The ‘Marmite’ of saddlery……

……or ‘to brook’ no pain

IMAG1891Brooks saddles are not only famous worldwide (and I saw many in Japan), but they are touted as the best saddles in the world. No surprises, perhaps, that the company is British and has a very long prestigious history, and it is unquestionable that their carefully engineered leather saddles are premium products……..at premium prices, of course.

When I had my Dave Yates trekking bike built, I included a Brooks Professional saddle but, knowing that these saddles usually require a long breaking-in process, I never dared to set off on a multi-week trek in case I was going to have serious comfort issues. But now the time had come to make some commitment, and I decided that my recent 6 day venture to York would be the ideal scenario……long enough to get the feel for it, but not too long to have to endure weeks of discomfort, with no escape route.

The leather on the Professional is very hard (not necessarily a bad thing in a saddle) but I realised after a few days that the comfort was compromised by the relatively upright posture I have on the trekking bike. A lower profile on the frame (as on my road bike), where the level of my head and shoulders is much lower over the handlebars (akin to a racing profile) would have rendered it much more comfortable. So I am now attempting to ‘neatsfoot-oil’ the leather into submission…..in other words, seasoning the leather with saddle oil to try to make it more supple and more forgiving.

Talk to others about their experiences of Brooks saddles and you quickly realise that they are the Marmite of the saddle world……..you either love ’em or hate ’em. There’s no in-between. I’ll let you know how our relationship develops in the coming months……..

As it was

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About Frank Burns

Looking for the extraordinary in the commonplace………taking the road less travelled……..striving for the ‘faculty of making happy chance discoveries’ in unremarkable circumstances. Click on the Personal Link below to visit my webpages.

Posted on July 5, 2015, in Cycling UK and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink. 13 Comments.

  1. I have a Brooks Professional saddle that is 33 years old that is still in play. I have it on my commuter. I love it still. It’s comfortable a looks great!

  2. No! No! No! Tony Colegrave who repairs leather saddles told me off for applying gunk to underside of saddle, as that’s where the leather breathes. And applied to the top, it transfers to clothing. Secret is to use new saddle for commuting for a few months – so not an option for you! I used Brooks Pro saddles for 30 years before the B17 Titanium model, now on all my 3 bikes. That is perfect from new! Titanium rails help by being more flexible than steel!

    • Yes, I’ve heard those thoughts and words of wisdom……but there may be something to learn from the equine world on this subject. And, of course, riding horses is an infinitely older sport than even cycling……! Many people on chat forums maintain that letting their Brooks get a good soaking was the answer…….

  3. I had a Swallow on the tandem for a while but found it sagged too quickly, leaving the end of the long nose too prominent against my ‘bits’ which resulted in going numb. The saddles, as you know, include a tightening screw, but I was going through it too quickly. I took the opportunity when the rail snapped and it was away for repair, to try a B66 but found that too short so now use a BelAir SDG which is what I have on my other bikes. Though my Swallow is wallowing in the shed, I love the idea of a Brooks and I love Marmite.

    Bob Bending.

  4. I have one and would have no other. If you talk to Brooks, they will tell you never to use neatsfoot oil. I used their own dressing before setting off for Munich – I’d ridden the bike for about a year beforehand, admittedly – and it was comfortable all the way.

  5. Got a Brooks Cambian, just don’t even think about it – the best of praise?

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