Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Saddle Up

Don't fear the weather! It's waterproof.
I mentioned last week that I had a new brooks C-17 to put on my Twin Six Standard Rando. Well, I did get that on there and I have ridden it for a couple of hours now. Before I get into the ride impressions, I'll give you all that may not know about these saddles a bit of back ground.

Brooks saddles traditionally were all leather and as such, weren't good to get wet. Wet leather stretches, shrinks, cracks, and rots, which leaves you with a not so great leather saddle, eventually. Now, I own two Brooks leather B-17 models, and I tend to try to only ride them when it is drier to save myself the trouble of covering it when it is raining or from having to do maintenance sooner than I'd like, which is basically never for a bicycle saddle. That's the unvarnished truth. Saddle maintenance seems like an oxymoron. Saddles should be ridden until such time that they fall apart, break down, and/or hurt your posterior. Hopefully that is a ton of miles down the road or trail. Yes.....I have done maintenance on my Brooks, but I'd rather not have to get another one to take care of.

Enter the Cambium series of saddles which has tackled the issue of weather by using vulcanized rubber and organic cotton as a material instead of leather. This is stretched across a simple frame work, much like an original Brooks, only the materials are different. The frame is an aluminum casting for the back and front with steel rails and the rivets are a two piece affair and are screwed together instead of the usual method which is used on the leather models.

So far.......so good.
The C-17 is roughly the same dimensions as a B-17, so I opted to purchase that model. However; there are two narrower choices in the C-15 and C-13. Shorter "S" designated models are recommended for females. My C-17 weighed in at 410 grams, so not a lightweight saddle at all, but not as heavy as a leather Brooks either, which are typically in the 500+ gram range.

First Impressions: Out of the box the Cambium feels stiff and hard, but that's because it needs the full weight of your body on it to work in the desired fashion. In fact, if you have the saddle mounted on a seat post and that inserted securely into a frame, the shell of the Cambium has a nice, flexible feel, so do not think it is stiff and hard if you handle it in the box.

The Cambium C-17 comes in a few colors and mine is "Slate". It is a grayish-blue hue, and it goes well with the T-6's graphics. It mounted well and I set it up with the "peak", or nose of the saddle, slightly upward as recommended. The first time I sat on it I could feel that it had a flexible shell and I thought it might be too soft. However; after a few minutes of riding the saddle I never even noticed the flexible shell. It basically was one of those invisible component moments. Let's hope it stays that way.

The underside of the saddle shows the natural vulcanized rubber shell.
Obviously it is hard to make any judgments about a saddle after one, two hour long ride, but at least I didn't feel any negatives while trying it out. Miraculously the slightly tilted up nose was at least close to perfectly set for me. I may want to make a fine tune adjustment later, but for now I am sticking with what I have it set at now. Other than that, so far......so good. 

I am a big believer in the "3+ hour rule". That rule says that any saddle worth keeping will still be comfortable after three hours straight of riding. At least from my experience, this seems to hold true. I have been on many saddles that were fantastic feeling up to the three hour mark but after that became a torture device. Brooks B-17 models have passed this test with me, so I am hopeful this one will as well.

The Brooks site is interesting in that for any model they sell they list the good words from customers as well as the bad ones. It's pretty hilarious, actually, because there are as many horror stories about the C-17 as there are glowing praises. I know that from my own research amongst users I know and from bike shop folks who have direct feedback to share, the C-17 seems to either fit like a dream and be a rider's favorite saddle, or it isn't at all a good feeling one, and the buyer flips it almost immediately. I will say that I am pretty sure I am not flipping this saddle soon, but we will wait for that three plus hour ride to happen and then we will all know. I once had a fizik Arione saddle I thought was the bees knees until I rode it more than three hours than I immediately ditched it.

Note: Guitar Ted bought this saddle with his own damn money and was not bribed nor paid for these words. Stay tuned for more soon.......


MG said...

After buying my first C17 last season, I now have five... One for every bike. That is love.

Daniel Lemke said...

I have two. Its a great saddle. Sure its heavy but I think its really comfortable and after using it for commuting for the last year and a half it shows almost no sign of wear.
One thing it does that is a little odd is when its cold outside it will squeak a little. I don't know if anyone else has noticed that but.

Guitar Ted said...

@MG{ I remember you bemoaning the fact that you liked the Cambium so much that it was going to cost you a lot to outfit your entire fleet!

Barturtle said...

I like my two C17s and find them to have a much wider range of usefulness in positions. For example, if I wish to adopt a more aero position with clipons on one of my gravel bikes, the more forward, higher and slightly nose down saddle position with a B17 will make me constantly slide forward onto the nose, while the C17 offers enough traction that such sliding isn't an issue.

Boudin said...

I have the C-17 with the love canal. Wonderful saddle. I no longer have a problem with parts falling asleep. I haven't noticed any squeaking.

R said...

i went from B-17 to C-17 back to B-17... the leather feels more comfortable to me (a 235# guy) than the rubber, especially after 2-3 hours. i agree with the 'nose slightly up' advice on the C-17 (a higher angle than i use on the leather)... it's easier to land on the sweet spot when the angle is up a notch. the C-17 is solid - and it works fine for the way i use it... but if i knew i was planning a day-long ride, or multiple day/ride tour... give me the leather, please.