Brooks Carbon Cambium Review

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As an aspiring cyclist, I fell into the grams trap.  You know the one.

-This bottle cage is superior because it weighs 3 grams less.  

-This fork doesn’t ride as nice, but it’s lighter.

-I’m switching out the bolts on my brake rotors to titanium to save 0.325 grams of rotating mass…

There’s this ingrained culture in cycling that lighter is better–that lightness is a quality onto itself that should be viewed as inherently superior to all else.  That lightness should be chased, and that a lighter bike is a better bike.  I spent money on components that were lighter but not better, and spent time on bikes that were lighter but not more fun to ride.

As a general principle, I now look for components that are better.  All else equal, I’ll pick a lighter component where it is as good, as durable, rides equally well and is not ridiculously priced…but I no longer always pick lighter.  A difference of a gram, or even a pound, is not determinative of the outcome in the rides I do.  Accepting compromise in the name of lightness is not something I’m willing to accept.

So close to two years ago now, I switched to a Brooks Cambium saddle.  I went from a carbon-railed, carbon-shell saddle to a metal rail Cambium.  I made that switch cognizant of the weight penalty of the Cambium, because the increase in comfort was incredible–particuarly over long rides.  I fell in love with the Cambium for its comfort and durability.  I never noticed, not once, the increase in the weight of the saddle.

In building the Spooky, I had a chance to use the new Carbon Cambium C13.

Coming from a C15 standard Cambium, I was worried that the C13 would be too narrow.  It definitely is narrower, but it has not proven to be too narrow.  I’ve had 80 mile rides on it without concern.  Because it is narrower, it doesn’t offer as much room to move around, but it hasn’t been an issue.

The carbon rails are taller, so I did have to use the ‘wide rail’ adapter on my ENVE seatpost.  Installation is a snap, and the rough finish on the clamp area of the rail makes it super easy to dial in your perfect fit.

Ride comfort is impeccable.  It rides much like the standard Cambium, in that it has excellent dampening characteristics, and is supportive without being soft or bouncy.  I have not had any issues with squeaking or settling, even after riding in the rain.  I do believe the Cambiums offer a significant comfort premium over just about any other saddle on the market.  I do not notice any increase or decrease in flexibility or comfort between the carbon and standard Cambium, although I am a lighter rider.  It certainly does look better, and I anticipate it to last longer without any corrosion or other issue.  If you haven’t ridden a Cambium yet, don’t underestimate the comfort factor.  And if you get a chance, try multiple widths and carved versus non-carved.  My preference was previously for C15, not carved.  The C13 has changed that–I’m loving it.

And then there’s weight.  The C13 weighs about 260 grams.  That’s about 150 grams lighter than a standard Cambium.  The weight of the carbon Cambium puts it squarely in line with competitive saddles, like the Ergon SM3 Pro that I used to ride before discovering the Cambium.  So in other words, there is no weight penalty to ride a Cambium.

It’s too soon to talk about durability, but I expect it to be excellent.  A quick note on durability…I’ve had “regular” saddles get scuffed or even torn by seemingly inconsequential acts like leaning them against a park bench, or laying them on the ground.  The durability of the Cambium covering cannot be underestimated…I’ve treated my Cambiums poorly and they come back for more.  Even after many thousand miles on my old Cambium, it looks like new.

It’s more comfortable than any other saddle I’ve ever ridden, it looks fantastic, it is amazingly durable, and there’s no weight penalty.  Win all the way around.  The carbon Cambium is one of my favorite products, and comes with my highest, unconditional recommendation.

Did I mention it looks great?

 

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