A BROOKS SADDLE – will my rear end learn to love it?

Brooks Flyer Special saddle spotted hovering above Amsterdam.

My friend Hans was lucky enough to find a Brooks saddle on the street, thrown out on hard rubbish night. He’s very happy with it, so I wanted one too.

They’re clever with their marketing, those Brooks people. Saddle makers since 1866, eh?

John Boultbee Brooks came to Birmingham and took out a patent on a bike saddle in 1862. If his saddles made a penny-farthing ride comfortable, they must be doing something right.

If someone offered you a car made to a 1866 design, you’d expect it to lack some of the zip of the 2011 model. I just checked – there was a motor car available in 1866 – Etienne Lenoir’s unfortunately named ‘Hippomobile’, powered by gas. It could cover eleven miles in less than three hours. The bike was faster, even in the days before the invention of the traffic jam.

Brooks emphasize the fact that their saddles look like 19th century jobs. They smell like them too.

My Brooks Flyer Special saddle was not cheap (and I missed getting the discounted version by a week – bummer!). Nor is it light – 810 grams. It’s built for comfort, not for speed.

Brooks insist that the leather should be treated with their own Proofide leather wax. I didn’t have any Proofide in the house, but I did have some good recommended leather saddle wax which I used instead. If it doesn’t do the job, it will be my own silly fault, I’ll admit the error of my ways and immediately get myself a can or two of Proofide. Hang the expense!

The idea of a leather saddle is that, as I ride it in, it should adapt itself to the shape of my posterior. Up till now my posterior is doing all the adapting.

Any relationship goes through its rough patches. Yet with a bit of give and take on both sides, my Brooks saddle and I should eventually settle into a state of comfortable harmony until death or knee surgery us do part.

We’ll see.

If anyone has experience of a Brooks saddle and has any advice for me on its use, care and breaking in, I’d like to hear from you.

If anyone wants to tell me Brooks saddles are a stupid waste of money, it’s too late – just shut up and let me find out for myself.


Filed under Cycling

5 responses to “A BROOKS SADDLE – will my rear end learn to love it?

  1. Good choice, Richard! It will take a while, but then you won’t want to part from it ever again. Mine has been with me for over 20 years now, moving from old bike to new bike.
    Breaking in? Patience is the trick and riding a lot.
    Use? Don’t sit on it with light trousers if it’s still wet (cover it when it rains).
    Care? I know they advice on all sorts of magic potions and lotions, but I just left it as it was. It still looks great and rides perfect.

    PS: try and find Jango Edwards’ hilarious Bicycle Seat song!

  2. steven

    Hi Richard,
    saddle looks great – i’ll visit the Sydney stockists tomorrow (after my Cronulla ride) to inspect what has so taken your fancy.

  3. Hi Richard,

    I’ve got two B-17s (one Ti and one standard). The Ti is quite comfortable after four years (it never felt all that uncomfortable, but it’s definitely softened up over time), yet the standard still feels like a rock after 2 years or so. Apparently you’re supposed to Proofide both sides. I’ve done this to the standard and, well, the saddle is still winning.

    My hunch is that the leather thickness varies between the two, whereas my weight (~150 lbs) isn’t enough to, ahem, accelerate the breaking in process. The other thing to keep in mind is that the springs on the Flyer might actually be slowing things down as well (just a guess).

    You might ask Vik (http://thelazyrando.wordpress.com/2011/04/22/brooks-saddle-experiment/) how his Brooks break-in experiment is going. Perhaps neatsfoot oil is indeed the way to go.

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