A box-fresh Brooks saddle (or indeed Gilles Berthoud for that matter) is a thing of unspoilt beauty unlike any other in the world of cycling. That’s because, not long after being fitted to a bicycle and used for the first time, it undergoes a visible and irreversible change. It becomes, as is widely appreciated, shaped by contact with the nether regions of its new owner to the extent that it often won’t feel comfortable to anyone else. Which means that, right up to the moment of first usage, the saddle enjoys a world of possibility that narrows soon after.
But by how much? And what course does the breaking-in process take? The former is important to anyone contemplating buying a used leather saddle, for which there is a burgeoning online auction market. And the latter will surely matter to anyone either about to set off on a lifetime of leather saddle ownership or wondering whether the long-term comfort they are purported to offer is worth the trouble.
So, we’re going to follow one from box to – well – properly broken in and beyond (depending on how long the latter takes).
For the purpose, we have a pristine example of the Brooks B17 Titanium, which is arguably the finest model in the Smethwick-based firm’s range. At a claimed 410g it is heavier than all but the weightiest synthetic-upper saddles but, thanks to the use of titanium for the cantle and nose plates and the rails, not by a huge amount. It is a perfectly acceptable addition to any modern road cycle - although perhaps not the most obvious visual match for a full-carbon top-end road bike.
Importantly, it shares the broad shape of the standard B17, which most cyclists will find more suitable than the narrow shape of the – er- B17 Narrow and models such as the Swallow. The cantle plate at the rear incorporates saddle bag loops, the saddle boasts hand-hammered copper rivets and it is offered in Brown, Honey and Black finishes.
Next stop, how it looks after that first agonising ride. (Unless it turns out to be surprisingly comfortable)
Brooks B17 Titanium saddle £195.00