Leather Saddles

For me it’s not so much about physical comfort but more of a fetish. So I got a B17, a velo-orange and some other Taiwanese Brooks Swallow ripoff whose name I cannot even remember. In fact I now have more leather saddles than I have bikes to put them on, so I just rotate them, like people used to do with their tyres.

So I was tempted when I saw this ad

I mean, its got a cutout! The possibilities are endless. Actually that’s not quite true. There are 3 possibilities (if you are a bloke anyway), either you get you left one caught, or your right one, or both.

$US99 is still about $AUS300, but still cheaper than a night with a DomX in St Kilda.

Heavymetal is a fan of those cut out ones?

Unless you’re free-balling/nude it’s not a problem with cut outs :wink:

Yeah, I’ve had a cutout Selle Anatomica for a couple of years now.
My short review:
Pros: Super comfy, great for long rides
Cons: Stretches really quickly. I’m only about 70kg and I got the heavy duty saddle, and I was at the limit of the adjuster screw within about 5000km. I got an extended adjuster screw and I’m just about done with that too.
Squeaks constantly if you have the tension at a comfortable setting. I even got the “anti-squeak washer” and it still squeaks. But if you tighten it up enough to stop the squeaking it’s very uncomfortable.

They’re like the opposite of Brooks: start out really good then once they break in all the problems start. I’m gonna stick with my B17s, I’ve just managed to break in a narrow after 3000km or so. Will probably get a narrow imperial on the next go round. Would actually also like to give a Gilles Berthoud a go, but the outlay is a little high.

If you are keen on the cutout, have you considered the Rivet from Carradice:

I splurged on a Berthoud, although from eBay FR and the quality is top notch. The easy to replace saddle top is a great idea, although the need for that seems like a long time away for my saddle.

I see it lasting much longer than my last Brooks due to much thinker leather and less sag/ hammock vibe.

The downside to the GB is that only the wider touring Aspin model saddle comes with built in saddlebag loops. I does however have a threaded klickfix mount for a small GB saddle bag… oh and as HM pointed out the price is steep.

We’ve got (or had) selle anatomicas on a lot of bikes. My wife loves them very much.

Heavymetal, thats interesting about the stretch! i guess yours has the no-stretch membrane thingo on the underside? I’ve found it keeps tension pretty well indeed.

I find them instantly comfortable, and they seem to resist water much better than even the most proofy hided brooks that I’ve had. The downside that I’ve found is the rails are soft steel. The only rails I’ve ever bent, and I have no idea when or how it happened. They’re off my bikes now, but I like to keep them for wife and visitors. I could send you one if you’d like to try one out?

I’ve had a B17 for years now and I’ve not been particularly happy with it. It is comfy but that’s about the only pro I can think of. Cons are: it’s heavy, difficult to adjust (tilt and also for-aft; rails are too short), and the leather is not as durable as they say it is. Mine didn’t really have a very distinct break-in period (at least not the sort of nightmarish break-in that people talk about), then after some use started to squeak quite a bit. I can correct the squeak by tensioning the leather but after some use it squeaks again. I’ve now retired my B17 on my ‘townie’ so it’s not doing long rides anymore.

I reckon B17s are an outdated design that is still popular because Brooks enjoys high swag levels. Pity that they cut corners on quality.

I’d love to try a Selle Anatonomica but I don’t like what I’m reading from HM - sounds like quality is not there either. A good quality leather saddle should not stretch that quickly then need an extender adjustment screw. But they do look awesome.

Yeah, mine has the no-stretch thing. I was very cautious when tightening the bolt too, really didn’t overdo it. I think I’ve adjusted my B17 standard maybe twice in over 15,000 kms…

I’ve also heard a few reports of bent rails, but only from larger brethren. Haven’t had any trouble in that regard, and I’ve done a bit of rough riding on mine.

The whole squeaking/stretching thing is a damn shame, cos it really is a comfy saddle.

Interesting Seb… yeah, my only remaining B17 is retired, it has sagged so much at the broad section that I can feel the frame quite clearly and its not good. I had to tension it a fair bit over the years.
Another point on the anatomicas, the rails are LONG, which would address one of your dislikes on the Brooks. But is also perhaps the reason they can bend.

Edit, yeah, its also interesting how people’s experience can differ so much. My first B17 from about 2006 was awesome, the next one from a couple of years later was noticeably less awesome. I guess thats something with leather, it can vary, either intentionally through different specs, or not.

JP, I should say that I’ve not treated my B17 with any special care (apart for some proofiding a couple times) - it has been in the rain, and has been used on bikes with and without fenders - but I just think that something like a saddle should be able to withstand ‘normal’ use and not be too delicate.

This thread only goes to prove the old YMMV thing.

I’ve had nothing but joy from my B17s (one standard, one narrow). Have barely had to tension either, and with lots of kms on them, and they’ve been wet quite a bit.

On the flip side, I pretty much destroyed a Swallow on the Newcastle overnight a few years back when it rained non-stop. I was never overly comfortable on it anyway, but the rain basically collapsed it. Much thinner leather than the B17, probably has a lot to do with it.

And yeah JP: the leather can vary from batch to batch. The leather on my narrow feels much thicker than the standard, and took a lot longer to break in. Seb, you might’ve got a dud, but it’s not something you’re going to know about for the first few thousand kms…

So if anyone has a B17 they hate and want to get rid of cheap, let me know. Particularly if it’s an imperial.

Geez, beardo saddles are complicated, eh.

Get an SMP and forget your beardo problems forever! (srs)

They’re no MTBs, but yeah.

Er, Campy 8sp?

haha, yes!!


I have a B17 ti on my MTB… imagine that.


Ok. I’ve had a regular B17, a swift and a B17 Ti.

The B17 leather was thin and overly springy, the swift was hard as nails and never comfortable although I wish it was. The b17 Ti is perfect. Thicker leather, lighter. Worth the extra for sure.

My gripes the rails allow fk all adjustment.

This is my dream beardo saddle.

Just saw this… Keep that stinking Bertie… Carbon vs Leather - A Comparison of C Series vs X Series