A new regular feature detailing a product we want or need, another we own and cherish, and one we make.
Patient: “Doctor doctor, when I ride my bike, I get a sore butt!”
Doctor: “Here, take some Ass-pirin”
In my opinion, the humble saddle is highly underrated in making a great bike. I understand that for many riders it’s all about better suspension or grippier tyres or funky mismatched wheel sizes, with the intent of blasting down a steep, gnarly hillside and shaving a few milliseconds off their previous time. That’s all fine, I am a fan of racing, but I do like a bit of an adventure; there’s nothing like heading out on an unknown trail for a full day of exploring and pedalling with no limits of time, speed or destination. This often means pedalling along bits of road or dirt track to get to the good singletrack or the best views or the tastiest café stops. I also like camping in the woods.
So yeah, I ride a hardtail and I sit down a lot. After a few long days of riding, that gets uncomfortable. I’ve tried a lot of different saddles, none really seeming to be perfect… until I discovered the Brooks C17 about a year ago. It looks kind of old-fashioned, right? And it doesn’t have any padding, so how could it be comfortable? I think there’s a very simple reason — it’s got just the right amount of spring in it, without being like a sofa cushion.
Many lightweight race saddles have a very stiff plastic shell with a thin layer of padding. That’s fine when you don’t sit on it for more than a few minutes. If you want more comfort, extra foam padding is not the solution, it just makes things too squishy and adds unnecessary weight. Brooks has got it just right with the C17, it allows me to ride all day in comfort and even if it isn’t a super lightweight race saddle (420g with steel rails), it certainly seems built to last. There are other carbon railed versions if you want to save 110g. The textured surface also has just the right amount of friction, so you can move around easily without sliding off the back on the climbs.
I’m looking forward to many more adventures on this saddle. No more Ass-pirin for me.
Costs: £95 / €110
This hardtail that I’ve been waffling on about is a Clockwork 29er by Orange Bikes. It’s great: modern geometry, light and strong. My only trouble is carrying enough water — and I hate riding with a pack. I came across this extra-large bottle cage by German company Cinq that can hold almost any large reusable bottle or even up to a 2L PET water bottle (or cider bottle maybe?). Looks ideal to fill the small space in the front triangle of the Orange.
This is a great shot my Mum took of me back in the summer of 1963, I’ll never forget the knee scabs… Only joking, it’s not me. I’m not that old. But it’s a great shot and it’s a pretty close match to my memories of growing up on a farm with a bicycle and all sorts of dangerous things to do.
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