of soaking saddles goes against everything i have experienced or been advised of. If it does work I would be very keen to know, does Somervillain have personal experience of this?
    as far as Turbo and Rolls saddles go, I agree they are adequate but as soon as the thin leather covering gets even the tiniest tear the saddle basically disintegrates pretty quickly, and also the foam detaches from the plastic base very easily, and when the foam gets wet it takes forever to dry out, hence I stopped using this type of saddle and now only use Brooks.

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  22. Another recommendation for the Selle San Marco Regal. I originally took the one from my husband's old Italian racing bike when he got a new saddle, only intending to use it until I got around to buying a Brooks. Over a year later I've still got it on, and am not planning to replace it.

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  23. "is there a particular model you'd recommend for the vintage ones?"

    Black, chrome and heavy. :)

    The ones not pushed to the weight weenies had thicker leather and sturdy rails. Longer wear and no risk of cracking a rail.

    They came with either smooth leather or textured. Some people like a saddle they can slide around on, some people like a bit of stiction. A used one will be smoothish either way. Ben's has textured NOS, but a good deal of the price (which is up there) is for the box.

    Erik is right about the Regal as well. Nicely shaped narrow nose, but a broadish, flatish tail. The reissues look about as nice as the old ones, which I can't say about the plastic cover Turbos.

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  24. Velouria, I submit to you that it's not the saddle that changed it's you who have changed. As we all know all Brooks are leather suspension saddled so they will change with us as we age , gain/loose, weight, or otherwise suffer the normal body changes that happen to all of us.

    These changes become apparent when we change anything about the saddle or it's mount which ,I believe , has happened to you. Riding a fixed gear is a different style/posture than riding a bike with gears so the Brooks you own isn't liking these changes.

    My suggestion is to remount the Brooks on the bike is was broken in on and (while you're wear shorts) have hubby or a close girl friend take a good look at how your fanny & legs contact the Brooks , noting all observations, then do the same thing on the fixed gear. After you compare observations you will have some info to go on as to what your body finds comfortable to adapt to each bike.

    Best,
    Walt D

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  25. One of my bikes came with an old Brooks B15 on it which I believe is the slightly cheaper, thinner model of the B17 and I have to say I love it--think it's probably the most comfortable of my saddles. It seems slightly less rigid than the other saddles I have, though again, it is old and slightly crocodiled. I use it on an upright bike, not a road bike, but I'm guessing it'd work for drop-bar riding as well. Can you get a vintage one to "experiment" with?

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  26. I've always found saddles are a very personal choice. It's best to find one that suits your riding style, position and anatomy. I've got a big rump (and a moderately wide pelvis for a guy), and find saddles with a wider rear area most comfortable.

    Maybe you could try out some of the cheap OEM saddles that many shops sell for $10 to find what shape you like, then get a nicer saddle once that is figured out.

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  27. I've got an old, brown Turbo on my tandem that I despise. I can mail it to you if you want it, but it would probably be easier to find an owner of one in your area that would let you borrow it for a test. There is some surface rust on the rails and the leather is pretty aged-looking, though intact. You could try it and, if you like it, keep it; otherwise I'd like it back because, as much as I dislike it for long distances, I don't have another saddle to use.

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  28. samuel chilbolton said, "with all respect to Somevillain's encyclopaedic knowledge as evinced on his blog, the idea of soaking saddles goes against everything i have experienced or been advised of. If it does work I would be very keen to know, does Somervillain have personal experience of this?"

    samuel, i used this technique on an old brooks pro that i found at a swap meet. the leather was stiff as a board and mis-shapen. one side of the leather top was higher than the other, and there was an odd indentation on one side of the leather. i wasn't sure if it had been stored against something for many years which distorted its shape, but that was the impression i got. at first, i tried riding it as-is, but after a few months the shape didn't change (it felt fine despite the appearance). i had read that soaking it would soften it and all it to be reshaped, so i took a gamble and did just that. in fact, i used HOT water! as the moisture dried out, the leather appeared to "tighten" up, as if shrinking. this took about two days. during the second day, while it was still a little damp and still pliable, i rode it around for a few hours. by the end of the ride, the shape had been restored, and perhaps even "tailored" to my anatomy. i didn't see any sit-bone divots from either the previous owner or myself, but looking at the saddle it was obvious that the original shape alterations had been "erased". the leather is still rather hard, and no different in appearance or stiffness than before. i'm guessing it still has decades of life left, provided i keep it treated (as i do all my saddles).

    many people may warn against getting leather wet, and there may be some truth to water eventually ruining leather. but in my experience, doing this once or twice to a thick slab of leather is not going to do any significant harm. people DO ride in the rain, and saddles DO get wet. that doesn't mean that saddles are instantly ruined and need replacement.

    have you ever used a chamois to dry a car? i've used chamoises countless times and it has taken them dozens of wet/dry cycles to begin to weaken and tear... and they are about 1/10th the thickness of a saddle.

    sure, it goes against convention, but then again, so does a lot of what i do, and it still works :-).

