The Brooks B17 saddle is ideal for bicycle touring for a number of reasons. It is well made, hard wearing, easy to maintain, and most importantly comfortable! The reason for this, is that although there is a short breaking in period, after a while, the leather saddle from Brooks effectively moulds itself to the shape of your butt. This ensures a perfect fit, which is vital for those long hours spent in the saddle when bicycle touring.
I've not always had one. In fact, it has taken me two cycling expeditions of over 15000 kms each to get around to finally owning a Brooks! And why is that? Well, I made all of the following classic mistakes.
Bicycle Saddle mistake number 1 – The bike I have just bought came with a saddle, why should I buy another one? – Stupid, stupid, stupid. It's a rare day that any bicycle will come with a saddle suitable for bicycle touring. Sure, it might be fine for commuting to work and back, or weekend rides of a few hours. Day after day of 8 hour cycling though? Nah.
Bicycle Saddle mistake number 2 – I need a gel seat because they are more comfortable. – Again, this is a big nahh. They might be nice and soft for an hour or so, but that's about it. Add into that chafing issues, and they soon lose their appeal.
Bicycle Saddle mistake number 3 – My bike came with a saddle, and I put a gel seat on it. It's not comfortable, but I am sure I will get used to it. – Even now, I look back on myself and shake my head! Don't get me wrong, I put up with it for month after month. There is a big difference from enduring something and being comfortable though!
So, what's the solution then? Buy a tried and tested leather saddle suitable for bicycle touring. Step up then, the Brooks B17 Saddle
The Brooks B17 Saddle
On writing this blog post, I have owned my Brooks B17 Saddle almost two years to the day. During that time, I have clocked up a fair few thousand miles on it, and so have had plenty of time to draw my conclusions.
Firstly, the so called “breaking in period” sounds worse than it is! During that time, the saddle isn't painful to sit on or anything. It's just not as comfortable as it will be later is all. That said, I do where padded liner-shorts with my Endura Humvee 3/4 length cycling shorts.
Secondly, maintaining the Brooks leather saddle is in no way hard work. Applying some Brooks Proofide from time to time is hardly a problem. Neither is tightening the saddle if needed. One thing that I would suggest, is that when bicycle touring, cover the saddle with a bag at night. There is no need to expose it to the rain more than necessary. The same can also be said of keeping it out of direct sunlight for long periods of time.
So the main positives of the Brooks B17 saddle are – It's comfortable, looks and feels good, is adjustable, long-lasting, well made, and great value for money.
The negatives of the leather saddle are – There is a small breaking in period, it needs look after a little bit, you have to be careful when turning the bike over to take out a tyre that the seat doesn't scratch on the floor.
All in all then, I think that the Brooks B17 saddle is the best saddle for bicycle touring. I am certainly glad that I bought one, and you won't catch me cycling with any other make if I can help it! If you are thinking that a leather saddle isn't for you, you might want to check out my Brooks Cambium C17 review. Take a look here for more bike touring tips.