The connection between rider and bike is a delicate art and science, and few brands have had such a lasting impact on keeping us comfortable as Brooks. Since 1866, ownership of a Brooks saddle has usually meant a years-long relationship with the brand, often carrying the saddle between bikes throughout our cycling lives.
In Issue 117 of Rouleur magazine: Body, editor Edward Pickering spoke to four riders whose Brooks-equipped bikes are integral parts of their lives. Realising this phenomena was clearly not unique to these four individuals, we wanted to find out from you, our Rouleur readers, how your Brooks saddle has helped you on your cycling journey.
Here are some of our favourite saddle stories:
Saddle: Brooks Swift
"For my 30th birthday I was gifted a hand-built Roberts bikes. The frame from my parents, my wife and kids brought the bars and groupset, my sister the Brooks bar tape and my nana (now 96) the saddle.
"I’ve ridden 12,000 miles on the bike to date. I had it re-sprayed by Sven Cycles last winter and put on a new set of wheels/groupset. The saddle is barely broken in. Plenty of miles left. But the most important thing to me is that it was gifted by my nana who won’t always be around but will be a part of every ride I go on.
"She was/is a keen walker and always talked about the connection of the right footwear to the ground. I get the same from the saddle to the bike."
Saddle: Brooks B17
"As any Brooks saddle user will know, the leather gradually forms around the pelvic sit bones. As I ride the bike regularly, it did not take too long before it created a custom seat shape for my anatomy. I have now surpassed 20,000 miles on that saddle, it’s 10 years old and is still in great condition. Apart from a few minor scratches, it’s like sitting in an armchair, being very comfortable, even on the longest rides I have done over 100 miles. Over the years, it has needed to be tightened up as the leather has stretched, but there is still life in it.
"Since buying that initial Brooks B17 I have also bought several others, being a B17 Standard in black, which was second hand on a Bob Jackson WorldTour bike I bought second hand around 2015 for touring. I’ve also got another B17 Standard in brown and two Brooks Imperial’s with the cut-out section which has laces to adjust the tension, these are superb and are very comfortable from purchase.
"It was about a year or so after I bought my first saddle that I organised a visit to the Brooks factory in Smethwick for my cycling club. This was a midweek visit and so only a handful of members were able to attend, but we had a superb time being guided around the factory to see the manufacturing process. In some ways it was like going back in time to see the old machinery and craftsmen and women at work. I’ve used other saddles since buying that first one, but I can honestly say that I’ve not found one to be as comfortable and I expect that they will outlast me."
Saddle: Brooks Cambium C15
"I bought my Cambium C15 saddle when they first came out, circa 2015. I've had it on several bikes, I've even sold it and bought it back at one point. I've ridden it around Iceland and done a tonne of commuting on it. After the first year, the dark brown saddle had faded significantly. Initially I was worried on how the seat would last, but it's been perfect and I've grown to like the less saturated look. The faded look and signs of use make it unique – it's my saddle and there's none just like it."
Saddle: Brooks Team Professional
"My honey Team Professional has a sheen from daily use that no amount of boot polish and Brasso could hope to achieve. My shape imprinted in the leather poses a question of ownership: does the saddle belong to me or do I belong to the saddle?
"It has scars on each side that echo scars on each side of me. It's curious that the leather appears to heal over over time and both our scars fade. Twenty years ago, when the saddle was new, it sat on a Dawes Galaxy I'd bought from a friend for £20, had a powder coated cement mixer orange colour and I would ride to work across the southern edge of the Lake District. The Galaxy wrote off a Fiesta and itself, but the saddle and I survived.
"Today the seat and I scuttle across town on a frame built in the mid-80s by my local bike shop, and we'll do the same tomorrow. While trying to notice the saddle riding home in the early evening twilight, I found it hard to work out where I end and the saddle begins. Maybe that's the point."
Saddle: Brooks Cambium C17
"Now that I focus solely on road bikes I still try and stay in touch with the technology available that can enhance my cycling experience and convenience. However, this technology just for sakes seems to have increased greatly of late. I was so pleased to read many of the sentiments I feel echoed in the excellent article with Tom Ritchey, that the industry now creates solutions for non-existent problems – and I chuckled as I too just want an iPhone 6 that works (mine currently haemorrhaging apps that are now unsupportable).
"Through all of this, Brooks saddles have been a constant. I have a C17 on my Factor O2, which looks, I must say, absolutely stunning on a bike so modern. It has kept me comfy on some huge days. My Marin Bobcat Trail circa 93' rocked a Brooks saddle that was given me by an older brother of a friend – the colour was right, so on it went. However, I soon noticed the comfort and it lasted.
"Brooks are just so well made, with love. Functional and stylish (just like so much of cycling) it holds its own. Now. Then. For years. I love it. I'll never ride another saddle."