In the word of cycling, few brands are as highly respected and coveted as Brooks England. Makers of traditional bicycle saddles since 1882, Brooks has a long, rich history in the cycling world and is a favorite among touring, audax and general enthusiasts alike. The flagship model by Brooks is the B17 Standard Saddle. Made of durable vegetable-tanned leather with hand-hammered copper rivets on a steel frame, the saddle is meant to break in and weather beautifully over it’s lifetime.
Part of what makes the Brooks Saddle so unique is how it molds itself to the individual fit of the rider. With a breaking in period taking as long as 100 to 1,000 miles, the fibers of the leather break down and form dimples where the “sit bones” normally rest. Once this happens, the saddle becomes molded to your body and is even more comfortable. Kind of your like favorite chair or a pair of selvedge denim jeans. Of course, the other aspect which makes these saddles so desirable is the cost. They don’t run cheap and in some cases can cost more than your bike. However, when paired with a classic frame (preferably a British or French model but I chose my 1980 Schwinn La Tour) the combo creates a beautiful aesthetic which is hard to beat.
Once my saddle arrived, I was very pleasantly surprised at the attention to detail put into the packaging materials. I’ve only ever seen individual Brooks saddles hanging in retail stores, so to see it arrive in a custom box complete with Brooks’ annual magazine The Bugle, a full product catalog and custom wrench, all of which where beautifully designed, I couldn’t wait to get started. The only thing missing was an actual instruction booklet. I thought it was weird that I was being told how to apply the appropriate oil my saddle, but not how to install it. Thankfully, after a little bit of research and some elbow grease I was able to figure it out and finally give it a test ride.
Right from the start I noticed a huge difference from my old seat which came with the bike. The Brooks Saddle had a completely different feel to it and I was pleasantly surprised at how comfortable it was right out of the box. Thanks to the various local BLRC rides we’ve been on, I’ve had the good fortune of seeing many of these broken in saddles up close and personal. While envious, I always had a difficult time believing these stiff leather seats could actually be comfortable for the rider. I’m hear to tell you: once you try it, you may never go back.
Brooks England Saddles, bags and various accessories are available online as well as locally at various bike shops around Buffalo. Of course, now I’m going to have to buy some brown leather bar tape to match the saddle because as we all know, one should always match their belt to their shoes.