That leaves the texture. I prefer to be able to shift slightly on occasion, and don't want no steenkin saddle texture grabbing my shorts as I wiggle.
They'll age fast enough, you don't need to hurry a Brooks!
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Get him a mirror and make him practice to get used to it. It's the most important safety item in the kit.
We both have Brooks saddles, so a saddle cover is needed. I have the Brooks saddle cover but have been disappointed with how well it keeps water off.
26" wheels just sound "slower" to me, this might not be true. I am not looking to "race" or be "super fast" but want the wheel version that would help cutting time and work down as much as possible.
well carrying lunches, water, maps, and maybe a small tent and a small sleeping bag.
Most of the time there is no need of an overhead shelter, but when there is a need it can really get serious.