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Saddles: Brooks vs. Selle Italia(10 posts)

Saddles: Brooks vs. Selle ItaliaUncleMoe
Aug 8, 2001 3:24 PM
To build on the saddle topic below...since I'm in the market for a new saddle.

Today was the first I ever heard of Brooks saddles as I've never seent them in a store. Sounds intriguing, just a simple leather saddle and the prices seem reasonable as I found a few websites and they run around $65. I'd prefer to find a LBS that carries them simply to get an idea of what they are all about vs. buying on the net. Anyone know fo a dealer locator for Brooks?

I was also thinking of getting the Selle Italia Flite Gel (I am not a fan of gel due to compression, but when I sat on this saddle in the LBS, it just seemed great. It is very firm and I would never guess there was gel anywhere.) The gel appears to be not where the sit bones are.

Anyway, is there anyone who has used both of these saddles and which one do you prefer.
Brooks...coonass
Aug 8, 2001 4:15 PM
The Brooks 'Swift' is my only choice after buying saddle, after saddle, after saddle, after saddle.... Ever since then, the saddle has never even been a thought during longgggg rides, except for when someone makes a complimentary remark at a break stop...
:)
New School/Old Schoolgrzy mnky
Aug 8, 2001 4:15 PM
The Brooks is definitely a throw back and has been around for probaly 30 years or more and I was under the impression that they aren't being made, but you can still find them. It represents the English approach to things - it should be uncomfortable as hell in the beginning and then break in all while keeping a stiff upper lip. The question is how long/how well. you've definitely got your fans who will swear by it. They aren't light. The Selle Italia Flite w/gel is on the new side of things, but the Flite has probably been the most pooular saddle ever on higher end bikes. If it works for you it's going to fit right away. Personally I've had Brooks and Ideale (French copy) and I only miss them when I get all nostalgic and teary eyed - which ain't often.

Surely this will open the floodgates of die-hard Brooks fans. Ultimately it comes down to what works for you and there aren't amny here who really know except yourself. Personaly I riding a Selle Italia Max Flight Trans Am - it's got all the bells and whistles.
re: Saddles: Brooks vs. Selle Italiakyvdh
Aug 8, 2001 5:47 PM
I'm a Brooks fan myself. I didn't have any break-in period, it was great from the start. I've been riding mine since May and wouldn't trade it for anything. I don't have any experience with the Selle Italia so I can't compare. You probably won't find many, if any shops carrying the Brooks because they are really out of style with most people unless you talk to the touring and some ultra distance crowd. I risked buying without trying it out ahead of time but have not been disappointed. I will say the Brooks seems to be either a home run or an infield fly out with folks, not much middle ground. I also have wider sit bones and that may have been part of the reason the brooks worked for me. I have the B-17 model.
re: Saddles: Brooks vs. Selle ItaliaDINOSAUR
Aug 8, 2001 8:38 PM
I used a Brooks Team Pro off and on for two seasons. I liked it, but it would not dial in with the geometry of my bike. Disadvantages is weight, you can't get it wet, and you have to treat it once and a while with a leather conditioner, although I read on the Brooks website that you can over treat the saddle and cause it to break down prematurely. It did not take a long break-in period, but I found the more I used it, the more comfortable it became (talking years). I think a Brooks would be a fine addition to a restored Classic road bike.

Saddles are one subject when you are pretty much on your own. It's hit and miss until you find one that works for you. Some people like Selle Italia, some people say they are too square shaped and cut into them.

More or less, think of what you don't like about the saddle you have now. Not wide enough? Too narrow? Not long enough? Saddles come in different length rails, depending on the manufacturer and model. I found the secret for me was find one that fit me when I was dialed in with my knee over pedal position.

I've have good luck with San Marcos Saddles, maybe it's because their mold fits my butt. I'm now using the San Marcos Era. I like it because it fits, it's level, I use every part of it moving back and forth, and it has ti rails that really helps dampen the ride on my Klein.

The key, I found, was shape and material, not padding or gel.

I think we are not far away from custom saddles, one made just for you. In this age of computers, I can't see why it already hasn't been done. This doesn't count sitting on top of your copy machine at work...
re: Saddles: Brooks vs. Selle Italiamackgoo
Aug 8, 2001 9:10 PM
I can only say I just bought a swallow, It's great. No break in. I happened to be in Durango a while back, the local LBS had some Brooks there.
re: Saddles: Brooks vs. Selle ItaliaPogliaghi
Aug 8, 2001 9:47 PM
I have one of each, a Brooks Swift on my road bike and a Flite Gel on my cross.

I love the Brooks. I don't know what possessed me to buy one without ever having tried it out. But as it turned out, it's very comfortable, even on 70+ mile rides. My weight seems to distribute very evenly on the saddle. It was comfortable out of the box, no break in necessary. Two weeks after I'd mounted it on my bike, I rode it 80 miles without any problems.

I rode the Flite about 45 mi. yesterday and my butt was sore towards the end of the ride. I was missing my Brooks.

