Testing the Brooks Cambium Saddle

Back in September, after altering my riding geometry to allow for a longer leg extension, I borrowed a test saddle, a Brooks Cambium C17S, from a bike shop.  I liked a lot about the Cambium, but it didn’t turn out to be right for me.


Until I changed the distance from pedals to seat, I’d been quite happy with the original Brompton saddle — more than 1800 miles/2 896.8 km worth of happy.  Then I took a longish ride and discovered that the Brompton saddle wasn’t going to work any longer.

Brompton riders tend to love the traditional Brooks leather saddles, but I was leery of the break-in time, and uncertain that I’d find a good fit.  The Cambium is Brooks’ “vegan” model — it’s rubber with a linen-like cover, which comes in this light-colored version and a dark gray.  I decided to start with The Cambium.  Testers are marked with a Brooks credo:


The Cambium has a different shape to the Brompton, and a shorter nose.  This women’s model — or the “S”, for “shorter” — has a broader seat surface, too, and lacks the indentation at the back of the Brompton.


The width turned out to be a problem:  The Cambium seat is too wide for me. Maybe that’s not surprising; I’m a smaller woman (5’2″/157 cm) with a slight bone structure. Brooks offers just two saddle sizes, nominally one for women and one for men; I’m definitely to one end of the scale rather than comfortably in the middle range when it comes to cyclist size.

The rail placement is a bit different, too.  In spite of that, I was able to install the Cambium effectively on Basil, though I had to place it at the extreme end of the rails to sustain the arm/leg/seat geometry I required.


The Cambium ride was excellent; I loved the very natural feel of the cushioning provided by the rubber, which was easy without being soft.  And I particularly loved the fabric cover; it was impossible to slide around at all on the saddle. The Cambium, appropriately enough for a “vegan” product, felt quite organic — like a natural part of my Brompton.

However, my personal anatomy requires more of a cut-away at the front, so that my legs move more freely.  Returning the saddle to the shop was a sad moment; I’d love a Cambium that fit me, and I’ll probably always wistfully remember the comfort of the seat itself.  It’s a wonderful saddle; it’s just not right for me.

12 replies on “Testing the Brooks Cambium Saddle”

I liked your comparison of the cambium with the original Brompton saddle.
A saddle has to be perfect, if you ask me.
The aesthetics are important, but the comfort factor is more important.
Peace :)

Having broken in a Brooks B17 on one Brompton, I’m expecting to fit another on the new Brompton coming next month. I was never comfortable on the standard saddle on longer rides & the Brooks has been a good partner. As for breaking it in, I can’t recall whether it was uncomfortable to start but then one day I realised that I was no longer thinking about it – & it was then obvious how supple the leather had become. However, anything I say may be completely inappropriate for you – so good luck & best wishes!

Brooks owners do love those saddles, Ian! I’m leery, though, of spending the money and then finding it’s just not right — and all too aware that I’m smaller than the average rider. However, if the one I’m using now doesn’t pan out on the long term, then I’ve vowed to try a leather Brooks. And Dr. D. will probably go the Brooks route eventually. He’s probably got a good chance of that getting that lovely Brooks fit.

I’m with Chandra. Comfort above all! The B17 has been ideal for me too, a lucky accident since I started out with one. If only it didn’t take so much trial and error to find the perfect fit.

I may get there, Cathy, after all. We’ll see. As previously mentioned, I think Dr. D. is a convert, so he’ll likely follow the Brooks siren first. I’ll probably eventually end up with a Brooks, and then be kicking myself for not having done it sooner . . .

Edited, later, for (cough) clarity.

You are most welcome to test-ride Monty and his B17 next time you’re in Manhattan. (See what I did there?)

I did, Cathy! But you’d never know it from my previous comment. Dr. Diarist hadn’t remembered that that Monty had flown a B-17, so I looked it up and found this story, which I hadn’t previously known. Ah, those wacky generals and their humorous little wagers . . .

Having now had a good chance to observe/prod/ponder various Cambium saddles, I can see that a lack of break-in time seems accurate – but my choice for an imminent Brompton arrival will likely be Brooks B17 (again; just gotta decide on colour?)

It will be interesting to see how the Cambiums sell, Ian, and if they become as attractive to Brompton owners as the more traditional Brooks saddles. There’s no denying that a B17 looks stunning on a Brompton!

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