The Bike Butler persuaded me to try a Brooks saddle a couple of years back, a ladies Brooks Imperial. Despite my protests that ‘the Swallow backsides are not made to fit a Brooks’, it turned out the female Swallow backside fitted a Brooks perfectly, unlike the male counterpart (my Dad and his Brooks B17 saddle had a large and very permanent falling out).
As and when, the randonneur bikes in my stable have had their Terry saddles switched for the now-beloved Brooks Imperial. Each of the new Imperials quickly became comfortable and being made of cowhide, provided the final bit of custom compensation for my short leg. Riding long randonnees was a delight, until rain came into the equation. The Texas Stampede 1200 killed the first of my Imperials as the cowhide seemed not to cope with some large helpings of Texas rain, despite a rain cover. The nice comfy little dimples grew as the kilometres increased. The saddle got downgraded to my Brompton well within a year. The kilometres of 2 PBPs (Audax and Randonneur) plus some weather hastened the life span of another Imperial that year. Yet again formerly-little dimples became big fat ones, leading to compromised comfort. Chatting to other dedicated Brooks users, several seemed to be experiencing similar problems with their modern Brooks saddles as the Bike Butler and me.
At the recent London Bike Show, the Bike Butler had a long, but not exactly fruitful conversation with Mr Brooks with regard to the issues we were experiencing. The next port of call was the Carradice stand, where until this year you’d only expect to find bike luggage. However they are now the UK distributor for Deborah Banks’ Rivet Cycle Works saddles, which had already caught the attention of the Bike Butler on the internet. After a long chat with Mr Carradice, who had used a Rivet saddle that he was seriously pleased with, plus being able to take a close look at the saddles in the flesh, an order was placed.
The Rivet Pearl was installed on my audax winter bike. The first test was a 70km spin. The Rivet felt little different to a Brooks ladies Imperial even though it is a male saddle. It didn’t have the instant perfect comfort of a Brooks due to being significantly firmer, but this wasn’t a problem. The next test was a 200km randonnee. Again, the Rivet was still noticeably firmer that a Brooks, but that didn’t impede overall comfort. 270km and still no dimples; unlike my Brooks Imperials which after this level of usage were noticeably ‘broken in’.