Sunday, November 9, 2014

Apples & Oranges: 2 Brooks Saddles

I first started riding on a Brooks saddle last year when I had the Soma Buena Vista built up. For a mixte bike for commuting and errands, I wanted something comfortable and stylish. The Brooks B67 met both criteria equally well. The wide coverage of its shape and the dual springs were more than enough for my lean posterior. With its beautiful brown leather, stamped with the model number along its sides, and the classical rivets were in some ways the best part of the bike.

Naturally, I wanted to continue the Brooks tradition on my new Sam Hillborne. I opted for the traditional B17, the Brooks flagship saddle. After all, the folks at Rivendell swear by it. And who am I to argue against a saddle that's been around for over 100 years?

I was excited to get onto the B17 and set out for the 5-mile loop around Point Defiance Park. Initially, settling into the saddle was a bit of a rude awakening. I found the leather to be firm (as it should be) but unforgiving. I may as well have been sitting on a block of concrete. By the time I returned home from a roundtrip of around 15 miles, my bottom was noticeably sore. I had been so pleased with the B67 and expected nothing less of the B17. What I didn't consider was obvious: each model is built with its own purpose.

It's very possible that the B17 will be much more comfortable once I'm through the break-in period. While the B67 didn't require any break-in, it's also possible that I may not sing its praises on a long-distance ride. Its wide profile may be more noticeable with every pedal stroke after 50 miles in. I'm not a heavy person, so I admit that the squeaky springs could get annoying after awhile.

While no product can please every single person, I'm hoping that the B17 will live up to its reputation and my expectations after a few more rides. Brooks saddles aren't cheap and I can't afford to experiment with all of their various models. If the B17 doesn't work out, I may consider the Flyer, which would combine the same width of the B17 and incorporates the dual-spring suspension similar to the B67.

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