Nothing is more important for enjoyable bike riding than a saddle that fits right and feels good. Most of your weight presses down on some very sensitive parts of your body. Up until the 1970s, most bicycles came with leather saddles and for very good reasons. They breathed a little, better than plastic in hot weather, looked great and most important, they broke in over time and got more and more comfortable with every ride. After a few hundred miles, your leather saddle will feel like it is a custom fit.
Brooks England has made saddles since 1882, and they offer models for every taste and preference. Remarkably, they designed their “Imperial” model with the cutaway top to reduce perineal pressure for men and women back in the 1890s, a century before anyone else. You can still buy one today. Take a look at their Web site; you are nearly certain to find exactly what you want among the wide assortment of beautiful saddles available. It will arrive carefully packed in a beautifully printed box, including a wrench for adjusting and complete directions.
You’ll want to have it for a long time and you can. Brooks stands behind their products with a two year warranty and they will accept them for repairs forever. Buy a tin of their Proofide conditioner. It’s tiny and expensive, but a little goes a long way and that’s what they recommend for a perfectly broken-in saddle. You also want to make sure to keep it dry in the rain by covering it with a plastic bag, shower cap or the Brooks Rain Cover.
I have had a B17 on my road bike and a B67 on my city bike for nearly twenty years. They are a little heavier and more expensive than the plastic ones, but it’s hard to put a price on the lasting comfort and quality they represent.
[Former editor Elon Schoenholz first reviewed Brooks Saddles for CT back in 2009.--OH]