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  1. #1
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    Brooks B17 Saddle: Great Divide/Touring Saddle?

    Anybody out there using this for extended periods of riding? I'm thinking of trying them out for my Great Divide gear shakedown rides. Looking for something super comfortable and reliable for those real long days in the saddle.

    Any riders complete the Great Divide on this saddle? Please let us know of your thoughts and experiences with this saddle.

    For reference, I'm currently on a WTB Pure V, Feeling OK, but I think looking for the holy saddle.

    I also know that saddle preference is a touchy subject.

  2. #2
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    If I was riding the Great Divide, I wouldn't use anything else. The B17 is a great saddle. Just break it in before you start the tour.
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  3. #3
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    I second the recommendation on the B17. Or the B67 of Flyer if you want a B17 type saddle, but with springs.

  4. #4
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    I have put many full days on my B17 as well as a flyer and an imperial. I like the imperial the best, but I can spend many full days on any of them and my butt is never the part of me that is most sore.

  5. #5
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    I have a B17 from ~1995 that (still) fits like an old glove. It was the first saddle I did long distance rides on and I think it toughened me up so that nowadays, I can ride just about anything w/o issues. Only exception is long distance in wet conditions... that can still cause irritation.

  6. #6
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    I ride a B17 on my road bike and did my training for a 24 hour race (that got canceled) on my B17. My only complaint was bruising at the back of my legs because of its width when used over technical trails where getting behind the saddle often was needed. Comfort the rest of the time far outweighed that issue. Break it in (1-200 miles) before you head out and treat it with something so when it gets soaked it wont deform. Mine is untreated but I don't ride the great divide.

    Only saddle I can ride in jeans for more than an hour or two and feel good on.

  7. #7
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    Have you considered a Selle Anatomica? I tried a B-17 for a while, but I just couldnt get comfortable. Then I hopped on a Selle Anatomica and i havent looked back. I dont even wear padded shorts anymore.
    Like the B-17, it is a bit wide in back, making getting behind the saddle interesting.

  8. #8
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    I have actually thought about the Selle Anatomica. Only reason why I'm considering the B17 is because REI carries them they recommend I test it out with the member return policy. I'm not too concerned about getting behind the saddle too much as I have a huge saddle bag that prevents me from doing so anyway. My main concern is extended comfort.

  9. #9
    Unhinged Aussie on a 29er
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    The best way to approach all Brooks saddles is they should be comfortable at the start, and only get better with time. If you're going to try and see what will win in a battle between man/lady bits and the Brooks, the Brooks will win.

    I had a B17, didn't like it, switched to the Team Pro saddle and loved it. I use a non-Brooks saddle now even though I prefer the Brooks because it rains too frequently in Seattle.

  10. #10
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    My bikepacking bike has a B17. Saddle comfort is not an issue. I can put in long days in the saddle on tour no problem.

    I don't use padded bike shorts.



    I find Selle Anatomica saddles even more comfortable and use them on my randonneur bike for those really epic rides. I also use a SA saddle on my trail bike.

    If I was going to tour I'd use either saddle happily.

    If I was going to race with uber long days on the bike day after day I would use the SA for its edge in comfort.
    Safe riding,

    Vik
    www.vikapproved.com

  11. #11
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    I've never seen a cow dissolve because it was being rained on. I don't get this notion that a Brooks saddle should not get wet. I've even seen people wear leather shoes and jackets and stand in the rain without umbrellas, they didn't dissolve either. Just sayin.

  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by Saddle Up View Post
    I've never seen a cow dissolve because it was being rained on. I don't get this notion that a Brooks saddle should not get wet. I've even seen people wear leather shoes and jackets and stand in the rain without umbrellas, they didn't dissolve either. Just sayin.
    +1 - we use our Brooks saddles up here in the PNWet and they are fine. I see tons of Brooks saddles out and about.

    I do cover my saddle if I am going to leave it for hours in the rain, but sometimes I forget and nothing awful happens. Some people think riding a wet saddle helps in break in. I haven't done that on purpose.
    Safe riding,

    Vik
    www.vikapproved.com

  13. #13
    Unhinged Aussie on a 29er
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    Quote Originally Posted by vikb View Post
    +1 - we use our Brooks saddles up here in the PNWet and they are fine. I see tons of Brooks saddles out and about.

    I do cover my saddle if I am going to leave it for hours in the rain, but sometimes I forget and nothing awful happens. Some people think riding a wet saddle helps in break in. I haven't done that on purpose.
    From the Brooks England site: If a wet saddle is ridden not only the colour may stain your clothing, but the leather top may easily deform.

    From the Dutch Bike Company site: Do not ride a leather saddle wet. It will stretch out the leather and dramatically shorten its service life.

    By god have I experienced that staining of clothing... it's a really long story, but I was wearing a chicken suit at the time, and we had to throw the suit away. Could not get the stain out. I don't have a photo of the stain, but I do of the chicken suit. I don't know if the staining continues to happen after it's happened a few times, but once was enough.

