Brooks C17 Cambium Saddle Review

For the past couple of months, I’ve been doing a lot of riding on my Moots Routt, putting in miles in preparation for Dirty Kanza.  At Dirty Kanza, I’ll be a part of a special project that will have more details in the future…but as a component of that project, I’ve been afforded the opportunity to spend some saddle time on a Brooks C17 Cambium saddle.  (I test rode both the C17 and C17s (short) version, and settled on the C17 standard).  I’ve put many hours on the saddle, with rides ranging from 45 minutes to 5+ hours, and feel pretty confident that I know how it performs.  I only have a few months on it, so I cannot comment on long-term durability thus far, but what I’ve read elsewhere has been positive.

My Cambium went on the Moots, and sees all conditions.  Mud, dirt, gravel, snow, rain, heat–you name it.  The Cambium is a synthetic material saddle, and is perfect for these kind of trying conditions.

I haven’t had a good chance to take glorious photos of it, but here are some garage poseur shots:

Note the relatively flat profile:

Gently textured material:

I typically ride my Ergon SM3Pro saddles on mountain and gravel bikes, and I’m a big fan of the SM3, and was a little reluctant to switch saddles, particularly in front of a 200 mile gravel ride.  But I like trying new products, and this is a Brooks-related project, and so I slapped it on my little titanium wonder and checked it out.

My first ride was about 25 miles, and that was an adjustment period.  The saddle didn’t require any break-in period, but the profile was a little different than the SM3–there is no central depression (although Brooks does offer a carve version with a central cutout.  From what I’ve heard, the carve version removes some of the integrity of the saddle, and makes it ride a little softer.  I really didn’t want that, and hence I skipped the carve.  If you like a softer saddle/cushier ride, check it out).

I like flat saddles.  Saddles that have a rise or ridge in the middle, or that are very curved across the surface, are uncomfortable for me.  If you look at the C17, it appears to have a curved profile, and hence I was a bit leery.  However, after just a few minutes on the saddle, I could tell that this would not be an issue.

The material that the saddle is made out of is magical.  It has the perfect amount of give to be comfortable for long days in the saddle–but is firm enough to be supportive (and not bouncy) for your hardest ‘in the saddle’ spinathons.  It doesn’t change texture when it gets wet, so it doesn’t get slippery in the rain (or when you’re really sweating).  The shape of the saddle is perfection–supportive where your sit bones are, but nicely contoured such that the front of the saddle doesn’t rub on your inner thighs.  The rivets are a nice aesthetic touch, but they are never felt while riding, because of their position.

If you get ‘on the rivet’ and really hammer, the contour of the saddle is again perfect–sliding forward an inch to a more aggressive position provides a narrowed seating area that is ideal for your hardest efforts.  Slide back to a normal position, and it’s support embodied for daylong onslaughts.  Sit up and slide all the way back, and it’s a comfortable perch to recover from.

I like the look and aesthetic of the saddle–the black looks great on the Moots.  Thus far, several months in, the comfort is amazing.  I don’t miss the SM3 in any way, even when I’m on the bike for hours at a time.  Thus far, the experience is overwhelmingly positive.

Are there any criticisms?  No–but I have 2 observations.  First, this isn’t a “light” saddle.  Going from the SM3 Pro or Pro Carbon to this saddle is a palpable increase in weight.  You don’t feel it on the bike, but if you hold both in your hand, you can tell the difference immediately.  The offset in comfort and durability is worth it, however.

Second, this is a saddle that I would use (and will use) without hesitation in the realm of multi-hour gravel rides.  If I was spec’ing a saddle for the most intense road rides, I would stick with a traditional road saddle that is harder and lighter.  This isn’t the saddle to put on your Madone, if you’re going to go out and hammer it for 90 minutes.  Right tool for the right job.

I’ll keep updating this review as I get more time in with this saddle, but thus far, it has been a worthy upgrade to the Moots.

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2 thoughts on “Brooks C17 Cambium Saddle Review

  1. I’ve settled on a C17 Carved as my saddle for this summer’s Tour Divide, after trying an SM3 in two different widths, a Specialized Henge, and an older Specialized Phenom that used for multiple DK finishes on my La Cruz.

    The C17’s shape works really well for me. I could work with the SM3 for rides up to about 2 hours or so, but the way that it drops off at the edges (much less gradual than the Brooks does) was causing a lot of discomfort after then. The Henge just doesn’t have enough padding for long days in the saddle. For some reason, the Phenom works really well for me on my La Cruz, but becomes intolerable when moved over to the Fargo. The C17 Carved combined with the Regulator seatpost on my Ti Fargo has made for some very comfortable days in the saddle.

  2. I bought a Cambium about a year ago and have been using it on my commuter. Its seen all sorts of weather and has held up well. Its has a little wear but still has lots of life still.
    I also like the flat profile. I find it to be really comfortable. It is heavy but its a Brooks so that’s a given.
    I like it a lot. You don’t have to worry about the rain ruining it or applying a cream to it to make it more supple. Its holds up well to crappy weather and hard use and you’ll get lots of years of use out of it.

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