Brooks Cambium C17s Saddle RRP £ 115.99 418g  Colour tested; slate-grey


“What’s the point of a Brooks that isn’t leather?” asked the guy at a café stop. I, too, had wondered that when the Cambium C17s landed on our test bench. 

The Cambium follows the iconic B17’s general shape but with a racier flavour and substitutes cowhide for a mix of vulcanised rubber and cotton canvas. This is reinforced by a thin layer of structural textile. Aside from appealing to strict vegetarian audiences; gone is the agonising six hundred mile ritual of progressively moulding it to one’s rump.


Brooks describe the Cambium as a “hammock” and I’d broadly agree with, albeit a fairly firm one that doesn’t rob power when digging deep on long climbs or just powering away at the traffic light grand prix.


The first twenty miles felt slightly alien, although over the course of our first fifty, I was fast falling for its charms. Though feathery compared with standard B17s, those rugged stainless steel rails still push it past the 400g marker, which will bring the average weight weenie out in hives. Brooks are rumoured to be working on something lighter. It costs a sizeable wedge too, although price reflects build quality and can be dismantled and rebuilt using common tools. 


Managed to bust a set of rails? Your friendly local dealer can supply replacements. As you’d hope, there’s been no hint of aging despite being perpetually leant against walls and street furniture during our test period. We’re confident it will last many, many years with basic care, repaying its investment many times over. 


Near as damn it maintenance free compared with genuine hides; the patter of rain drops shouldn’t induce the same palpitations. However, keep that saddle cover handy since it doesn’t wipe dry like leather/covered models. 


Rumour suggests the “natural” version is prone to staining-especially from dark fabrics, which is a consideration for those commuting in Jeans or Chinos. Speaking of which, the textured fibres offer excellent tenure, even with super shiny Lycra. We’re not in flypaper territory but mid ride repositioning requires more exaggerated lift n’ plonk, rather than subtle sliding action.


Despite being marketed as women specific; the dimensions have delighted the editor’s decidedly unfeminine derrière, encouraging him to add “just a few more miles” to his rides, that gentle zing numbing intrusive low, level vibration while the rear offers just the right amount of support. If you really can’t get comfy, Brooks also offer curved and cutaway versions.   

Helen Harlow and Steve Dyster


Verdict: 4.5 out of 5: A real alternative to leather for serious mile munching.





Ryton On Dunsmore

Coventry  CV8 3FH