A Traditional Brooks Saddle–But Not At All
It was with some surprise that Brooks unveiled its C17 Cambium saddle this past Fall. Made of rich thick leather Vulcanized Nature Rubber and copper rivets Organic Cotton Canvas with tubular stainless rails on a die cast aluminum frame, the C17 greatly departs from standard operating procedure in the Brooks lineup.
With headline points like ‘Naturally Flexible’ and ‘Immediately Comfortable’ the C17 is perhaps aimed at someone with a bit too much ADHD to ‘waste time’ with the break in period of their standard version.
So I ordered one for around $169~ depending who you ask. The saddle came in a cool box with a copy of the Brooks newsletter and some neat info on the C17 model. That’s all well and good, but I’m sure you don’t give a damn about the literature that came with my fancy seat as much as its saddle-esque traits.
I bolted it to my Thomson post, adjusted it, and threw my fat ass on to see what I thought. The seat is comfy. My previous saddle was a Specialized Phenom 143mm, which is minimally padded and minimally ‘there’, and pretty stiff. The Brooks by comparison felt like a hammock for my taint. The nose is stiff, if you’re forward on the saddle you’ll notice just how stiff it is, but slide back an inch and you feel like you’re in an amazingly broken in, built just for you, basket. It’s almost hard to explain. I’ve heard a lot of people say that a well broken in leather Brooks molds to the contours of your sit bones, and I imagine what Brooks aimed to accomplish with the vulcanized rubber was sort of a ‘memory foam’ type effect. I’d said they succeeded.
The cotton cover on the saddle (which is weatherproofed via a Brooks Numac treatment) feels a little rough to the touch, but you can still move around. It’s not slippery like a leather Brooks. At the same time, it’s not so rough that you’ll worry about wearing through your jeans. The rivets are cool looking and you can’t feel them when you’re on the saddle.
Saddles are a difficult thing to review. What I love you might hate, or more specifically your body might hate. But I’ll say this, the C17 is cut a lot like the B17, is super comfy right out of the box, is built incredibly well out of really awesome materials, and is fairly trick. I’ve had it on my polo bike for over a month and it’s taken abuse in stride. I’ve actually been swapping my seatpost/saddle between my polo bike and my commuter until I can get another one. Its just as comfy on longer rides, and having been caught in the rain once already, the Numac seems to work just fine.
If you like the b17, give it a try. There is also a C17s ladies version that is modeled after the B17s, as well as the upcoming C15 which modeled after the B15 Swallow and is designed for you 150lb racer types. (my fat ass will never see the likes of the C15)
The C17 comes in Slate (shown) and Tan. Retail is 145 euro (197USD) but seems to sell for closer to $175 stateside. Check it out here http://www.brooksengland.com/cambium/