Home

Not everyone's 'cup of tea' but I like Brooks saddles (usual reasons), although recently they've been breaking on me.  My B17 Imperial (fitted to a town/hybrid bike) rails completely snapped; it had been in use for at least 5 years and Brooks repaired it.  I have a Swift on a steel road bike and a year ago I noticed the tension pin was bent (slightly) downwards; got Brooks to replace that.  Subsequently I've been keeping an eye on leather tension, although the on-line advice ranges from 'don't touch it' to tension (relatively) regularly to avoid sag (all very confusing); I just press down on the saddle to gauge the tension in the leather.  The Swift started creaking the other day and, on checking, the tension pin was bent upwards and partially sheared.  I've ordered some spare tension pins but reliability seems to be an issue; saddles aren't something you expect to break mid-ride.  I've also got a Team Pro Alpe d'Huez special edition which is now on the steel bike; that bike went up Alpe d'Huez so maybe it was trying to tell me something!

12 comments

Avatar
Welsh boy [680 posts] 1 month ago
1 like

I would give up on them if I had broken that many.  Spend your money on something more reliable.

Avatar
Philh68 [43 posts] 1 month ago
4 likes

I’m in the “don’t touch” camp - once the saddle is broken in and provided you keep the leather conditioned, it shouldn’t change. If you keep tensioning the leather, it’s like repeating the break-in over and over. It will eventually fail. Tension is to maintain the overall shape not the stiffness. The gauge is your posterior not your fingers.

If tension pins are bending it should be telling you there’s too much tension. Or alternately, your saddle may be too high and you are rocking, causing torsional loads on the pins and rails. Maybe a combination of both.

Avatar
NickJP [11 posts] 1 month ago
0 likes

Ditto on the "don't change the tension" for me as well. I've been riding leather saddles for more than 40 years, and I can't recall that I've ever adjusted the tension on any of them - one of them had over 100,000km on it by the time I retired it. Nor have I had any problems with breakage of the saddle rails or frames, and several of the saddles have had titanium rails/frame, the oldest of those having had now almost 20 years of use.  Mostly Brooks saddles, though the last three saddles I've bought have been one from Rivet and two from Berthoud, as I think the quality of those is better than that from Brooks these days.

If you're prone to breaking things then Berthoud, in particular, is good as they have spare parts for the saddles: https://berthoudcycles.fr/en/128-accessories-and-spared-parts.

Berthoud have an interesting video showing the production of leather saddles here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=K0OeHK6sVEw.

Avatar
Scoob_84 [485 posts] 1 month ago
0 likes

I've just logged in to register my hatred for my brooks swift saddle. It looks beautiful, which is why bought it, but its nothing short of a torture device. It's pure evil, and thankfully its been tossed away in a box somewhere in my attic never to see the light of day again. 

Avatar
ktache [1994 posts] 1 month ago
0 likes

Cheers NickJP, now I'm never going to get one, but it is marvellous that something this lovely looking exists.

 

Avatar
Welsh boy [680 posts] 1 month ago
1 like
ktache wrote:

Cheers NickJP, now I'm never going to get one, but it is marvellous that something this lovely looking exists.

 

What is "lovely looking" in that picture?

Avatar
ConcordeCX [1167 posts] 1 month ago
1 like
Welsh boy wrote:
ktache wrote:

Cheers NickJP, now I'm never going to get one, but it is marvellous that something this lovely looking exists.

 

What is "lovely looking" in that picture?

I have a Berthoud Aspin in black, not that strange faux-cork. They really are beautiful saddles, and extremely comfortable hour after hour, week after week of touring. Much better than Brooks in my experience.

 

Avatar
Shades [491 posts] 1 month ago
0 likes
Scoob_84 wrote:

I've just logged in to register my hatred for my brooks swift saddle. It looks beautiful, which is why bought it, but its nothing short of a torture device. It's pure evil, and thankfully its been tossed away in a box somewhere in my attic never to see the light of day again. 

Flog it on e-bay; they hold their value well.

Never had a comfort issue with the Swift but the Team Pro feels better; recall it was a design 'spun-off' from the B17 in the 50s/60s for racers, and the B17 is the one that (most) people find v comfortable.

Avatar
Shades [491 posts] 1 month ago
0 likes
Philh68 wrote:

I’m in the “don’t touch” camp - once the saddle is broken in and provided you keep the leather conditioned, it shouldn’t change. If you keep tensioning the leather, it’s like repeating the break-in over and over. It will eventually fail. Tension is to maintain the overall shape not the stiffness. The gauge is your posterior not your fingers.

If tension pins are bending it should be telling you there’s too much tension. Or alternately, your saddle may be too high and you are rocking, causing torsional loads on the pins and rails. Maybe a combination of both.

Will give that approach a go.  Don't think the state of British roads helps when the bike feels like it's being bashed around about like a ship in a storm.

Avatar
Jimnm [323 posts] 1 month ago
1 like

Do these saddles have weight limits? Anyone

Avatar
matthewn5 [1406 posts] 3 weeks ago
0 likes

+1 for "don't tension"... I had a lovely 40 year old Wrights saddle (made by Brooks), beautifully worn in, that I took a spanner to... needless to say, it broke the next time it was ridden (by my nephew's friend, not me).

Avatar
foghorn [4 posts] 2 weeks ago
0 likes
NickJP wrote:

Ditto on the "don't change the tension" for me as well. I've been riding leather saddles for more than 40 years, and I can't recall that I've ever adjusted the tension on any of them - one of them had over 100,000km on it by the time I retired it. Nor have I had any problems with breakage of the saddle rails or frames, and several of the saddles have had titanium rails/frame, the oldest of those having had now almost 20 years of use.  Mostly Brooks saddles, though the last three saddles I've bought have been one from Rivet and two from Berthoud, as I think the quality of those is better than that from Brooks these days.

If you're prone to breaking things then Berthoud, in particular, is good as they have spare parts for the saddles: https://berthoudcycles.fr/en/128-accessories-and-spared-parts.

Berthoud have an interesting video showing the production of leather saddles here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=K0OeHK6sVEw.

 

I agree with you on the (way) better quality of Berthoud over recent Brooks. I think it has mainly to do with the leather, which has become really thin (in the 2,5-3mm range) to begin with on Brooks (younger skins, I think they now use). The last Brooks I bought, some 5 or 6 years ago, one of their most expensive for women, ended up 500 kilometers later on a train station bike, so sagged/dented in it was by then (and I weigh 110 pounds all dressed up...). Never happened on a Berthoud (Marie Blanque) which is as good as new, 6 years and a quite a few thousands of km later with a little love before winter, after really long and wet rides, after it dries.

And no, I don't tension them either - on Brooks anyways, it makes the situation worse..