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  29. thanks Somervillain, that broadens the possibilities of leather saddle making-do immensely, perhaps I'll try it one day :O)

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  30. Anatomy mode on for a second, because I went through a similar process of trying to find the Brooks saddle that worked for me.

    1) To avoid uncomfortable pressure on your butt on long rides, you want your weight supported by the two low projection points on your pelvis called ischial tuberosities (often abbreviated "sit bones").

    2) Each persons "sit bone"s are different distances apart. Measure the distance between your own by making a stack of a dozen paper towels or so, with the bottom layers dry, and the top layers slightly damp. Place the flat stack of paper towels on a low table, counter, or stool. Sit down on the stack, supporting your weight on your sit bones in a a position similar to sitting on a bike. The moisture from the upper towels will be pressed by your weight into the stack, leaving two moist circles about the size of quarters that represent the position of your sit bones in the lower towels of the stack. Circle those two quarter-sized impressions with a magic marker to make a permanent record of the distance between your sit bones.

    3) Now you can compare the paper towel measurements to the different Brooks saddles models on your own bikes or available on stores. When I put my own paper towel on top of a Brooks B17, I found that my "sit bones" were located completely inside the leather hammock region of the saddle, INSIDE the frame and rivets. In contrast, when I tried the same thing with a Brooks Professional, I found that my sit bones were located over the metal frame support, still on top of the leather surface, but so close to the edges that my weight was really resting on the rear rivet support frame, not on the suspended part of the leather.

    This helped explained my own experience with Brooks saddles. I love B17 models, and ride comfortably with both a B17 and a Champion flyer (B17 with springs). In contrast, although I tried to ride a Brooks Professional model for six months or so on a racing bike, the saddle was always uncomfortable and could never really break in.

    Given that the listed width of a B17 is 170 mm , and a Professional is 160 mm, there are a bunch of even narrower Brooks models that would never work for my sit bones, including the B17 narrow (150mm), and the Swallow and Swift ( 155 mm or less). The Colt might be a possibility (167 mm, almost as wide as a B17). In your situation, where you know a B17 is wide enough for your sit bones, but you are having problems with thigh contact when riding in a less upright riding position, I would suggest looking at the Brooks Team Professional S woman's version (same 170 mm width as B17, but narrower, shorter nose that may help alleviate thigh contact).

    More useful discussion here: http://www.bikeforums.net/archive/index.php/t-639927.html

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  31. First, thanks for the blog from a 6 month lurker. You produce some of my favorite bike porn, even though I usually stick to road bikes.

    Second, I'd like to put in another vote for checking out the Selle San Marco Regal . I just got a steal on a brand new-looking used Regal Titanium and put it on my fixed conversion. I only put the bike together on Saturday, but I'm pretty sure already that it's going to be a keeper.

    Two caveats: I'm not female; and I've never owned a Brooks. Still, I think the saddle is at least worth checking out.

    Thanks again for the blog.

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  32. A bicycle is a personal machine. I believe it evolves and changes as you do. Your proficiency increases, riding style adapts and changes and your needs change. A good bicycle has the ability to be modified to keep up with your changes.
    I have been on the DL1 for ten years and it has seen many adjustments in that time.

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  33. Alas, saddles, just like people's behinds, are all very individual things. Just because someone (who you may think is similar to you in shape) loves a particular saddle, has no bearing on it being suitable for you. This unfortunately renders asking other people's advice on saddles almost useless. I'm afraid you're stuck with trial and error for the most part although looking for saddles with similar shapes and widths to ones you know you like may help. I do question whether the B-17 is really too narrow for you though. I'd take a look at lacing the saddle skirts in a bit or perhaps adjusting the nose down a bit?
    Good luck!

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  34. I have a B17N and, while I like the shape, the stupid thing is ROCK HARD. To the point where after 40 miles, I nearly had to fall off the bike to get off it. Now, I weigh a good 100 lbs more than you, and so feel that your problem might be exacerbated by your weight (or lack thereof ;) ), but it's another option. I soaked it in water before that ride, and it didn't do anything at all. I plan on doing the Neatsfoot soak this spring once it gets warm enough to ride a soggy saddle. I'll let you know what's what after I do that.

