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  1. #1
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    Sep 2008
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    Review: Brooks B68 Imperial

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    Brooks B-68 Imperial Review
    I must start with a brief history of my adult cycling career. Almost 30 years ago my husband bought me a 3 speed bike for $15.00 at a yard sale which had only 2 working gears.
    I didn't mind the gears, nor the fact that I could not straddle the top tube, but I did mind the slab-saddle on it, so I went to the bike shop where I found a nice Brooks B66 for about $10.00 in their used saddle drawer.
    I rode that bike for 2 years before replacing it with a bike that fit me but I kept the Brooks saddle.
    It was very difficult to put that old saddle on my next bike because of the old fashioned parts it had, but my husband did it anyway because he knew that was the only way that he was going to get me to ride.
    Then Brooks came out with the B67 which ended up being on my first road bike. It was a nice saddle, it broke in easily and carried me to Portland on the Seattle to Portland double century ride. I never had any problems with the pain that people talked about when they went on long rides. But then I joined a bike club, where I got teased for having that big saddle on my bike, so I dutifully tried some saddles that were recommended to me, the only one I remember now is the Terry Butterfly, which just seemed like a torture device to me. I went right back to my B67 and by that time, I noticed that other people were starting to buy Brooks saddles too.
    Meanwhile, Brooks came out with the B68, which is a nice looking saddle, they took the springs away and made the whole thing lighter, but it was the same basic saddle that I already had so I just kept riding my B67, which I now had installed on both the tandem and my custom steel bike; I put the old B66 my older Raleigh Mixte 10 speed.
    Now I am close to 60 years of age. Being an older woman, I began to have issues with the parts of me that meet the saddle, so even with my well broken in Brooks, I have found that I do have to be careful or I can come out of a ride pretty sore, be it a short or a long ride, there’s no rhyme nor reason for the extreme discomfort that can occur.
    Enter the Brooks B-68 Imperial: using the carriage of the B-68, they carved a pound off the B-67 saddle. Then they carved a channel down the middle of the saddle, which is a feature of almost all saddles today. So you get the Brooks luxury coupled with the “central cut out” – a winning combination. Last summer, I got one for my new folding bike to replace the ridiculous thing that came with it… and the Brooks was perfect. I liked it so much that I put one on my Davidson steel bike and happy days, my issues disappeared! It is beautiful and there was absolutely no break-in period. If you continue to have issues with saddles, this is a nice little saddle to try, it is classy, tough and you can sit on it all day!
    http://www.brooksengland.com/en/Shop...d=B68+Imperial
    I like Bikes - Mimi
    Watercolor Blog

    Davidson Custom Bike - Cavaletta
    Dahon 2009 Sport - Luna
    Old Raleigh Mixte - Mitzi

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jun 2010
    Posts
    6,466

    Nice

    Well, I can't believe I just did this, but I wrote to Brooks using their contact page.

    Here is a copy:

    Good Evening,
    I notice your website lists the B-17 Imperial with a width of 175 mm. Every other retailer I've checked advertises the saddle-width of this model at 170 mm. Is this a change in design? Or just an error on one of the websites?

    The reason I'm writing to both sales and manufacturing is that I've long wanted a Brooks, but I need a saddle with a 180 mm width to avoid sitting on the cantle plates. The sizes of the various models jump from 177 to 205 or 210. And a lot of the saddles at 177 have short rails, which I don't want. I am effectively in between your sizes, and feel the larger models would cause other problems for me.

    If a saddle with long rails and a cut-out were available, I would buy it. I could always find someone to pass it along to if it turned out not to be for me. I know a lot of people who love Brooks Saddles.

    Very Respectfully,
    Sheila
    So long as the wheels are still turning, life is good.

    Battswebb

    Pinarello Quattro~CAADX~ Zurich Lemond
    Specialized Romin Saddles

    Surly Krampus!

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jul 2006
    Location
    Riding my Luna & Rivendell in the Hudson Valley, NY
    Posts
    8,409
    Mimi, that's a good in depth review, and it's nice to hear your 'Brooks history'.


