Review: Brooks Cambium C17 Saddle

For whatever the reason, this saddle has generated more hype than any I can recall. Perhaps it’s because Brooks isn’t exactly associated typically with vegan saddles? Or maybe it’s the unique nature of the material application? Rubber, really?! I’ve heard a lot of positive and negative feedback but that didn’t stop me from picking up a Cambium C17 from my local shop to try out (I still hadn’t received mine from Brooks to review, so I figured what the hell)…

Check out more below!

Pugsley-8

Let me preface this by saying, I’ve put on more ‘lycra’ than ‘around town’ miles when riding this saddle, but I’ve still ridden it enough to make a fair assessment.

Pugsley-26

The Cambium is the best saddle on the market right now as far as out of the box comfort is concerned. That doesn’t mean it’s comfy like the seat your granny rides with 3″ padding. It’s actually more akin to the Selle Anatomica, Berthoud saddles, or a modern day, supple Unicanitor in terms of flexiness. At first, I thought it was just the fatbike adding the ‘squish’, but I put it on my track, road and cross bike yesterday, all of which offered the same feeling.

Pugsley-9

Some complain it’s too bouncy and I could see that on a track bike if you can’t control high cadence, but the thought has yet to cross my mine.

What I like the most about the C17 and the C17s are the two top material color offerings. I went with the slate grey (pictured – actually much darker than it looks), over the natural tan (way too light colored IMO) and let me explain why: darker saddles don’t show jean dye. The one complaint I’ve heard over and over again is that the C17 turns blue when you ride in denim. No shit… You’re riding in jeans, you sweat, the dye rubs off. It’s not rocket science! Go with the grey and you’ll never notice a thing.

Pugsley-17

Another complaint I’ve heard is that the material is like sandpaper, literally eating through denim in a matter of days. Personally, I can’t see how that is true. I’ve ridden in old bibs, that are prone to wearing, brand new jeans so I could note any wearing and my favorite ripstop shorts and saw absolutely zero wear. To the contrary, the saddle top actually got smoother!

Pugsley-18

Now the dreaded question: is it worth it? Well… I believe yes! I really love the feel of the saddle. I’ve had my Swift for over three years and it’s still not as comfortable as the C17. I only have one complaint: it doesn’t come in all black!

Head into your shop and check out one. A simple squeeze will sell you on it.

Expect an update on durability after a few months and as always, share your thoughts in the comments (politely)!

  • Tony

    Thanks for the review. Looking forward to reading the update.

  • Patrick Murphy

    Nice writeup. Totally agree with the black color option – how slick would that saddle look with tan sidewall tires? How could they not?

  • Garrett Olsen

    Damn it…I was afraid you’d like this saddle. I’ve been debating about getting one. Guess I need to find one. Love my B17. The black bit was great advice.

  • Adam Herstein

    Seems like a great saddle, but I might wait for a bit wider one in the C-series, as it doesn’t seem like a good saddle for a more upright bike. Correct me if I’m wrong.

    • http://theradavist.com/ John Watson

      I don’t think that matters at all… Since when do you need a special saddle for upright riding?

      • Adam Herstein

        Different riding positions put pressure in different places? I’ve always thought that you put more pressure on your bottom riding upright than a more bent-over position, which is supported more by the arms and legs. I’m willing to admit I’m wrong, though.

        • http://theradavist.com/ John Watson

          You don’t need a special saddle!

          • Adam Herstein

            Alright, maybe I’ll give this one a try, then!

          • http://theradavist.com/ John Watson

            I’m just saying. You still sit on a saddle in the same location regardless of the saddle to bar drop. I wasn’t trying to convince you to buy this. My Pugsley is pretty upright.

          • Matias

            It’s not the saddle to bar drop that matters, it’s the hip rotation and pressure points. Look at the profile of traditional MTB saddles (i.e WTB Pure V). Then look as the profile of a traditional road saddle (i.e Flite)

            I’m not saying it wouldn’t work, but I get what Adam is referring to.

          • http://theradavist.com/ John Watson

            I mean, I think that’s all marketing jargon. I ride the same profile on all my off road bikes.

          • Matias

            To a degree. I’ve got flites on everything I own…..but some people swear by saddles that have more of a cup for upright nonsense.

            Either way, the C17 is a mighty fine looking saddle. Thanks again for the review.

