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 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.
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
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.
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.
Only have 300 miles on new seat, still breaking in although it does seem to be getting better. Concern included sharp edges on seat cut out caused problems at first. Did some gentle cutting around the opening which seems to have taken care of the initial issue. Very high quality leather and hardware. Hopefully another 300 or 400 miles will get it broken in.
I remember the leather saddle that came on my first ten speed forty years ago. It was not comfortable. Maybe I didn't adjust it correctly. Maybe it was a cheap brand, I don't remember. I do know it was not a Brooks.
Given that history, it took a small leap of faith to try a leather saddle again. This is my second Brooks B17 Imperial and I won't use anything else on a road bike. I might be just as happy with a Brooks without a cutout, like the Imperial has, but I don't need to experiment. The Imperial disappears when I'm riding my 18 mile commute or 60 mile days on a loaded touring bike.
I haven't used any proofide yet but I'm careful not to get it wet. I adjust the tensioner every now and then so that the saddle flexes a bit but not enough to get pinching from the cutout.
My search for a great cut-away saddle is over. This is it. It is comfortable, and the leather around the cutaway section gives the saddle just a little extra give in the sensitive parts of the anatomy. (Some so-called comfort saddles have a little hard ridge around the cutaway that kind of negates the whole point of the cutaway). The only possible issue that some people will have is weight, but that is not my top concern when it comes to my saddle.
Ordered the B17 Imperial to replace the torture slab WTB saddle that came stock on my Surly Cross Check. I couldn't be happier with it. I had developed some rear end issues over the years that have been greatly diminished with the Brooks saddle. Saddle has broken in nicely even though I had put 1,000 on it before I was able to obtain the magic Proofide. Expensive, yes, but I am sure that I will be ordering another Brooks to replace my wornout road bike saddle.