Monday, April 6, 2009

Getting to the bottom of it...

Sumatran Rhinosauras Beetle with impeccable taste!

. Some fanatical folks truly love its comfort. Courtesy of Brooks Website

I have a friend who absolutely hates bicycles. CY went on his very first bike ride with me once on a cheapo hand-me-down bike (mistake no. 1) at Pulau Ubin, Singapore many years back and went home with a very bruised bottom. It didn’t help that his pain continued for a few days. Up till today, I dare not ask him for another ride!

Indeed, how can anyone get comfortable on 3 tiny square inches of support? I will admit that when I first started cycling 30+ years ago, the first point of discomfort was my bottom especially after half an hour on that torture device called the saddle. My best friend Simon ingeniously wrapped around his saddle a whole gunny sack to lessen the pain when we were school boys in the 70s on a long ride. It was a case of comfort over style.

DDwings Seat, looks promising - Pic fm

Thankfully, we have much better saddles now with ergonomically designed gel ones in various shapes that do a very decent job. I have gone through many saddles – Velo Gel, Rido, Specialized Ergo, Avocet leather, SDG SL etc all in various degrees of success. Despite all the hype with Gel saddles (they lose their shape after a while), the saddle that really works for me is stretched leather. In my long research for the ultimate touring saddle, my findings led me to try the Brooks B17.

The technology behind Brooks goes way back to the 1866 and remains largely the same. Good old fashion leather stretched out on a metal frame. Like a good pair of moccasin leather shoes, Brooks saddle will break-in naturally into the shape of your bottom after 1000km (usually less) of riding. I got my B17 about a year ago and toured across Sumatra, Laos, Malaysia with a very happy bottom. No wonder it remains the favourite among many adventure cyclists.

Not everyone's bottom will agree with the Brooks but another friend of mine who had a mild case of piles used the B17 and claimed that it cured his piles! Not that I have verified his claim physically (or harbour any desire to) but if you are looking for greater comfort for your rides, give Brooks a try. For me, it’s the next best thing to having a lounge chair afixed on my foldie.

More info on leather saddles can be found on this excellent article by the late guru Sheldon Brown:

Update: One of my regular readers and fellow LHT rider, Nat, adds that Brooks saddles come in different designs (racing, titanium, woman specific etc) as well. Thanks Nat!


Nat said...

Just to add on, I believe there is a Brooks for everyone. If one has wide bottoms, the B67 works wonders, it is sprung too.

Michael Khor said...

Hi Al, like you, I can't praise my B17 enough. In fact, I can ride on it the whole day and never have any problems. A cycling buddy thought he could do just as well with a cheaper gel-filled monstrosity which, theoretically would be great for the the bottom, but after one test ride on my Brooks, he realises the folly of being Sen-wise, Ringgit-foolish. He's now about to become a Brooks fan :)

Oldyonfoldy said...

Good to hear fm u Mike! Glad too that your friend has wisdom shining upon him, bottom-wise. :)

Unknown said...

I am now a proud owner of TWO B17 Specials. I have a green one for my vintage bike and a honey one for my Dahon Mu P24. Bought them in London when I was there. Loving it!

Oldyonfoldy said...

MB, you can't have too many of a good thing right? Green is a very classy & unique colour. For some reason, it reminds me of the old TV series - Adam's family :)