    Quote Originally Posted by Muirenn View Post
    The reason I'm writing to both sales and manufacturing is that I've long wanted a Brooks, but I need a saddle with a 180 mm width to avoid sitting on the cantle plates. The sizes of the various models jump from 177 to 205 or 210. And a lot of the saddles at 177 have short rails, which I don't want. I am effectively in between your sizes, and feel the larger models would cause other problems for me.
    If a saddle with long rails and a cut-out were available, I would buy it.
    Sheila, I'm finding your question a little confusing. Can you clarify please?

    What makes you suspect the B17 Imperial has short rails?
    Usually the Brooks "S"/women's models are the ones with short rails.
    It sounds to me like you feel the B17 might be too narrow for your sitbones- a too-narrow saddle would definitely cause a problem for you. But then you say "I feel the larger models would cause other problems for me."- can you specify what problems do you feel would be caused by a saddle that was wide enough for your sitbones?
    Lisa
    Our bikes...OurBikes...and my mountain dulcimer blog
    Ruby's Website and My blog
    ^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jun 2010
    Posts
    6,466
    Quote Originally Posted by BleeckerSt_Girl View Post



    Sheila, I'm finding your question a little confusing. Can you clarify please?


    That post was a copy of a letter I sent to Brooks. A lot of companies base designs on customer input. So that is why I emailed them. I wasn't actually asking a question! Sorry for the misunderstanding!
    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

    The B 17 S has short rails, and several Brooks that are 177 mm have shorter rails. I don't see any in 177 width with long rails. The B-17 Standard has long rails. (B-17 S meaning Short, not standard, I think!).

    B-17 S: Short rails, 177 mm.
    http://www.wallbike.com/node/1252

    The B-17 Standard would be perfect if it were a little wider. It has long rails. Most sites read 170 mm wide. The Brooks site reads 175mm wide, which made me think it may be a design change.

    http://www.wallbike.com/brooks/b17-family/b17-imperial

    Team pro S is 177 mm wide with short rails:

    http://www.wallbike.com/brooks/unspr...les/team-pro-s

    These are the three saddles that are closest to what I could use. But even on a saddle with long rails, my saddles tend to be pushed all the way forward because I need a very compact frame. It's the only way to get my knees in the right place.

    A perfect one would be a Brooks 17 Imperial Standard rail length that is just a little wider. 180 versus 170 or 175.

    Much wider saddles tend to get in the my way. (205, 210). Not a very technical explanation! It's hard for me to keep my hips square on a wider saddle. Plus I get chafed. My sits are 125 center to center and 160 outside to outside. From what I've learned here, I need an extra 20 mm clearance to avoid the plates. 177 might be good enough, but not with short rails. A B-17 standard (Imperial) in a 170 might be an improvement even if forced to sit on the plates. I thought it was interesting that they list 175 as the B-17 width size on the Brooks site when every other retailer I've checked lists 170. Maybe a design change?

    I just thought it would be cool if they had something like a B-17 Imperial Wide. Smaller than the widest saddles, but wider than the more steamlined ones.

    Something in the middle.

    Anyway, I don't expect to hear back from Brooks. Just wishful thinking.

    I'm very interested in saddles and saddle-fit. To the point where I'd like to try a good variety just to know what they are like. Plus, I want a very good understanding of saddles.

    Everyone needs a hobby
    Last edited by Muirenn; 01-29-2011 at 12:07 PM.
    So long as the wheels are still turning, life is good.

    Battswebb

    Pinarello Quattro~CAADX~ Zurich Lemond
    Specialized Romin Saddles

    Surly Krampus!

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Jul 2006
    Location
    Riding my Luna & Rivendell in the Hudson Valley, NY
    Posts
    8,409
    I understand better now. So you are looking for something in a width between the B17 and the B68?
    Stay away from the 'S' models if you have trouble feeling too far forward- they are all 'short' and have short rails (which for some reason Brooks thinks is ideal as a womens' saddle, but many of us riders disagree). I think that if you have a smaller bike then it's even more important to have long rails so your saddle doesn't wind up bumping into the handlebars!
    I had a B17S(short rails), which I could not adjust back far enough. Changed to the B17 (long rails) which i was able to move further back, rode that for a year and liked, but found my sitbones were really a little too wide for it and were partially riding on the saddle frame. So then I changed to the B68 on both my bikes and have been happy ever since. I keep them shoved all the way back and wouldn't even mind yet another 1/2" back if it were possible.
    Lisa
    Our bikes...OurBikes...and my mountain dulcimer blog
    Ruby's Website and My blog
    ^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Aug 2009
    Location
    Charleston, SC
    Posts
    654

    B68 or B17 Imperial?

