A B17 truism is that it takes 500 miles to break it in, and there will be discomfort if not outright pain until you do.
Maybe because I was expecting a bit of agony, I was surprised when it felt so good right out of the box. Stiff, sure, but the venerable shape of it really works. And here's the thing--after 150 miles on it I can already feel this little miracle happening: it's changing to me, it's becoming almost part of me in a way that man-made-materials saddles cannot.
I am a frequent rider of 40 years duration. I ride road, hybrid and beach cruiser bikes. I bought the Brooks B17 Special to replace my retired (couldn't tighten the tension screw any more), 25 year old Brooks B17 Standard. I had a Special on my bike many years ago, which I loved but was stolen, and a Standard was available so I bought it. As many riders have noted, saddles are very individual to the rider as far as what works and is comfortable. They generally have to be purchased and ridden to see if they are right for that rider. I have a bag of a dozen saddles in my garage that didn't make the cut. The Brooks B17s, either Special or Standard, are not cheap but worth every penny. Though many riders report they have to break theirs in, both were comfortable for me right out of the box. They are beautifully constructed. If you have not found a comfortable saddle in the usual vinyl/ padded variety, try the Brooks B17 Special. My old one was rained on and sloshed through puddles repeatedly- no adverse effect as long as you apply saddle conditioner (Proofide recommended) as needed.
There are cheaper seats out there, but none more comfortable. Takes some time to get it broken in, but once you get 1000 miles on it, you won't go back. Have 4 bikes, have 3 Brooks. Need to upgrade the 4th because I always dread riding it.
There's a reason there are so many other saddles out there They're all uncomfortable and keep trying to get the right geometry for each rider, and mostly fail.
There's a reason there are so few Brooks models Get the right width, and the saddle will conform to your backside. Don't need to get the perfect fit because the saddle will bend to fit you, not the other way around. And once it fits your particular anatomy - Bliss
Break-In - When you get the saddle, turn your oven on the lowest setting (no more than 150F) and liberally coat the underside of the saddle with Proofide. Put it in the oven upside down and let the Proofide soak in. Repeat. Repeat until it stops soaking it up (you'll be surprised how much it will take). Then saddle up and go riding. Will definitely darken the lighter colors, but your backside will never regret spending the extra few bucks.
I have about 2 months of use on the Brooks B17. I use it on an All City Space Horse for my daily commuter and weekend distance rides. The saddle is very comfortable and keeps getting better. I like how the saddle flexes slightly when I hit bumps then returns to its shape. It's a very subtle hammock feeling. I should have switched to a Brooks leather saddle sooner, using it I have not experienced hot spots from sitting or saddle sores, and with foam to hold in the heat I feel cooler.
After putting 6000 miles on a B17 on my graveltouring bike, I broke down and purchased one for my road bike, a Cervelo RS. It replaced a Sella Italia Flight Ti, which is a pretty comfortable light weight saddle. The Brooks beats the Flight hands down on comfort, and the added weight doesnt bother me as I dont race. The copper rivets look great on the black saddle too.
Beautiful looking saddle. Caused very sore butt first couple rides then better. If comfort is your cause, this wouldn't be my pick. For me it was a look to go with my vintage bike. After 10 rides it is comfortable enough and fine for 40-50 k for me.
I have B17s on 4 of my bicycles. I road on a Brooks Professional for many years but the B17 is that much better.
It only requires protection from the rain. Don't leave it outside in wet weather and never ride it in the rain.
These seats will last indefinitely and if anything, become even more comfortable over time.
But good right out of the box.
I will never ride on anything else.
So far I have three rides on the Brooks Saddle. So far it has been better than my previous saddle ever was. My first ride was 45 minutes long and it felt great the ride. The second ride was almost two hours, after about an hour I started feeling my backside, after standing for a bit when I sat back down the saddle was comfortable again, worked every time. I rode for about 90 minutes this morning and still good. I used the Proofide on it as directed. One of the reviews recommended putting the saddle in the oven, I didn't do that but I did put it in my car with the windows closed while I mowed the grass, don't know if it helped or not.
The saddle is a little shorter than my prior saddle and sits up higher. I may need a setback seat post to get in the same position as I used to, I can't sit as far back as I would like.
I have a B17 Special and a Standard B17 the leather is the same on both models . The difference from Special and the Standard is just the copper rivets and on the Special they are hand hammered and the leather is chamfered on the skirt on the saddle. The B17 Select has different leather than the other 2. I have been to the factory in the U.K. Both saddles were comfortable from day one for me. Great all day comfort at least for me. I'm a big guy 6ft2in 195lbs. The Brooks are on my road bikes and I've done double century's with the B17's. Next saddle will be a B17 Select just because I like the looks of it, if the price ever comes down.
The Brooks B17 is already the standard to which all other leather bike saddle makers aspire. Add these large copper rivets and you have something truly special. I like this saddle even better than my Brooks Professional because it's a bit wider and it has saddle-bag loops, which the Professional lacks. I look forward to many years of comfortable riding on this beauty.
This is my first unsprung leather saddle. I'm using it on a Rivendell Hillborne build, which seats me pretty upright with albatross bars. I appreciate that the leather is smooth, so it won't erode my pants like saddles with stitching or perforated surfaces have done in the past. I got the Special for the look of the copper rivets and the tapered edge, figuring that I'll have the saddle for at least 10 years, so cost is not an issue over time. The saddle does look great, and very appropriate for a bike with classic lines.
I bought this as a birthday gift to myself. The nose of the saddle is twisted. I know that the saddles are hand made, but the the quality control is not there. I'm so disappointed.
I've owned five other Brooks saddles (B17 standard, Team Pro, Team Pro Special, Cambium C17) and have not found one better than this for my commutertouring bike.
- Comfortable from day one and gets better with time
- Absolutely gorgeous. The copper rivets set it apart from others and get better with age with a beautiful patina.
- Durable. I've had one B17 for 3 years and only got rid of it because I sold it with the bike. They last a LONG time.
- Price. Upgrading to the special is expensive. Honestly, the B17 standard is as comfortable and durable, just less beautiful.
- Susceptible to weather. Don't let this get wet! Leather deteriorates if it gets soaked. Buy a cover or use a plastic bag if you have to. If you don't want the hassle of covering it when parked in the rain, buy a cambium, but you will sacrifice on comfort.
This saddle is great for commuting and touring. For sports cycling like road biking and mountain biking, I would prefer the narrower Team Pro, Swift, or Cambium C17C15.
I rode this saddle on Pac Tour Transcontinental 126mi per day for 25 straight days. You will see LOTS of ultra-distance cyclists on Brooks. And I never had a comfort issue from day one, no break-in needed. (But I know some people do.) Downside it's heavy. Small price to pay for most riders.