Autonomous Motion

Brooks Saddles


Comfy classic bike seats

We have three points of contact while riding a bicycle: pedals, handlebar grips, saddle. As anyone who’s been uncomfortable on a ride knows well, the latter’s by far the most significant in terms of comfort. Saddle choice is as personal as musical preferences; the only way to know if a saddle works for you is to plant your butt on it and take a spin. One general design, however, made by an English company since the late nineteenth century, has proven itself a tried and true favorite.

Brooks leather saddles come in configurations for nearly every type of rider and every mode of riding. Among the choices for leisurely upright cafe bikes is the B67 model, which I use on my utility/errand bike. It’s the most comfortable saddle I’ve ever owned. I’m obsessive about bike fit (bike fit is more important than bike quality), and there isn’t a component I’ve used that makes my bike fit me better than my Brooks saddle. Brooks’ B15 model has been around since 1937, and is best suited to a racer hunched over in the drops. Other options include women’s models, and wider models with bigger springs.

Like baseball gloves, Brooks saddles require a break-in period, though under you instead of your mattress. After a couple of months mine became noticeably more contoured to my contours. It’s felt custom-made ever since. Also like baseball gloves, bike saddles should be chosen for your size and position (on the bike). A wider platform is better suited to an upright riding position/wider body; narrower is better for racing-oriented cyclists/narrower bodies.

Leather saddles don’t tolerate wet weather as well as modern synthetic models. They’re also heavier and more expensive, too expensive for me to have a Brooks on all of my bikes, though I would.

-- Elon Schoenholz 12/31/09