Brooks B17 Imperial £79.99
From the dawn of time – well, of modern cycling, at any rate – arrives the latest model from leather cycle saddle and accoutrements specialists Brooks in the sumptuous shape of the B17 Imperial. In line with Brooks’ current policy of looking through the back catalogue for items that might please the contemporary audience, the concept and design of the Imperial date from around 1890, making it possibly the first-ever cycle saddle manufactured with a large hole in the middle to relieve ‘perineal pressure’.
This feature is, of course, widespread on current saddles and, if reports on the Imperial’s comfort are anything to go by, is as worthwhile on a leather saddle (for those who need it) as on a plastic-shell design. The Imperial also sports perforated sides of a pattern that will be recognised by those who spent any time around the back of a 1970’s school bike shed and is supplied with laces in black, white, red and blue. These are supposed to be threaded through the perforations and used to tie the sides together to prevent ‘spreading’.
Our sample arrived with chrome-plated steelware in place of the black-painted rales and cantle plate shown on the Brooks website. As always with a Brooks, initial adjustment left the saddle slightly nose-up ready for break-in, after which it will be given a more level orientation. Although the overall shape of the Imperial is the same as that of the regular B17, the rider’s initial impression was of a distinctively softer than expected sensation around the usual pressure points, indicating that the effect on comfort may go beyond relieving the dreaded perineal pressure. We shall see.
There is also a Narrow version of the Imperial to complement the regular B17 Narrow.