Are Brooks Saddles Comfortable?

Brooks England has been making bike saddles since 1866, and they are popularly known for their iconic vegetable-tanned leather saddles that are unrivaled on the market. The biggest question, however, is, are Brooks saddles comfortable?

Though Brooks saddles have a lengthier break-in period, and some are slightly heavy, they are pretty comfortable. Essentially, that’s because of their supportive hammock effect, ability to match your anatomy, natural ventilation, shock-absorption, soft-touch, anti-chafing, and adjustability.

I’ll explain all these arguments to help you understand what you are getting from Brooks. We’ll also look at other pros and cons to enable you to decide if the saddles are worth it.

Additionally, I’ll help you choose the right Brooks saddle, depending on your body size and riding style, among other considerations.

why are brooks saddles so good

In a rush? Check out the most comfortable Brooks saddles available on amazon below:

4 Best Brooks Saddle For Super Comfort

  1. Brooks Saddles B67: Best City Bike Brooks Saddle
  2. Brooks England B17: Best Leather Racing Brooks Saddle
  3. Cambium Saddle C13: Best Cambium Racing Brooks Saddle
  4. Brooks Saddles Flyer: Best Touring/Trekking Brooks Saddle

Are Brooks Saddles Comfortable or Uncomfortable?

In my view, Brooks saddles are comfortable, but that doesn’t mean they don’t suffer a few discomforting issues.

So, I’ll break this section down to why I believe Brooks saddles are comfortable and those that may somehow compromise their comfort.

Here we go!

Why Brooks Saddles Are Comfortable

Brooks bike saddles are generally comfortable because of these seven reasons:

1. Supportive Hammock Effect

Though Brooks leather saddles come in different styles and sizes, they all have the same design plan; a stretched leather over a strong metal frame. As a result, the stretched leather has a hammock-like effect which is pretty comfortable.

In this case, the metal framework supports the leather and the leather, in turn, offers you a stretched surface to rest on, promising adequate support.

2. Conforms to the Riders Anatomy 

Though it may take time to break in a Brooks saddle, it conforms to your shape when you do. Leather molds gradually into your body to match your anatomy.

In that case, it’ll become like it was designed for your body, and you won’t have to complain about discomfort.

3. Natural Ventilation

Brooks saddles feature small holes around the vegetable-tanned leather top to promote natural ventilation. Doing so cools your butt area after a long aggressive ride.

4. Shock Absorption 

Brooks England includes spring suspension, especially on racing and touring saddles, to absorb excess road vibration when you go over bumpy surfaces.

The saddles’ shock absorption properties also make them best for heavy guys. The only drawback of spring saddles (saddles with suspension) is that they offer less comfort.

5. Soft Touching

Though the leather surface may feel hard initially, it becomes softer after a while. So, the only uncomfortable stage is the break-in stage.

Once the saddle conforms to your body shape, it feels naturally soft. As for cambium saddles (flexible rubber), you don’t need to break them in as rubber feels naturally soft, unlike leather options.

6. Anti-Chafing properties 

Brooks leather saddles usually have a skinny surface that helps prevent chafing (rubbing against the body).

So, instead of your thighs rubbing against the saddle, which can be uncomfortable, they slide against it. That’s why the saddles are suitable for touring and racing bikes.

7. Adjustable 

Most Brooks saddles feature micro-adjust pillars, which allow you to adjust them on the go depending on your comfort level. You won’t get such adjustability features from most bike saddles.

are brooks saddles good for long rides

Why Brooks Saddle May Not Be Comfortable

Brooks saddles can be comfortable to some people because of these reasons:

a) Lengthy Break-in time

This is irrefutably the biggest drawback. You cannot expect to take the saddle out of the box, fit it and have the most comfortable ride of your life.

No! It takes about 100-500 miles of riding before you can break in the saddle. So, you have to be patient.

However, you can speed up the whole break-in by applying Proofide Leather Dressing by Brooks.

b) Saddle Weight

Compared to plastic saddles, leather saddles are pretty heavy. And since nearly 80% of Brooks saddles are leather, the majority are likely to feel slightly heavier.

But again, this doesn’t apply to all. Cambium saddles (rubber options) weigh much less than leather options.

Other Cons of Brooks Saddles

There is no denying that Brooks saddles have a lengthy break-in, and some may be weighty. Other cons include

  • High Maintenance – You need to condition the leather regularly to maintain its flexibility, aesthetic, and toughness. That means incurring the cost of the Proofide Leather Dressing (earlier mentioned).
  • Costly – Brooks saddles go for $110 and $170. That’s almost thrice the price of most plastic saddles. But given the value they promise, they are worth it.
  • Not Weather Protected – Sadly, leather saddles are not weather protected. They don’t resist weather damage, which means they limit you from continuing cycling in the rain or snow.

The only solution is using a rain seat cover like Brooks England Nylon Saddle Rain Cover.

Is The Brooks Saddle Worth It?

