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Failboat Captian
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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
So, when I got home from work last night, I had a brown box of love from Wallbike waiting for me. YeHaw! My new, black B-17.

I read everything and applied the Proofide as directed, and mounted it up on my commuter.

Observation 1: It's a tall saddle! I had to lower my seatpost quite a bit.

Luckily, it's a nice day today, and I got to ride it into work.

Observation 2: That sucker is slippery!

I was sliding all over the thing, including forward. So I stopped about 2 miles into my commute and adjusted it one click nose-up and a little bit forward.

I kept sliding forward on the thing, but not as bad. But what I now noticed is..

Observation 3: While the main portion of the saddle has some nice give to it (I could feel it deflecting slightly under my sit bones when I could keep them from sliding forward), further up the saddle where it narrows, it was pushing against my pubic bone (not code!)quite a bit. Almost as if the nose were way too high.

But it didn't raise the nose that much. So my question is.... After some miles, will the narrower part of the saddle start to give and conform a bit? I've never even felt that bone against a saddle before. (As a side note, I really don't care if I kill off all my little swimmers - I have 4 kids already!)

I'm sort of assuming that it will lose some of its slippery-ness as it gets worn a bit. Is that a good assumption?
 

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How did a guy with four kids afford a Brooks?

I've broken in four B-17s over about the last 20 years (I still have the first one, and it's fine, but two got sold with their bikes), so I can reassure you a little.
I remember sliding forward on my first one, and a bike shop owner friend suggested my stem was too long. I didn't want to buy a new stem, but I slid the saddle forward a little on its rails (not enough to screw up my relationship to the pedals), and that cured the problem for me. Didn't notice it with any of the others, and they do become less slippery in a few hundred miles as the finish wears off (or maybe the "sit bone" area softens a little, so you don't slide out of it as easily). It's important to stay back on the saddle, though, because it's designed to support your weight back there on the wide part, where the depressions from your bony parts will form.
I've found tilt to be critical to comfort on the B-17. Just a couple of millimeters can make a difference. You might fiddle with that.
The pressure from the forward part of the saddle is affected by tilt, of course. I seem to feel it occasionally on my Atlantis, even though that saddle has at least 12,000 miles on it and is comfortable at other times (nearly all the time, in fact). I've assumed it's me, that I'm more sensitive on some days than others or something. It's very rarely a problem, though. Maybe lower the nose a fraction?
Now that I think of it, I never feel the same pressure on my Rambouillet, which is set up identically to the Atlantis except for a 20mm shorter stem. Might be a hint in there somewhere.
Grant Petersen at Rivendell has written quite a lot about buying and using Brooks, and he loves the B-17. That might still be at www.rivbike.com. I think he recommends running it dead level, but I've seen one of his bikes in the shop, and it looked as though the nose were slightly up. I was just walking by, though.
 

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JohnnyTooBad said:
....I'm sort of assuming that it will lose some of its slippery-ness as it gets worn a bit. Is that a good assumption?
I'm thinking no, you will have to keep making small adjustments to your position until you no longer slide around (tilt, fore and aft adjustments and stem height).
 

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JohnnyTooBad said:
So my question is.... After some miles, will the narrower part of the saddle start to give and conform a bit? I've never even felt that bone against a saddle before. (As a side note, I really don't care if I kill off all my little swimmers - I have 4 kids already!)

I'm sort of assuming that it will lose some of its slippery-ness as it gets worn a bit. Is that a good assumption?
I have a B17N, a little narrower in the back, but not that different.

Question #1: In my experience: No, not a whole lot. The saddle will conform to your sit bones (ischial tuberosities), but the part of your body that comes in contact with the nose of the saddle is quite a bit softer than bone. You have to pretty much get the height, tilt and fore/aft just right for your position and body structure "down there". This can take some fiddling, some time for the saddle to conform to your body (see below), and some adjustment on your part to the different feel. But, there are differences in setup and feel between most saddles. The break-in period and the stiffness of the Brooks just makes it a little more obvious.

Question #2: Yes, the saddle does get less slippery, but it stays more slippery than most. This is fine for me, since I tend to slide back for hills anyway, and slide forward for high cadence. Once the saddle starts to conform to your body, the sliding forward sensation will subside since your sit bones will be in little depressions in the saddle.

