IT wasn’t that there was an awful lot wrong with the saddle on my touring bike. But at the end of a long day it felt a bit squelchy, a bit soft, as though it wasn’t supporting my weight terribly well.
The result was that my buttock muscles were sore and tired, as though the muscles had been trying to do the work of the saddle.
I ride a Ridgeback Panorama touring bike, and it’s a wonderful bike to ride. It feels smooth, the steel frame offers a kinder suspension than carbon and although it’s considerably heavier, and consequently slower, than my carbon frame road bike I don’t really use it for speed. It’s simply for getting from Point A to Point B, day after day, in comfort.
That last point is the important one. I wasn’t arriving at my destination in comfort every day, so I thought it was time to check out a new saddle.
Everyone told me the best touring saddle in the world, bar none, was the Brooks B17 but it suffered a little bit from the Marmite Phenomena – you either loved it or hated it, depending on how long it took to break in the leather.
I checked out some cycling forums and websites and some folk seemed to take over a thousand miles of cycling to break in a Brooks saddle, for others it fitted like a glove, right out of the box.
I was also warned that Brooks saddles are hugely expensive, but the internet came to my rescue again. I got one for just over £60 from Wiggle. I guess that is quite a lot of money to pay for a bike saddle but if this was as good as people reckoned, and most believe it should last a lifetime, then it would be worth it.
It arrived within 24 hours – amazing service from Wiggle incidentally – and I was amazed at the quality of the packaging. It was like buying a new computer from Apple – sometimes the packaging is better than the computer!
Anyway, there it lay, a Brooks B17 saddle, honey bronze in colour with a faint whiff of leather from it, a thing of immense beauty. I was loathe to remove it from the packaging, it looked so good.
I treated it with Brooks’own leather treatment, inside and out, wiped it down, and then fitted it to the bike. It didn’t take me long to fit it – very simple – and I planned a 50-mile ride for next day.
First thing I notice was that I was sliding forward on the saddle. I stopped and readjusted it, pulling the peak up just a tad. After that it felt fine – as hard as plastic, but that was OK for the first 20 miles or so. It was about then that I thought I was reaching forwards a bit too much so I adjusted the saddle again, this time pushing it forward on its rails, just a bit.
After 40 miles my backside felt slightly uncomfortable, but a slight change of position sorted things out.
And so I completed my first 50 miles on my new Brooks B17. For most of the ride I felt very comfortable and even at the end of the ride it didn’t feel too bad. The important thing is that now, two or three hours after riding, my backside feels fine. I guess the proof of the pudding will be when I sit on the saddle again tomorrow. Will it be painless?
I think it might take a few rides to break this saddle in but after one ride I’m pretty impressed. Fingers crossed, and I’ll let you know it it goes.
In fact my bike looks as though it’s had a makeover. To match the honey bronze saddle I bought some golden Fizik bar tape to match. Looks nicely retro now and I might have to buy a wool racing shirt now to go with it…