The Brooks Cambium C15 is a unique saddle with classic looks reminiscent of Brooks's famous leather saddles. Brooks has long been known for high quality tensioned leather saddles with their timeless quality and classic aesthetics. The Cambium maintains some of the iconic Brooks looks but aims to up the performance with a more modern shape and lower weight. The shell of the saddle is made of Vulcanized Natural Rubber, giving the saddle unique ride characteristics. Riders looking for a durable saddle with classic styling will appreciate the Cambium C15. The Cambium is well suited to commuting or touring duty (if a flexible shell is what you are looking for). We probably wouldn't use this saddle on our road bike if speed and performance are the priority.
Brooks Cambium C15 Review
Cons: Heavy, too much flex
Manufacturer: Brooks England
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Our Analysis and Test Results
The Brooks Cambium C15 is a more racing and performance-oriented model than the classic leather saddles Brooks has long been known for. However, it is quite heavy compared to its more modern counterparts. 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.
This saddle was a bit of a paradox during our 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 seat. 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 and discomfort on the soft tissues. 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 this model 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 alright, but having to tailor our pedaling style based on saddle flex is not ideal.
If the saddle flex does not bother you, then the C15 could be a saddle that would perform well on multiple bikes. We do not find it to be very versatile though, because of its lack of high-end performance. 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.
We found no issues with durability; this saddle is definitely 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 and tear.
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 C15 as tested uses steel rails and rivets, so the weight of 405 grams- is not surprising. To be fair, it is also available in a C13 version that uses carbon rails and frame to drop the weight significantly.
The Cambium C15 retails for $160. The craftsmanship is superb and is well worth the money when used for the correct application. However, there are several more modern saddles in this price range that offer more comfort and better performance.
The Brooks Cambium C15 is a newer 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 soft ride quality and a vintage look that is hard to find among today's modern performance-oriented saddles.
— Nick Bruckbauer & Curtis Smith