Buying my first Brooks

General cycling advice ( NOT technical ! )
reohn2
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Re: Buying my first Brooks

Postby reohn2 » 29 May 2020, 5:39pm

The thing with Brooks and other leather saddles FTM,is unless you can get them far enough back on their short rails you'll struggle getting comfortable on one.
If you can get them back far enough like any other saddle they're most definitely a Marmite saddle,some love them,others positively do not get on with them at all.
I think Simonineaston is right,by all accounts they're not the product they were and due to the nature of a natural product like leather they can be a bit hit and mis if the leather will last or wear in evenly and equally,and you have the looking after them,proofhide,not letting them to get too wet whilst riding on them,nose bolt problems,brown ones are softer than black ones,rivets snagging on clothing,etc,etc.

I've broken the rails on three Brooks Pros and tried B17s(didn't suit at all) before giving up on them long ago.
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simonhill
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Re: Buying my first Brooks

Postby simonhill » 29 May 2020, 5:45pm

brooksby (the OP).

Riding in the wet doesn't usually get the saddle particularly wet because you are sitting on it. Maybe some splashing underneath if no mudguards, but nothing to worry about.

Just don't leave it standing in the rain with no cover (aka poly bag), or getting on it if your clothes are soaked.

Otherwise no problem, it's been raining the UK for as long as Brooks have been making saddles.

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andrew_s
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Re: Buying my first Brooks

Postby andrew_s » 29 May 2020, 5:50pm

brooksby wrote:
simonineaston wrote:be aware that a soaked hide saddle top will deform badly, once the weight of the rider is applied for a few hours...

Really? I didn't appreciate that. I don't ride huge mileages, but I'll ride in all weathers and consider my bikes to be waterproof (so to speak). I didn't realise that posh leather saddles are not waterproof (or rather, can be damaged by rain). Hmm... :?

There's wet and wet.

A bit of rain whilst riding, with the saddle mostly covered from above by you and protected from below by the mudguard, is neither here nor there, and doesn't have any effect beyond making the surface look a bit matt, which just needs a bit of riding to polish back up.

Being left out in proper rain overnight, so the leather is soaked through, and then ridden all the next day, may well cause loss of shape or stretching.
That's what plastic shopping bags are there to prevent.

(Team Pro / GB Aspin user)

JohnW
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Re: Buying my first Brooks

Postby JohnW » 29 May 2020, 7:59pm

brooksby wrote:
freeflow wrote:Don't.. go for a spa cycles Nidd instead.


Any particular reason, or just on price?

Sorry about this, but I've had a Spa Calder for several years - 5 years or more - and it's still as hard as a rock.
I ride plenty miles, and Brooks saddles have always been very quickly broken in.
I put one brand new Books Pro onto the bike for our CTC section's 240 miles in 24 hour ride, and it was comfortable from the off - no issue from the start - probably 30 years ago now.
I've also found that to be normal with several B17s I've had down the years.
Quite a lot also depends upon getting saddle position right.

Take note of R2's comment, below.

reohn2 wrote:The thing with Brooks....saddles FTM, is unless you can get them far enough back on their short rails you'll struggle getting comfortable on one....................

The Spa saddles may very likely solve that problem.

Can you try to borrow one before you buy - do you know anyone who has one?

reohn2
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Re: Buying my first Brooks

Postby reohn2 » 29 May 2020, 8:14pm

JohnW wrote: .......The Spa saddles may very likely solve that problem.

Can you try to borrow one before you buy - do you know anyone who has one?


I don't John,but I've handled a couple at York Rally and concluded they were too hard for my rather delicate and boney posterior :shock: :wink:
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simonineaston
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Re: Buying my first Brooks

Postby simonineaston » 29 May 2020, 8:31pm

Borrowing one is a good idea, but... my original point stands. I simply wanted to issue a warning on the subject of Brooks' (now owned by Selle, the famous Italian saddle maker) quality control. If you want to buy a Brooks, my advice would be to buy one from a shop, rather than risk buying one online only to find you have bought too thick or too thin a hide - or even worse - a hide with a soft spot. I've had one of those recently.
The softer the hide, the more give. The harder the hide, the longer it'll take to wear in and last. In the old days, the thickness and hardness of the hide tops was implied by whichever model you bought. Take the Pro as an example. Pros are - or were - about the hardest Brooks you could get. For a reason. The model was aimed at the sort of cyclist who spends long hours in the saddle. They were prepared to invest in the possibility of longer wearing-in times, because they were confident that they would reap the benefits during long rides & for years to come. Other saddles were aimed at different riders. The point was you bought the saddle to suit your riding and you got the right sort of hide top for that use... those days may have gone. The quality (and therefore the hardness and suitability) of the hides is no longer consistant :evil:
In fairness, folk I know who've bought one in the last couple of years say all was well. Sorry to go on, but I just wanted to make sure the OP knows what he's buying into.
ttfn, Simon in Easton
(currently enjoying a Moulton TSR & a nano Brompton...)

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SimonCelsa
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Re: Buying my first Brooks

Postby SimonCelsa » 29 May 2020, 9:13pm

Regarding leather saddles and rain. Yes, admittedly in a shower when your bum is on the saddle then it should be effectively sheltered and hence stay dry. However, in a downpour when you are absolutely soaked then believe me, your saddle will be sodden too. I know this as it happened to me several years ago and very rapidly changed the shape of my B17.

