Treat your cheeks
If you’re a bike rider (and we’re assuming you are, being on this website), you’ve probably heard of Brooks leather saddles. But are Brooks saddles comfortable? And why do they have such a devoted following? Let’s take a visit to the world of Brooks.
The first interesting thing about Brooks leather saddles is the fact that they’re handmade, a rarity in the bicycle industry, let alone in a worldwide brand. In fact, Brooks have been hand-crafting their saddles in England since the 1880s. Your grandfather’s grandfather may have had one; that’s how old they are. (No offence to your grandfather’s grandfather.)
Well, the handmade bit and the history is nice, but why would you choose a Brooks saddle over a modern synthetic saddle?
One simple reason: the comfort.
Brooks saddles are great to sit on straight out of the box, but that’s not the reason people usually buy them. The thing that makes them unique is the fact that, as you ride a Brooks saddle, the leather gradually breaks in to follow the contours of your body. Over time, it moulds itself to fit you and your sit bones, and you end up with a custom-fitting saddle.
Technically anybody can use a Brooks saddle, but most of our Brooks customers tend to be discerning commuters and touring cyclists who want a comfy saddle that they know will last for years and years. Sometimes people just buy them for the looks, too – they have a pretty distinct aesthetic, and are often the finishing touch to a retro bike, tourer or custom build.
The breaking-in process starts pretty much straight away, but it’s usually fully broken in at the 1000km mark. If you’re riding regularly, this milestone comes along a lot faster than you’d think. You can often see the beginning of sit bone shaping after a few hundred kilometres, which is pretty cool. (If you’re nerdy about this kind of thing, like we are. *cough*)
To help break in a Brooks saddle, we always recommend using Proofide, which is Brooks’s proprietary conditioning product, like a wax. During the breaking-in process, the saddle should be waxed every couple of weeks. After it’s broken in, you only need to do it every six months or so to keep it in good condition.
Like cats, Brooks leather saddles really don’t enjoy getting wet. You can pick up a handy cover if you have to leave your bike outside in the rain, but a super-simple option is to just pop a plastic bag up under the rails in wet weather to help prevent road grime.
By looking after your Brooks, it will last you a lifetime. You’ll have a custom-fitting, super-comfortable saddle which will be your faithful cycling companion for decades. It’s pretty hard to argue with that.
Alternately, if this all sounds like too much palaver, why not check out the Brooks Cambium range? These saddles are made out of vulcanized natural rubber and organic cotton. There’s no breaking-in period and no maintenance. Everybody wins!
Come and check out the Brooks range in-store at BMCR.