First Look ♦ Brooks Cambium C17 Saddle

June 2013 026I remember the first time I rode a ‘broken in’ Brooks saddle. I had borrowed Jerry Wolf’s custom Edge Cycles steel 29r single speed to ride the Book Cliffs and in addition to the sweet riding that Fruita offers, I was treated to the ‘hammock’ feel that Brooks riders, know and love. As soon as I returned home, I ordered my first Brooks. I’m not going to try to convince anyone of what kind of saddle that they should ride. Saddles are a very personal choice, and that decision, is best made by the individual rider. Before I converted to Brooks, I rode Terry Fly saddles and have ridden WTB Rocket saddles with good results. (fast forward to today) I ride Brooks Swift saddles on most of my bikes. They fit me very well and are quite comfortable. However, not all Brooks saddles are the same. I tried a Brooks B17 saddle for a year on my crosscheck. I finally gave up on it and sold it, because it hurt after about 25 miles. I returned to a Brooks Swift and haven’t strayed from that model, until now.

Some time ago, Brooks announced that they were looking for cyclists to test a new innovative saddle called the Cambium. I filled out their online questionnaire and about a month ago, received an e-mail letting me know that my test saddle was on its way, via Royal Mail. Brooks is world-famous for manufacturing fine leather saddles and bags. The new Cambium is made from a vulcanized rubber and a special treated cotton canvas. People that I have run into on rides have been calling the Cambium the vegan Brooks.

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The saddle came in just after we built up our Krampus test bike that I named Thilver. I un-boxed the new Cambium and installed it on Thilver….but not before I snapped a few side-by-side pictures. My initial impressions of the Cambium are quite positive. The saddle is great to look at and has an instantly ‘broken in’ feel. That’s that ‘hammock’ feeling that usually takes a few hundred miles to develop with most leather Brooks saddles.

brooks collage

Thilver is the perfect bike to rock the new saddle, because lots of folks will get a chance to take it for a test ride. I offer a test spin on my Krampus, to pretty much everyone that I meet, so this new Cambium is going to get acquainted with hundreds of gooches. Because of the vulcanized rubber backing, I also think this will be a great saddle for beach riding….so it may spend some time on my moonlander, Thparkle.  I recently passed the Krampus to our Bike Black Ribbon reverend/test pilot/silkscreener, Angry Andy, for a week and he put in about 70 miles on the new saddle. Andy and just about every other person that has ridden on the Cambium has good things to say about it. It comes as no surprise that I find the Cambium quite comfortable. The shape is reminiscent of a Brooks Swallow, so it makes sense that it would fit me anatomically. Did I mention that the aesthetics of the Cambium are totally rock star?

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While the saddle does have a ‘broken in’ feel, right out-of-the-box, the nose segment of the saddle, seems a bit harder than my leather Brooks. Andy also mentioned that the small strip of vulcanized rubber at the nose of the saddle snagged his shorts occasionally. It’ll be interesting to see how long the specially treated canvas cover will last and how the vulcanized rubber will react when temperatures dip below zero. I’m also curious to see how the saddle will perform on longer 3+ hour rides. We’ll check back in a few months to let you know how the cambium performs and again when the temperatures dip below freezing.

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9 Responses to First Look ♦ Brooks Cambium C17 Saddle

  1. Hal Barnett July 29, 2013 at 11:57 am #

    Is that really black? In all other pictures of the Cambium that I have seen it looks light tan.

    • Hal Barnett August 2, 2013 at 11:52 am #

      Really,, is it black?..

      • Gomez August 2, 2013 at 1:33 pm #

        yes it is black – just like in the pictures

  2. Frank Schwarz July 29, 2013 at 2:07 pm #

    Mine has been dispatched today to go on my fat.
    Looking forward for Brooksitaly craftsmanship.

  3. tiztim October 29, 2013 at 6:49 pm #

    Somebody bought your leather saddle? That’s like buying leather shoes and wearing them would be like using someone else’s feet.

  4. Matthias December 3, 2013 at 4:48 am #

    Got my hands on a dark cambium too – it’s the perfect saddle for me. First ride on it felt like a ride on my 6 years old flyer! Thumbs up Brooks! The only critcism for the Cambium: it’s a jeans killer! 😉

  5. Stephen Timings December 3, 2014 at 1:23 am #

    Hi, I have just put one on my Surly Straggler. So far so,good, a 7 1/2 hour ride 3 days ago and no ill effects. Especially good as I suffer from chaffing a lot. I am thinking about replacing all my seats with them if only they had a super light version!!

  6. tallpear August 28, 2015 at 12:25 pm #

    So how did this do in cold weather? I’ve recently discovered this seat and may buy one but still do research.

  7. Zachary Brown September 20, 2015 at 1:43 am #

    Hey there,
    I didn’t see this until now. The Cambium has worked amazing in the cold. My generous Uncle hooked me up with one. I have found in comfortable in all conditions. I thought the direct metal might be colder but it wasn’t. The rubber stayed pliable in all conditions. My father has since installed them on all of his bikes. It is a very comfortable saddle for any conditions. It also gives a bit of shock absorption even for a big dude. I have not been on a leather Brooks for awhile but this is a winner. They hVe been very popular in Alaska.

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