Are you sitting comfortably?


old and new brooks b17 specialI really do have the so-called “Brooks bum” – they work for some and not for others. Peli, for example, didn’t get along at all with the one we tested for her and prefers her Selle Italia Lady Gel Flow.

In a attempt to speed up the “riding in” time of my Brooks I added some proofide and soaked it in water for a short time, (having heard reports from a friend that the best way to quickly break in a Brooks was to ride it in the rain). It made the leather nice and soft right away, and I had the Brooks dimples within 30 miles. It’s funny that it was the right seat bone dimple that appeared first. I must “dress” to the right. :)

Because of the pre-softening treatment I’d done, and the many times my B17 had got soaked to the frame in the rain, I had to use the tensioning bolt rather a lot. This action showed its stress on the rivet at the back, and the three holes in the middle became more oval than round.

Over the last few days I had been thinking that it was time to give the tensioning bolt a few turns, since my Brooks was starting to look like a hammock saddle like on Jensen bicycles. On the little pootle we had on the weekend I was waiting outside a snack stop and I was caressing the beautiful craftsmanship of the B17 (as you do) only to find that the tensioning bolt had cracked. Bugger.

brooks b17 broken tension pinThat explained the soreness in my right leg and hip which I suffered over the last 10 miles or so. We ordered a new one at our local Evans Cycles, where I stood (sat?) the best chance of getting one quickly. It would hurt me too much to do a tour of LBSs in the hope of finding the right one. Best of all, Evans price matched Wiggle, so I saved a few quid too, which was duly spend on some cake right after.

Today I got a call from Evans to say my new saddle had arrived: a Honey Brooks B17 Special on copper rails, what a beaut! It looks so good on the olive green Surly Long Haul Trucker. I will not be playing around with any “skin so soft” pre-treatment this time, and I’ll definitely be protecting it from the elements with the cover that came in the box.

I have send an email to Brooks to hear if they can save my old black Brooks B17 Special. I will keep you posted on that.


  1. Sorry to hear about your BROOKS. It will be interesting to see what Brooks England say about your options with regards to replacing the broken tensioning bold.

    Do you think by the way that the soaking was the right move or would it have been better to to just let the saddle “fit” in its own time?

  2. Hello!

    I’ve come across your blog via the Wallbike site: great stuff!

    As a rider that gravity likes rather more than most, I’ve been fiddling with the tension bolt on various Brooks saddles a bit too much. An idle comment from a shop owner (accompanied by a look of horror) about the distressed leather around the front rivet led me to try an alternative: lacing. May I say that it’s the missing key to saddle comfort, for me. I use a thick leather lace, sometimes with changing weather I have to change the tension, and through it all the bolt has stayed untouched.

    Food for thought.

  3. From the man himself – Sheldon Brown ..
    Tension Adjustment
    Most leather saddles have a tension-adjusting nut located under the nose of the saddle. Fortunately, this nut usually requires a special wrench, so most people leave it alone. In almost every case that I know of where someone has tried to adjust the tension with this nut, the saddle has been ruined. My advice is to leave it alone.

    If a leather saddle gradually becomes too soft and too wide after many thousands of miles, it is sometimes useful to punch a few holes in the bottoms of the side flaps and lace them together under the saddle frame.

    This allows the width and firmness of the saddle to be adjusted to the rider’s taste. Some older models came with a row of holes along the lower edge of the side flaps, for this very purpose.

    I realize that this sounds like a lot of trouble, but most cyclists who take the trouble find it well worth while–in the end.


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