    I also have a NOS pre-softened Professional (I'm guessing from the 80's), and while it seems fairly soft and more or less comfortable, without a small chamois (padded undies), it isn't very comfortable, but again, I've only got about 50 miles on it.

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  35. How about a Berthoud? They're so beautiful.

    Also, if a particular model of Brooks does not suit your fanny (I pun!) ...

    they're quite easily resold.

    Questions of "comfort" between models are, in my opinion, best answered by field trials.

    I have found the Flyer, the Swallow, the B72 and a Team Pro comfortable - all on different bikes and in different positions.

    To each, their own!

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  36. Several others have suggested the B-17N, and that was what I thought of first when I read your post. My dad, who rode only teeny meeny weight weeny saddles before I converted him, is very happy with a B17N Imperial on his main road bike. I don't think it sounds like you need the cutout, but the shape is the same.

    I also wanted to chime in on the Colt... I went ahead and bought one for my forthcoming Hillborne, and I don't think it's what you're looking for on this bike. It's almost identical in shape to the vintage Avocet touring saddle that was on my Trek when I bought it and it's not particularly narrow. I will try to post a review about it at some point though, since you are right about there being a minimal amount of information on the ride out there.

    Won't Harris let you test ride some saddles on your bike? They do this at my adopted lbs, bicycle revolutions.

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  37. I've used a Selle San Marco Concour on my road bikes for many years, with much happiness. Narrow, minimal and light. Unfortunately the newer versions are plastered with hideous graphics. Might try a B17N when its time to replace.

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  38. I am quite the fan of the B17. I can't ride a Team Pro w/out padded bike shorts. Just doesn't work for me. But a Swift was amazingly comfortable. I believe it's about 20mm narrower than the B17, but has a flatish top, as opposed to the Team Pro which has a rounded cross section.

    A great option is Wallingford Bike. They have a fantastic return policy on saddles if it doesn't work out. They also re-sell the used/returned saddles at discount. No affiliation with them.

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  39. You might want to try a VO saddle. This Taiwan-made leather saddle is comparable in quality to Brooks. I like the VO-8 on my Virtue bike. It can be obtained from Velo Orange.

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  40. We have an Brooks Pro lying around somewhere. You're welcome to borrow it and give it a try, if that helps you make your decision.

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  41. VO's are Gyes saddles modified to their specifications. Many things VO sells are already in production in Asia by various factories. It's just that VO place such large orders they can specify changes to the design, materials, and set quality control terms in their shipment acceptance. Remember that the company owner started out as an import/export lighting guy. He has lots of experience shopping around the world finding obscure stuff and having it made to be sold here.

    You'd be surprised how much domestic bicycle stuff started out as OEM Taiwanese brands, was found by a US company, negotiations started, and a version of the product was developed for domestic consumption. For example: pretty much the entire line of Planet Bike lights started from Taiwanese company that no one ever heard off being approached by Planet Bike and asked to use much brighter Korean LEDs in their housing designs along with a different circuit board.

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  42. it's interesting to hear how your thinking evolves as your riding experience changes -- to the point where you've decided you may have been 'wrong' and are now open to experimenting with new options . . . i've got a commuter bike with the handlebars much lower than the saddle and last winter i purchased a Brooks Pro. the saddle was surprisingly easy to break in, in fact it felt comfortable to me immediately and i absolutely love the level of comfort it provides. clearly, there is no 'insight' in this post other than to offer encouragement to give one a try. . . .maybe borrowing one for a week is possible? for that matter borrowing any of the other models. my LBS offers saddles to loan out so one can get a feel before purchasing. hope you find the perfect saddle and then provide more of your insightful perspective for us devoted readers ;-)

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  43. cyclotourist - I was just talking about Wallingford bikes. I have taken advantage of their saddle return policy once before and felt very guilty about it - despite their being okay with this practice. Not only guilty for returning the saddle, but guilty for not buying locally after browsing locally. I don't think Harris Cyclery (the only store near me to carry all the Brooks models) has a similar policy, and I don't want to take advantage of their being a sponsor to ask for special treatment. But I didn't realise that Wallingford sold used saddles; at least I don't see any online. I would definitely go for that option.

    Charlotte - Thanks, I'll get in touch!

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  44. "You'd be surprised how much domestic bicycle stuff started out as OEM Taiwanese brands"

    Pretty much all of it that didn't start out as OEM Mainland brands. You can buy much of it direct from Hong Kong for a fraction of the domestic price if you're willing to take that leap.