My experience was the same as yours. The saddle was quite comfortable right out of the box, but it was slippery and it felt like I was sliding forward when i had the saddle level. Tilting the nose of the saddle up was a process of trial and error: nose up by just a little too much caused certain parts to feel crushed, while not up far enough caused the sliding forward sensation. I settled with the nose up a hair too much while the saddle broke in, and once the saddle was broken in I was able to move the nose down by a hair. By "a hair", I'm talking differences in terms of millimeters (as in 2mm, maybe 3mm difference in height of nose).

I love my Brooks.





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I too am in the early stages of breaking in a brooks (Swift.) The first ride (20 miles) I felt like I was going to fly off of it the whole ride. Felt like I was fighting to maintain a position on the saddle. That went away after a few rides. Where the sit b. depressions are forming the leather surface is starting to have a very fine wrinkled texture. Now the saddle is smooth but not "glass smooth." Easy to change position but also easy to relax & maintain a position. You will see the surface change over first 100 - 200 miles.

I started in the "slight nose up" that so many recommend. But due to "pressure" quickly changed that. I'm running mine dead level and have no pressure whatsoever. I also had to move mine 6mm forward from what I thought matched my former saddle position. (And yep, I lowered the seatpost a bit!)

My point is don't be afraid to fiddle with the up/down & fore/aft. As others have said I found slight changes made big differences. I carried an allen wrench in my jersey and by the third ride I had zero pressure on soft tissue and was not sliding at all.

Congrats on the Brooks!
 

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I agree with everyone else... Brooks are sensitive to tilt.. I prefer a nose up position on my B17 and Swallow...My Swift is level

Brooks are still the most comfortable saddles I've ever owned...

I have bikes with Regals and Rolls and ,while they are comfortable, they don't come close to the comfort of my Brooks..

I often switch between many bikes.. I "notice" the Regals and Rolls for the first few miles.... The Brooks always fit like a glove....
 

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Frog Whisperer
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the sliding is one of the reasons that Brooks are a good for long distances as they are. You slide on the seat instead of sticking and chaffing.

I have 2 B-17 N and run them both dead level. I'm with Dave......I have other saddles on other bikes but when I jump on my bikes with Brooks.....it's "Ahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh, that feels just right"


edit: btw Cory, I've got 4 kids too.....trust me...they can live on less..............
 

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Failboat Captian
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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
Thanks for the input. I took out a level and found that the entire saddle is actually still a bit nose down, although the front half of the saddle is nose up. I'll have to play with it some more. Unfortunately, it looks like it's going to rain all weekend. I feel sort of nervous to turn it more nose up because of the pressure I felt, but maybe by doing that, it'll slide be back. The bike has the stock 120mm stem, but I have a 90mm sitting around, so I could play with the bars a bit.

Oh, and Cory, yeah, I put a $100 saddle on a generic $320 single speed bike. Pretty soon, this bike will be worth more than a BMC.
 

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keep in mind re: the sliding - your eventual comfy sit bone position on the Brooks will likely be different from the previous saddle - either forward or back a bit. so as you're tweaking it, keep in mind your knee vs BB position, don't accidentally hose that up. You might have to swap stem to get it totally dialed in - length and height both.
 

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I agree with TouchOGray. Slipperyness is a feature - no chafing.
I use Kiwi neutral shoe polish to maintain that smooth surface and it is still slippery after ~5000 miles.
The " slightly up nose" is best for me.
 

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5000 miles is a new saddle..... my oldest is 6 yrs old now with at least 25,000. (others have been sold or stolen)
another + for the "slippery" is the fact that it is easy on the shorts too!
 

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Lemur-ing
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This thread got me searching for Brooks saddles just to check em out and I was pretty surprised to see the prices of those things!!

But, it sure sounds like they're pretty darned durable and comfy.

Any idea if any pro cyclist rides them?

Not to detract too much but, has anyone not liked theirs?
 

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uzziefly said:
This thread got me searching for Brooks saddles just to check em out and I was pretty surprised to see the prices of those things!!

But, it sure sounds like they're pretty darned durable and comfy.

Any idea if any pro cyclist rides them?

Not to detract too much but, has anyone not liked theirs?
I don't think any pros are currently using a Brooks..Weight and fashion is the primary reason..

as for cost, you can get a B17 on Ebay for about $70,,,at the other end Swallows start around $200 and can go up to $700 for a special edition, ti railed, special color version..

