Friday, October 9, 2009

Brooks Saddles: The Cult...the Truth

A saddle is one of the most important features of your bike. Many of my friends after a mid length ride walk like rodeo cowboys and sit very carefully. They do not have cheap saddles, but often the latest in gel and plastic combinations. My talk about the virtues of a Brooks saddle are often dismissed as anachronistic or slightly masochistic.

Here is the TRUTH about the Brooks saddle.

Brooks saddles have been described by one of my biking friends, Martin as a cult. Either you believe or you don't in the claims that the Brooks leather saddle is the most comfortable saddle on earth. Here is the truth about the cult


1) Brooks saddles are by far the most comfortable saddles you can own.
2) They are cool in the summer
3) The claims of break in time are greatly exaggerated
4) They do not require much care
5) They are cheaper in the long run. A well cared for Brooks saddle will easily last 10 years or more.

The dreaded break in period


At first, the hard leather saddle does not appear to be comfortable at all and there is much fear and trepidation over how to 'break in the saddle' and care for it. I own three brooks saddles, one with springs, a brooks narrow B-17 and a special B-17 with copper rivets.

I have found that the best thing to do is to apply a good coating of neetsfoot oil, made from the hooves of cows, to the saddle when you take it out of the box. Rub it in, and apply some more with a hair dryer to make sure it penetrates. Then ride the saddle. It will be a little hard but if you keep applying neetsfoot oil and proofhide a few times a month that is all it needs.

I took my B-17 narrow out of the box and after one night of neetsfoot oil rode it for 100 miles. I was not sore. The more you ride the Brooks saddles the better they become.

My B-17 special is on my carbon bike as after 5000km of riding it is well broken in.

To care for them, there are only two things to remember:

1) If the saddle gets wet, it is not a problem just make sure it is stored in a place where it can dry out.

2) Once a month or so apply some neetsfoot oil or proofhide

3) Clean it once a season with saddle soap

4) Polish it with neutral or clear shoe polish. I have used beeswax but that tends to make the saddle a little sticky.

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