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Hands-on Gear Review
Brooks England B-17 Review
Cons: Maintenance intensive, long break-in time, heavy
Bottom line: An all leather classic, no padding just high quality tensioned leather that gets better with time and use.
The Brooks B-17 is a truly a beautiful saddle. First introduced in 1898, the B-17 has been in production for over 100 years. Superb craftsmanship and a vintage yet timeless design set it apart from other touring and commuting saddles. The tensioned leather evolves over time, giving each saddle a unique character. It does not offer the performance and low weight of the Editors' Choice Specialized Phenom Expert, but it does offer style and comfort for the more casual ride. It is not cheap, and requires a bit more TLC than most, but with the proper care it could last longer than many other components on your bike.
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Our Analysis and Hands-on Test Results
We found the Brooks England to be comfortable, following a long break-in period. The tensioned leather takes time to break in. Once broken in, it develops a distinct sweet spot where you will always find yourself. Our testers preferred the other saddles in the test that utilize some sort of padding for most riding.
The Brooks B17 did not receive high marks for performance from our testers. Its wide tail and short nose do not allow the rider to get into a high performance position. A longer nose similar to the Fizik Antares would allow the rider more position options when down in the drops on a road bike. It is better suited to a more upright position, utilized by commuters and touring riders.
The tensioned leather design does not lend itself well to many cycling disciplines such as cyclocross, road, and mountain biking. We liked the Brooks B17 on our commuters, touring bikes, and cruisers.
When properly cared for, the B-17 can be a very durable and long-lasting piece of equipment. We know riders who have had the same Brooks saddle on their daily commuter bike for many years. The tensioned leather will stand the test of time if it is treated often using Brooks Proofide, and protected from the elements.
At 570g the B-17 is not a lightweight racing saddle. But with an intended use of touring and trekking, it does not need to be. Touring saddles often compromise on weight to achieve all-day comfort.
The B-17 shines as a touring and trekking saddle. We recommend it for all-day epics, and month-long expeditions where speed and performance come secondary to enjoying the view. It is also a great commuting saddle. We found it equally comfortable on short rides wearing jeans or a pair of padded cycling shorts. If you are not the type who enjoys oiling your saddle, or if you frequently leave your bike out exposed to the elements, we recommend that you try a more maintenance-free perch such as the WTB Speed or the Selle Italia Flite Gel Flow Saddle.
You will likely pay over $100 dollars for a B-17, and another $25 or so for the proper leather conditioning products. There are cheaper saddles, but none that offer the vintage style and design of the B-17. The B-17 is expensive but its value comes through in the long run.
There are many versions of the B-17, including a titanium railed version that will save you quite a bit of weight. The B-17 is also offered in a women's specific design, as well as a range of different colors.
— Curtis Smith
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