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Which Brooks saddle?

crakercraker Posts: 1,739
edited January 2015 in Road buying advice
Have a hankering for a classic looking saddle to go on my Raleigh.

The bike's my main commuter - 30 miles a day tops, I'm not even sure a day to day pummeling is what I'd want for an expensive saddle. I wouldn't mind something with stainless construction so that it still looks the d's b's in 10 years time, can't see anything on Brook's website? Not going to cough up for titianium either.

I have spotted that Rose is offering B17s at nearly half the price of Wiggle. I suppose they can ship back to the UK?








  • mercia_manmercia_man Posts: 1,431
    The two Brooks saddles which have really stood the test of time and have easily proven the most popular over the years are the B17 and Pro. They seem to suit more people than the more niche models Swallow, Swift, Colt etc. B17 in standard width is probably a good bet for commuting with a slightly more upright position. The Pro is slightly narrower for a bit more sporty riding position.

    Othe classic looking leather saddles to consider are Spa Cycles own brand ones (much cheaper than Brooks but very similar in appearance) and the high quality but expensive Gilles Berthoud (also from Spa).
  • I've had a few.
    Would not recommend the swallow, it did sag very early on and became like a hammock. The Team PRO served me well for many years, for the money it was an exceptional buy. I also have a near new Swift in the colour you like, which is a good saddle and I am going to part with, if you are interested. It's a shorter saddle than the swallow but still pleasing to the eye and looks good and more modern than the B17 and team PRO.
    The B17 is a classic design but I have never owned one.

    The new rubber one (Cambium) is not a leather saddle, so different concept altogether...
    left the forum March 2023
  • Saddles are really personal things but I've got a Cambium C17 and it's a lovely saddle, it's not supposed to sag or change shape which is true so far in my case.
  • ddraverddraver Posts: 26,248
    The woman in the Brooks shop said that you have to take a lot of care of the leather saddles in the wet and it can ruin them. If, like I was, you talking about a commuter that gets used in all weathers and left outside pubs etc then I'd go for a Cambium

    Big fan of mine, but I ve never had a leather one to compare it too

    That said they re a feature on posh commuters over here and they tend to get abused so...?
    We're in danger of confusing passion with incompetence
    - @ddraver
  • keef66keef66 Posts: 13,123
    On my wet weather bike I have the B17 Special in honey. Love the big hand beaten copper rivets and copper plated rails. Doesn't really get very wet in the rain cos I'm sitting on it and I have proper mudguards. My experience has been that of perfect comfort from the moment I fitted it; that may be helped by the fact that I don't have a large drop from saddle to bars, so my posture is slightly more upright than some.

    Your behind may react differently though
  • snipsnapsnipsnap Posts: 259
    I went for a swift, for looks mainly, but also as i felt the B17 would be a bit too wide. Saddle is also used on my commuter, so sees all weathers. I would def recommend full mudguards, otherwise the underside of the saddle gets a soaking and that's bad.

    although mine looks lovely, i've never really been happy with the feel of it. in my opinion, it needs the position to be totally spot on to fit. and I've really struggled with this. some folk say that it needs to be slightly tipped up (ouch), that the saddle needs to be a bit further back (ouch from the front of saddle where the steel frame is), the saddle needs to be a bit higher than normal (ouch again as the saddle frame tends to be felt through your shorts and pad).

    I'm not trying to put you off, Brooks saddles are a wonderful looking thing on a bike, i just wanted to share my experiences of them with you first. If i was buying again, I'd probably go with a Team Pro as the seem to be the best regarded, and the Swift/Swallow are more at the niche end of their product range. BUT if i was buying again, would I be buying a Brooks - I'm really not sure about my answer to that question.
  • I have used Brooks saddles for over 40 years and currently have three. However, I would be very wary of buying another as the quality seems to have really gone downhill in the last few years, especially with regards the quality of the leather. I have a 'Pro' from about 5 years ago which is still fine, but the one I bought 2 years ago has leather which is about half as thick, thinner in fact than the 'B17' which I also have. Also, the nose bolt bent despite only being screwed out about 2 turns and had to be replaced.

    The last leather saddle I bought was a Gilles Berthoud and not only is the quality in a different league to a modern Brooks (the leather is about twice as thick to start with) it is more comfortable than any Brooks saddle I have ever had, maintaining a much flatter top devoid of the 'sagging' that seems to plague many Brooks saddles.
    "an original thinker… the intellectual heir of Galileo and Einstein… suspicious of orthodoxy - any orthodoxy… He relishes all forms of ontological argument": jane90.
  • crakercraker Posts: 1,739
    Gilles Berthoud and not only is the quality in a different league to a modern Brooks ...
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    Ouch. Still ...
  • mercia_manmercia_man Posts: 1,431
    Snipsnap's problems with the Swift are typical of someone who bought too narrow a Brooks saddle. They need to be slightly wider than you would normally buy because otherwise your sit bones are on the cantle plate - the metal support which holds the leather in place. Your sit bones need to be slightly inboard of the plate so that your weight is taken by the leather which moulds to your personal shape. I've met several riders over the years who have suffered in this way from Swifts and B17 narrow saddles.

    I've had my B17 standard titanium for about 10 years on my tourer. It felt comfy enough straight away. The big test was avoiding pressure points and saddle sores on multi-day tours. Nothing I had previously tried came close to the B17. An advantage it has over cutaway saddles like the Swallow and Swift that it has deep sides which help to stop sagging. The Pro also has deep sides but a slightly narrower and more rounded shape than the largely flat B17. But saddle preferences are so personal, I would hesitate to recommend one over another. However, the overwhelming popularity of B17 or Pro saddles with long distance tourers and audax riders would suggest they are a good place to start.

    If I was buying another leather saddle, I agree with BenderRodriguez that the Gilles Berthoud models look fantastic. One of the members of my weekend cycling group recently got one to replace a Brooks and loves it. It looks real quality.
  • keef66keef66 Posts: 13,123
    If you want to try a thick leather saddle without the eye-watering price tag, have a look at Spa Cycles own brand ones. I have their Aire on the summer bike and also find it pretty comfortable.
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