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Tech The suspended leather saddle thread

microcord

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"Suspended": I mean, rather like a hammock, between cantle plate and nose. (There are also foam-covered-with-leather saddles, which are very different.)

I bought a "used" Brooks ... a Team Professional, I think it is. It was in near-new condition but at a lot less than a near-new price. I was pretty certain that it would be uncomfortable, but in one way it promised contrarily to be comfortable -- and anyway I still had a decent income at that time and I was/am stupid, so I gambled.

I've since ridden something in the order of 1000 km on it: certainly more than half that, and certainly less than double that. I thought that some people might be interested to see what the famed "breaking in" of these saddles actually means. So the day before yesterday, I photographed it:

P5046879.JPG

But perhaps you need a more detailed picture of the much-cited impression made by sit-bones. So here you go:

P5046881.JPG

That's after it got rather wet once (I rashly lack mudguards), and after no treatment (or anyway none by me) with "Proofide" or similar, or indeed anything else.

This saddle is very different from your average Brooks saddle: its leather is a lot more substantial. I've no reason to think that a B17, for example, would (not-) wear in a similar way.

(Recommended supplementary reading: this thread.)
 

jdd

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From what I've read, the team pro is the hardest/firmest model they make. So the slowest to 'break in' or conform to your sit bones. (if ever?) If you like it and it suits you, great. If not I wouldn't have much expectation that it'd get better.
 

microcord

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@jdd , there are (or have recently been) also the Swift, the Swallow, and perhaps others with comparably "unforgiving" leather.

What to me is the most interesting remark within the bikeforums.net thread to which I linked above is: "I loved my Brooks [B17] right out of the box... and then it gradually got more and more uncomfortable as it broke in." This makes sense to me. I'm happy if my Brooks stays pretty much as it is. (I've already done a "century" on it, quite comfortably.)
 

luka

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indeed, it is this shape shifting that has put me off any further consideration of suspended leather saddles. getting the saddle and its position etc right is a demanding process in itself. once the saddle itself becomes a moving target sorta, it's just not worth it imo
 

jdd

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I've got a Swift on my road bike, what I've been riding almost exclusively lately. (wish I'd sprung for the Swallow at the time)

@luka I'd disagree with the moving target idea. Think of any pair of shoes--are they best fresh out of the box the day they're purchased? Is that the standard? Or are they better after you've worn them for a while? And then when they've started feeling okay, is there some point at which they've gone too far?
 

jeffintokyo

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May 16, 2020
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I bought my brooks (B-17 standard) saddle about 2 years ago with my new Ti bike. The first time I rode it I felt I was getting a leather enema. :eek: And my butt kept sliding around on the saddle. The leather on the B-17 is quite thick. And it looks several months to break it in. Since then it feels great. Love it.

Only thing you need to watch out for it when it rains. I got rained on (weatherman said 30% chance, shakes fist) for a ride. And the dark streak you see on picture. It is also quite a bit heavier than most saddles. But I am willing to put up with that.
 

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microcord

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@luka Think of any pair of shoes--are they best fresh out of the box the day they're purchased?

The parallel with shoes is attractive, but I wonder if it's good.

If I have a pair of shoes that fits me right, and if I wear appropriate socks and do up the laces forgivingly but firmly, then I think that my feet are likely to remain in the same positions relative to the shoes all day. But I have slightly varying position relative to my saddle, depending on whether I'm going uphill or down, and I suppose also depending on which parts of the handlebar I'm grasping. I'm not sure I'd welcome the saddle nudging me to sit in this or that single position.
 

luka

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not to mention other issues like shoes being made of various smaller parts of leather stitched together, neither of which have to take significant weight. they are worn once, and then can relax for a week or two on a shoe tree. and here we have just one large piece of leather having to prop almost the full weight of a grown up person, over and over again. I've seen so many pics and examples of them sagging that I just don't want to bother with the risks at all
 
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