Brooks saddle, a newbie question.

General cycling advice ( NOT technical ! )
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Vetus Ossa
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Brooks saddle, a newbie question.

Postby Vetus Ossa » 13 May 2019, 9:13am

I fitted my new Brooks saddle, the one with the black rivets mentioned elsewhere here, and two things surprised me.
First, it was comfortable, I had expected a longish breaking in period though my test ride was only twenty miles.
And secondly it was very slippery.
I have tilted the nose up slightly to see if that helps, but won’t be able to try it out until tomorrow.
Is this normal for a new Brooks saddle, I have no experience with them.
I also thought they were supposed to be flat on the top, but mine slightly sags as can be seen in the picture below. I most definitely don’t want to tighten the adjuster, but should I?
Image

geocycle
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Re: Brooks saddle, a newbie question.

Postby geocycle » 13 May 2019, 9:32am

Many people find Brooks comfortable from the start, especially over short distances. I have used a Brooks for the past 15 years (50,000 miles) and find it like an armchair. I've given up on padded shorts. I recently bought a Spa Nidd (B17 clone) for my other bike and was surprised how comfortable it was from the off; the Brooks must have broken me in. However, after a few long rides of 50 miles+ on the Nidd I did get a bruising feeling and commuting back in on my old Brooks again feels wonderful! The Nidd is now beginning to shape itself and hopefully will get as comfortable as the Brooks.

Leather saddles are slippy, especially at first and the angle is quite important. I set mine flat or v slightly raised at the nose. I've only adjusted the nose bolt once in 15 years, so go steady with it. A slight hammock shape is normal, just try and avoid excessive sagging which usually follows prolonged exposure to rain. Mine has spent much of its life in a damp shed so has also avoided being 'fast dried' by heating.

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Mick F
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Re: Brooks saddle, a newbie question.

Postby Mick F » 13 May 2019, 9:50am

Both my Brooks Team Pros are hard as nails and were comfy from Day One.
I like the slipperiness of them as I can shift my weight easily and get on and off easily too.

Excellent saddles, and if I needed another saddle, it would be a Team Pro. When I first bought my Moulton, I removed the existing saddle before I even sat on it, and fitted a Team Pro. Perfect! :D
Mick F. Cornwall

thirdcrank
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Re: Brooks saddle, a newbie question.

Postby thirdcrank » 13 May 2019, 9:59am

I'd say that if you are comfy, stick with it. My experience with new Brooks saddles isn't recent, but in the past they have varied from rock hard to somewhat softer. The most important thing is to be scrupulous about keeping it dry. I don't know if they still sell waterproof saddle covers but a shower cap will do the job just as well. Second best if you do get one wet is to be scrupulous about letting it dry before riding on it. Riding without mudguards in the rain is bad for a leather saddle. You can protect it a bit by treating the underneath with Proofide.

Otherwise, there have been a lot of threads on the subject, although if you search on Brooks, make sure you exclude Crank, or you will get a lot of hits dealing with pedestrian crossings and some dodgy legal advice. :wink:

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mjr
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Re: Brooks saddle, a newbie question.

Postby mjr » 13 May 2019, 10:53am

geocycle wrote:A slight hammock shape is normal, just try and avoid excessive sagging which usually follows prolonged exposure to rain.

In fact, the "slight hammock shape" where a slight u front-to-back meets a slight n side-to-side is known as a saddle surface! https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Saddle_surface

Don't worry about it unless it starts to sag too much.
MJR, mostly pedalling 3-speed roadsters. KL+West Norfolk BUG incl social easy rides http://www.klwnbug.co.uk
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horizon
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Re: Brooks saddle, a newbie question.

Postby horizon » 13 May 2019, 11:00am

Vetus Ossa wrote: I had expected a longish breaking in period though my test ride was only twenty miles.


Yes, 20 miles isn't long but probably long enough which is why it was still comfortable. I would do as many short rides as you can (10 - 20 miles) before assuming that it will be fine after say 40 - 50 miles. Eventually of course it should be all right for almost any distance.
Let's just get Brexit done so that we can get on with the important job of re-joining the EU!

slowster
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Re: Brooks saddle, a newbie question.

Postby slowster » 13 May 2019, 11:35am

After a ride wearing old style acrylic cycling tights, the surface of my B17 would be very shiny. However, the shine would disappear after a ride wearing padded lycra shorts and the saddle surface would instead have a dull appearance, which I suppose would also be less slippery.

I suspect that the slipperiness will compound the impact of a poor bike fit. If a rider is well balanced on the saddle they will tend to stay in that position without any effort. If their saddle is too far forward they will tend to slide to the back of the saddle, and vice versa. In contrast the greater friction provided by the surface of most padded saddles - even those with a leather covering - probably makes it more possible with them to ride in a less than optimal position without realising it.

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Re: Brooks saddle, a newbie question.

Postby Brucey » 13 May 2019, 12:20pm

slowster wrote:…. If their saddle is too far forward they will tend to slide to the back of the saddle, and vice versa....


IME it doesn't always work like that.

cheers
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andrew_s
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Re: Brooks saddle, a newbie question.

Postby andrew_s » 13 May 2019, 12:31pm

I've always regarded the slippery surface of a leather saddle as an advantage. As well as making it easier to slide back a little for a hill etc, it means you are constantly moving about on the saddle slightly, which means you aren't constantly putting pressure on the exact same bit of your backside. With a sticky surface, you basically only change position when you make a conscious decision to move.

