Saturday, 15 January 2011

Brooks B17 saddle - a 27 year love affair

My 27 year old Dawes Galaxy (with Argos respray), complete with the much loved Brooks B17 saddle
We've ridden thousands of miles together and its been such a great saddle, Brooks was simply the most obvious choice for the new Audrey the Audax.
I did toy with the idea of a different Brooks, after all there's quite a variety but the B17 is, I think, the cheapest and the most logical choice.

I remember being really disciplined with using Proofhide in the early days often applying it on both sides.  To be honest in latter years its only been applied to the top but I have left it for a few days to soak in.  You know, treating it with Proofhide is all part of the charm and enjoyment of nurturing a saddle like this.  It becomes like a favourite pair of jeans; the older it gets, the better it becomes.  I even remember it cost me £17.00 back in 1984 and although £65 seems a bit steep, its not too bad, especially if it serves me another 27 years.

As for the new one, unpacking it was part of the pleasure.  A lovely card box with such quaint language in talking about the heritage of the brand.  Some of the text reads "A Poor saddle is Bad Economy" from 1906 and "Many kinds of leather would be utterly unsuitable for saddles, and of the correct kind, very great care has to be exercised to select skins suitable for Brooks tops" which was from 1925.  Inside there is now even a tensioning spanner; a thoughtful touch for a new comer (a tin of Proofhide too would have been nice).

So before I fitted it to Audrey the Audax, I gave it a good coating on Proofhide on both sides, having softened it by resting the tin on a radiator for just a few minutes. That lovely smell, nothing like it!  Even though its sometimes ages in between a Proofhide application, I have never forgotten that smell!

Once on the bike and in what seemed like the ideal position I gave it a gentle tap.  Certainly very firm and taut!  Just wondering now how long it'll take to break in.  Becky and I went for a short ride this afternoon, about 3  miles.

Riding down the road I was very conscious of it, very firm and solid.

"So Dad, how long do you reckon it'll take to break in properly" asked Becky

"Not sure, what do you think?"

"Well Dad, I reckon two days.  Easy, two days"

That had me thinking, it might apply to a pair of new school shoes but surely not this new saddle?  "Nah it can't be that easy Becky.  I reckon a few hundred miles"

"Wow a few hundred miles?  Sounds agony Dad!".

And so my journey with the new Brooks B17 has commenced....

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