Decision Time – Brooks Saddle

Brooks Saddle - B66 model

Greetings, Commute Orlando Readers –

As my cycling mileage has increased (200 miles in June), I’ve come to the conclusion that the original “cushy” seat on my Electra Townie is actually causing me problems, rather than comfort.  I’ve heard all the reasons that my bike is not meant for the distances that I have been riding – up to 45 miles at a stretch.  But, it’s “my bike” and I love it!  So, in the interest of a “better ride” – meaning no saddle sores – I am considering moving up to a Brooks saddle.  The question is, which one?  I thought that several of you might have an opinion on this matter.

Here is the Brooks website as a point of reference – Brooks Saddles

I first looked under the “Touring and Trekking” category and considered the B17 Standard.  Keri Caffrey pointed out that it might not be the best choice, since it’s designed more for a road bike.

Now I’m perusing the “City and Heavy Duty” category.  I am weighing the pros and cons of a “classically sprung” seat for a smoother ride.  Brooks describes this seat as follows, “The B66 is the ideal all-rounders for daily city or touring use in a rather upright posture. They are most appropriate for cyclists who set their handlebars higher than their saddles. In general, the more upright your riding posture, the wider, and more heavily sprung, the saddle you should choose.”  Townies do position the rider in a very upright position, so this seems to be the right style.

I’m am looking at two other choices as well – the B73 and the B135.  I eliminated the B33 since reviews reported that the springs break.  I took the B190 out of the running.  While the B190 is Brooks’ widest seat, I don’t believe that I would gain any efficiency from the width and, in fact, feel that a wide seat is part of the reason for the discomfort with my current seat when riding longer distances.

As you can see from the suggested prices, this is an “investment.”  Current Brooks reviews, however, speak of this as a “Lifetime Investment” since they rave about having the same seat for decades.

Of course, I could always avoid the entire “seat” issue altogether and just purchase a Catrike, but I consider that an “expansion of the fleet” rather than a replacement.

John Schubert found it intriguing that I had gone with Shimano clipless pedals on my Townie, so why not go all the way and upgrade to a Brook saddle while I’m at it.

I welcome your thoughts and recommendations.


13 replies
  1. Diana
    Diana says:

    John, I am not familiar with the seatpost of your bike, but most modern bike seatposts don’t take the twin rail saddles. The modern equivalent would be the B67 model.

    • John Alexander
      John Alexander says:

      Diana, thank you for your comment. After reading it, I sent an e-mail to Brooks and asked them which of their products they would recommend for my bike. I’ll post their response. John

  2. Tom Armstrong
    Tom Armstrong says:

    I have a B-66 on my 1974 Raleigh Superbe. It replaced the battered/abused/neglected B-66 that was on the bike when I bought it three years ago.

    The handlebars on my Raleigh are indeed higher than the seat. It was my first non-recumbent bike in about fifteen years, and I still enjoy riding the thing once in a while (it’s been supplanted in the mid-range utility rotation for long rides by a 2010 Globe Vienna 3 Disc).

    Most bike shops can get you the clamp so that you may use a dual-rail Brooks saddle on a simple post, as well as a simple (i.e. does not have its own clamp) post in whatever diameter you need (seat posts come in diameters with the increment of .2mm).

    I hadn’t ridden my Raleigh for a while, and took it out a few days ago. I found that I really miss that saddle, and may move it to the Globe soon (or get one for that bike…). It’s like a sofa cushion that doesn’t interfere with my pedaling.

  3. Angelo
    Angelo says:

    I’ve had good experience with the B66 (4 rail straight seatpost). As Diana noted, if you have a seat post that clamps to 2 rails, I’d get the B67 (have started using recently, experience is good so far.

    I’ve had more trouble with the saddle tearing at the rivets on the B72; I’d just get the B66. The B73 is a little over sprung but looks cool (haven’t ridden this one in a while).

    I haven’t had any problems with the B-33. I wouldn’t be afraid of springs breaking, but suspect for a typical bicycle it would be overkill (I put mine on a Raleigh DL1, may put one on a 1960 Gazelle eventually).

    For this bike, I agree with Keri, the B-17 is meant more for drop bars. It will still work with bars level with the seat, but I find the B-66 quite comfortable.

    In short, I’d suggest a B-66 or B-67 depending on your seatpost.

  4. Phil
    Phil says:

    John. First off, I love Brooks saddles, and they are on all my regular rides. I cannot imagine not having one on any bike I put some serious miles on. Hence, I am “brooks biased” when it comes to saddles. They are pricey, but they vastly improve the quality of your ride. Secondly, I bike commute and put about 300 miles or so per month on my bikes. A good saddle makes any bike a much better ride.