    As funny as the cow dissolving because it gets rained on idea is, leather is not the same as a cow. Leather is the product of processing animal hide. The type of processing used affects whether it is damaged, spotted or largely unaffected by water. Leather shoes are typically unaffected but not always. I don't know what Brooks use for their waterproofing process, but from the people handling customer support at their end, the indication is that it's pretty good but not perfect.

    I've given it the wax treatment on the underside, but I rarely remember to cover my saddle when it's left out in the rain. I used to carry plastic bags, but now that Seattle has the ban on plastic bags I don't have nearly as many as I used to (there have been no plastic bags in my apartment since 3 months after the ban). It's been a while since we've just had summer, but I'm typically spending upwards of 3 hours a day in the rain, with the Brooks getting at least moderately wet in that time.

    I don't think this is an issue for someone doing a 2 month cross-country tour as this thread is supposed to advise on, but for someone using it day in, day out for commuting year round (or possibly going on an extended tour through continuous rain), it starts to sag well before what my other riding buddies in Australia are getting in terms of hours in the saddle. I had the tension bolt snap from what appears to be the saddle sagging too much, and replacing those by hand is something I never want to go through again. I'm also going to give the lacing-the-underside-of-the-brooks trick a shot too once I find someone with a leather punch. Worst case it gets some air vents...

    It won't explode and kill all women and children within a 2 mile radius to ride on a wet leather saddle, but IMO it's not exactly good for the saddle either. One of these days I'll remember to buy a shower cap or something and put the Brooks back on.

  14. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by hunter006 View Post
    From the Brooks England site: If a wet saddle is ridden not only the colour may stain your clothing, but the leather top may easily deform.

    From the Dutch Bike Company site: Do not ride a leather saddle wet. It will stretch out the leather and dramatically shorten its service life.
    I wouldn't leave a Brooks saddle out in the rain all winter by storing my bike outside, but getting it wet and riding it occasionally doesn't seem to have any effect. My GF commutes on her Brooks so it gets wet regularly and there is no issue. The rest of the Brooks saddles we see around town get wet all winter here. So far I haven't talked to anyone who has had an issue.

    We both use fenders so the saddles only get wet from rain running down our bodies and when they are locked outside during a rain. Most of our saddles are black and we haven't noticed any transfer of dye to our clothes.

    We treat our Brooks saddles a couple times a year with Proofide.

    My bikepacking seatbag protects my Brooks when touring from water coming up from the rear wheel.

    My Selle Antatomica saddles are waterproof leather and never need treating and have been left outside in pouring rain for days at a time on tour. I have never treated mine.
    Safe riding,

    Vik
    www.vikapproved.com

  15. #15
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    Hi Vik,

    I've always been curious, why no bike padded bike shorts? When did you make the switch? Maybe this is my issue? I was on the 3 day multi this summer in Yosemite and got my first saddle sore. Not cool. I know you have a lot of experience touring so did you used to ride with padded shorts?

    Also ever get a bike fit or just fiddled on your own. I'm pretty in tuned with how I feel on my bike but sometimes still get a little numb here and there which I know is not good. I'm hoping a bike fit will resolve these minor issues.

  16. #16
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    Quote Originally Posted by VO2 Lax View Post
    Hi Vik,

    I've always been curious, why no bike padded bike shorts? When did you make the switch? Maybe this is my issue? I was on the 3 day multi this summer in Yosemite and got my first saddle sore. Not cool. I know you have a lot of experience touring so did you used to ride with padded shorts?
    I spent 25yrs or so riding on plastic saddles and padded shorts in varying levels of discomfort. I tried dozens of each item trying to find a good match. It was bad enough that butt pain was the limiting factor for my riding.

    One day I get a Brooks saddle based on somebody's post on the interwebs. I figured it was a crazy idea - leather??!??! - but I had nothing to lose. Amazingly it was pretty comfy, but my padded shorts felt weird on the hard leather so I ditched them and never looked back.

    Now I hardly ever think about my butt or my saddle when riding - even 12-14hrs all day epics. And the second I am off the bike I pretty much forget I've been riding all day other than being tired.

    That's a huge change from my plastic saddle days.

    I typically wear Exofficio boxer briefs on tour. They don't have much in the way of crotch seams, they wash and dry fast and they are breathable on hot days.

    I don't want to come off as a leather saddle zealot. Everyone is different so I can't say that what works for me will work for someone else. However, I know enough people who are very happy riding leather saddles after lots of issues with plastic saddles that I can suggest it as a reasonable option to check out.

    One major issue with bike touring is keeping your butt clean to avoid infections.

    How to keep your butt clean on tour? | The Lazy Rando Blog...

    I found with padded bike shorts they took so long to dry I couldn't clean them as often as I would have liked. With travel boxer briefs I can clean and dry them daily if I want.

    I gotta say when I see riders in padded bike shorts I never ever think "I miss those days!".