The Brooks Swift is heavier by about 80g and twice as expensive as the Flite. The Brooks Swift is their lightest model and second most expensive. There are less expensive but heavier Brooks saddles available.

Butts and saddles are tricky choices. If you like the Flite, try to test it on a Looong ride. If you're comfortable on the Flite then buy it. Unless you reeeally want a Brooks.
Here's some info ...bianchi boy
Aug 9, 2001 4:40 AM
If you're interested in a Brooks saddle, check out Wallingford Bikes (www.wallbike.com), which I think is based in the New Orleans, LA, area. They sell all of the Brooks models with good descriptions and testimonials on their website. Wall offers an unconditional guarantee on all of the Brooks saddles for 6 months -- meaning you can get a full refund or exchange for another model if the first saddle you get doesn't fit.

Branford Bikes (www.branfordbike.com) also sells Brooks saddles, and has data on weights posted on their website.

In general, leather saddles are wider, heavier and more expensive than more "contemporary" saddles like Selle Italias. For example, the lightest Brooks saddle is the Swift, which is 152 mm wide, weighs about 350 grams, and costs about $150. Another "light" model is the Team Pro, which is 160 mm wide, weighs 560 grams, and costs $80-90. Compare that to a Selle Italia TransAm Max, a saddle that many RBR reviewers have attested to, which is 142 mm wide, weighs 280 grams, and costs $70-80.

I have tried leather and several models of Selle Italias and other makes. Although I haven't ridden a leather saddle in years, I had a cheap leather saddle in college that was the most comfortable saddle I ever had. Unfortunately, it got ruined from being out in the rain all the time. I later bought a leather "Ideal" saddle, which was beautiful (honey colored with copper rivets) that never seemed to break in and get fully comfortable.

More recently, I have tried a Selle Royal gel saddle, which is inexpensive ($35), has lots of gel padding and very comfortable -- although a little heavier than Selle Italia models. I have a SI Trimatic Gel saddle that is firmer than the Selle Royal and very comfortable but too narrow for my butt. I also have a SI TransAm Max, which is a very good saddle -- the classic Flite shape but slightly wider and a cutout in the middle. I have had no problems with numbness at all with the TA Max. It feels very firm at first but gets more comfortable with use. However, I recently changed the geometry on my bikes -- namely raising the handlebars -- because of recurring numbness in my hands. Raising my bars has helped my hands by shifting weight toward the rear, but that has put more weight on my butt. Since raising my bars, I have found that the TA Max saddle is not as comfortable as it was previously. Hence, I've been considering trying a leather saddle again. If I were to get another leather saddle, I probably would bit the bullet and try the Brooks Swift (despite the steep price) because it's not that much heavier than a Selle Italia type saddle.

If you are looking at other makes of contemporary saddles, you might also look into Selle San Marco Rolls and Regal saddles. I haven't ridden either one, but have heard good things about them. They are both slightly wider than Selle Italias and look nice. Excelsports.com carries them.
Here's some info ...Mike Prince
Aug 9, 2001 6:19 AM
I have a Regal on one of my bikes and while the copper rivets on it give it a classic look, be warned that it has VERY FIRM padding. Not a lot of give in this saddle, which can be a good or bad thing depending on your physique and preferences. I mention this because it is relatively expensive and not available everywhere, so see if you can try before you buy.

I had a Regal on a bike about 10 years ago and they have changed the design some - the older one had an adjustment bolt on the underside to adjust the stiffness of the shell (kind of like the Salsa saddle) while the newer one seems to have less padding and no shell adjustability. Either that or my 36 year old butt is a lot less padded than my 26 year old butt was :)

I like this saddle as it fits my butt well, but it is rather firm. For what it's worth, I have a Flite on my newest bike and couldn't be happier. Go figure.
I've used both...Andy M-S
Aug 9, 2001 7:32 AM
I've used a Brooks B17 (Champion Special) and a Selle Italia Flite Ti.

Both are excellent saddles, and both will fit a large proportion of the rear ends out on the road.

That said, how do you choose? For me, it came down to the following issues:

1. Moisture resistance: The B17 absorbed water from underneath and above, so by the end of a long ride, it was rather grippy on my shorts, which made moving around on the saddle difficult. Also, I would need to retreat the saddle with Proofide (an excellent Brooks product) whenever I got it significantly wet. The Flite seems to absorb a LITTLE water, but not much, and doesn't become grippy. Moreover, it's gone from rain to sun without any surface damage.

2. Aesthetics: As I moved to a more and more 'modern' cycling style, the retro look of the B17 was less and less appropriate, IMO. You may feel differently about this. I like the way the Flite looks. On the other hand, if you'd like to use a Carradice-style saddlebag, then Brooks is the way to go: very strong rails and loops for attaching the bag.

3. Weight: Hold a Flite Ti in one hand and a B17 in the other. There is a difference.

Now, aside from what I've noted above, is there a difference in FEEL? No. I've done centuries with both saddles, and both work well. YM, as they say, MV.

If you DO want to investigate Brooks, I highly recommend www.wallbike.com, as did another poster.