The bicycle saddle (seat) is extremely
important to your cycling health, touring enthusiasm, and overall enjoyment
of bicycling. The bike saddle is the interface between the harsh road or
trail and a very tender part of the human body. I have seen many first
time bike tourists discouraged from getting into the sport and experienced
bikers quit epic trips because of rear end discomfort and/or saddle sores.
When touring bikers get together the conversation eventually turns to butt
pain and prevention. There are many opinions when it comes to riding
comfort. Experienced touring cyclists agree
that a high quality bicycle touring saddle is absolutely necessary. The
wrong bike touring saddle will cause needless pain and saddle
sores. The best high quality bike seat can not completely prevent these
rear end problems. Only several weeks of riding can prepare certain
tender parts of the human anatomy to cope with the rigors of the road. A
good bicycle saddle, designed specifically for touring (or your style of
riding) will at least give new and experienced cyclists the best chance to
transition the body to life on a bicycle.
I have used many saddles through the years. I grew up
with "old school" racing saddles that were common before titanium rails, carbon
fiber shells, and ultra light cutout designs. These saddles had dense foam
padding covered by a real or fake thin leather cover. Back then I spent
several hours a day training on a bike and never had a lot of problems with rear
end discomfort. My thinking was that these racing saddles served me well
during my years of competition so they should work just as well touring. I
used my favorite racing bicycle seat during the first few years of our trip and
experienced continuous saddle sores and general butt pain. I thought the
difference between the racing miles of my youth and my current touring kilometers
was that I was much younger when I raced and a young man can overcome more
saddle problems. I accepted my soreness as a
reality for an older cyclist. The older I become the more everything
hurts so why would my butt be any different? I thought it was something
that I had to live with while on the road.
Before the Asia leg of my world bike tour I bought
a new touring bicycle. My new bike
came with a leather Brooks touring saddle. Brooks bike seats have been
around a lot longer than I had been cycling but I had never owned or ridden on
one. When I was a kid in the 1970s these leather saddles, with their
trademark large brass rivets, seemed old fashioned to me. I was confused as to why my new top of the line touring
bike would come with an "old - old school saddle" My Brooks saddle even
had big black metal springs in the back as a suspension system that made it look
exclusively for old men. Several experienced bike tourists swore by them and
suggested that I give my Brooks saddle a try, at least for a few months. I
At least the springs would match my graying hair.
At first my Brooks saddle felt hard to the touch but not so bad to
ride. I immediately liked the spring suspension. My back and shoulder
pain I had developed over the previous years of bicycle touring disappeared.
Some of the credit has to be given to the better riding position and frame feel
of my new bike but I also know that my seats suspension system was eating up the
hours of pot holes and road vibrations. I could feel it working under me.
I followed the Brooks leather saddle care directions
carefully and applied Proofide leather conditioner regularly during the break in
period. As I rode through Thailand and Cambodia I forgot about my new
saddle and concentrated on enjoying Southeast Asia. Somewhere in the
middle of Vietnam I realized that I had not had a saddle sore or butt pain since
Bangkok. It was my new found freedom. Then I examined my Brooks
saddle and was delighted to feel how soft it had become. It was also
visibly broken in and now took the personal shape of my own rear. Now, it fits
like a (leather) glove!
For me, there is no going back to the old days of saddle sores and
discomfort. I am even sticking with the spring suspension even though
Brooks makes most of their leather saddles without spring suspension.
Many beginning bicyclists like the feel of a gel saddle.
Bike shops love to push them because they sell easily. Gel saddles feel
noticeable soft to touch and inviting. The first few weeks of riding, gel
padding feels comfortable. This is why cyclists rave about the comfort of
their seat when they first buy it. Instead of gel bike seats breaking in
they just fall apart with time. The gel material breaks down and the
saddle is left looking like a punctured balloon. If you only ride your
bike once a month a gel-filled saddle may be a solution because a high quality
saddle will never become broken in on this schedule. If you ride several
times a week or are planning a bike tour a high quality leather saddle should be
popular demand, the Brooks line of saddles are the most requested item that
you our customers are asking for. The Classic? B17 is an all leather cover
with brass rivets plus tension adjuster. When broken in? Brooks saddles are
considered by many to be the most comfortable on the market. The Standard
width (6 3/4?) is ideal for commuting, long distance trekking and general
purpose riding. Steel rails. 518g. (weights vary slightly, due to cover
thickness). Specify Color: Black or HoneyBK-B17-(color)
For the ultimate cycling
comfort. If you have had trouble getting comfortable on bike seats,
things like back pain distracts from enjoying the ride, or you have any
other aches and comfort issues while bicycling you might try the super shock
absorbing leather touring saddle from Brooks. One spring
in the front, two in the rear, comfortable and stylish.
Brooks Leather Saddles
are very comfortable but need to be conditioned on a regular
basis, especially when they're new. Saddles get exposed to rain, sun and heat that
causes premature wearing and cracks. For extended touring, I go through one canister per
year per saddle.