    Quote Originally Posted by VO2 Lax View Post
    Also ever get a bike fit or just fiddled on your own. I'm pretty in tuned with how I feel on my bike but sometimes still get a little numb here and there which I know is not good. I'm hoping a bike fit will resolve these minor issues.
    I kept meaning to get a real bike fit, but after plugging away at it I seem to be pretty successful tweaking my bikes to get comfortable.

    If you are having persistent issues you can't resolve I would give a bike fit a shot. If you see an improvement - awesome and if not you tried something new to solve the issue.
    Safe riding,

    Vik
    www.vikapproved.com

  17. #17
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    Thanks for taking the time out to answer my questions. I'm going to give it a try and give your blog posting a read about keep the bum clean.

  18. #18
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    I can't stress enough how big a role the choice of seatpost plays in my comfort level when using a Brooks saddle. The greater the setback on the post the easier it is to compensate for the short rear biased saddle rails typical of Brooks saddles. The Truvativ Stylo comes in a 25mm seatback option. I haven't used padded shorts for quite sometime. I combine the leather of a Brooks saddle with Merino wool of Ice Breaker underwear.

    Brooks B-17 Flyer

  19. #19
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    I didn't complete the Tour Divide, but I made it twelve days to Togwotee Lodge in Wyoming on a Brooks B-17. I had a small saddle sore about day 5 or 6, but it was just a little too far forward. I made a slight adjustment, and had no further issues. Irregardless of what saddle you choose, I would STRONGLY suggest getting a professional bike fit before you go. It will be worth every penny. Best of luck, it's a monster!

  20. #20
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    OK,I tried the Brooks B17 on a shakedown run this weekend, a short 40 mile round trip with decent climbing, 90% dirt. On my way to camp, I went with a wool underwear, I don't think it's for me due to the amount of sweat I output. Started off comfortable, but ended up a bit painful and that was just toward the end of a 20 mile ride so... we get it.

    On the way back, I wore padded shorts. Much better, but was sliding forward so I stopped and made some minor adjustments and that help. The 20 miles back home didn't have too many climbs so I'm not sure if that minimized time in the saddle helped? I feel like I'm close to get it it right but am not sure. I'm going to stick with it for a while, tweak things here and there and see how it feels. Obviously 40 miles round trip will not give me a real sense of how comfortable it is but I have to start some where.

    I will say that this saddle is not too cool while climbing single track in just a pair of underwear. The padded shorts did help a little but not much.

    At this point I'm down to the WTB Pure V and Brooks, just need to decide before I commit to a real bike fit.

  21. #21
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    Quote Originally Posted by VO2 Lax View Post
    OK,I tried the Brooks B17 on a shakedown run this weekend, a short 40 mile round trip with decent climbing, 90% dirt. On my way to camp, I went with a wool underwear, I don't think it's for me due to the amount of sweat I output. Started off comfortable, but ended up a bit painful and that was just toward the end of a 20 mile ride so... we get it.
    Some people need 1000kms+ to get their Brooks saddles broken in.

    I put a Brooks on my GF's commuter bike and she came home from her first commute totally unhappy with it. I suggested she try a bit longer before I put her old plastic saddle back on. She agreed and rode for another week, but still wanted that Brooks gone. I was called away for a 4 week project out of town and didn't get the saddles swapped and totally forgot about it. When I got home I told her I'd get those saddles swapped and apologized for not doing it before I left.

    She looked at me and said "No way I love that saddle!".

    Everyone is different and you may not enjoy your B17 even after a longer trial period, but just a head's up that you may not get a good feel for how it will perform unless you give it a longer term test period.

    One Brooks tip I setup all my B17's pointed nose up. They look like they would be uncomfortable, but once you compress the leather it makes for a nice platform for the butt. If I set them up level I am always sliding forward off them.

    BTW - the Selle Anatomica saddles have no break in period so if you don't want to invest the time and still want to check out a leather saddle they are worth a look.
    Safe riding,

    Vik
    www.vikapproved.com

  22. #22
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    Yeah, you need way more than 40 miles to break in a Brooks. You might still not like it, but you should give it a fair shot.
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  23. #23
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    Oh no. I'm giving it a fair shot, I'm not giving up on it. Like I said, 40 miles is nothing but I have to start somewhere. Just adding to the thread my first ride impression that's all.

    As much as I'd love to try out the Selle Italia, I'm in between work right now so my days of experimenting are limited for now.

    Thanks all for the input.

  24. #24
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    Baseball glove conditioner can help reduce the amount of break-in time.

  25. #25
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    Quote Originally Posted by xjcrawlr View Post
    Have you considered a Selle Anatomica? I tried a B-17 for a while, but I just couldnt get comfortable. Then I hopped on a Selle Anatomica and i havent looked back. I dont even wear padded shorts anymore.
    Like the B-17, it is a bit wide in back, making getting behind the saddle interesting.
    This.

    All my bikes have Selle Anatomica saddles now.
    GRAVELBIKE.COM - ride everything

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