With the above in mind, you may wonder, are these saddles worth it? These saddles are worth it because of the following pros:

  • Comfort – As discussed, there are many reasons why Brooks saddles are comfortable. The fact that they conform to your body’s shape and have a hammock effect says a lot about their comfort.
  • Strength – Brooks England hand-builds its leather saddle from 100% vegetable-tanned leather, hence strong. Furthermore, the manufacturer employs steel frameworks (rivets and rails), making the saddles strong.
  • Durability – Leather is more durable than plastic, and as a result, Brooks leather saddles promise to serve you longer. Steel, which makes the rivets and rails, is also durable. It won’t snap under pressure.
  • Timeless Design – The aesthetic leather is timeless. And since Brooks England is historically a leather saddle brand, there are a lot of stylish saddles to pick from.
Is The Brooks Saddle Worth It

How Do I Choose a Brooks Saddle?

Brooks stocks a variety of saddles which means the choices may overwhelm you. You can, however, have an easy option by considering the following:

1. Saddle Type (Material)

Brooks England makes two saddles (differentiated by material choice); leather and cambium.

Brooks leather saddles make up more than 80% of its inventory. They are the most comfortable, most durable, and most stylish. 

Brooks leather saddles are, however, the costliest, hard to break in, and heavier. They include B67, B67s, B17, B175, Brooks flyer, Brooks Swift, and B17 Short Honey.

On the other hand, cambium saddles that date to 2014 feature vulcanized rubber and a bit of cotton textile instead of leather. So, they have a shorter break-in and are lighter, but they aren’t as comfy and durable as leather.

Brooks Cambium saddles include Cambium C13 (the narrowest), Cambium C17 (the medium), and Cambium C19 (the widest).

2. Saddle Size

Given that bike saddles generally come in different sizes, how do you size a Brooks saddle?  

One way to do it is by picking a model that matches your preferred riding angle.

This is usually applicable to Cambium options, and below is a table guide to use.

Length x WidthRiding PositionModel 
283 x 140 mm45% (athletic angle)C15/C15C
283 x 162 mm 60% (moderate angle)C17/C17C
275 x 184 mm90% (relaxed angle)C19/C19C

As for leather options, you can find your size by measuring your sit bones using these steps:

  • Sit upright on corrugated cardboard for some time
  • Sketch the impression of your sit bones on the cardboard
  • Measure the distance between the midpoint of the sit bones
  • That gives you your saddle width

3. Saddle Style

Brooks England employs different letters and names to refer to different saddle styles. They include:

  • S style (stands for shorter and indicates women’s saddles)
  • Carved (Cambium seats with cutouts)
  • Imperial (leather seats with cutouts)
  • Special (hand-hammered ‘classic’ saddles)

4. Riding Style 

It’s crucial to pick a Brooks saddle that matches your riding style. Today, Brooks England makes saddles for the following riding styles:

a) Racing 

Racing saddles are narrower and often longer, and they generally put you in a 45-degree incline riding posture.

These models originate from the historic Brooks England B17 Bike Saddle. Other options include Brooks B17s, Brooks Swift, and Cambium C13.

how do i choose a brooks saddle

b) Touring/Trekking 

Touring bikes require a saddle that puts you in a 60-degree seating angle, thus slightly leaning. Top recommendations include men’s Brooks Flyer and women’s Brooks Flyer S.

c) Urban Cycling

If you are an urban cyclist, you need an upright saddle for your city, commuter, or urban bike. These saddles usually are broader and often come with spring suspension.

They allow you to take a 90-degree seating angle and perfect examples are men’s Brooks B67 and women’s Brooks B67s.

People Also Ask

1. Why Are Brooks Saddles So Good?

Brooks England has been making bike saddles since the 1800s. Their leather saddles and now Cambium options are the standards of innovation, comfort, durability, and performance. That’s how good they are and worth what you pay for.

2. Where Are Brooks Saddles Made?

Brooks saddles are made in England but shipped to Italy, where the parent company Selle Royal is located, for worldwide distribution.

3. Are Brooks Saddles Good for Long Rides?

Yes! Brooks saddles are good for long rides. They feel comfortable once you break in, don’t cause chaffing, enjoy natural ventilation, and support your sit bones. That makes them best for touring bikes.

4. Do Any Pros Use Brooks Saddles?

While Brooks saddles are popular among touring cyclists and commuters, professional racers tend to avoid them because they are not designed for high-speed racing.

5. Which Is the Most Comfortable Brooks Saddle?

The most comfortable Brooks saddle is the Iconic Brooks B17). It has several pores to cool you off by promoting natural ventilation, enjoys a flexible soft leather touch, and doesn’t cause chafing.

6. Why Are Brooks Saddles So Expensive?

Brooks saddles are expensive because they are strong, durable, comfortable, timeless, and versatile. And of course, the brand name Brooks makes them expensive. Brooks is reputable and has a commanding market following.

Are Brooks Saddles Comfortable? Closing Remarks

When it comes to saddle comfort, Brooks England is undoubtedly the gold standard. Despite their lengthy break-in and sometimes extra weight, these saddles are everything you want in a bike seat. Brooks saddles are generally worth it.

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