While helping friends with their bikes, I have had the opportunity to work with a lot of really nice gear I would not have usually had come through the garage on my own budget. This time it is one of the new Brooks Select saddles.
First thought in my mind as I slid open the box was, WOW, everything a Brooks saddle should be is right in front of me.
The leather is thick and firm, not the thin flexy stuff of recent regular production. Shiny Copper rivets, and all the little things like proofide, tension wrench and a cloth to wipe it down. As I pulled it all open there were more surprises.
Mostly catalogs and marketing, but it looks well put together and worth a deeper look as time permits. The best surprise was the included rain cover, hidden under the saddle.
This is a fantastic addition that alleviates the need for an additional purchase, and/or the use of bags and shower caps when caught in the rain. The design is well thought out, with a deep nose pocket, draw-string tensioner and cut in the rear to leave room for the bag loops.
The saddle itself is beautiful. The leather is left natural and un-died. The saddle will likely take on a nice patina as the years stack up. The Leather is much thicker feeling than the average brooks saddle of recent production. I have been recommending the Berthoud saddles to those with the budget due to some of the quality issues I have had with Brooks offerings over the last couple of years. Roughly 1 in 3 of the saddle I bought were either too thin to support well, or would sag out within months. When the select line was announced I was excited and have been waiting for a chance to get my hands on one. Also of note is the Organic leather, I am not exactly clear on what this means with respect to a non edible good, but will look into it further and report back. It certainly is not a bad thing.
The steel frame is painted with a rough black paint. This appears more robust than the copper or chrome plating on other models I have. The coastal ocean air has resulted in a quick decline of the appearance on my other saddles. While the shiny finish looks god out of the box it has ever held up well.
I applied the initial coat of proofide to the top and bottom of the saddle. The color only darkened slightly.
This saddle will be going on a vintage Trek 650b conversion and will complement the look of the bike perfectly. I know that the owner plans to put the miles on this bike, and I look forward to sharing reports on the long-term performance.
I would also like to note my source for this saddle. Wallingford Bicycle Parts was and is fantastic to deal with. They are always fast to ship, great with communication, prices are competitive and the frosting on the cake is th e 6 month unconditional satisfaction guarantee. A few years back when the US $ was strong against the Euro and British Pound I was sourcing things from Europe directly. As the exchange rate has settled a bit the cost savings is not nearly as great, and the service from US companies like Wallingford more than makes up for the dollar or two you might save. In this case they happened to have the best price I could find as well. I look forward to buying from them in the future.