Back in May I decided to take advantage of a special offer and bought myself a Brooks B17 Special in black. Surprisingly the offer was at Halfords and it allowed me to get the saddle for around the same price the standard B17 would normally sell for. I had been looking for a reasonably priced B17 for a few weeks as a result of the telescopic seatpost I had added to the Brompton a few weeks prior.
For a while now I had been using B67-type saddles on all of the bikes, and I was happy with the saddles. However, whilst the B67 worked well for me on the Brompton when I was using the extended seatpost, the telescopic seatpost finally allowed me to get the saddle to the right height for my legs. This brought the saddle slightly above the level of the bars and made the once comfortable B67 rather unpleasant to use. Conventional Brooks saddle wisdom suggests that a B67-like saddle is best suited to use where the handlebar is set at a level higher than or equal to the saddle, whilst a B17-like saddle is best suited to use where the handlebar is set at a level lower than or equal to the saddle. As I had now crossed this threshold I decided to investigate the B17.
Compared to the standard B17, the B17 Special has larger, manually hammered copper rivets and copper-plated metalwork on the underside of the saddle. Whilst the larger rivets are supposedly more durable, for me the main advantage the special has over the standard B17 is an aesthetic one. Like most leather saddles, the B17 Special comes with bag loops for a saddlebag, which is particularly useful for adding a bit of additional capacity to the Brompton.
As I had hoped, in addition to looking nice the B17 Special is more comfortable than the B67 when set above the height of the handlebar whilst also makes the folded Brompton a bit smaller and neater looking. The longer saddle nose also makes carrying the folded bike a little easier. Having ridden on tensioned leather saddles for a few years now, the saddle was comfortable for me straight away and has only improved over the past month-and-a-half of use.
I was quite surprised to find that the saddle felt as if it were urging me to set it forward more an more, until it finally felt ‘right’ at the limit of its forward adjustment. This is in stark contrast to the fairly significant setback I had used with the B67 on the Brompton. As a result of this, I am now in a much more sporty riding position on the Brompton which seems to suit the increase in saddle height well. The downside is that it has taken a while for my hands to get used to supporting more of my weight, but I am adapting. The upshot is that the hill-climbing aspect of my daily ride home from work is made much easier, although I now find I have to make a conscious effort not to ride too fast on my way to work so I do not end up looking too dishevelled. I would definitely recommend the B17 Special for similar set-ups.