Saddle Comparison – Brooks B17, Swift and Berthoud Touring

Earlier this week I landed a Brooks Swift in trade for a B17 I had on a bike that sees only occasional use.  This presented me with the opportunity to take some side by side comparison shots.  The pictures tell a good bit of the story (L toR Berthoud Touring, Brooks B17 and Brooks Swift:

The Bi7 is a few years old with about 7K miles on it.  The Berthoud is now two years old with about 5k miles on it, and the Swift is fresh out of the box.  All three saddles have a similar plan shape that I prefer, the relatively wide flat rear with a quick drop and taper through the nose of the saddle.  I am pretty big at 6’3″ and 210 lbs, and the wider saddles provide adequate support for my sit bones while the arrow nose reduces the chance for thigh rub.  Also, all three saddles have steel rails.  While the general shape is similar, the overall dimensions vary as shown:

Saddle Weight (g) Length (mm) Width (mm)
Berthoud Touring 509 278 158
Brooks B17 557 285 170
Brooks Swift 504 273 153


The one thing that the stats do not clearly indicate is the flatness of the rear portion, or more exactly the way the flatness drops off outside of the four central rivets.  The B17 and the Berthoud both remain flat almost to the outer edge of the saddle.  The Swift while flat in the center, drops off in a taper towards the front and sides, leading to a much narrower fit than the dimension may let on.

In the picture showing the rails, I lined all three up with the forward most point of rail mountablity in the same position.  When on my bikes all three are pushed back as far as they can go.  With this position my sit bones hit just forward of the second rivets from center.  Thus while there is some variation in length of the rails on the three different saddles it is kind of moot point for how I have them on the bike.

While I have only logged 50 miles or so on the Swift I can say that I love all three equally but different.  The B17 is perfect on bike where the bars are at or above saddle height.  The wider rear better accommodates the wider stance of my sit bones when in a more upright position.  I also find that the B17 is much more comfortable with thinner shorts and a chamois adds more bulk than is needed.  The Swift is more suited to bikes where the bars are below saddle height.  The narrower contact patch adequately supports my sit bones with my torso rolled forward, yet the drop off at the corners and narrow nose keep the pressure off of places where you do not want it.  So far I have only ridden the Swift with my Ibex knickers that have a chamois, but based on my initial impressions I look forward to this saddle when things warm up a bit and I get back to my normal shorts.  The Berthoud is my Goldilocks saddle.  I have had it on every bike in the garage, bars high or low it was comfortable.  The sweet spot was with the bars at saddle height on the Roadeo.  I am hoping that with some break in the Swift will be as comfortable. 

The Swift is on the Roadeo for break in and experimenting with the bars set below the saddle.  I am looking forward to putting the miles in with this one.

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5 Responses to Saddle Comparison – Brooks B17, Swift and Berthoud Touring

  1. Mike says:

    Rob, this comparison between saddles is wonderful to read. I currently have the B17 but i remember when you got the Berthoud Touring saddle and how much you seem to like it that i think this might be next saddle choice. Also, that saddle bag you made really turned out great! The size of it and the attachment points looks great. Ill have to check it out some more in a few weeks when we head out there.

  2. Pingback: Berthoud Aspin vs Brooks B.17 vs Brooks Swift

  3. John Maruskin says:

    Thanks for the comparison. I’d like to know what kind of seat post bag and rack you show in the last picture. The bag holding the Kryptonite lock. That’s exactly the set-up I need for my Cross-Check. Thanks.

  4. Joseph says:

    Thank you so much for this clear saddle comparison! The comparison photo of the undersides was needed, to see the rail length. I’ve got a B17 but with only 3000 miles on it the leather is really deformed (I’m 150 lbs). So I’ve ordered a Berthoud Ti rail touring saddle. The B17 is quite comforable, but heavy and no longer attractive.

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