I'm getting older and it's become harder for me to get and stay comfortable on longer rides. This past winter I've tried a half dozen different brands and styles of saddle. Some were better than others and brought improvements which typically turned out to be relatively short-lived. And then I bought a Brooks B17 for my touring bike. Instantly, I felt more comfortable in the saddle than I have in years. An immediate settled-ness and fit. It's terrific and well worth the extra 100 grams. I'm considering getting Brooks saddles for all my other bikes.
I have put off purchasing a Brooks saddle since I was 20 years old - 40 years ago. During these years of separation, I have ridden every make and model of saddle on the market that now pile high in a cardboard box in my closet. Piled just as high are the butt calluses I accumulated riding over 8,000 every year commuting to work, racing, and bike touring across the United States. It has taken a long time to return to my roots in the 70's when I rode Masi, Ital Vega, Raleigh, and other great Brooks holders of the era. But I'm back, here to stay, like finding a high school sweetheart at your 40-year reunion.
The saddle is Brooks quality, very nice. The color is as advertised, it is exactly what I was looking for. Breaking in has taken a few 20 mile rides and is now sitting on perhaps my favorite ride. Looking forward to many more rides in the future, that wouldn't be the case if the saddle had not broken in well.
I took my partially broken in B17 and my WTB saddles on my coast to coast trip last year. The idea was that if I got a little sore I could switch saddles for a day or two for some relief. By the time I crossed the Cascades I stowed my WTB and dropped it with a friend in Boise. It took 37 riding days to cross the US. Of those 37 days only 8 days were without rain of varying degrees(don't cross the US in the Northern climes in the spring time). I treated the saddle about 4 times, top and bottom, during the crossing. I thought it held up extremely well considering the water torture it endured. I'm still riding it approximately 20 milesday commuting to and from work. The Brits know quality especially in bike saddles. If I had one critique it would be how long it took me to break it in. But it was well worth it. Without a doubt I will exit this life with Brooks on my bike.
This is the fourth Brooks saddle I've owned and by far my favorite. The best part is you don't even notice it while riding, it's just there as a natural extension of the bike. Shock absorbing in the city and a source of ease and comfort for miles, this is the one for me from now on.
Bought my saddle 2 weeks before a 720 mile 1 week round trip Madison WI. to Minneapolis Minnesota. 6 days of consecutive 100 mile centuries and no issues with comfort. The saddle is weighty but comfortable so I'll go for that anyday
Monkey see monkey do... Go show up to a rando ride and count the number of Brooks chosen by cyclist who regularly ride 200K to 1200K events. The first time you sit on your Brooks Saddle you will think eh... its pretty good (I road mine fresh out of the box on a 300K event with no problems)
The first time you ride your bike after your saddle is broken in (For me this was at mile 819) you will think Holy smokes! This is wonderful... now I understand why all those old dudes use these saddles!
The bottom line is that once your saddle becomes shaped to YOUR BUTT you will never have a saddle problem again. Just like breaking in a good pair of boots....
I have some experience with leather cut-out saddles, as I've owned three Selle An-Atomica versions. The Selle is very comfortable and compliant, but the Brooks Imperial is less expensive, and provides a firmer feel while still providing the benefits of the cutout. This was my first Brooks saddle purchase. The perineal cutout seemed perfectly sized and positioned for me, but the saddle feels fairly wide for my sit bones, I think I might try a B17 Narrow Imperil, if I have occasion to purchase another Brooks saddle in the future. The best part of the B17 Imperial was the absolute lack of any painful/uncomfortable break-in period so often associated with Brooks saddles.
What is there to say about this saddle that hasn't been said before? It's the standard for bicycle enthusiasts, and those who want a classic handsome saddle for their vintage beasts. Many people worry about the break in period, I havent found it to be too bad of an issue (that said I havent taken a brand new saddle out on a big tour)
People also go back and forth about the difference the cut out makes on the imperial makes. I own two B17 standards and two B17 Imperials. The difference is indistinguishable. If you wanna save a few bucks, get the standard. If you must have chrome rails, or like the look of the cut out, get the imperial.