Brooks Cambium C15 saddle - review - Road Cycling UK

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Saddles

Brooks Cambium C15 saddle – review

Supremely comfortable 'racing' saddle - once silenced

When you mention Brooks to most cyclists, the first thing that comes to mind is leather saddles. And anyone who hasn’t ridden one will tell you they are uncomfortable and take a lot of breaking in, which is debatable. I’ve used a Brooks saddle in the past –  a Swift Titanium – and while it did need to be broken in, once it was, and quicker than I expected, it was supremely comfortable. I would still be using it if the bike it was on hadn’t been stolen.

The high cost of a replacement Swift has led me try many options over the past 15 years and the closest I’ve found in terms of comfort is a Fizik Nisene.

The Brooks Cambium C15 saddle is topped with vulcanized natural rubber and organic cotton

Now, however, I’m back on a Brooks but not a Swift. In fact, the Cambium C15 (the first ‘racing’ saddle in the Cambium range – though there’s no getting away from the fact it’s a lot heavier than most other racing saddles) I’m riding around on isn’t even leather.

  • Specification

  • Price: £115.99
    Weight: 405g
    Size: 283mm x 140mm x 52mm
    Colours: black, natural, rust
    Website: Brooks England

For its entire range of Cambium saddles Brooks uses what it describes as “vulcanized natural rubber and organic cotton enhanced by a thin layer of structural textile for added resilience” in place of the more usual leather.

But like the traditional design, the saddle top is held under tension, rather than there being a plastic shell with light padding over the top.

It is this design feature that makes a Brooks saddle so comfortable once it has been broken in. However, first ride out on the C15 and I forgot I was on a new seat; it was that comfortable.

Unfortunately, on my next ride the saddle developed a very annoying squeak. Moving about on the saddle while pedalling led me to realise the noise was coming from the nose of the seat and once home I took the C15 off the seatpost for a closer look.

Under the nose of the saddle, there’s a bolt that clamps a plate down holding the seat rails in place. Fortunately, I had the correct size Torx driver to loosen this off allowing me apply a liberal coating of copper slip to the ends of the seat rails, which I thought would solve the issue.

All tightened up and back on the bike and the C15 was at first quiet. Not for long though, the squeak was soon back. After a conversation about the issue in the RCUK office, the suggestion was made that I try dribbling some thick oil on the seat rails so that it flowed down to where they are anchored. An application of oil from the nearest bottle of chain lube has stopped the noise.

The C15 is the first racing saddle in the Cambium range, with a narrower profile than the C17

Putting aside the initial problems I had with the now-silenced saddle, I’m really pleased with the C15. Its narrow profile, more than 2cm narrower than the first Cambium (the C17) makes it very comfortable for fast road use.

That narrow profile also helps to keep the weight down to a claimed 405g. Admittedly, that figure is still high for what is essentially a racing saddle, but I’m happy to trade those grams for the comfort the C15 offers. Only you can decide whether you’re willing to accept what it undoubtedly a significant weight penalty.

Conclusion

Saddles are a very personal matter, but I would recommend the Cambium C15, which is available in three colours (natural, rust and black), to anyone looking for a saddle that’s going to see them spend long hours on the road. You could use the C15 on a race bike, but most people would be wary of the weight.

However, I can live with the extra grams in return for the typical Brooks comfort, especially as I don’t need to worry about getting it wet in the way I would a traditional leather Brooks saddle.

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