Here is the "cheap" Swallow..this only has about 150 miles on it so it's not broken in yet...Even so, it's still extremely comfortable
 

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Lemur-ing
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Dave Hickey said:
I don't think any pros are currently using a Brooks..Weight and fashion is the primary reason..

as for cost, you can get a B17 on Ebay for about $70,,,at the other end Swallows start around $200 and can go up to $700 for a special edition, ti railed, special color version..

Here is the "cheap" Swallow..this only has about 150 miles on it so it's not broken in yet...Even so, it's still extremely comfortable
Yeah I figured they weigh a little more than normal saddles used for 'races' etc.

That said, if they're that comfortable, I also wonder why no one uses them in the pro peloton since bikes can get so light these days that you can use a Brooks and still come in under the UCI limit.

As far as fashion, they actually look pretty alright IMO and hey, Lance's Concor saddle looks less fashionable than the one you have on your bike in this picture! :)

/You mentioned not broken in - does that mean it looks different when it is? Like, with curves etc perhaps? I know they kinda conform to your anatomy am I correct?

//They're sorta a chic item I'd imagine with their price range.
 

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uzziefly said:
Yeah I figured they weigh a little more than normal saddles used for 'races' etc.

That said, if they're that comfortable, I also wonder why no one uses them in the pro peloton since bikes can get so light these days that you can use a Brooks and still come in under the UCI limit.

As far as fashion, they actually look pretty alright IMO and hey, Lance's Concor saddle looks less fashionable than the one you have on your bike in this picture! :)

/You mentioned not broken in - does that mean it looks different when it is? Like, with curves etc perhaps? I know they kinda conform to your anatomy am I correct?

//They're sorta a chic item I'd imagine with their price range.
Once it's broken in there will be indentations from my sit bones...A Brooks actually conforms to your butt.... That's why they are so comfortable...
 

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uzziefly said:
This thread got me searching for Brooks saddles just to check em out and I was pretty surprised to see the prices of those things!!

Not to detract too much but, has anyone not liked theirs?
I never liked my B17, and I really tried to like it. I used it on my daily commuter for over a year and finally sold it for forty bucks right off my bike. (Had to take the subway home).

In the beginning the saddle was too slippery. Then it became way to soft and sagged like a hammock, and tensioning did nothing. The rivets on the back of the saddle dug into my backside and hurt. The rails are short and the thing weighs a ton. I played with that saddle until the cows came home and could never get the saddle to be comfortable. But as everyone knows, saddles are a very personal thing. It would still be my saddle of choice to recommend because for most people they love it. I still think that Brooks are an either hate it or love it type of saddle.

With all that said I would be willing to try Brooks again, just not a B17, maybe a Swift.
 

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Failboat Captian
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Discussion Starter · #17 ·
It is a heavy SOB. Probably 2-3x the weight of my stock, padded saddle. So I would imagine it's 10x the weight of a pro peleton saddle. I do like the slipperyness when it comes to the lack of chafing. On my commute home last night, I was very aware of how I had absolutely no discomfort in the crotchigal region, when my old saddle would make that hurt within 3-5 minutes of being on the bike.

I'm desperately hoping that I can get it dialed in to where it doesn't push on the pubic (?) bone (note: it's NOT the sit bones. they are quite comfy from the first minute. It's the "bone" in the center, under/behind the man part). If I can keep from sliding forward, while keeping that "bone" off the saddle, I'll be a happy camper. My biggest fear is that it's the geometry of the bike, vs the saddle. I don't feel like buying a new bike.
 

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Keep fiddling with it. My B17s were comfortable from the very first ride, but the Swift never fit me right (too narrow). I've had to raise the nose on all of my Brooks saddles or I feel like I'm sliding forward. I've also had trouble moving my Brooks saddles back far enough unless I use a seatpost with a lot of setback because the rails are so short. My Brooks saddles also felt slippery at first, but that becomes less of an issue when they break in. Getting the saddle wet also stops some of the slipperiness, but using Proofide will make it more slippery.

I've replaced the B17s on most of my bikes with Fizik Vitesse saddles. They have nearly the same shape as my broken-in B17, but weigh less than half as much. Like the B17, the Vitesse is wider than most saddles. If I get another Brooks, I might try a Pro. It is wider than the Swift but narrow than the B17 and has thicker leather.
 
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