It is actually quite comfy now. Subsequent to the soaking incident I used a small bell punch to 'lace up' the sides to prevent them flaring out too much and maintain some decent shape;

Brooks 2.jpg


My experience of SPA leather saddles is that they are ROCK hard and the 2 in my possession show no signs of 'breaking in'. The ESK is a wider flat saddle used on my utility/quasi touring bike and at 18000 miles and 7 years old is still like a plank (but OK comfort wise). The other is an 'aged' NIDD which is a little narrower and not flat - it has a 'humped' surface and is not quite so comfy so I put this on my fixed commuter where I am not doing great mileage. Hoping I get to ride this in a monsoon to try and soften it up! Probably around 500 miles only and still has the resilience of thick plastic.

saddle 1.jpg


Cheers, Simon

slowster
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Re: Buying my first Brooks

Postby slowster » 29 May 2020, 9:28pm

If I were buying a Brooks leather saddle, I would probably only get a honey coloured one. I suspect that the black and brown dyes can conceal imperfections in the leather which would be apparent with the lighter honey dye, and I think that Brooks probably reserves the best hides for the honey dye. In addition I prefer the lighter colour because darker dyes will stain the seat of shorts and trousers, although that doesn't matter if you wear black lycra. I also think that the honey dye often looks better on a steel frame, especially if it has silver components.

Gilles Berthoud call the colour of their light coloured saddles 'natural', which suggests no dye, and similarly that would be my preference. However, I would not have the same concerns about the darker dyes being used to conceal an inferior hide that I would have with Brooks, since all the comments I've seen online about the quality of their saddles have been positive, and I suspect they buy better quality hides.

According to Jan Heine/René Herse Cycles, "All Berthoud saddle tops are cut in the grain direction of the leather, which means that they won’t sag or become lopsided. Unfortunately, most other saddle makers try instead to get as may saddles as possible out of each cowhide."

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willcee
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Re: Buying my first Brooks

Postby willcee » 29 May 2020, 10:29pm

I 'm on my 3rd year on a natural Menthe Giles Berthoud, and its becoming very comfy to cycle on.. it was OK from the start but recently after a quick wetting and subsequent drying naturally it was tightened and it became even better.. I had one issue with it which was brilliantly sorted by an email to Berthoud.. the rivet at the nose, the top one had gone walkabout , a mate, admiring the saddle, drew my attention to it, I made contact with them and a few days later a bag full of the new rivets which are screw on type a [Later model addition] arrived... I replaced the one which was damaged and have the rest for spares.. must say I was impressed with their aftersales service and very quick indeed.. I have also had a few Brooks mostly pros or B17 and varied experiences.. And am trying the new Selle Italia one which is the 17 copy, its currently as hard as a goats knee.. they tell a good story of how they are back manufacturing on their old dies sandwiching 2 layers of leather with linen as they do on horse saddles.. yet any i have seen advertised are very heavily discounted which is how I came to Own my one..Bargain it may have been but whether I break it in or it breaks me in is currently a wager on which I have no bet.. will

JohnW
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Re: Buying my first Brooks

Postby JohnW » 29 May 2020, 11:41pm

reohn2 wrote:
JohnW wrote: .......The Spa saddles may very likely solve that problem.

Can you try to borrow one before you buy - do you know anyone who has one?


I don't John,but I've handled a couple at York Rally and concluded they were too hard for my rather delicate and boney posterior :shock: :wink:

Ah - I don't know about the delicate bit (yet, anyway), but the boney bit comes with the passing of the years - I was warned! :roll: :roll: :roll:

Jamesh
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Re: Buying my first Brooks

Postby Jamesh » 30 May 2020, 12:34am

Any experience with these saddles anyone??

https://www.gusti-leather.co.uk/bicycle ... BYQAvD_BwE

Cheers James

geocycle
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Re: Buying my first Brooks

Postby geocycle » 30 May 2020, 7:06am

IMEbrooks are fine in the rain. I’ve two, one has done 50000 miles in all weathers and I’ve barely touched the tension bolt. I’ve never used a saddle cover except a plastic bag when I’m leaving it outside in the rain for a long period. Remember that all leather is different and I have probably got a particularly robust one. When you are riding you mostly cover it although it has been soaked many times on long Scottish rides. I also have a cambium which is ok but it doesn’t shape to fit like the leather ones.

Jamesh
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Re: Buying my first Brooks

Postby Jamesh » 30 May 2020, 9:14am

When I did my lejog the Glencoe hostel bike store was also the drying room and boiler room :roll: :roll: :roll:

When I went to retrieve my bike the following day it was hard as a
rock thankfully it was a cold damp day and two pairs of shorts and a dose of sottish drizzle soon fixed it.

I had a lovely evening with an older chap who has recently lost his wife which was a pleasure though.

Cheers James

JohnW
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Re: Buying my first Brooks

Postby JohnW » 30 May 2020, 11:28am

There are plenty of anecdotes and advice about wet saddles, and the aftermath of the wet.

I have to say that my experience, and the observed experience of literally scores (possibly hundreds) of 'cyclists I have known', down 60 years of serious, and long distance cycling, on leather saddles is that getting them wet, and particularly soaked, is bad news.
Best advice is to take note of the instructions that come with the saddle.

As for my Spa Calder saddle - water, neatsfoot, bad language haven't yet made a difference........but that could be just me.

brooksby
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Re: Buying my first Brooks

Postby brooksby » 30 May 2020, 1:43pm

Picking up on something someone said upthread... The dye can come out and stain clothing? I ride exclusively in normal clothing, so that's a bit of a red flag. Its sounding more and more like I'll have to wait until shops are open again and have a look around.

Thanks for all your advice, people; ride safe.