We have been trying to finally write reviews of some of the gear we chose to take with us. Having used most things daily since we left, by now we have had enough time to have formed some opinions, and we are able to say that we have some knowledge and experience with it…
This review in particular is a funny one… Here we talk about behinds… That’s right, bums.. Or more precisely, where they sit most of our days.
I think when both of us dreamed about doing such a cyclo touring trip we always imagined that we would finally get one of those Brooks saddles everyone seems to talk about and swear by.
When we first contacted Brooks we told them that we had pretty much everything organised for our trip (not entirely true…) but that something apparently essential was missing : comfortable saddles for our tushs.
We asked if they could find a solution to that, and they delivered without flaw or even much contest. Soon after, and somewhat unexpectedly, two brand new saddles were at our front door (or more precisely with the kind downstairs neighbour who always collected our cycling related parcels…).
Although almost everyone’s initial reaction when they see our saddles is of amaze with questions of “aren’t they too hard?” or “how ever will you (and your bum) survive such a trip?” made with facial expressions that seem to be expressing pain or discomfort themselves. However, they are in fact, neither.
Within our surprise parcel were two of Brooks new line of production Cadmium saddles. A black c17 for me and a greyish c17s for Sarah (although with time and use they have kinda converged to the same colour…).
The Cadmium series relies not on leather, like the usual touring or commuting Brooks saddles one became accustomed to see when reading and dreaming about cyclo touring travelling; but vulcanised natural rubber which requires no (or very little) breaking-in period.
Unlike leather that with time molds (perfectly it is said) to the shape of your behind for a comfortable snug fit, the Cadmium relies on the precise flexibility of the specialized rubber they are built with to offer you a comfortable saddle to sit in from ride number one.
You see, as we often say to those who make us the questions I referred to earlier on, a good saddle to sit on is like a good mattress to sleep on: it should not be either too soft or too hard. If too soft, although comfortable and spongy at first, by the end of the night it will have compressed to the point of becoming uncomfortable (and most likely in the wrong areas if you are a guy). For a long cycle, like a good long night, you might in fact prefer to have a relatively hard supportive mattress but with the right flexibility to cope with the bumps that the road (or night) might throw at you.
Another, perhaps somewhat big, advantage of the Cadmium series is that, unlike leather, they are waterproof and don’t really require any special maintenance or waxing. This means that you don’t need to add to your, most likely already quite considerable, pannier load any kind of rain cover or waxing product. And if you are doing a long cycle tour, believe me, every space and weight counts…
Sure enough they might not look as old school and retro as their classic leather ancestors, but we have to say we are quite happy with our saddles. The non-classic look adjusts quite nicely to the overall look of our bicycles and the metal pins help to alert you if you are sliding off your saddle too much (not sure if it’s their purpose but to me they have that effect).
Perhaps most importantly, as stated by Brooks themselves, there is no break-in period unlike their leather cousin’s. While in those the leather might take months, or even years some say, to adjust, these were quite comfortable from early on.
Sure enough there was some fiddling with the position of them, as any piece of equipment which interferes with your position while riding, but once we found our ‘sweet spot’, we even forget how long we spend sitting in them.
The question might still remain if it was the saddle that adjusted to us or our bums that hardened up to it; but at the end of the (cycling) day, the truth is, we feel no pain but only (cycling) content…
Disclaimer : As you can understand from the post, Brooks kindly provided us with a pair of Cadmium saddles to take on our trip, but we have no other affiliation or obligation to the company. This is an honest review containing opinions that are simply our own.