Brooks Cambium C17 £105

Brooks moves away from leather

BikeRadar score 4/5

Brooks has been around since 1866 and has been making bike saddles since 1882. It’s rare for any new Brooks design to arrive – especially one not made of leather, making this animal-friendly saddle one that can be used by vegans.

The Cambium is made using vulcanised rubber (viewed from underneath it’s the colour of elastic bands) into which organic cotton canvas has been infused to create the textured surface. It has a die-cast aluminium structure rather than steel to reduce weight.

Though it is much lighter than the B17 design on which it’s based, at 417g it is still portly by the standards of most of today’s saddles. It is slightly narrower than the B17 – 162mm rather than 175mm – and at 283mm the C17 is also 8mm longer, making it feel a little more sporty. But the saddle’s big difference is comfort.

Sit on the C17 and you can immediately feel the hull give. Anyone who has owned a Brooks saddle will know that the breaking-in process can take a while. Well, the compliant and cushioning Cambium arrives feeling just like a leather saddle that’s been broken in for 10 years.

We were concerned that the vulcanised rubber might lead to a bouncing, trampolining effect, but it actually gives and moves in a controlled manner. The result is a truly exceptional level of comfort unlike that of any saddle, traditional or modern. If getting the right saddle is proving a difficult job – and if you don’t mind the extra weight – the Cambium could be the ideal choice.

In addition to its comfort, the C17 is waterproof, and we found its textured surface easy to clean. It also comes with a no-quibble 10-year guarantee, and all the parts are replaceable. It is available in slate (pictured) and tan and there’s a shorter, female-friendly model.

This article was originally published in Cycling Plus magazine, available on Apple Newsstand and Zinio.

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