Historically, I’ve always ridden on high-tech, gel-filled, cut-out, super light saddles. Saddles that promise much, but often deliver little but discomfort. There are websites offering ‘saddle trials’ for those who, like me, suffer frustration in the process of finding a comfortable women’s saddle. I’ve most often taken the trial and error approach, to the point where I currently have about four or five redundant saddles in my shed.
The Brooks B17 S is the women’s version of one of the company’s longest running and best selling designs, the B17. As the women’s version, it is 7mm broader in the rear and 35mm shorter. The shorter length is certainly beneficial, but, as I mentioned in the review of the Flyer S, I’d have liked to have seen a couple of width options to cater for women with differently proportioned sit bones. Being female does not necessarily mean broader sit bones. The only narrower saddle Brooks produce for women is the Finesse Titanium, designed for sportives and racing, which is the same width as the men’s B17 standard (170mm).
Having always used modern gel type saddles, the classic styling of the Brooks and the deceptively simple construction using leather and steel rivets was a little alien. It felt solid and well built, and at 472g a good couple of hundred grammes heavier than most ‘sports’ saddles. The weight and style of the B17 (and the Flyer) are best suited to the more sedate and less racy looks of tourers, commuters and hybrid bikes rather than leaner road bikes, and the B17 is indeed set within Brooks’ Touring and Trekking category of saddles.
In use, the shiny leather takes some getting used to, but does help to reduce friction where it matters, and the saddle is so well crafted and shaped, that I experienced far less discomfort than with pretty much every other saddle I’ve ever ridden on. There is a cut-out version, the Imperial, but I found the B17 S sufficiently comfortable to feel the Imperial to be a case of fixing something that isn’t broken. The additional weight over modern style saddles is not significantly noticeable in use on tourers and what tend to be heavier bikes anyway, and the durability of the Brooks definitely compensates for this, as does the way the leather moulds to the riders shape with use, making for a uniquely comfortable custom fit. Two eyelets at the back allow for easy fixing of a traditional style saddlebag.
All in all, it’s a sleek, smart, well crafted saddle that’s a good all-rounder for touring, recreational riding and commuting and it’ll give you comfortable service for years and years.
Exceptionally high quality, traditionally styled British made saddle that'll give years of comfortable riding.
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road.cc test report
Make and model: Brooks B17 S saddle
Size tested: n/a
Tell us what the product is for, and who it's aimed at. What do the manufacturers say about it? How does that compare to your own feelings about it?
Te B17 is Brooks' flagship model, ideal for long distance sports touring, trekking and atb use. It has been on the market for over 100 years, being featured in as early as the 1898 catalogue.
The model is available for gents and ladies: The B17 (gents) and the B17 S (ladies)
The standard models feature black steel rails.
A great saddle for touring and trekking purposes, due to its comfort, durability and high build quality. A bit on the weighty side for road use, but ideal for commuter bikes and recreational use as well.
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?
Leather body with steel rails and steel rivets.
Saddlebag eyelets at rear.
Available in Black and Honey colours
Superb build quality and components
Comfortable straight away and ideally suited to its purpose
With care this saddle will last for years.
Manufacturer's 2 year guarantee against defects in manufacture or materials
Adds a couple of hundred grammes of weight to your bike over a modern style lightweight saddle.
Comfortable right away and just gets more comfortable the more you ride on it.
More expensive than many modern style saddles, but still less than some, and offers superior durability over almost all. A good investment.
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
Comfortable and confidence inspiring as a touring saddle.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
Style, craftsmanship, handmade in the UK, comfort
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product
Would have preferred a narrower option to be available as well
Did you enjoy using the product? Yes.
Would you consider buying the product? Definitely.
Would you recommend the product to a friend? Definitely.
Anything further to say about the product in conclusion?
A well-made comfortable saddle with traditional good looks.
About the tester
Age: 37 Height: 1.65m Weight: 67kg
I usually ride: My best bike is:
I've been riding for: 10-20 years I ride: Most days I would class myself as: Experienced
I regularly do the following types of riding: commuting, touring, general fitness riding, mtb,
Lara has been riding bikes for longer than she'd care to admit, and writing about them nearly as long. Since 2009 she has been working as part of the road.cc review team whilst championing women's cycling on the side, most notably via two years as editor of the, sadly now defunct, UK's first and only women's cycling mag, erm, Women's Cycling.
Believing fervently that cycling will save the world, she wishes that more people would just ride a bike and be pleasant to each other.
She will ride anything with two wheels, occasionally likes to go fast, definitely likes to go far and is always up for a bit of exploring somewhere new and exciting.