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Brooks B17 Saddle Review After 1000 Miles

I bought the Brooks B17 Standard Saddle on Amazon in preparation for my first bike tour. I was hesitant to spend so much money on a saddle but I needed something decent to replace the cheap plastic seat that was on the bike. 1000 miles later and I am very happy with my purchase. This is my Brooks B17 saddle review. 

The Brooks B17 saddle with a suspension seat post
The Brooks B17 saddle
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A Bit of Info about the Brooks B17 Saddle

The B17 saddle is handmade by Brooks England in their factory in Birmingham. This iconic saddle was first introduced into the Brooks product range in 1890. The design is largely unchanged from the original product that was introduced over 100 years ago. The B17 is designed for long-distance bicycle touring. This is a classic piece of cycling gear and is Brooks best selling model. 

The saddle uses a simple design. It is a thick leather top stretched over a metal frame. The leather is attached to the frame with rivets. The nose piece adjusts with a threaded bolt. This allows you to retention the leather as it stretches and wears over time. 

Brooks B17 Comfort

Honestly, this saddle has quite a few drawbacks. The comfort alone may outweigh all of them. The B17 is designed to keep your butt supported and comfortable for long days in the saddle. After all, it’s made for touring.

The B17 comes in men’s and women’s versions. The women’s version is called the B17S. Two sizes are available including a standard and narrow. The standard measure 175 mm wide and the narrow version measures 151 mm wide. To determine your ideal saddle size, you’ll need to measure your sit bone width. Check out this helpful guide to learn how to make this measurement. 

Interestingly, when you first sit on a new Brooks B17, it may not feel all that comfortable. The leather is hard and slippery. I didn’t know what to think at first but decided to give it a chance. After it was properly broken in, the B17 became the most comfortable saddle that I’ve ever ridden. 

The saddle achieves this comfort with the leather over a frame design. It works kind of like a hammock. The frame supports the leather and the leather supports you. The magic happens when the fibers in the leather break down and mold to your body for a custom-like fit. Basically, the saddle naturally conforms to the anatomy of your sit bones. It is firm yet supportive. 

This design allows the saddle to support you in all the right places. After it’s broken in, it feels like it was made for you. You would think that a soft saddle would be more comfortable but, during long days, the firm Brooks offers much-needed support. With this saddle, I can ride for 8-10 hours pretty easily. 

The Brooks B17 Saddle Break-in Period

For most riders, this saddle isn’t that comfortable right out of the box. It takes a decent amount of time to properly break-in. The break-in period can take between 100-500 miles. Some riders do find these saddles to be comfortable as is. It really depends on your anatomy. 

You can speed up the break-in process by applying some Brooks England Proofide to the underside of the saddle. This helps to soften up the leather. Just rub a dab in with a rag. You can also apply a small amount to the top (shiny side), let it sit overnight, then rub it off before riding.  

As the Brooks B17 breaks in, you will begin seeing dimples forming where your sit bones contact the leather. The center of the saddle will also form to your crotch. The leather also becomes slightly softer. At this point, the saddle fits like a glove and becomes incredibly comfortable. 

My biggest mistake was leaving on a tour without properly breaking in the leather. After 2 days on the road, I had some pretty bad saddle sores developing. After about 150 miles my saddle was broken in and could be ridden all day comfortably.

My advice is to slowly break this thing in before doing any long-distance touring. Also, I didn’t wear any padded shorts. I think that would have made the break in a bit less painful.

Brooks B17 on my budget touring bike

B17 Saddle Build Quality and Longevity

Brooks handmakes all of their saddles in their factory in the UK. They put out an incredibly high-quality product. A special type of leather is used to improve the longevity of the saddle. Durable steel rails and rivets are used to hold the saddle together. Quality control is high.

I expect mine to last for many thousands of miles. After 1000 miles it still looks new except for one scuff on the side from when my bike fell over. That one was my fault. 


Leather saddles are iconic. After all, they have been a part of cycling for over 100 years. The shiny leather gives your bike a classic look. The rivets are cool and add style. Brooks, in particular, builds an absolutely beautiful product. These saddles look great on vintage bikes and touring bikes.

The B17 is available in a range of 7 different colors including black, honey, antique brown, royal blue, red, aged tan, and apple green. The standard frame is black. The special model features a copper-plated steel frame. A titanium version is also available.

One thing to consider is that a leather saddle can look a bit out of place on some bikes. Particularly very modern carbon fiber or aluminum road bikes or bikes with very bright paint jobs. The old-timey looking leather saddle just looks like it doesn’t belong. 

One thing to consider when using a premium saddle like this is theft. Most thieves probably aren’t familiar with leather saddles but the B17 just looks expensive. It probably has a higher chance of being stolen. If you live in a high crime area, this is something to think about.

Things I Don’t Like About the Brooks B17 Saddle

As mentioned above, this saddle has a number of drawbacks which may be dealbreakers for some types of riders. My main complaints with the Brooks B17 include:

The Saddle Requires Periodic Maintenance

The saddle requires some additional maintenance that a regular plastic synthetic saddles don’t need.

  1. First, you’ll need to apply Brooks Proofide to the saddle every once in a while. This helps soften the leather and keeps it from cracking or getting weathered.
  2. You’ll also need to tighten the leather every once in a while as it stretches. This is necessary to keep the leather tight on the frame. You tighten the leather by turning a bolt on the underside of the nose of the saddle with a small wrench. The wrench is included with the saddle. 

Another thing to consider is that you’ll have to carry the proofide and wrench with you while you tour if you’re traveling for more than a month or so. This adds a bit of weight to your bicycle touring toolkit. 

