Monday, December 19, 2011

My First Brooks: The Early Rides

During the recent fleet upheaval in our vast testing laboratory here at The Cycle, I found myself the new owner of my very first Brooks leather saddle (a vintage Belt leather saddle once passed through here briefly, but I didn't ride the thing long enough to form an opinion.) Now, those who know my Luddite retro-dork tendencies may find this to be a bit of a shock -- a Brooks seems so weirdly archaic that it's almost inconceivable that I've yet to try one. But there you have it. 

The new Raleigh, however, came box stock with a Brooks Swift. Being too lazy to go down to the testing laboratory and photograph it, I'll just plonk in some Spamazon:

Now, being a Luddite retro-dork, I tend to hang with more of the same, so I've heard (ad nauseum) tales of Brooks woe/joy for years. Thus, I carried all sorts of baggage into my first Brooks encounter... break-in times, proper saddle care unguents, setup techniques with spirit levels and protractors and whatnot, raincovers, blabbity blabbity blab. However, I decided to be contrary to even my contrarian pals. I brought the bike home, adjusted the saddle like I would adjust any saddle (it's shaped very much like several of my preferred non-leather saddles, so no big whoop there), eschewed the unguents, and just rode the darn thing.

The verdict after about 50 miles? Uh, folks, it's just a bike saddle. Not an ass-hatchet, and certainly not worthy of the almost pornographic pleasure-descriptions some folks use when discussing their beloved hunk of hide. As I described it on another one of those social mediums I haunt, while my butt and the saddle have begun negotiations, we're a long way from lasting peace in the region.

I fully intend to continue riding the hide to see if it does that magical conforming to the fingerprint-specific contours of my rump that Brooks-folks go on about, and I'll probably apply some of the magic Brooks juice from the little tin (since the bike shop convinced me I needed it, and what else am I going to do with it?) But unless I start feeling that joyous "you'll pry this saddle from my cold, dead cheeks" sensation (which would almost justify the boat-anchor girth... of the SADDLE, not my cheeks), I might dig out one of my tried-and-true "modern" saddles and sell the Brooks to an unsuspecting hipster.

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