Author Topic: Fitting a Brooks Saddle  (Read 12889 times)

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Offline SilasTarr

Fitting a Brooks Saddle
« on: July 22, 2011, 08:06:45 pm »
Greetings, my friends.

As the subject of this thread suggests, I'm looking for some help getting my new Brooks England saddle adjusted on my bike.  Before I get to my specific questions, though, allow me to say a few things upfront:
1) I realize that what makes a "good" saddle is a highly personal choice dictated by each person's body shape and use of their bike.  What works for some won't work for others.
2) I understand that Brooks all-leather saddles are nearly infamous for their break-in period, and it can take a long time for it (or any new saddle, really) to become comfortable.
3) Lastly, and most importantly, I know that the comfort and efficiency of any saddle will be greatly dependent on the positioning (height, tilt, etc.) of the saddle on the bike.

With this in mind, I am asking for help with the last point.  I can handle sitting on a stiff saddle for a few months to break it in, and I'm OK with eventually deciding that a Brooks saddle isn't for me if that's what it comes to.  However, I want to give my new saddle a chance and make sure any discomfort I feel can't be fixed by adjusting the fitting of my bike!  So, let's get to the details...

I just got a black leather Brooks England Flyer Saddle for my Surly LHT (50 cm frame).
I mounted it on my bike and gave it its first Proofhide treatment following the directions in the Brooks Maintenance Kit and other (Brooks-approved) tips found online.  I let it sit overnight, then attempted to adjust the saddle positioning to fit me.

It seems like no matter what I tried, I kept having the following problems:
- I kept slipping forward into the nose of the saddle.  Feels like there's virtually no friction/grip between me and the leather.
- There's WAY too much weight on my hands as a result of me trying to keep myself from slipping forward.  Feels like my entire upper body is supported by my arms.
- Instead of feeling my weight resting on the back of the saddle and pressure on my sit bones (which I'd be OK with during the "break-in" period), I feel most of the pressure right under my groin, especially when I slide forward onto the nose.

Basically, I'm looking for advice in how to adjust the saddle to alleviate these problems, as I'm sure this can't be part of break-in period.  Please help me figure out how to get the weight off my hands and on my butt so I can start putting in some miles with this saddle!

Offline Pat Lamb

Re: Fitting a Brooks Saddle
« Reply #1 on: July 22, 2011, 09:40:42 pm »
When I get a new Brooks situated right, it's not actively uncomfortable.  It just gets better over the next 200 miles.

I'm guessing from your description that you haven't had a competent bike fitter check you out on the LHT; make sure your stem is the right length, bars at the right height, etc. before you go any further.

Start with the saddle level.  It sounds like you've got the nose down; it should start at the same height as the back of the saddle.  (Also, the fitter can make sure the bars aren't too low, forcing you to lean way forward and adding weight to your hands and arms.)

With my bikes, I've ended up with the Brooks slid back about as far as they can go.  (Again, this is where a good fitter can help.)

Make small adjustments, then try it for a while (10-50 miles?) before changing anything else.  A two-bolt seatpost helps, as it's can be adjusted more accurately than the cheaper/more common single bolt post.

Good luck!

Offline whittierider

Re: Fitting a Brooks Saddle
« Reply #2 on: July 22, 2011, 11:44:16 pm »
Bontrager single-bolt posts are infinitely adjustable for angle, unlike most single-bolt ones.  I had a Brooks for 10,000 miles or more and although I never had the problems you describe, it was always a bit painful but I kept thinking that another 500 miles would do it.  Finally the leather began tearing near the nose.  I had it re-leathered, and then it was worse!  What I'm riding now is the narrowest, lightest, thinest, and almost the cheapest seat I've ever had, and yet possibly the most comfortable, and it has lasted over 30,000 miles so far and it still appears new.  As you say, the Brooks may just not be the right one for you, even though others swear by it.

Offline Mark Manley

Re: Fitting a Brooks Saddle
« Reply #3 on: July 23, 2011, 01:43:55 am »
I have two Brooks saddles and they have quite different characteristics, the first one broke in after a couple of hundred miles and fits me perfectly and the second fitted to another bike has taken longer but is getting there. I presume this is because of inconsistency in the leather used to produce them from one hide to another, something beyond the control of the manufacturer. They are an aquired taste, I like mine but might not suit everybody, it sounds like you need to experiment with the way yours is set up, you should not be putting effort into staying on it. 

Offline curdog

Re: Fitting a Brooks Saddle
« Reply #4 on: July 23, 2011, 11:52:15 am »
I went 1300 miles before a B17 became comfortable on one of my bikes. This involved almost daily adjustments to mostly saddle tilt.  I now have a Brooks on 3 out of 4 bikes. Incidently, they are all breaking in differently. I have found the most comfortable for me is a slight tilt up for the nose of the saddle.

Good luck!

Offline Old Guy New Hobby

Re: Fitting a Brooks Saddle
« Reply #5 on: July 23, 2011, 03:57:26 pm »
Just to show how individual saddle fit is, my Brooks felt perfectly fine from day 2. I say from day 2 because on day 1 I applied a liberal amount of Proofhide on both the top and bottom (inside) of the saddle. It probably helped that I got it just before winter set in, so it had a couple of months for the proofhide to do whatever it does. You don't know how long you are riding. I typically do a short (1.5 hour) ride 3 to 5 days a week and a long ride (5 to 7 hours) once a week.

I have the same feeling of little friction from the saddle. I also found that I had too much weight on my hands. It has encouraged me to change my stance on the bike somewhat. The only way I can describe it is to say that it's a more active stance. Keeping my sits bones towards the back of the saddle keeps the pressure off my groin and my weight distributed between my feet and my sits bones. IMHO, keeping weight on the sits bones is a key in having a comfortable saddle. That's the part of our anatomy that was designed to take the weight. I also find it's important for me to keep my back straight.