          • Tom

            You “think” its all marketing jargon but actually you are wrong it is just basic ergonomics. Sitting at a different angle puts pressure on a different part of your butt and a wider seat is more comfortable for a more upright riding position. This is about the most basic and simple fact of seat design there is.

          • http://theradavist.com/ John Watson

            I ‘think’ I misread what he was saying. I was talking about the Fizik ‘flexibility’ saddle tests and their Kurve line.

          • Edward Scoble

            What he’s saying that the more upright you are, the wider your sitbones get, but in the grand scheme of thing, it’s not something one should worry too much about, as you’ve pointed out with having the same saddle on different bicycles

      • http://ChrisBaskind.com Chris Baskind

        I have both B17s and B67s. A B17 will go on anything, sure. But I think the B67 is, in fact, more suitable for sit-up-and-beg riding positions (for my pelvic bone structure, at least). To better distribute my weight across the saddle, I tend to slide a bit further back on the B17 when on my grocery bike. I don’t have to do that with the B67 mounted, and it spares me from the rivets. So it’s not just hype. @edwardscoble:disqus’s comments in this thread agree with my experience.

    • kristin west

      What about the C17S? The women’s? It’s quite a bit wider. I find it really comfortable, and if I were to sit up straight it gives a nice wide base like the saddles on upright bikes.

  • Matthew J

    Glad you point out the similarity in feel to the Berthoud saddle. Cambium is a Brooks that does not feel like any other Brooks.

    I’ve not noticed any wear on the seat of the Outlier and Swerve pants and shorts I wear riding with at least 1 k miles already.

    At 165 lbs, the saddle does not bounce when I ride.

    Concur with your endorsement. As you, the only thing I don’t know is how long this beaut will hold up.

  • disqus_KZD2FBYTyQ

    i still haven’t seen one of these in person, but am super into it at first glance. it almost looks very close to a regal-e aside from not having a slanted nose.

    • http://theradavist.com/ John Watson

      Very close!

      • disqus_KZD2FBYTyQ

        my ass approves

  • Edward Scoble

    I went from Brooks B17 to Selle Anatomica for one reason – the sag.

    The B17 was the most comfortable saddle ever, until it start to break in a lots, no matter how much I’ve tensioned it, it always have a hammock, this is the natural of the Brooks of course, but it mean if I angle the nose higher, I’m sat on it comfortably, but the nose get in the way, nose down, it doesn’t get in the way but I’m sliding forward all the time.

    Hence moving to the Selle Anatomica, whom have a very flat profile despite it’s being made of leather, it’s brilliant to hear you says that the C17 is comparable to the Selle Anatomica, mean I can get away with putting them on a modern road bike.

  • jake schmider

    I was one of the lucky few that got a test saddle, I have ridden it daily now for 6 months and have only good things to say about it. I even wrecked on it bad, it got torn on the edge. I was affraid the top layer would fall apart at that point. There has been zero noticable change. Awesome saddle

  • Frank

    Hi John. I need a saddle for my Big Dummy and am considering a Cambium. If you don’t mind, can I ask you a couple questions? How does it stand up to excessive abuse (yanking, lifting etc) on a heavily laden bike? And how do you reckon it would go if you dropped the bike? (not that I’m asking you to drop your bike!). Any thoughts as to its durability are very appreciated (… I’ll buy you a beer if you’re ever in Hobart Tasmania). Cheers. Frank

    • http://theradavist.com/ John Watson

      I think so.

  • AttackCowboy

    Sounds like it was a great saddle for your fatbike but do you think it would be a good feel for a hardtail with more standard tire size? Would the slight bounce be a positive or negative for handling over the rough stuff?

  • kasual

    hahaha “No shit… You’re riding in jeans” nicely put.

  • kristin west

    Just got mine today. Instantly comfortable!!! So stoked.

  • Cameron

    Can someone speaking from personal experience with this saddle tell me if the squishiness might be well-suited for hours on winter rollers/trainers?

    • http://theradavist.com/ John Watson

      I put about 4 hours on it during a MTB ride last week, on top of other random, 2 and 3 hour rides. It felt great…

  • Dvornyaga

    After a few hundred miles, my B17 is going back on my road bike. Cambium is more hype than comfort (to me).

  • p.rock

    John, just wondering if you have any updated thoughts on the Cambium re: durability and long-term comfort?

    • http://theradavist.com John Watson

      Mines still good!

      • p.rock

        Awesome, thanks!