A new brooks – non leather (gasps)


Brooks England, the world’s oldest bicycle saddle manufacturer, are inviting 100 people to try their yet-to-be-launched Cambium model. This is Brooks’ first non-leather saddle in a long time and they reckon it’s unlike any other on the market.

As part of Brooks’ final test phase of the new saddle, they will be selecting a diverse group of 100 cyclists worldwide to test the saddle over the next month and offer feedback that will then be published on the Cambium website.

According to Brooks, “The Cambium is made from a uniquely flexible natural rubber and organic cotton top, enhanced by a thin layer of structural textile for added resilience. This vulcanized, waterproof top, which follows the rider’s movements, is immediately comfortable, maintenance-free, and highly abrasion-resistant to offer the longevity for which Brooks is legendary.”

The saddle will not be released for sale until 17 June, hence the enigmatic photography.

Brooks will select men and women of differing body type and age, using a variety of bicycles.

• 33 will be long-time users of Brooks leather saddles.

• 33 will be cyclists who have used both Brooks leather saddles and other saddles.

• 34 will be cyclists who have never used a Brooks leather saddle.

If you wish be considered you need to register at www.brooksengland.com/cambiumbefore 17 May. All registrants will receive a 10% discount to the Brooks online shop.

A new saddle in town

Ergon , those makers of the most comfortable grips have revealed their new saddle – a first for them. Judging by the quality of their grips it may be the saddle for those that want comfort but cant live with the weight of the champ ‘The Brooks’

The SM3 comes in two sizes and three rail options: carbon, titanium or I-Beam. Instead of connecting below the sit bones, the rails attach at the far rear of the seat, which allows the saddle to flex more for increased comfort. And to keep your sensitive areas performing properly, the SM3 has a deep grove that relieves pressure on intimate bits. Prices start at RRP $140.

Their Blurb:

The development of a bicycle saddle is a particular challenge from an Ergonomic point of view. A saddle needs to support about half of the body weight, the resulting pressure is then concentrated on the most sensitive region of the body – yet this area has to suffer no pain or discomfort if possible. At the same time the rider must not be prevented from being able to put as much power into the pedals as possible. Problems with the saddle have a direct and extremely noticeable effect on the performance, endurance and general well being of a rider. The numerous factors which must be taken into consideration when developing a saddle, are also extremely complex. For example the type of riding to be undertaken, the position on the bike, the width of a rider‘s sit bones, the sex of a rider, their level of fitness, the amount they ride in a single journey, the intensity of the workout, the type of rider they are. To develop a saddle many fields of expertise are called upon. Ergonomic specialists in the field of sport, and sports physicians, engineers, material scientists, process and CAD engineers, and industrial designers – to name but a few. Ergon‘s development team has cherry picked the best people available for each of these roles. The methodology and knowhow is state of the art, and they are motivated by their passions – cycling and innovation. The technology used in the Ergon Ergonomics Laboratory, the multitude of sensors and pressure mapping, was developed in Germany and is some of the most advanced Worldwide. The intensity and effort put into the Ergon saddle‘s development phase had just one clear aim – to develop the ergonomically best fitting, most efficient, highest performing and comfortable saddle in its class.

Interbike Snap

Dream Bikes – another coffee shop beauty

FOLK ENGINEERED Bikes made in New Jersey – a real beauty  – another in my Dream Bike Series

City Commuting

Your Buddy …for everyday comfort getting around town

• Uses: Commuting, everyday, in cities, and to the park

• Design: Comfortable, relaxed, stable, tough, and upright

• Features: 8-speed drivetrain, grip shifter, upright bars, tough and versatile 26″ wheels, Sturmey Archer hubs with drum brakes, clearance for cruiser tires, leather saddle, full coverage fenders, chainguard, front rack, rear rack, 2 water bottle cages, and chain hanger

• Color: One coat of powder or paint, your color choice, is included with the frame and fork. Choice of additional colors (lugs, decorative design, pin striping, etc) is available at an additional charge.

*Frame and Fork starting at: $1800

Marie Pasquariello and Ryan Reedall founded Folk Engineered in 2009 after a long pedal-powered relationship. Their focus has been on fine, custom bicycles and has now created a production bicycle, the ‘Marsupial’, which will be sold in local bike shops. It is one of the finest personifications of the pleasure of cycling. The lugged frame has been kitted out with a selection of Velo-Orange components and the integrated racks feature mahogany tops. An Brooks saddle rounds out the coffee shop ride.

