The keystone of Brooks' saddle line. The B17 combines durability comfort and style with an affordable price. They are a bit heavier and take longer to break in than more contemporary designs but the comfort they provide once broken in is why so many still swear by them. Black or Honey leather cover with black steel rails. Loops for traditional English-style touring bag. 280mm Length x 170mm Width. 530 grams weights may vary due to leather thickness. Made in England.
Strengths: Comfort, looks, longevity, saddle bag loops
Weaknesses: Heavy (if that is an issue), needs maintenance, limited fore/aft positioning requiring a longer stem
This is the one saddle that fits me right out of the box and that says a bit for a leather saddle. I have basic 17s, narrow 17s, titanium 17s, special 17s (with the wide, flush rivets) and they all work for me. I have a 17 purchased in 1980 for my touring bike that still works perfectly. The saddle loops are great for a Carradice/Acorn type bag which comes in handy for unsupported long rides. One down side is the limited rearward positioning due to the short rails. I have often had to increase a stem by a centimetre or two to accommodate a 17. They now come in a variety of colours if you need to style. I am a honey or black kind of guy although I do own a titanium coloured one with titanium rails: very sharp. They need a six month rub down with Proofhide and get a saddle cover for the rain. Do not mess with the nose tensioning bolt: there is a reason the bolt is 3.5 cm so as to discourage the uninitiated. They tend to work best with a touch of "nose up" as you may find yourself with a sensation of slipping forward in the horizontal position.
Date Reviewed: October 23, 2012
Strengths: Had a Selle Italia leather saddle MANY years ago, and gave it away with the bike (my mistake!) So kept trying to find something to match the comfort without luck. After about 30 years, bit the bullet and went back to a Brooks. Swift is too narrow, but the B17 fits well. Very well. And the B17 Imperial is as near perfect as possible. Now have 3 years on three different Brooks (three bikes), everybody gives me heck about the "Old Style" seat with no padding and can't understand how it can be comfortable. I just smile and ask again after 10 hours in the saddle. To the guy on the Tandem on Ride the Rockies, you understand. I've done the tour 9 times now, and after 6-7 days in the saddle and 400-500+ miles in the week, am continually surprised when I get on the bike in the morning at the end of the week and have no sore spots. Incredible. Yes, they're heavy. Yes, they take care and maintenance. But what price comfort?
To those trying a new saddle, try this old racer's trick. Turn the oven on it's absolutely lowest setting (about 150*). Smear a thin coat of Proofhide on the UNDERSIDE of the saddle, and put it in the oven for about 20 minutes. Repeat. Repeat. Repeat. Repeat. Aren't you got the large tin of Proofhide? Repeat until it doesn't soak up any more. Then go riding. Helps with break in period and with waterproofing. Still needs some care, but is a great way to start a saddle. I average 2000-5000 miles a year for the last 40 years, and won't go back to anything else. Let them laugh at the old fogie on the old saddle. I'll laugh while dancing in the park at the end of the day.
And yes, anyone who has done Ride the Rockies, I'm Shark Boy!
Weaknesses: It's heavier than those featherweight slips of plastic. It takes some breaking in and maintenance. It's more expensive. You get funny looks from disbelievers. For the most comfortable seat out there, I'll take all that. Besides, I could lose some weight on the engine before I worry about weight of the saddle. ;-)
Not a lot to say that isn't above. Read the Strengths for a cool break in tip, but there's only one word that works here. Awesome. OK, Comfort is in there too....
a Recreational Rider
Date Reviewed: August 28, 2012
Strengths: Very comfortable, no numbness or irritation on long rides. Classic looks. Very durable. Competitive price.
Weaknesses: Needs covering in rain, requires some care & upkeep to prevent damage to the leather. Can potentially wear out via stretching (seems unlikely within a reasonable time period).
Heavy, (I'm not racing anyone but myself so...)
All in all very happy with the saddle, was quite comfortable right out of the box. With no special efforts it was mostly molded to my rear after ~50 miles - in 90+ FL weather. By 200 miles it seemed to have basically settled into a stable place. Could see break-in taking longer in cooler weather.
Was quite slick initially requiring me to raise the nose of the saddle above level to prevent sliding forward. As it broke in the surface has more grip and I dropped the nose a bit. Still above level but quite comfortable w/ no numbness or irritation.
Mentioned durability above, being a tough single layer of leather you aren't going to easily to to scrape or damage the saddle in a meaningful way without also majorly damaging something else. Your bike falling over in the garage or driveway isn't going to phase it at all. Did ding my wife's car though.
On that topic, the edges are really hard, no padding at all. Not sure I'd want to use it on anything besides a road bike, YMMV.
Similar Products Used: Lots of saddles, most recently ISM Peloton (which I really liked also)
Bike Setup: Surly LHT, A530 pedals. Basically stock.
Date Reviewed: July 10, 2012
Strengths: It is comfortable for short and very long rides...day after day.
Weaknesses: It isn't the lightest saddle...but I could care less.
We bought Brooks for our tandem this year 3 weeks before the 450 mile Ride the Rockies over a bunch of 12,000 passes in Colorado...which meant on the tandem we were on the bike 8-12 hours a day. We found the Brooks as comfortable as any of the many saddles we'd tried in prior years on the first day we put them on...and we found the comfortable all day...day after day...on our Ride the Rockies trip. I don't know that they are the most comfortable saddle around...because I haven't tried every saddle in existence...but they are comfortable enough that I doubt I will ever sit on another saddle...unless I'm buying a new bike...and I'll order up my new Brooks as soon as I buy it. And Wallingford in New Orleans...as others have noted...will give you six months to try one out. I bought the B17 standard and my wife has the comparable womans versions. I suspect they are all good.
Strengths: Comfort, comfort, and more comfort. These saddles break into your rear, not the other way around like other saddles. Extremely long life saddle if properly cared for by following the manufactures care recommendations and not some bicycle guru's thoughts.
Weaknesses: Weight, small price to pay for all day comfort. Long break in period, but again once you get past that it's a lifetime of comfort bliss. The other con about Brooks is that in the last 4 years they have raised their prices of their lower end ti saddles by about 100% and even more on their lighter racing saddles like the Swift. But even with those prices they will still outlast at least 6 other saddles, thus in the long run be cheaper.
I bought this saddle (actually a B17 Titanium) to go on my touring bike with the sole purpose of long miles. So far the saddle has been very comfortable and still looks great. None of Brooks saddles are light, if you want light get a different saddle, if you want comfort in a saddle that can easily last 20 years then get a Brooks. There are some drawbacks to these saddles; some complain of long break in, mine took about 800 miles; some complain of weight, mine's 410 gram. Once you get past all of that you'll be in love with the saddle.
Word of advice; only follow the manufactures care recommendations, DO NOT follow someone else's advice and apply anything to the leather other then what the manufacture recommends IF you want the manufacture warranty to be valid and IF you want the saddle to last a long long time.
If you're going to expose the saddle to rain I suggest getting a seat cover, their cheap insurance at under $15. I got an Aarvark cover for about $10 and it fits better then the Brooks model. I only use it when it's raining.