The saddle is not waterproof

Rain and moisture will damage the leather and reduce the lifespan of your saddle. This is a problem if you live in a wet climate. If you expect rain, you’ll have to carry something to cover your saddle and keep it dry. The Brooks Saddle Cover is designed for this purpose. Alternatively, you can just use a plastic bag. 

Having to carry a saddle cover adds a bit more weight and bulk to your setup that you wouldn’t have to worry about if you used a plastic saddle. 

It’s Heavy

The Brooks B17 weighs 574 grams (about 20 ounces). This is very heavy for a bicycle saddle. In fact, you can buy ultralight carbon fiber saddles that weigh less than a quarter of the B17. If weight is a factor for you, you may want to look elsewhere.

It’s Expensive

This is kind of a premium product. The B17 costs 4-5x what a standard budget plastic saddle costs. The high cost is probably due to the high-end leather that is used. I’m sure manufacturing costs also play a factor in the price. These saddles are made in the UK rather than China. 

Personally, I prefer to spend more money to buy something once that is of good quality and that will last rather than having to buy something cheaper multiple times. I expect to get at least a decade of use from this saddle.

Final Thoughts on the Brooks B17 Saddle

This is the perfect saddle for touring. That’s probably why almost every bicycle tourist uses one. Once broken in, the B17 offers all-day comfort. I would go as far as to say that this is the most comfortable saddle that I’ve ever owned.  

Having said this, the B17 isn’t ideal for all types of cycling. For commuting or just general weekend riding, you may want to consider a regular synthetic saddle that is waterproof and does not require the additional maintenance of the Brooks. If you want to keep your bike as light as possible, you’ll probably want to pass up on this model. 

You can buy the Brooks B17 saddle from Amazon here.

Which saddle do you use? Share your experience in the comments below!

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Saturday 6th of January 2024

I bought my first B17 in the late '80s but I ruined it too soon by non/bad/wrong care, I was young and didn't know what I was doing but it was comfortwise the best out of the box. I run B17s (always the standard Black with steel rivets since my first) for many years on several bikes on a Single Speed Commuter a Touring Bike and a Surly Pugsley they are the only seats that doesn't give me grief and I still love the old classic design.


Monday 22nd of May 2023

I have been riding Brooks B17s for almost 50 years. But my 3-year-old B17 Titanium, mounted on a Trek Domane SL7, failed this weekend on a trail ride. The titanium nosepiece fractured and dropped the adjustment bolts to the ground while the saddle sagged. It has maybe 5,000 miles on it, and I weigh 175 Lb. Brooks won't honor the 10-year warranty because I didn't "register the product" on their website. I thought I was covered when I bought it from the dealer. But no, I am expected to pay for repairs and international shipping both ways. Forget it! If that's their attitude, hiding behind the "registration" process for an obvious design/manufacturing defect of a premium top $ saddle to make me pay even more to get it repaired, then I am done with Brooks. I will toss it into the trash bin and move-on to another brand.


Sunday 9th of April 2023

Would a B17 look silly on my Trek Domane AL3? I’m in my fifth year of riding and the stock saddle is just so freaking uncomfortable. I realized the other day that maybe it’s because I ride in a more upright position instead of an aggressive, racing position. Wondering if the B17 would be a good option for me. I’m not too worried about price or longevity. At this point comfort, and the ability to go for longer rides, is my priority.


Monday 10th of April 2023

I think it would look fine. The black model might look better than a leather-colored model a road bike. The B17 is a good choice if you ride in an upright position. I also sit in an upright position and find the B17 really comfortable after I got it properly broken in.


Friday 2nd of September 2022

I see in the pics that you're using a Suntour SP12 NCX suspension seat post with the B17. I recently ordered a B17 and was disappointed to find I couldn't use it with my existing seatpost (Specialized CG-R on a Specialized Roubaix Expert) because the way the rails rapidly taper inward towards the nose of the saddle interfered with adjusting the seat angle downward.

I've had my eye on the Suntour NCX for other reasons (I'm 62 with back issues) but it seems like it might allow for angle adjustment without rail interference. I'm not looking for anything more than a couple of degrees but with a B17 on my current setup I was able to get the saddle at what appeared to be level and had no more available downward adjustment which had me concerned enough that I returned the B17. So after that long winded intro; how do you like the NCX paired with the B17? And does it look like its possible to adjust saddle angle without interfering with the NCX linkage?


Tuesday 28th of March 2023

@SteveV, depending on your seat tube angle it may contact your seat rails. It did with mine. The solution I settled on was taking the seat post apart and reversing the link that the seat rails attached to.


Sunday 14th of August 2022

After 500 very painful miles, the B17 is exactly as it was when I bought it, hard and smooth. I used profides on the bottom of the saddle faithfully and never let it get wet. I healed for a few weeks and tried again. Very hard and painful. I finally got a new cheap gel seat, problem solved! Am I the only one who doesn't love Brooks?


Wednesday 7th of June 2023

@Peter I wished I had seen more warnings like yours before purchasing the B17, so adding my thoughts here after my first 3000km tour.

It was a bit of a disappointment as well for me as I had to replace it after about 800km (+250km before starting my tour) - too hard and slippery for me, broke my skin despite my wearing a padded cycling short. Not to mention knee issues because of the constant repositioning. Replaced it with a 50eur Selle Royal that did the trick from day 1 and for the following 2000+km. Being a roady in my late 30s and having owned over 25 bikes, I was surprised to find the hardest saddle I've ever owned was this one (which is also one of the most expensive). Felt like ridding a horse all day long.

Super stylish though - I'll use it on my commuter bike.


Tuesday 28th of March 2023

@Peter, mine took 1000 miles.


Saturday 20th of August 2022

Sounds like you did everything right to break it in. I guess it's just not for you. I'm glad you found a comfy saddle though.

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