Reviewing a B17 saddle as new piece of gear may seem a bit odd – the design was introduced into the Brooks range in 1910. This all-new Select version uses extra-tough organic leather though – the Scandinavian material comes only from herds that are fed organic food and have more freedom than intensively farmed cows. This, it’s claimed, means the leather takes longer to become usable, meaning a saddle that’s tougher and longer lasting. It should also be more supple and form to a comfortable fit better.
The B17 is never going to be a racer’s perch – that’s not its purpose. Its wider shape and slim, short nose make it ideal for more upright rides, and especially touring bikes. Our test saddle weighed in at 574g. That’s pretty heavy by modern saddle standards. Where it scores highly though is in the comfort stakes. We’ve always been pretty sceptical over the whole ‘breaking in a Brooks’ thing, with tales of having to ride hundreds of miles to get the saddle to fit your shape. We thought it might be our undercarriages that shape to the saddle, not the other way round. But we’ve run the Select on a suitable machine and found it comfortable enough straight out of the box. Plus, over the time we’ve had it fitted, the shape has changed and adapted, turning the Select into a truly comfortable and cosseting perch. You can adjust the tension of the leather with a 13mm spanner (included).
Brooks saddles are handmade in Birmingham, as they always have been, and we love the hand hammered brass rivets that hold the leather skin to the steel base. The Select saddle, with its natural pale leather, is also ageing the more we ride it. With a distinctive patina appearing it’s becoming a true one-off, and that’s something we really like. After many miles of use the Select is still perfect, and with the reputation Brooks’ standard saddles have for longevity we have no doubt that the Select will outlast our riding career. Its the kind of thing you could leave to your offspring in your will. And you could probably assume they’d get plenty of use out of it too.
This article was originally published in Cycling Plus magazine.