I have another bike with a cheap saddle that also has always felt fine. Compared to the other bike, I find the Brooks is very sensitive to angle. The Brooks does not work very well if it is even a little bit "nose down".

I got a new bike, a new saddle and a professional fit all in the same day. I don't know how much the fit has to do with my comfort. It certainly didn't hurt. Using clipless peddles and shoes also helps, especially with the active stance.

Offline Tourista829

Re: Fitting a Brooks Saddle
« Reply #6 on: July 24, 2011, 11:23:19 pm »
Is the Flyer the one with springs? I rode a Brooks Professional for more years than I can remember and recently switched to another saddle. I did not have the problems you are encountering. If the saddle tilt is correct and the proper fit is achieved, (unless your top tube and stem are too long) you shouldn't slide forward and have the downward pressure on your arms, shoulder and neck. I am assuming that you did not experience this with your previous saddle. I would not rule out a defective saddle. Even though it is a "Brooks" they are not immune to defective workmanship. (Springs can be tricky) Can you exchange it? If so, I would go with a B17.

Offline csykes

Re: Fitting a Brooks Saddle
« Reply #7 on: July 25, 2011, 12:14:15 am »
Remember that many brooks saddles work best if they are near level to the handlebars and not much higher.  I have more of a racing type bike, but I flipped up the stem and added spacers, and my B-17 works great.  It felt good from day one, I could feel it supporting the sit bones instead of the soft parts.  I climbed my usual long hill faster because I was more comfortable and did not have to move around as much.  I guess weighing over 200 pounds helped it break in quickly.  Good luck and don't give up on it too quickly!

Offline paddleboy17

Re: Fitting a Brooks Saddle
« Reply #8 on: July 25, 2011, 12:19:58 pm »
It seems like no matter what I tried, I kept having the following problems:
- I kept slipping forward into the nose of the saddle.  Feels like there's virtually no friction/grip between me and the leather.
- There's WAY too much weight on my hands as a result of me trying to keep myself from slipping forward.  Feels like my entire upper body is supported by my arms.
- Instead of feeling my weight resting on the back of the saddle and pressure on my sit bones (which I'd be OK with during the "break-in" period), I feel most of the pressure right under my groin, especially when I slide forward onto the nose.

Basically, I'm looking for advice in how to adjust the saddle to alleviate these problems, as I'm sure this can't be part of break-in period.  Please help me figure out how to get the weight off my hands and on my butt so I can start putting in some miles with this saddle!

Your problems sound like like the saddle nose is too low.

You should get a carpenters level (a 2 footer is perfect), and check to make sure that your saddle is level.  Level is always a good place to start.  Some people deviate from level, but not by very much.  I like my saddle nose slightly low.

Leather is a natural product.  Variations in hardness come from the tanning process.  Your butt may slide around if the leather is unusually hard.  Dents matching your pelvis will form, and these will anchor you, but it really does sound like your saddle is nose low.  It would be best if you broke your saddle in from a position of good posture.
Danno

Offline kukula

Re: Fitting a Brooks Saddle
« Reply #9 on: July 28, 2011, 09:57:42 pm »


I have the nose high on my Brooks saddles. Here is a shot of my bike with a Brooks Flyer saddle. I just keep gradually raising the nose until I feel comfortably on my sit bones. I think it will depend on handlebar height. I have another bike with a very upright posture and on that the saddle nose is even higher. I bet with very low handlebars then one would probable want the nose flat or even lower.

Offline kukula

Re: Fitting a Brooks Saddle
« Reply #10 on: July 28, 2011, 10:01:03 pm »


Here's another photo that shows my saddle angle better.

Offline kukula

Re: Fitting a Brooks Saddle
« Reply #11 on: July 29, 2011, 02:21:16 pm »
This looks like a setup for a really upright bike, like a Dutch city bike:

http://letsgorideabike.com/blog/2009/03/aha-saddle-position-breakthrough-2/

Offline BigPapaK

Re: Fitting a Brooks Saddle
« Reply #12 on: July 31, 2011, 01:16:08 pm »
I'm inclined to think the nose needs to come up a bit. I recall reading someplace that many men have a tendency to prefer nose up, while many woman prefer the nose down. Not sure how true that is. So far, my B-17 Imperial Narrow seems to be working quite well for me. I found this blog about seat position rather interesting, especially in regard the left/right orientation to the top tube.

http://www.fezzari.com/blog/2010/09/03/saddleposition/


 

Offline SilasTarr

Re: Fitting a Brooks Saddle
« Reply #13 on: August 01, 2011, 12:12:44 am »
Thanks for the replies and advice everyone!

After much tinkering, I finally managed to achieve a position that is reasonably comfortable for me to ride on.  In the end, raising the saddle title about 1 or 2 degrees from the position that had me sliding forward made the difference.  I know I've read a lot that very small adjustments can make a huge difference, but wow, this really drove that point home for me!

I can call now my Brooks saddle "comfortable" after only a week of riding it.  Even still, I'm following everyone's suggestions and getting my entire bike professionally fitted tomorrow morning at Bike Barn's Custom Fit Studio in Houston.  Hopefully, this will give me the insight I need to fine tune everything and learn proper cycling posture, as well.  I'll let y'all know it it goes!

Offline pptouring

Re: Fitting a Brooks Saddle
« Reply #14 on: August 12, 2011, 08:34:01 pm »
I've riding a Brooks saddle for some time and I have mine with the nose slightly pointed up.