    American "manufacturers" are pretty much just trading companies these days.

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  45. My fallback position on saddle choice is always the same, Black Brookes Team Pro. I have to admit it's really because they look SO hardcore serious. It sorta trancends the application too. If it was marketed as a hat or some sort of self protection device I'd still just write the check and slip it in my coat poket or on my head. I just think that saddle looks like it's the perfect form for what it is. I have a B-17 special on my mountainbike and another on my upright 5spd. commuter and I really like them. I just wish they were Pro's. The last one I bought was about a year ago and shows absolutly no signs of "break-in". It could be described as "flinty". It's still comfy though. But if it were'nt I'd soak it in warm water like Somervillian and ride it hard for a while and when it dried I'd treat it with snowseal or proofhide and hope for the best.

    I hear some of my female friends talk about what they go through wearing shoes they are mad about that also happen to hurt their feet, I thought that was really just foolish till I remembered how irrational I am about my bike seats. I'm fortunate that I've never had too much difficulty coming to terms with whatever saddle I had to use(with a couple of exceptions, I was once loaned a saddle by a man that turned out to be Satan or one of his minions when my 10 year old Avocet broke 70 miles into a club century. Who lets the devil drive the sag-wagon I wanna know) but I get all co-dependant when it comes to those black beauties. If they crippled me and left me hobbling crossways I'd just blame it on myself.

    Spindizzy

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  46. Oh and another thing, Who buys a fake Asian Brooks? I buy lots of Asian stuff and prefer it in many cases, but a leather saddle? I want to know that the hunk of leather that I am slowly saturating with my DNA was pounded into shape in a filthy, dimly lit backroom behind a London cheese shop by a gnarled gnome of a man with 3 fingers on each hand that comes to work everyday reeking of Guiness and wearing the greasy tweed coat and hat left to him by the man he killed to get the job. What the hell are you people thinking! Do you not love freedom?!pant, pant...

    Spindizzy

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  47. I nosed around Wallbike's site trying to find the used saddle link, but came away empty. They used to have them on the site, then they had them on ebay, not sure what they're doing now.

    Loyalty to the LBS vs. an online retailer is a tough call. I think you could do an entire weeks worth of posting on that subject! With Wallbike though, you're not shopping by price, but by service (return/exchange policy). That confuses the issue even more!

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  48. I have two brooks finesse saddles the female fancy version of the team pro and I have not found them that difficult to break in. In fact they were comfortable from the get go, but I get a bit sore in the sitbones after longer rides. They are meant for racing so definitely not upright riding and my bikes are set upright which could be part of the problem. I know they supposedly have the hardest tops of the brooks saddles. I like the shape. I will have to look for the colt and drool on one.
    My husband had it in his head that most brooks saddles were too wide and he couldn't afford a swallow so got a special edition b17 sprinter which is based on a 1920's model and very very narrow. It was TOO NARROW for him and he couldn't ride it. He is very slim and vegan but refuses to accept he has wide man hips. So be careful and remember where your sit bones are when looking for the slimmer models.
    Wallbike sell their returned saddles on ebay. My husband and I have sold brooks saddles on ebay(craigslist never works for saddles) that we bought and did not like. People were more than happy to buy a mostly new saddle at a fair price. The wallbike ones are not that reasonable. I buy my saddles at a shop in Vancouver(dream cycle) that for some reason has awesome prices on Brooks.
    Heather

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  49. Heh heh, Bike snob is a demon...

    spindizzy

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  50. I've laced mine with two holes and a zip tie. No more chafing.

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  51. Sarah, the B15 often was original equipment on mid- to upper-middle-priced bikes like the Raleigh Competition and Schwinn Sports Tourer up to the early 1970's. It's, as you say, a B17 with thinner leather. As with the B17, a narrower version was made. I never owned one, but from what I've heard, they felt like a B17, but broke in--and broke down--more quickly.

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  52. Hi, I've an old Colt I got off Hilary Stone not on anything at the moment that I could send you to try if you like. Never been that crazy about the Colt, and I was going to chop this one for a build I'm doing on an old harry hall frame, but I could stick in the post to you instead if you like, and use a swift off another bike on the Hall. I'll not be back home until the 30th though, so it'd be after that.

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  53. Heather - I have a Finesse saddle and cannot ride it!

    bepoq - I would love it, but you leave no contact info!

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  54. hmmm... thought you would be able to get my email off the sign in, was disinclined to post it but:

    ...oh, actually, better idea - check the contact at my website benpower.info and drop me a line at the email link there.

    cheers,

    Ben

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