Comfy from the start means a) you have a B17-shaped posterior, so no reshaping of the saddle is required, and b) you are probably already used to something reasonable firm. I think my longest first ride on a new saddle (Team Pro) was 250 miles.

A slight upward tilt of the saddle is common (at least for men), probably because it brings the rear of the saddle that you are actually sitting on more level, and reduces the tendency to slide forwards.

For Proofhiding, the traditional recommendation is "once a day for a week, once a week for a month, then annually". If you ride without mudguards, put some on the underside, and don't polish it off.

There's no need to be too precious about keeping it dry. Most people just keep a plastic bag folded up underneath the saddle, and use it to cover the saddle when parking the bike if it is or looks like it will rain.

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Re: Brooks saddle, a newbie question.

Postby pjclinch » 13 May 2019, 1:44pm

thirdcrank wrote:The most important thing is to be scrupulous about keeping it dry. I don't know if they still sell waterproof saddle covers but a shower cap will do the job just as well.


For some values of both "scrupulous" and "dry"... I've been using Brooks for about 20 years and I have...

- applied Proofide once every while, I'd guess every year or so? (with 4 Brooks saddles now in use, I'm still on the first tin)
- always had mudguards on the bikes
- usually popped a bag over the saddle if it's parked in the rain (assuming I have one)
- errrrr....
- that's it.

Like leather in e.g. shoes you don't want to go out of your way to soak them, but part of the reason to use leather is that the right sort is actually pretty weatherproof.

I tighten up the nose bolt if I feel it's started sagging a bit much. This is a wee fettle every few years.

One of the 4 I have was given to me by a pal who's a great believer in potions and oils and secret preparation rituals, and it's a lot softer than the others. But not actually obviously more comfortable and I suspect it will be the first to die.

They should be comfortable out of the box. Breaking them in if they're the right basic shape for your particular backside takes them from good to great. If the basic shape is wrong then breaking them in takes them from horrible to tolerable. Mine are good for up to around 40 miles with no special cycling gear. But they're not for everyone: my wife finds my Brooksen most unpleasant.

Pete.
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Vetus Ossa
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Re: Brooks saddle, a newbie question.

Postby Vetus Ossa » 13 May 2019, 2:26pm

Just been reading your answers, thank you all for taking the trouble to do so.
Over the years I have tried most of the Brooks range of saddles but never a B17, they were all uncomfortable but none were new so that may be a factor but I think not.
The saddle came with a cover, spanner and proofide which was nice, but I don’t go out if it’s raining and if I get caught in the rain I will be sitting on the saddle and I will have a plastic bag on the underside as suggested.
I will be doing one of my regular rides tomorrow all being well and I will cover 35-40 miles depending on how I feel and weather my bum hurts.
I am not sitting too far forward either.

simonhill
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Re: Brooks saddle, a newbie question.

Postby simonhill » 13 May 2019, 3:27pm

Even if you don't need to adjust/tighten the nose nut, I would recommend you give it an occasional slight turn in and out to stop it getting seized. I have had seized nut/bolt on 2 heavily used touring saddles and subsequent freeing was impossible as the whole bolt turned - they are only retained by a small bur in the nose.

I agree about a new Brooks and bike fit. Personally I would not recommend a new bike and a new Brooks because jiggling around a new slippery saddle isn't conducive to getting the bike fit perfect.

thirdcrank
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Re: Brooks saddle, a newbie question.

Postby thirdcrank » 13 May 2019, 4:14pm

I've never tightened a leather saddle. I've had two fail. The first was a B17 Narrow which came second hand on a bike bought by my dear old dad around 1960. I got just the nose of that one wet several times in quick succession on short rainy commutes and it split from one of the nose rivets. The other was a Professional, bought new in the days when they still came with the smaller rivet heads. (I only mention that to date it.) It reached the stage where it looked its age but was very comfy for me. The leather was beginning to come away slightly at the back rivets. While I was still mulling over whether to send it to the great peloton in the sky, I went over a traffic hump with a bump and one of the rails broke. On inspection it had been getting ready to break for some time. :(

I'd not want to seem precious: I keep that for my money. :wink:

robing
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Re: Brooks saddle, a newbie question.

Postby robing » 13 May 2019, 5:56pm

I've recently fitted a Brooks B17 Narrow to my touring bike and found the same. It was comfortable from the off but more so now it is broken in. There are dimples where my sit bones go. I also found it slippery and it took a lot of tinkering to fine tune the angle and also saddle height before I was happy with it. But once I got it right I haven't looked back. Only problem is now I want a Brooks an all my bikes! :D

One daft thing I did was putting the bike upside down to fix a puncture and unfortunately have scratched the saddle a bit :(
They aren't as robust as synthetic saddles for this. I should have put some padding down.

Oh and I never tightened it.

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andrew_s
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Re: Brooks saddle, a newbie question.

Postby andrew_s » 13 May 2019, 8:44pm

robing wrote:One daft thing I did was putting the bike upside down to fix a puncture and unfortunately have scratched the saddle a bit :(

It'll polish out if you keep riding it, like one of mine did when I parked the bike against a barbed wire fence and the pannier slipped off the post it was resting against.

With a synthetic saddle, you can rip the covering and expose the foam underneath, writing the saddle off.