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Brooks Saddles for Bicycle Touring | Your backside will love you forever!

I have always known about the iconic cycling brand Brooks being famous for their leather saddles; very popular with touring cyclists across the world.  It wasn't until I got the cycle touring bug that I actually thought about delving in and seeing what all the fuss is about.

Up until my love of bicycle touring started, I had only been interested in road and mountain bike saddles - the kind of ones that can bring tears to your eyes if you pick badly! Maybe not quite that bad, but you get my point. I wanted to give Brooks a try and see if the forum posts and reviews were correct - do these magical leather saddles actually sculpt to your backside and make you feel at one with the bicycle. 


Brooks Saddle for Bicycle Touring


I was mildly concerned about the 'breaking in' period a lot of people mentioned, but I was prepared to give it a go.  This is the norm with bicycle saddles - you do need to give them a try to decide if they are for you. None of us is the same - it isn't one size/brand fits all.  You must experiment and listen to your body, and be prepared to go back to the drawing board if it doesn't work out.


Brooks Saddle for Bicycle Touring


As with any Brooks saddle, opening the box to the B-17, and seeing this perfectly presented saddle in well thought out packaging draws you into the history of this company. So little has changed with the design over the years and you get a real sense of the quality through years of experience.  I know I'm a grown man and it is only a saddle, but seeing this saddle perfectly presented just makes you want to get out riding and show it off like a 5-year child with their new bike at Christmas!


Brooks Saddle for Bicycle Touring


The saddle itself is very well made and the quality of the materials and workmanship is excellent.  My first impression was you get what you pay for, and it will stand the test of time.  On it went to my newly converted mountain bike touring bike, but before I went for my first ride I applied some Brooks proof ride, which is designed to soften the leather - particularly important for first-time users like me. 

As with any saddle, spend time to set it up just right.  Do not skimp - take your time and make all the adjustments you need until you get it perfect. The one thing I found is that you do need to tilt the front of the nose up slightly to ensure you don't slide off the saddle; the leather is very slippery and you need to keep your sit bones nicely at the rear. Having the saddle tilted up really helps maintain a comfortable position when riding.

Word of warning - you need to take care of this saddle.  It is made from leather and needs TLC to keep it in top condition. Do yourself a favor by picking up some Brooks Proof Ride I mentioned earlier. This wax-type substance softens and protects the leather and as I was finding it really helps during those first few hundred miles during the break-in period.  Rub it into the saddle every few rides and let it work its magic!  Also, if you find the leather too tight or slack, use the tension tool to adjust a little turn during the breaking-in period. All these tips will soon have you molded perfectly, ready for mile after mile of comfort.


Brooks Saddle for Bicycle Touring


It is worth keeping up the Proof Ride routine during the first few hundred miles - although my saddle started comfortable, it will get better and better by taking care, and as it naturally breaks in. Today I barely notice it is even there!  I can ride 100+ miles a day over a week or more and not really feel any discomfort. There are cycle tourists out there who ride for miles and miles every day across the world and they rave about them. 

Let's talk about weight. People do say the weight of these saddles isn't worth it, and whilst I accept they are heavy, I feel the comfort, especially over long rides, more than makes up for it.  I'm not racing on my touring bicycle anyway - comfort (in my opinion) is paramount.  You decide.

To sum up, Brooks Saddles do work for me and thousands of others.  I personally love their history and brand - they are well made from quality materials, and over time you become one on the bike. Mile after mile they are a joy to ride.  And the evidence shows they stand the test of time for many people.  As with anything in life, there are people out there who haven't had the same positive experience. That is life and might just be the way it is for them, and they need to move on to another brand as part of the process. But before doing so, I would recommend one final try at the setup. That advice goes for any saddle - sometimes the smallest of changes can be the difference between comfort and torture device!


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