Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Brooks B17 Select Follow-Up

Saddles can be such a difficult thing to choose. Just because one person loves a saddle doesn't mean it's necessarily the right one for another individual. I am aware of many ladies of various shapes and sizes who love their Terry saddles, but I have yet to find one that I find comfortable. After deciding to move forward with the purchase of the Surly Pacer earlier this year, I went through quite a plethora of seats for the bike, and ultimately settled on a Brooks B-17 Select that I was able to find locally. I chose it because I've been fairly happy with Brooks on most of my bikes, and because after trying out several other cushioned saddles, I realized that the cushioning did more harm than good when riding distances longer than a few miles. As you may recall, I was a little concerned about how hard the saddle felt to the touch (I believe my more precise phrasing was something like my fingers rapping on it sounded like a woodpecker in a tree).
After having the saddle now for a few months and having a bit of time with it, I am pleased to report that, while it is still not broken in, it is becoming more comfortable each time I ride. I think I am most amazed that something that is still hard as a rock can be more comfortable than a saddle with gel or other cushioning material. This one may be a challenge to soften, but I am certainly not disliking the ride even while I wait out the break in period. I'm a bit hesitant to ride it these days because we've had snow, followed by extremely cold days, which have created a lot of large icy spots on the roads (we have warmed slightly though, so perhaps it will melt off in the coming days), but I'm sure it will still get used through the winter months, depending on road conditions.
One of the other odd realities of this saddle has been how different the color of the leather has become. When I purchased the B-17 it was a very light, natural color. It wasn't white, but certainly not as dark as the honey color sold on other B-17 models. Even though I had noticed a change in the saddle color over time, when comparing the photos of day one compared to its current state, I am amazed at how much darker the saddle has become. I wouldn't say it's quite honey colored yet, but I'm wondering how much darker it will become over time and with continued proofide application? I hadn't experienced this phenomenon with my other Brooks saddles (likely because they have been dark brown or black and it simply isn't as noticeable), but I am interested to see if it continues to darken or if it has reached its darkest level of saturation. Has anyone had experience with this specific saddle and the color-changing issue? I'd love to know what your experience has been. I don't find the color unattractive, I'm just a bit surprised at how much darker it has become.


  1. My B67s (aged) saddle started out as a light colour, very close to your B17. Now it's a dark, chocolatey brown. I don't know if the fact that I mostly wear dark pants/skirts has anything to do with that, but I really like the colour.

    Because my B67 was pre-aged, I didn't have to use Proofide on the saddle.

  2. I wonder about the darker pants too, Cecily. I tend to wear dark colored pants whether riding or not, so I'm wondering if that is affecting the color as well. I do like that the aged saddles don't require proofide. Probably should've thought about that when buying! :O)

  3. Natural untreated leather will tan just like human skin with exposure to the sun. The straps on Louis Vuitton purses, for example are light pinkish beige when purchased and then pick up a patina when exposed to to outdoors. In the summertime, they can turn dark brown and then seem to fade a little when kept inside. My honey Brooks darkens in the summer, as well, and I never apply proofhide.

  4. I always used Brooks B17 Standard saddles even on "cheap" bicycles because nothing comes close comfort wise but I'd bet that there are no two identical saddles; this is undoubtedly due to the fact that Brooks uses real leather. From my experience I noticed that I sometimes had to increase the tension considerably on some saddles over the months and not so much (or not at all) with another saddle. I even had two rip apart along the long axis but Brooks replaced them no charge.

    A little bit of warning… never wear white shorts or trousers of skirts especially on hot summer days, even with honey or Select (natural) saddles! I made the mistake once…

  5. It's likely the Proofide making it darker.

    A bit of help in breaking in the B-17? Place a moist rag on top of the saddle about an hour before you ride. The moisture will help it settle in a bit faster. Be fore warned --- don't wear anything you care about staining.

  6. Thanks for all the tips and helpful hints! :O) I'm trying to remember the last time I wore white pants when riding... The last time I ended up with black saddle marks all over my rear. That was a fun day.


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