    I have tried several types of Brooks and I like what Angelo says. The b66/67 model is a great all around saddle perfect for a utility bike but also for longer rides. For me (and all saddles are very personal!) the b66 feels better than the b72 and gives a better ride. FYI: on old English ‘sport model’ bikes, the B66 was typically on the high end models, with the b72 on mid range, and mattress saddles on the rest.

    I have a b135 on my old DL-1 Raleigh roadster. The b135 has the same top as a b66 but it is more heavily sprung. I do not notice much of a difference between the b66 and b135 while riding, however, unless the road is horrible. The b135 is much more expensive and much larger with the front spring. Like Angelo, it would be overkill on a ‘normal’ bike, but it does look and feel great on the roadster.

    A lot has been said about the break in period on Brooks saddles, but I find them to be very nice to ride on out of the box; they just get more so the more miles you put on them. I just put a b67 ‘factory aged’ saddle on my 1930s Humber at it feels great new.

    Finally, maintaining a Brooks saddle is not really much work. Keep it from getting soaking wet (I use a cheap shower cap to cover it when the bike is left out in the rain) and use proofide as directed. After every few thousand miles or so, they might also need to be retensioned a little, but that is about it.

    cheers, Phil

  5. Scott
    Scott says:

    I have a B-17 on my hybrid and it’s the best thing I’ve ever bought for my bike. The saddle it replaced was too narrow and made certain things go numb. For what it’s worth, my handlebars are about the same height as my saddle.

    You might try measuring the distance between your ischial tuberosities (butt bones) and comparing that to the widths on Brooks’ website to get an idea of what saddle is right for you. Ideally, the saddle will be just wide enough to support your butt bones. Too narrow and your weight will be riding on soft tissue — too wide and your legs will rub on the sides as you pedal.

    Also, if you are wary about dropping $100+ on a saddle that you can’t even try out, I would recommend purchasing from Wallingford Bikes. They offer a 6-month unconditional guarantee on all the Brooks saddles they sell. If it isn’t comfortable you can just send it back for a full refund.

    • Brad
      Brad says:

      I also have a B-17 that I purchased from Wallingford. Not only a great return policy, but their prices are great as well. As long as you make the right model choice, you can’t go wrong with a Brooks. From what I have read on the bike blogs, the B-66 sounds like the best choice for your application. You’re going to love it.

  6. Eric
    Eric says:

    There is a company that sells a lot of them in the US. They sell their returned items on fleabay. A less than 6 month-old B-66 usually costs ~$80, but that is still too much for me to afford.

    I had stretching and tearing problems (the two end rivets) with the two B-66’s I have had. Could be because they were really old, but I also wonder if the humidity didn’t have something to do with it. My bikes do not live “inside”, but stay on my carport. They are not in driving rain, but when the humidity is 90% or more much of the year, it takes a toll. I keep the seats covered if I expect rain since that sometimes rain blows in there. Seems like after a year or so, I was riding on those two rails which are pretty darn close to the leather.

    I’m trying a B-66 knock-off now. $40 including shipping. It didn’t come with a tag saying who the manufacturer is or where it came from. The leather is thicker and stiffer than the B66, and the seat was shellacked on top. It has a hairpin spring in the front. There has been a little stretching, but not much. I can tell by looking at the shellac cracking a bit.

    Still, the “wings” were splaying out a bit. Yesterday I drilled a couple of holes in each side and laced them together which pulled the leather up and away from the rails, which I was not quite riding on yet, but was approaching.

    Since much of my riding is on bricks and I sit upright, a sprung seat with strong springs is a must.

  7. John Alexander
    John Alexander says:

    So many excellent suggestions. I sincerely appreciate so many of you offering your opinions based on actual experiences. There’s certainly no lack of admiration for the Brooks product(s). Now to decide which one. I like the sleek look of the B72 (appears to be a smooth finish), but only comes in brown. While I really like the look of the brown, my bike is silver with black fenders so black is probably the way to go. Most comments favor the B66 / B 67. Those appear to have a pebbly finish rather than smooth. I’ll take my bike to my local bike shop and ask their opinion as far as mounting the saddle based on the post and make sure that they can get the clamps that Tom mentioned. Very good to hear that the break in period may not be quite as difficult as has been reported. I’ll post my final choice soon. Thanks again – it’s been fun to interact with the Commute Orlando Community on a cycling product discussion. John

    • Diana
      Diana says:

      Will someone be posting the video of you measuring the distance between your ischial tuberosities?

  8. John Alexander
    John Alexander says:

    Diana, Hmmmm – as “informative” as that video might be, I’m not sure if the Commute Orlando crowd would exactly enjoy watching that. We’d have folks “running for the hills”.

Comments are closed.