You can browse the Folk Engineered portfolio on their website, and have a look at ‘The Marsupial’.

Saddle speak

hard or soft saddle?

Let me start off by saying I have never had problems with saddles – I find most comfortable.

I had a Selle Flite on my Klein (this was a road bike saddle) but suited the bike until I wiped out and cracked the plastic shell. Some people have terrible problems so here is the article in bits ….

Can’t tell you what the best saddle is (Brooks!) because only your bum can tell you (Brooks!). I can point you to an excellent article on saddle fit, and excerpt some content, with deepest gratitude to Sheldon Brown (who was a god on all things bike):

Everybody wants a comfortable saddle on their bicycle. What is not so obvious is what constitutes a comfortable saddle.

You’ll notice that I do call them “saddles,” not “seats.” There is a reason for this. A “seat” is something you sit on, and is designed to bear essentially your entire weight. Recumbent bicycles have “seats,” but conventional upright bicycles have saddles. A saddle is intended to carry some, but not all of your weight. The rest of your weight is mainly carried by your legs, and some by your hands and arms.

A cyclist who is out of cycling shape, from being off a bicycle for a bit, will start out strong, but the legs will tire rapidly. When the legs tire, the rider sits harder on the saddle, and that’s when the trouble starts. Many saddle complaints are actually traceable to fatigue caused by starting out the season with a longer ride than you are ready for.

Hard or Soft?

When a cyclist finds a saddle uncomfortable, the first impulse is often to look for a soft one. This is often a mistake. Just as the softest mattress is not necessarily the most comfortable to sleep on, the softest saddle is not the most comfortable to cycle on.

Imagine sitting down on a coffee table. Your weight is concentrated on the two bumps of your “sit bones”, also known as the “ischial tuberosities.” These are the parts of your body designed to bear your seated weight. Most cases of saddle-related discomfort arise because the load is carried on the soft tissues between the sit bones.

Imagine placing a soft pillow on top of the coffee table. Now, as you sit down on it, the sit bones compress the pillow, which yields until the sit bones are almost on the table surface again. The difference is that now, you have pressure in between your sit bones from the middle part of the pillow.

Many cyclists are unaware of this, and many saddles are made to appeal to the purchaser who chooses a saddle on the basis of how easily the thumb can sink into the squishy top. This type of saddle is only comfortable for very short rides, (though an inexperienced cyclist will often find it more comfortable than a better saddle, as long as rides don’t exceed a mile or two). Saddles with excessive padding are also a common cause of painful chafing of the inner thigh, as rides become longer.

OK, so you want a minimalist saddle which is just wide enough to support your sit bones.

Most saddles are designed for men, not for women. Due to the wider hips of most women, this can result in the sit bones overhanging a narrow saddle, leading to painful pressure on soft tissues.

In general, women’s saddles are somewhat wider and somewhat shorter than those that work best for men. Some newer women’s saddles have a large cutout in the middle to eliminate pressure on soft tissues. These work well for many women, but some riders find the sharp-ish edges of the hole irritating.

My saddles have been that first Selle Flite (cracked in fall)

Selle Flite

Than a Selle Storika (for the looks) but bent the titanium rail when I took a big tumble and couldnt straighten it.


Selle Storika - post crash - see the rail bend

Then bought a Brooks Swift  – a great sadde but was getting slaughtered by the mud so moved it onto the Yuba Mundo

Brooks Swift

Then Ritchey WCS saddles on both my Carver and the Klein

Ritchey WCS Marathon

And another Brooks this time a B17 on my Brompton.

Brooks B17 Narrow

Until the mid 1970s, most good quality bicycles came with tensioned leather saddles. These have a frame basically similar to that of the padded plastic saddle. A thick piece of leather is rivetted to the bridge, and to an adjustable fitting at the nose of the saddle. The leather is suspended sort of like a hammock.

A properly shaped leather saddle is an excellent choice for the high-mileage rider who doesn’t mind the fact that it is a bit heavier than a plastic saddle.

Leather saddles provide “give” by stretching and flexing, without the need for foam padding. The lack of foam greatly improves comfort in hot weather, as heat and perspiration can “breathe” through the porous leather.

Leather saddles also “break in” to fit the particular shape of the rider, in much the same way as a baseball glove does (or a fine pair of shoes!). They do require more care than plastic saddles.

I have a Brooks B17 and a Brooks Swift. No, you can’t have either of them, I love them both. Best of luck finding your perfect saddle!