It has been a little over a year since I first picked up a Berthoud Touring saddle to add to my rotation of Brooks B17 saddles in the stable. I had been drawn to the Berthoud after going through a couple of the more recently produced brooks B17 saddles that were made with thin and fast deforming leather. Looking at the options, it was either back to plastic, vintage or the Berthoud. The Berthoud was reported to be somewhere between a Brooks B17, team pro and swift in shape. This on came up on eBay, and I was first, impulse struck and it was mine. The cork finish while growing on me would not have been my first choice, but the price was right and I do not have to see it while riding.
Out of the box impression was very high. The engineering and design are sound, everything was tight symmetrical and the leather was far thicker than any of my other Brooks saddles yet was not as hard as the Brooks Pro I had looked into as a possible alternate. The plastic cantle plate and hardware are all top-notch with the precision you would expect to see on a european sports car. I have read concerns about the use of plastic. After having the saddle in my hands any concern is now gone. The molding and assembly is top-notch showing not of the cheapness the work plastic infers, and should likely be relabeled as molded composite. I find the design aesthetic pleasing, with a more modern cut to traditional leather saddle.
Initially I mounted the saddle on My Eisentraut for the spring and summer. After a few initial adjustments the position of the saddle was similar to that of my Brooks saddles with thee exception of tilt. The Berthoud is much better set almost level to the ground. Comfort was immediate, no break in required and I put in a couple 40 mile rides in the first week I had the saddle. The shape is a bit flatter in the rear than the Brooks offerings while having steep drop off in the transition to narrow nose. My sit bones are well supported with zero thigh rub. I should note that I previously bought and sold a Selle Anatomica due to the excessive thigh rub I had with the more triangular shape of that saddle.
Over the summer it just kept getting better. While the saddle started to match my shape of my sit bones, the post ride deformation was barely noticeable. The saddle leather is reported to be waterproof, and with the rainy season in the rear view mirror I was relying on sweat to indicate if this was true, but there was never any indication of moisture damage
Around mid summer I was having trouble with getting the B17 on my Roadeo just right. The roadeo was becoming my primary ride and I moved the Berthoud over. Problem solved immediately. Summer into fall, roads paved and dirt, as well as some single track and the saddle was going strong. Only at one point on a long hot dirt climb did I notice the saddle becoming a bit too compliant. Closer inspection on a water break revealed that a few of the screws had started to loosen up a bit. Tightening up with the allen key on my multi tool was sufficient to complete the ride. That evening I removed each screw one at a time and added a little blue loctite before reinstalling the screws. It has been over 6 months since this incident with no further indication of further loosening.
With the onset of our rainy season I was once again wondering about the water proof claim for the leather. Throwing caution to the wind I have ridden the saddle in multiple storms. The only additional protection came from fenders and my soaked body sitting on it. Once again after weeks of rain there is no indication of moisture damage.
The leather is holding up incredibly well considering the abuse my 220 lbs has thrown at it over the last 14 months. Of the 5 brooks saddles I have owned only 2 have performed this well and three were duds. The leather appears to be waterproof as claimed, it will get a matte finish when damp, but dries back to a shine. The cork color has rubbed off a bit on the nose. I have not yet needed to adjust the tension, although curiosity is getting the better of me and I may start to play with it a bit in the coming weeks. I would whole heartedly recommend these saddles to anyone looking for an alternative to the brooks offerings. While the price is a little higher, I have more faith in these saddle’s ability to perform as claimed right out of the box.