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.