Like this site? Help us to make it better.


Spa Cycles Wharfe Leather Saddle



It's going to take some perseverance, but for a solid, well made leather saddle £40 is an absolute bargain.

At every product is thoroughly tested for as long as it takes to get a proper insight into how well it works. Our reviewers are experienced cyclists that we trust to be objective. While we strive to ensure that opinions expressed are backed up by facts, reviews are by their nature an informed opinion, not a definitive verdict. We don't intentionally try to break anything (except locks) but we do try to look for weak points in any design. The overall score is not just an average of the other scores: it reflects both a product's function and value – with value determined by how a product compares with items of similar spec, quality, and price.

What the scores mean

Good scores are more common than bad, because fortunately good products are more common than bad.

  • Exceptional
  • Excellent
  • Very Good
  • Good
  • Quite good
  • Average
  • Not so good
  • Poor
  • Bad
  • Appalling

There's been a bit of a resurgence in interest in more traditional cycling products, and in particular leather saddles. Some would argue that they never stopped being popular, but nonetheless, there does seem to be an ever increasing amount of choice.

Spa Cycles have brought out a range of three leather saddles at very modest prices to cater to this rising interest, of which the Wharfe is one. Looking a good bit like the Brooks Swift at first glance, the Wharfe is a sturdy and good looking leather saddle. At 151mm wide at the broadest point and 277mm long, it's a similar width to the Swift too, but 5mm longer. It's made from untreated Australian cowhide attached to a chrome-plated chromoly steel frame and weighs in a bit heavier than the Brooks at 580g by the scales.

Although saddles are an inherently personal choice, and one man (or woman's) razorblade is another's armchair, it's probably reasonable to say that the Wharfe isn't really ideally suited to being a women's saddle. It's intensely firm, with a quoted (by Spa) breaking in period of about 800km and is very long, both factors contributing to it not being exactly female friendly. So, bearing that in mind, I've reviewed this from a more general non-female-specific viewpoint.

The lack of treatment of the leather of the saddle means you have to start treating it quickly and regularly with a leather feeding product, in order to both facilitate the breaking in process and also to protect the leather from our glorious weather. The slightly rougher surface of the less treated leather does mean there's more friction than on a treated leather saddle, but it's still a comfortable surface to sit on.

With time, the surface wears to a patina that gives much more of the low friction riding surface so beloved of leather saddle users. It really is a very firm saddle to start with, and the company's quoted 800km of riding for breaking in is probably pretty close to the mark. After 300 miles it was just about starting to mould and soften a little, and smooth off, although it gave no problems at all right from the box. The Wharfe is an ideal road bike saddle, or a neat option for those who like their touring saddles narrower.


It's going to take some perseverance, but for a solid, well made leather saddle £40 is an absolute bargain. test report

Make and model: Spa Cycles Wharfe Leather Saddle

Size tested: Honey

Tell us what the product is for, and who it's aimed at. What do the manufacturers say about it? How does that compare to your own feelings about it?

Aimed at road riders looking for a traditional hardwearing leather saddle

Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?

Width 151mm

Length 277mm

Australian cow hide with chrome plated chromoly steel rails

Available in 3 colours

Untreated leather

Rate the product for quality of construction:

Solid and hardwearing but untreated so needs taking care of right away to avoid water damage.

Rate the product for performance:

Performed very well but takes a long time to break in to its optimum performance.

Rate the product for durability:

Provided you treat the leather it'll probably outlive you.

Rate the product for weight, if applicable:

It's a leather saddle so weight isn't really the point.

Rate the product for comfort, if applicable:

Even before the magic 800km, it's a pretty comfortable (if firm) saddle. Was starting to soften and mould after 300 miles or so.

Rate the product for value:

Great value for a tough smart leather saddle, although it requires more care and attention than some more expensive options.

Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose

Very well

Tell us what you particularly liked about the product

Price, durability

Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product

Length of time it takes to break in, nose length (for women)

Did you enjoy using the product? Yes

Would you consider buying the product? Probably

Would you recommend the product to a friend? Yes

Anything further to say about the product in conclusion?

A great value, bombproof leather saddle that'll last for years, but takes a lot of breaking in too.

Overall rating: 8/10

About the tester

Age: 37  Height: 1.65m  Weight: 67kg

I usually ride:   My best bike is:

I've been riding for: 10-20 years  I ride: Most days  I would class myself as: Experienced

I regularly do the following types of riding: commuting, touring, general fitness riding, mtb,


Lara has been riding bikes for longer than she'd care to admit, and writing about them nearly as long. Since 2009 she has been working as part of the review team whilst championing women's cycling on the side, most notably via two years as editor of the, sadly now defunct, UK's first and only women's cycling mag, erm, Women's Cycling. 

Believing fervently that cycling will save the world, she wishes that more people would just ride a bike and be pleasant to each other. 

She will ride anything with two wheels, occasionally likes to go fast, definitely likes to go far and is always up for a bit of exploring somewhere new and exciting. 

Add new comment


SimonMast | 11 years ago

I would love a Swallow Ti. One of these is a much more likely prospect. (the Aire, that is)  3

thegibdog | 11 years ago

Like the look of the Swallow-alike Aire.

Rob Simmonds replied to thegibdog | 11 years ago
thegibdog wrote:

Like the look of the Swallow-alike Aire.

There's a review of the Aire coming soon.  26

Benjamin Hall | 11 years ago

I'm so tempted by a leather saddle! I may try one of these before splashing out on a titanium brooks.

Latest Comments