    Im thinking about purchasing a Brooks saddle. I used to own a B17 Narrow but sold it because I felt the rivets on the rear of the saddle, as I tend to ride towards the back. I like a long nose to my saddles so I don't feel the sides at all.

    I'm considering the B68 or B17 Imperial. For owners of either of these two saddles, can you please give me your thoughts on the requirements that I'm looking for: long nose and narrow sides yet at least 5.5 inches width at the back of the saddle. I'm not quite sure how to address the rivet issue, though. Maybe a B68 would be so wide that it would provide a nice platform so that I wouldn't feel the need to ride towards the back.

    A Brooks dealer is not too close to me but once I hear thoughts from other Brooks' owners then I'll make the trek to try them out.

    Thanks.
    Specialized Ruby/Selle Italia Flow
    1991 Specialized Sirrus, steel frame
    Dahon Eco C7
    Surly Long Haul Trucker/Terry Fly RS
    Trident TWIG Recumbent


  7. #7
    Join Date
    Aug 2005
    Posts
    4,556
    I don't know the answer to your specific questions, but Wallingford Bicycles in New Orleans has an amazing return policy, and they're easy to mail order from. You have 6 months to try, and you can return within that time for a full (less shipping) refund.
    Most days in life don't stand out, But life's about those days that will...

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Sep 2008
    Location
    Beautiful NW or Left Coast
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    5,645
    well, obviously, I tried the B17 and it didn't work for me. The B68 gave me the support I needed. good luck!
    I like Bikes - Mimi
    Watercolor Blog

    Davidson Custom Bike - Cavaletta
    Dahon 2009 Sport - Luna
    Old Raleigh Mixte - Mitzi

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Feb 2012
    Posts
    74
    Quote Originally Posted by kmehrzad View Post

    I'm considering the B68 or B17 Imperial. For owners of either of these two saddles, can you please give me your thoughts on the requirements that I'm looking for: long nose and narrow sides yet at least 5.5 inches width at the back of the saddle. I'm not quite sure how to address the rivet issue, though. Maybe a B68 would be so wide that it would provide a nice platform so that I wouldn't feel the need to ride towards the back.


    Thanks.
    The B68 is 210mm wide. The B17 is 170mm wide.

    5 1/2 inches is close enough to 145mm for my math.

    Subtract 20mm from the width of each saddle to account for the metal frame where the rivets are. You don't want to sit there.

    That gives us B68 190mm and B17 150mm

    145mm is rather close to 150mm, shifting just slightly (making a turn, easing your position, moving into the drops) could land you on the metal frame and rivets.

    Add to that your observation that the acreage of saddles tends to make you want to scoot back to find a wide enough spot.

    The B68 Imperial might be your best choice for a first try.

    As Blueberry said, you really can't go wrong ordering from Wallingford Bicycle Parts with their 6 month free trial on saddles. http://www.wallbike.com/
    Existence is empty, but I am full of myself.

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Jul 2012
    Location
    Sunny CA
    Posts
    49
    I just ordered both the B17 and the B68 a week ago from Wallingford. I was torn over the really sporty, smooth look in mandarin orange of the B17 vs. the rugged-textured honey of the B68 ( yes, somehow Bill still has the Honey color of the B68 even thought they aren't currently being made).

    I started out with the B17 because I liked it better. I decided to disregard the sit bone measurements for now because Bill and Brent both said they really don't use those anymore. The B17 is the flagship model and has worked for so many people over so many years, and given my seat was level with the bars, I had a good chance of making this saddle work.

    My sit bones were a bit sore, but I didn't feel like the saddle was too narrow or anything else. I did have to play lots with the angle and I'm not sure I ever did get it right. I got too excited to try the B68.

    I have the B68 on the bike right now and really like that saddle. Comfortable out of the box. Feels roomy for the rear end. I biked to church with my family this morning and I don't even notice the saddle for once. Wile I love the aesthetics of the B17, this B68 is likely my winner.

    Also noteworthy, I thought I would need an imperial, but so far, no issues. Everything just feels so well supported that even my soft tissue is happy.

