|Brooks Cambium C-17 in Natural.|
Brooks saddles were traditionally made in leather for well over a century, have been lauded and hated on, and are still one of the most iconic bicycle components ever made. Maybe even the most iconic. Traditionalist, tourists, and hipsters have all been fans of the Brooks saddle over the decades. But with all of that, there was one thing that was a big issue. Moisture.
Brooks saddles are not really very moisture friendly. They can stretch, crack, and get all sorts of issues if you get them wet on multiple occasions and do not fastidiously take care of them. I have had Brooks leather saddles on other bikes, enjoyed the heck out of them, but I would never have put one on any of my gravel bikes or Fargos due to the problems Brooks saddles have with episodes of wetness. The comfort was there for me, but the durability without doing much maintenance was not there.
|The C-17 in slate- Fear not the water!|
Well, as he told me later, he was angered by the Cambium. You see, he liked it so much he wanted four more! That was a costly try out! Eventually, he did get four more C-17 saddles to outfit his fleet. So, I trust his opinion to a great degree, and I decided last Summer to give a Slate colored C-17 a flier on my Standard Rando. I had the saddle on the bike by mid-summer and have been using it off and on since then.
Cambiums are made out of a textile and bonded to a natural rubber base which is stretched out over an aluminum frame. The materials are different than a traditional Brooks leather saddle, but the basic idea of the design remains. The rubber base acts like the leather, like a sort of hammock, and the aluminum frame is much like its steel counterpart in the leather saddle. Besides the materials, the Cambium differs in that it can withstand being very wet without having to be carefully maintained afterwards. A big plus for bikes that might see muddy roads, rain, or even wet snow on occasion. Body moisture in the form of sweat can deform a saddle made of leather as well, but the Cambium also is not affected by sweat in the same manner.
Okay, that's all just great, but was it comfortable? At first, I wasn't so sold on the Cambium. The base was stiff and not very forgiving to my body movements and bumps from the road. However; after about three good two to three hour rides, the saddle came in and was a completely different experience. The base was forgiving after this, and now it is one of the most comfortable saddles I have ever ridden. Obviously, the shape also agrees with me.
One final thing. The comparison to a leather Brooks and the Cambium. In my opinion, there is a "sweet spot" on a leather Brooks and you don't have a whole lot of fore and aft "wiggle room" before you get to the rivets or a spot that is uncomfortable in some way. With the Cambium, I feel that this is far less of an issue. I'm not sure if that is due to how the Cambium's undercarriage is different or not, but I suspect that this is the reason I find that I can move around a bit more with comfort on a Cambium saddle.
Would a Cambium work for you? Heck, I don't know. I just know that they work for me and I bought a second one based upon my experiences.