In the UK there are a handful of globally iconic brands, those renowned for combining British quality and design.
Brooks fit into this mold with their classic leather saddles and bike bags. Stylish but first on most around the world cyclist’s kit list. Until recently I’ve never tried one. Partly as Marion is a bit anti-leather from a vegetarian/vegan leaning philosophy and mostly because they are quite heavy and expensive. I never really struggle on finding a decent saddle so it’s not been a priority for me.
However as readers of this blog might appreciate I don’t mind spending a bit more to get the highest quality kit that lasts and I can rely on. Over the years I have learnt to avoid cheap kit that seems to normally break and I really dislike ugly impractical designed stuff.
Back in February I was given the latest modern design Brooks Cambium C13 saddle to test and after almost 6 months I was happy to write about it, here’s my thoughts:
It’s a saddle that makes a statement, there are few better looking ones out there on the market. With sleek formed carbon rails and a combination of vulcanised rubber and organic cotton mix making up the saddle upper section, it’s undeniably unique. It is heavier than some road racing saddles at 264gms, but that’s not bad and this is about all day comfort without the excessive weight. The rubber/cotton mix is shaped into the upper or seat part and slung without support from front to back above the rails, it then molds to your shape rather than compressing like a traditional padded saddle when sat on this is key to how a relatively hard saddle can be comfortable. In the middle mine has a cut out to relieve pressure, it also comes as a solid saddle without the hole in the middle. Which is better I can’t say as I only tested one, personally I prefer saddles with a gap.
It is designed to be comfortable out of the box, with no breaking in period unlike the traditional designs that use leather which needs usage to mold into your shape. The rubber outer is inherently water proof so doesn’t absorb moisture when left out in the rain, unlike most conventional saddles or leather Brooks saddles it can be wiped off and then dried. A useful feature when you leave your bike out all night when wild camping or Bivvying as much as I do.
The carbon rails made me nervous when I regularly attach heavy saddle packs. However after a few rides I realised these were built to last and not to save the last grams, they seem a lot less likely to break than traditional metal designs as they are integrated better into the upper saddle design at the contact points. Now I’ve said this, I’ll probably get problems and it’ll break but I can’t see it happening based on the last 6 months.
The comfort level is going to vary between users, this isn’t a big soft cushion. On my first ride, I wasn’t sold, it was putting pressure in the wrong areas. However the angle wasn’t quite right so I changed it about and for the next long ride it felt much better. I rode the Dirty Revier 200km gravel ride on it and was really impressed. I took it out to Italy and rode the 300km Jeraboam ride on it. Still no issues. I concluded it is an impressively comfortable saddle. It is also surprisingly good without bib shorts or any kind of pad on.
The rubber textured pattern is showing wear a bit, it’s getting smooth in contact places and rougher in others. It’s nothing but cosmetic and adds character, there’s plenty of life in this saddle. Without padding and stitching it has nothing to wear out other than the rubber material itself and there’s lots of this.
The main negative is the price; good design, high end materials and craftsmanship don’t come cheap. It’s an expensive option there’s no two ways about it! However it isn’t the most expensive option by quite a long way, this is a lot more expensive: Fizik Aliante and the Brooks isn’t even on the first page of expensive saddles!
It isn’t the lightest, you could save a 100gms on something else, but that’s not the point of this saddle. It isn’t too heavy considering the material and it is designed for comfort.
It’s just a saddle but not just any saddle. Personally I might have opted for something a bit cheaper as I couldn’t bring myself to spend £150 on a saddle, but if you want the best about there’s few competitors that come close for fast and light bikepacking! Strong, light, practical and all day comfort.
A classic piece of innovative design that compliments the titanium on my Tripster and finishes the look of a classy bike and after 6 months of solid use I think it’s fair to say it will just keep on going.
Click here for best price I could find at time of writing: Brooks C13 Saddle