    I hope that my experience helps you choose! When in doubt, order both saddles!
    Wherever I go, there I am!

    2012 Rivendell Betty Foy

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Aug 2009
    Location
    Charleston, SC
    Posts
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    Thanks to everyone for their input. Good idea about ordering both saddles from Wallingford, LovelyGirl, I just may try that.
    Specialized Ruby/Selle Italia Flow
    1991 Specialized Sirrus, steel frame
    Dahon Eco C7
    Surly Long Haul Trucker/Terry Fly RS
    Trident TWIG Recumbent


  12. #12
    Join Date
    Jun 2010
    Posts
    6,466
    Quote Originally Posted by kmehrzad View Post
    Im thinking about purchasing a Brooks saddle. I used to own a B17 Narrow but sold it because I felt the rivets on the rear of the saddle, as I tend to ride towards the back. I like a long nose to my saddles so I don't feel the sides at all.

    I'm considering the B68 or B17 Imperial. For owners of either of these two saddles, can you please give me your thoughts on the requirements that I'm looking for: long nose and narrow sides yet at least 5.5 inches width at the back of the saddle. I'm not quite sure how to address the rivet issue, though. Maybe a B68 would be so wide that it would provide a nice platform so that I wouldn't feel the need to ride towards the back.

    A Brooks dealer is not too close to me but once I hear thoughts from other Brooks' owners then I'll make the trek to try them out.

    Thanks.

    Do you know your total sitbone width? (Usually your center to center plus 20-40 mm). For a Brooks, you need your total outside distance, plus 20 mm minimum to avoid sitting on metal. A B-17 is 170 mm. So if your outside distance is greater than 150 or so, you may be more comfortable on the B-68 (Imperial).

    Center to Center + 20 to 40 + 20 = Size Brooks

    Or

    Outside + 20 = size Brooks
    So long as the wheels are still turning, life is good.

    Battswebb

    Pinarello Quattro~CAADX~ Zurich Lemond
    Specialized Romin Saddles

    Surly Krampus!

  13. #13
    Join Date
    Aug 2009
    Location
    Charleston, SC
    Posts
    654
    I've never measured my sit bone width. Is there any particular way to do it from home?
    Specialized Ruby/Selle Italia Flow
    1991 Specialized Sirrus, steel frame
    Dahon Eco C7
    Surly Long Haul Trucker/Terry Fly RS
    Trident TWIG Recumbent


  14. #14
    Join Date
    Jun 2010
    Posts
    6,466
    From Knott.

    Quote Originally Posted by KnottedYet View Post
    Try using your hands. (I think it's more accurate, anyway.)

    Sit on your hands, and feel for the two bones of your butt. They feel like elbows poking down into your hands.

    Put the tip of your index fingers right under the part of the bones that is pushing hardest into the chair. (squish the very tip of your fingers between the chair and your sitbones)

    Lift your butt from the chair leaving your hands on the chair, and have your assistant measure the distance between your fingertips. This is pretty much your center-to-center.

    Then put your fingertips against the outsides of the bones. Push them right into the bones so they are on the outside of the bones. Lift your butt from the chair and have an assistant measure the distance between your fingertips. This is pretty much your outside.

    Some people have sitbones that angle a lot from front to back. The sits are heavy thickened portions of the rami and can have unique personalities of their own. You can measure again on the forward part of the heavy "elbow" bit if you can feel that yours have a definite angle. The forward portion of the heavy thick part of the bone is what your weight rests on more when you are in a more aero position. DON'T measure the thin blade like portion that is in your crotch, that is the rami and you do not want a saddle there. Measure from your backside.

    Repeat your measurements a few times, average them out if you want.

    You can also get these measurements by lying on your back with your knees to your chest holding a measuring tape and poking around for landmarks.
    So long as the wheels are still turning, life is good.

    Battswebb

    Pinarello Quattro~CAADX~ Zurich Lemond
    Specialized Romin Saddles

    Surly Krampus!

  15. #15
    Join Date
    Aug 2009
    Location
    Charleston, SC
    Posts
    654
    Thanks for the information recall. I'll give that a try.
    Specialized Ruby/Selle Italia Flow
    1991 Specialized Sirrus, steel frame
    Dahon Eco C7
    Surly Long Haul Trucker/Terry Fly RS
    Trident TWIG Recumbent


 

 

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