Morgan cars, Worthies originals toffees, Coal tar soap, all very traditional and iconic brands that to do this very day still compete with the modern and as such arguably superior alternatives; Brooks saddles from Birmingham also fit perfectly into this category.
Saddles are one of the many items of bicycle equipment that can divide opinion, where one rider swears by a saddle another can quite justifiably swear because of it; lets face it the interface between those areas and the bicycle is something that we simply need to get right! So do Brooks saddles deserve to be considered as more than just as a piece of well made, feel good retro nostalgia; or do they deserve to be considered on Merit?
Well many riders, myself included do indeed fall into the category of swearing by them. The reason fundamentally is comfort, some also comment that they find leather is cooler and less sweaty to ride than plastic based saddles, although personally I can never tell the difference in that respect. Once broken in the leather moulds and the tension slackens meaning that if the saddle is not retentioned by tightening the nose bolt you can effectively sit in the saddle, as apposed to on it like you do on a plastic based saddle.
As such you will often see that the saddle is set up slightly differently; for a male the saddle will often be horizontal but slightly higher at the front or nose of the saddle, where as many riders set their plastic based saddle up horizontal but slightly lower at the front. Note the latter generally applies to all ladies saddles which are also often shorter overall as well as slightly wider at the rear.
For sure they do take a while to break in but this does not actually take that long, a few hundred miles should be sufficient. They do need maintenance in the form of ‘Proofide’ which is Brooks own leather dressing, as for how often it depends on the elements and protection, a mudguard bike used mainly for fair weather cycling will require less ‘Proofide’ applications than say a bike with no guards and used all year round in all weather; essentially if it looks like it needs some ‘Proofide’ then it does.
If well maintained the saddles can and very often do last for years, it was once a common saying of “change your bike but never change your saddle”, that was an expression that applies perfectly to Brooks saddles now just as it did then. There is an extensive range to suit both use, riders sizes and budget, be under illusion they will not suit every rider, no saddle ever will, but deserve a place in today’s market on merit they definitely do, having ridden Brooks saddles for thirty years and for literally thousands of miles my back side agrees; after all a comfy bottom is a happy bottom.
Written and reviewed by Paul Smith for roadcyclinguk.com