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Riding on Brooks

I did it. The Brooks B17S saddle is now perched on my Schwinn to be broken in little by little each weekend as the departure date looms closer and closer.


Having never replaced a saddle before (I used to replace the bike – just kidding) it took me a month, a bottle of liquid wrench, and the muscles of some nice guy at Metro Bikes on 6th Ave and 15th St. It was really the muscles that did it as my measly upper body strength couldn’t even budge the damn bolt holding the saddle on.

Out with the old, in with the new and the beautiful, honey colored Brooks was ready to be fitted into its place of honor. But wait, what's this? Instructions? Apparently, my fancy new tensioned leather saddle needs some fancy new maintenance. Just a few little care and feeding items to remember like keep it out of the rain (cover it up), proofhide occasionally, don't re-tension but once a year, and yes it's stiff now, but this will be the best saddle you've ever had - we promise. The first tentative round of proofhiding went off without a hitch - I wouldn't know if it did or didn't really, but why not just assume it did. As far as I can tell, proofhide is a just fancy English word for saddle soap. Actually it's the “new and improved” stable (ha ha) version of saddle soap which isn’t really a soap, but a polishing and softening agent. The saddle smells like a nice, well-seasoned set of tack right now, but unfortunately that expensive leather smell will dissipate. I didn't buy the saddle because of the leather smell, but it's a nice perk to open the box for the first time to regard that beautifully crafted piece of equipment and get a whiff of the scent of leather.

Positioning. Yes, sitting for the first time on a Brooks does initially feel like sitting on a brick. But given that I was attempting to balance on a stationary bike in the basement of the apartment while trying to keep my feet away from the cockroach carcasses littering the floor in the bike room, it's not really a fair test.

Now after two rides, one slipping and sliding and one just about right thanks to Sheldon Brown's essay on saddles the saddle is actually beginning to feel like something to be reckoned with. The slipping was due to the saddle not being horizontal and the unfortunate thing about it being on the mountain bike is that I can't get it back quite far enough. But this is beginning to fits like a saddle is supposed to fit and by all accounts it will conform to my sit bones with time and be my very own - much like a good pair of Birkenstocks.

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