Featured User Review: Brooks B17 Standard

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B17_honey

Featured User Review: Brooks B17 Standard
by Little Bunny Foo Foo

Price: $100.00 at LBS
Overall Rating: 5 of 5
Value Rating: 5 of 5

Bike Setup:
Surly Travelers Check with adjustable parts to go from comfortable group ride setting with skinny tires and then quickly adjust into a loaded tourer with fat tires and silly gearing.

Favorite Ride:
anywhere in northern wisconsin

Summary:
Easily the most comfortable saddle I’ve used even before it was done breaking in and set up properly. However, getting it to that point was finicky and annoying. I had always been told of the fine craftsmanship and comfort that comes with a Brooks saddle and it’s clear that it is a well earned reputation.

The honey colored leather quickly changed from a bright ridiculous orange into a good deep brown/black combo. Ends up looking really good on my UPS brown Surly Travelers Check. Not a complete match, but matches the charm of the bike perfectly. Makes it look well used and loved, like the rest of the bike. I would not recommend the honey for a flashy bike, though. Dark earth tones such as green and brown go well, but the powder blue on my old Cannondale tourer would not match it well. Go with the black if you have a funky colored bike. To be honest, the saddle is still changing colors after several thousand miles of use.


I didn’t use any fancy tricks to break in the saddle. I did the the Brooks recommended way of Brooks Proofide. No neatsfoot oil, mink oil or anything like that. I’m used to being much more uncomfortable, so I figured I’d do it the ‘right’ way. However, the break in was not the most difficult part.

With other saddles I have liked (Forte’s T1 saddle, or whatever their Tri saddle is called, and the Serfas Aria) getting it adjusted to a comfortable and non numbing position really didn’t take that much time. Especially the T1 saddle where I could spend time on the nose and be comfortable (but duh, this IS was it was designed for). The B17, not so much. Numbness was a constant problem with the B17. Riding on the nose on this saddle is not recommended. These types of saddles is where the phrase ‘on the rivet’ came from. The give in the saddle comes from the back half and that’s where you should keep yourself placed.

However, for a number of different reasons I couldn’t get anything adjusted right to keep it both comfortable and keep from getting numb. I ended up going back to a blank state on fitting, tried a couple of different fitting styles found from websites online. Finally after trying the fitting style from Peter White’s webpage and tightening the tension the true comfort from the B17 finally came out. I’ll just have to keep an eye on the tension and take the slack out when it begins to stretch again.

This saddle is truly amazing at that point. I end up getting more sore from driving a car. Really. A sore rear end is no longer a limiting factor in how I ride. I haven’t tried shorts without padding yet, but my cheapo $15 bike shorts have become as comfortable as my $70 ones.

Brooks doesn’t state this, but if you are not sure whether you should get the narrow or the normal size, get the normal size. The outer portion of the leather is hiding the metal frame, which you don’t want to be sitting on. I’m a size small, but have a wide body. The narrow matches the size of the saddles I like, but was sitting on the frame instead of the comfy leather. Subtract about a cm or to from the overall width of the saddle and compare that with your sit bones to ensure you will be sitting on a sweet spot, not a hard one.

In short, good for any bike that isn’t a racer. Great for group rides, touring (if you don’t need massive springs), or indoor training. Basically anything short of race day.

Strengths:
Comfort, longevity (a lifetime if it is cared for), no more butt pain riding limitation.

Weaknesses:
fickle to get adjusted right, requires application of proofide and tensioning. Not really a racing saddle, but that’s not really what it’s designed for. Fine for rides where you don’t need to be on the nose.

Similar Products Used:
Reclining Sofa, bean bag chair, recumbent bike seat, feather bed. Honestly thinking of getting another one, then chopping up an old bike frame to use the rear triangle and the saddle as a stool.

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About the author: Thien Dinh

Thien Dinh gained most his cycling knowledge the old fashioned way, by immersing himself in the sport. From 2007 to early 2013, Thien served as RoadBikeReview Site Manager, riding daily while putting various cycling products through its paces. A native of California, Thien also enjoys tinkering with photography and discovering new music.


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  • derek says:

    Care and feeding of a Brooks saddle is paramount for continued enjoyment. Otherwise your backside will be hating the rides (long or short).

    If you don’t mind tinkering with your saddle to find the sweet spot and periodically applying a leather conditioner, the Brooks will continue to provide a comfortable ride for a lifetime.

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