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Hands-on Gear Review
Brooks Cambium C15 Review
Cons: Heavy, too much flex
Bottom line: A unique design with a classic look. Ideal for commuting.
The Brooks Cambium is a unique saddle with classic looks reminiscent of Brooks famous leather saddles such as the B-17. Brooks has long been known for high quality tensioned leather saddles. The Cambium maintains the iconic look but aims to up performance with a modern shape and lower weight. The shell of the saddle is made of Vulcanized Natural Rubber, giving the saddle unique ride characteristics.
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Our Analysis and Hands-on Test Results
The Brooks Cambium is more racy and performance oriented than the classic leather saddles Brooks is known for. However, it is quite heavy. The rubber shell is unique, and provides a very different ride quality than most modern saddles, but we found it to be a bit too flexible to classify it as a true performance saddle. Read on to see how the Cambium stacks up in our full review below.
The Cambium was a bit of a paradox during testing. On short rides and at the beginning of long rides the Cambium feels extremely comfortable. As the miles ticked by we began to struggle to find the sweet spot on the saddle. As the natural rubber warms up from body heat, the saddle becomes softer and begins to develop a hammock-like effect. The result is increased pressure on the perineum. On a positive note, we found the suspended rubber shell to be very effective at minimizing vibration and road chatter.
The same flex in the shell that detracts from the comfort of the Cambium can also be a limiting factor when trying to lay down the power. We found the saddle to be bouncy, particularly when riding on rough roads and at a high cadence. Steady mid-cadence efforts felt OK, but having to tailor our pedaling style based on saddle flex is not ideal.
If the flex does not bother you, then the Cambium could be a saddle that would perform well on multiple bikes. We do not find it to be very versatile. It is well suited to commuting and other short rides, but beyond that it would not be our go-to saddle. The cover is composed of organic cotton canvas that feels quite rough when new. Over time the surface seems to get smoother, but it is still too abrasive for cyclocross remounts, and frequently caused our bibs to bunch up.
No issue with durability; the Cambium is constructed to last. The cover on our test saddle developed some darker patches where it received the most abrasion from riding, but it shows no sign of detrimental wear.
This is not a lightweight saddle, especially considering it is designed to appeal to a more performance-oriented crowd than the other saddles in the Brooks lineup. The Cambium C-15 as tested uses steel rails and rivets so the weight of 405g is not surprising. To be fair, the Cambium is available in a C-13 version that uses carbon rails and frame to drop the weight significantly.
The Cambium is well suited to commuting or touring duty (if a flexible shell is what your are looking for).
The Cambium C-15 retails for $175. The craftsmanship is superb and is well worth the money when used for the correct application.
The Brooks Cambium is a new twist on a classic style saddle from Brooks. It uses natural rubber and canvas in place of the tensioned leather found in other Brooks saddles. While not for everyone, the Cambium has a unique ride quality, and a vintage look that is hard to find among today's modern performance-oriented saddles.
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— Curtis Smith
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