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Take a Seat: Brooks Cambium Saddle Series

Brooks England has been building leather bike seats for more than a century, and, like any good heritage product, they need breaking in—it can take up to a derriere-aching year before a bike seat finally fits its owner.

Take a Seat: Brooks Cambium Saddle Series
[Photo by Greg Broom]

"It was like the Aeron chair of bike saddles, a truly innovative product based on the materials available at the time," says Thomas Overthun, design director at Ideo, the firm Brooks recently turned to for its first non-leather seat. Now advances in plant-based materials can yield a comfortable saddle that still has pedigree.

For the Cambium C17 saddle (the first in the new line), Overthun and his colleagues proposed an assortment of materials including cork, gel, and fabrics layered with felt. From those options the Brooks team chose a vulcanized-rubber base with organic cotton lining (wicked for moisture protection). "These materials feel very real, and not plastic," Overthun says. "The lighter version is a littler easier to love right away." ($195)

A version of this article appeared in the March 2014 issue of Fast Company magazine.