Is leather really better than synthetic...

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barrym
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Is leather really better than synthetic...

Postby barrym » 16 Jul 2013, 11:23am

Hi

I'm tempted by the look of the Brooks B17 or possible Spa's Nidd leather (http://spacycles.co.uk/products.php?plid=m2b0s204p2667), but are they really better than a synthetic saddle? I have a Bontrager Sport (funny name for a quite wide, well upholstered saddle) which is OK for short to medium (<20 miles) rides, but does tend to make me a bit sore on longer stints, especially if I don't wear padded shorts.

I imagine this will split the vote between the traditionalists and the rest, let's see :D
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freeflow
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Re: Is leather really better than synthetic...

Postby freeflow » 16 Jul 2013, 11:29am

You'll have to define what you mean by 'better' if you want to get a rational response.

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barrym
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Re: Is leather really better than synthetic...

Postby barrym » 16 Jul 2013, 11:33am

freeflow wrote:You'll have to define what you mean by 'better' if you want to get a rational response.


OK, let's rephrase. In what way do they differ? Presumably the only qualitative measure for a saddle is comfort (in a utility bike).
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james01
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Re: Is leather really better than synthetic...

Postby james01 » 16 Jul 2013, 12:14pm

I've been very pleased with my 25 year old Brooks B17, I use it for all-day touring (without padded shorts) and never seem to have a problem. I recently did a 30-miler on my rarely-used lightweight bike which has a modern synthetic seat. This feels fine for the first 20 miles, but I was suffering after that. Also the leather Brooks seems much better in the present heatwave.

freeflow
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Re: Is leather really better than synthetic...

Postby freeflow » 16 Jul 2013, 12:28pm

Assuming you have the correct size saddle.

Leather has the ability to flex and deform. The flexing helps soften the lumps and bumps of the road. The deforming bit means that the saddle, whilst remaining relatively stiff, will also adopt a shape that matches the unique shape of your bum thereby eliminating pressure points. Maltreated leather saddles can become too soft (by wetting too much or by overuse of the dressing. When this happens the saddle may remain comfortable or it may start to cause rubs and pressure on the perineum. Some folks like very soft (hammock like) leather saddles. There is also an element of breathability for leather but if you are working hard this can probably be discounted.

Synthetic saddles probably do as well as leather regarding the flex and try to emulate the deformation by using padding.

Cutouts in the saddle are designed to take pressure off the perineum but this is more likely an adaption to poorly fitting saddles not providing enough support to the sit bones thereby allowing pressure on the perineum. Too much and insufficiently dense padding on synthetic saddles will put pressure on the perineum.

The issue with saddles is not so much if leather of synthetic is better, but which fits your bum the best.

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barrym
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Re: Is leather really better than synthetic...

Postby barrym » 16 Jul 2013, 12:57pm

freeflow wrote:Assuming you have the correct size saddle.

...................

The issue with saddles is not so much if leather of synthetic is better, but which fits your bum the best.


And that is quite difficult to establish. Trek have a thing you sit on and it changes colour where your sit bones are, then you buy a saddle which matches the colour indicators. I did that and it was horrible. I changed it for the 'Sport' because it looked more plush, and indeed it was more comfortable, as described above. So I guess it is still a process of experimentation.

My current saddle doesn't have bag loops, and I figure what I spend on sorting that could potentially go part way to a 'better' saddle, so back on the leather for a moment, any views on the Nidd verses the B17?
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Brucey
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Re: Is leather really better than synthetic...

Postby Brucey » 16 Jul 2013, 1:37pm

re the bag loops;

I have long used a Brooks saddle and a Carradice saddlebag on a Karrimor uplift. Very comfy, pretty hard-wearing. I like the fact that the bag is higher up, is QR and there is nothing left on the bike when the bag is removed, too.

The problem is that I have destroyed two Brooks saddles now, the leather has torn where the front three rivets sit. Maybe it got wet, maybe I didn't dress it enough or with the right stuff, maybe the saddles were just old.... I don't know. What I do know is that I am cheesed off with saddles that I can't ride on without damaging them, should they get wet.

I don't mind other saddles too much; they may not fit me quite as well as a good brooks but I'll trade that for being able to ride on it when wet without wrecking it.

The problem is that the karrimor uplift only works on the bag loops fitted to Brooks saddles.

So...eventually I bit the bullet and built a 'bag loop rail' to fit to a plastic-hulled saddle, so that I can use my uplift. Job done!

