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Spa Cycles has brought out a range of three leather saddles at a distinctly more wallet-friendly price-point than their Brooks counterparts: the Wharfe to Brooks' Swift, the Aire to Brooks' Swallow, and the saddle here: the Spa Cycles Nidd to Brooks' B17.
The Nidd's dimensions are almost identical to the B17's with a length of 277 mm, a width of 168mm and a height of 65 mm, though at 623 grams on our scales it's a bit burlier than the B17's claimed 520 grams. At £35, it's also a heck of a lot cheaper.
There are more similarities with the Brooks equivalent: you get saddle loops and the usual nose-bolt to tighten the saddle up once it's started sagging excessively - use sparingly.
Unlike Brooks, the Nidd has a woven synthetic material bonded to the underside - I'm guessing that this helps manage stretch. It also possibly protects the leather from road spray, though I would avoid getting the saddle too wet - that would be a good way to ruin it. You see many randonneurs keeping a plastic bag stuffed between the rails and the saddle for this very reason.
I own a Brooks Swallow and a Swift, so that is what I am comparing the Nidd against. I was always warned that leather saddles take about 500 miles to break in, which I've found to be a bit of an exaggeration for the Brooks; they were pretty comfy and springy from day one - though it's only fair to say that both the Brooks have titanium rails and are therefore, so I'm told, more comfortable earlier.
The Nidd not so much. It was rock-hard when I picked it up from road.cc HQ and though you can just about detect some give after 250 miles, comfortable is not (yet) how I would describe the saddle. This long breaking-in period is almost certainly a function of the thicker leather that is used compared to Brooks saddles, the upside of which is that the saddle should last a lot longer - provided it's taken care of properly (disclaimer: I am not a leather expert!)
That is not to say that I don't like the saddle. The shape actually suits my behind better (on my touring bike) than the Swift and Swallow that I own - it is much wider and therefore offers more support in a more upright position. While the saddle is hard, it is not painfully so for my one-hour-long commutes. I think persevering with the saddle will reap rewards in the form of a saddle that's just right for me - eventually.
A great quality leather saddle at an incredible price - if you don't mind investing some time to break it in.
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Make and model: Spa Cycles Nidd Leather Saddle
Size tested: Brown
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?
Spa cycles bill it as "Our touring saddle, made from Australian cowhide on high quality chrome plated cro-mo frames."
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?
Width (at widest point): 168mm
Looks really well made and finished - as good as a Brooks.
As the leather is thicker than Brooks, it is heavier and takes longer to break in. This one isn't comfy yet.
With the extra thick leather, these should outlive most mortals.
20% heavier than the equivalent Brooks - less than half the price though.
Once broken in, I'm sure that like my Brooks, this will be a comfy perch. I haven't got there yet though.
A quality leather saddle for £35 that will last a lifetime; can't say fairer than that.
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
It worked well, but go easy on the distance for the first 500 miles.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
The price, incredible value, without giving up any quality as far as I can tell.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product
The long breaking in period. Mind you, the flip-side of that is better durability.
Did you enjoy using the product? I'm starting to enjoy it, now that it's starting to break in.
Would you consider buying the product? Probably not, the long breaking in period is a bit of a showstopper for me.
Would you recommend the product to a friend? Yes, but I would caution them about the breaking in period.
Anything further to say about the product in conclusion?
Great choice if you're looking for a quality, durable leather saddle and don't want to fork out Brooks prices.
Age: 32 Height: 1.78m Weight: 76kg
I usually ride: All of them! My best bike is: Cervelo Dual
I've been riding for: Over 20 years I ride: Every day I would class myself as: Expert
I regularly do the following types of riding: time trialling, commuting, touring, club rides, fixed/singlespeed, Audax