I'd quite like to try a Nidd, the leather looks good on them.

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barrym
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Re: Is leather really better than synthetic...

Postby barrym » 16 Jul 2013, 1:49pm

Am I right in thinking the Karrimor Uplift is no longer available? A search doesn't offer much.

I'm quite tempted with the Nidd I must say. I'm a sucker for the underdog and good marketing :(
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Brucey
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Re: Is leather really better than synthetic...

Postby Brucey » 16 Jul 2013, 1:55pm

Karrimor uplifts are to be found in cycle jumbles and flea bay only these days.

Image

I have the type on the right, but in black.

I suspect (but have not proven) that this places the bag in a rather good spot, aerodynamically speaking. I also find that the bike's handling is not upset by the bag too much, since the weight is very close to the most erm 'massive' item on the bike- (my backside... :roll: )

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Mick F
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Re: Is leather really better than synthetic...

Postby Mick F » 16 Jul 2013, 2:16pm

barrym wrote: ....... Trek have a thing you sit on and it changes colour where your sit bones are, then you buy a saddle which matches the colour indicators. I did that and it was horrible. ........
I wonder if the shop that sells you the saddle that matches your sit bones - and it's horrible .................. what do they do about it?

Do you get your money back?
Do Trek get any feed-back about how their system doesn't work?
Mick F. Cornwall

guzzimag
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Re: Is leather really better than synthetic...

Postby guzzimag » 16 Jul 2013, 2:20pm

I have a B17, a B17 Imperial, and a Spa Wharfe (I think - the thinner one). I prefer the Brooks as the leather is thinner and breaks in quicker. The Spa feels extremely hard, and I can't see it breaking in this side of 2020!! But saddles are personal - I visited Spa and they let me take the bike out for a spin with the B17 imperial fitted before I decided to buy). Spa saddles are much cheaper though so maybe worth a punt if it fits you.

Maybe you could find a LBS that would do the same, it's the only way you'll know. I wouldn't go back to a plastic saddle now - they caused me agonies anything over 20 miles. With the Brooks I've done multiple 80 mile touring days without a second thought. Legs die before bum does :D

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barrym
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Re: Is leather really better than synthetic...

Postby barrym » 16 Jul 2013, 3:21pm

Mick F wrote:
barrym wrote: ....... Trek have a thing you sit on and it changes colour where your sit bones are, then you buy a saddle which matches the colour indicators. I did that and it was horrible. ........
I wonder if the shop that sells you the saddle that matches your sit bones - and it's horrible .................. what do they do about it?

Do you get your money back?
Do Trek get any feed-back about how their system doesn't work?


yes the shop did take the saddle back. i had it a week too and the one i eventually had was half the price!
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tatanab
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Re: Is leather really better than synthetic...

Postby tatanab » 16 Jul 2013, 5:03pm

Brucey wrote:The problem is that the karrimor uplift only works on the bag loops fitted to Brooks saddles.
They also work with Gilles Berthoud Aspin and Mente as sold by Spa and Planet X among others. I use the Aspin, I do not know why the mente should be so expensive from Planet X because it is a cheaper saddle if you look at the Berthoud website http://www.gillesberthoud.fr/anglais/ac ... sultat.php

http://www.planet-x-bikes.co.uk/i/q/SAG ... her_saddle The Aspin is a bit narrower than the B17 or Nidd and the leather is about twice the thickness but is treated differently. I find them so comfortable that I now have 4 of them having had a number of B17/Swift/Team Pro failures in the last 10 years. Yes they are a bit more expensive than a Broooks but I have not paid more than £90 for one because I've been lucky in the sales.

Brucey
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Re: Is leather really better than synthetic...

Postby Brucey » 16 Jul 2013, 6:07pm

tatanab wrote:
Brucey wrote:The problem is that the karrimor uplift only works on the bag loops fitted to Brooks saddles.
They also work with Gilles Berthoud Aspin and Mente as sold by Spa and Planet X among others....


I have supposed that they might work on a Spa Nidd etc as well... anyone tried it?

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tatanab
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Re: Is leather really better than synthetic...

Postby tatanab » 16 Jul 2013, 6:28pm

Brucey wrote:I have supposed that they might work on a Spa Nidd etc as well... anyone tried it?
I have a Wharfe and it certainly works with that so I would expect it to work with a Nidd.