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Which Is The Best Leather Bicycle Saddle for 2015?

Updated on June 17, 2015
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The Best Leather Bicycle Saddles | Reviews

When it comes to making your bicycle look greate, nothing beats a good leather bicycle saddle. They are an accessory that looks amazing on virtually any type of bike, particularly road bicycles, vintage bikes and single speeds. They somehow adds a special element of class and style, and your whole bike will look more expensive and attractive depending on the type of saddle you have.

Leather road bicycle saddles tend to have a bad rap, however. They have a reputation for being uncomfortable, expensive and impractical for everyday usage. These are misconceptions which I hope to dispel with this article. The best leather bike saddles are in fact the best kind of seat you can ride on today, and they'll give you many years of comfortable usage if you care for them properly.

In this lens, I will talk about the best leather bicycle saddles you can find today. There are a lot of different choices and sometimes making the right decision can be tricky because of that. I have a lot of experience with different saddle brands and I know which ones are worth investing money into. I'm going to take a look at a few of my favorites, offering tips on what type of riding each one is suited to. If you have any questions or comments on saddles seen here or elsewhere on the web, please feel free to post them and I'll try to respond.

Great Leather Bicycle Saddles

Pros and Cons of Leather:

So what exactly is the big deal with a leather bike saddle like the one pictured above? The first thing you'll notice when you're shopping is that they are more expensive than vinyl, plastic or foam alternatives. Does this higher price reflect a better product?

The short answer is yes. A good leather saddle on a bicycle is a better choice in virtually every way. There are obviously some pros and cons to these seats, and I'll talk about those now.

Pros:

A bicycle saddle made of leather is going to last you a long time. The leather is hard, and they are incredibly durable and can take a beating. The leather will weather over time, and look better and better the more often you use it. If you want it to look the same and not weather as much, you can use wax or a leather protectant spray.

Another amazing quality is its ability to shape over time. When you first get your leather bike seat it will be hard and uncomfortable. Like a new pair of shoes, it will take some time to wear it in. Once it is, however, you'll have the most comfortable seat of your life.

(It is a total misconception that thick layers of foam or gel padding make a seat more comfortable. They are actually harder on your body)

Cons:

The best leather bike saddles are very expensive, especially compared to synthetic alternatives. For the real deal, they cost at least twice as much as a conventional plastic and metal choice. That represents the extra work involved in production. They last so much longer that they pay for themselves in no time.

Even a good leather bike seat can be susceptible to harsh weather. Rain and water can damage the finish if not properly protected. Leather bike saddles are also frequently stolen, and since they're expensive you'll have to take care to lock it up well.

Brooks Saddles B17 Narrow Bicycle Saddle (Black Steel Rails, Antique Brown)
Brooks Saddles B17 Narrow Bicycle Saddle (Black Steel Rails, Antique Brown)

This is a fine leather road bicycle saddle that looks simply amazing. The vintage brown with the black rails makes it match virtually any bicycle you could find. The hard leather will conform to your body and become the most comfortable and long lasting saddle you've ever owned.

 

Brooks B-17 Narrow

Probably the best leather bicycle saddle you can buy today

The Brooks B-17 is a total classic, both in shape, look and heritage. This particular model was designed in 1910, and Brooks hasn't seen any need to update it since. It's a narrower fit than the conventional B-17, so it's better suited to road or endurance cycling. The lower profile is intended to make pedalling easier.

Brooks makes some of the best leather bicycle saddles for the money today. You can read the reviews on any of their products to confirm this, but it's true. They've been an industry leader for such a long time and they know exactly what a serious cyclist is after, both in terms of good looks and comfort. Like the saddle pictured above they'll need a long time to break in, but treat your Brooks well and it won't let you down!

Origin8 Classique Sport Leather Saddle, Brown
Origin8 Classique Sport Leather Saddle, Brown

The Classique Sport saddle is a good option for anyone seeking the 'best of both worlds'. These saddles have a modern, sporty look and feel to them, but they retain the classic leather look. The top grain leather cover will conform to fit your body over time, just like more expensive leather bike seats. I love this one!

 

Origin8 Classique Sport Leather Saddle

A Good Leather Bike Saddle Choice For Road Cycling

The Origin8 Classique Sport saddle has a bit more of a sporty, modern look to it. It's very thin and aerodynamic, so it's a nice choice for a leather road bicycle saddle. That said, it has many classic elements that improve the looks. The classic 100% leather cover and strong metal rivets make it looks very vintage and attractive.

One of the coolest features of the Origin8 is the leather tensioner. There's a tightener underneath that lets you determine just how taut the leather is. This is great when you're breaking it in, allowing you to naturally stretch the leather and encourage it to form to your body. I will warn you, this saddle takes quite a long time to break in (600 miles or more), but once it is you'll be rewarded for your patience: it's really comfortable.

Cardiff Cornwall Leather Bike Seat

Another Classic Look Leather Bicycle Saddle For a Great Price

The Cardiff Cornwall is not only leather, it's a bicycle saddle with a classic shape and a super reasonable price. Like other more expensive brands, this one is hard leather and will take some getting used to.

As a bonus, they are adjustable, allowing you to change the width and the bike saddle's leather tension. Cardiff is also a bit more playful with their color scheme than some of their competitors, and as such you can get saddles in classic but unique colors, such as this green leather one. They also offer them in standard browns and blacks of course, but sometimes it's a lot of fun to play around with color. They're on par with Brooks in most ways, so definitely give Cardiff some consideration.

Gyes Leather Bike Saddles

Affordable Brooks saddle alternatives

Gyes is an example of how you can actually find good, full leather bicycle saddles that won't break your bank account. They have many beautiful road and cruise inspired full leather bicycle seats and saddles that are around 25% less than anything by Brooks, but with similar quality.

Most models include chrome plated steel rails and quality rivets mean they will last for years without breaking or splaying, and the hardened leather cowhide will form to your shape over time, offering a very stable and comfortable pedalling position. They are also fairly light weight as leather saddles go.

If you're after a beautiful, vintage style leather bicycle saddle, but you can't afford some of the more popular brands, definitely look for Gyes as an affordable alternative. They have quite a following, and for good reason.

Reasons Why Leather Road Bike Seats Are Better:

Leather bicycle saddles are obviously superior for several reasons.

This is a list that could be pretty long. I'm not a big fan of modern, plastic based bike seats. All that gel, plastic and metal does nothing for your back or your behind. Furthermore they are not comfortable. You may not even realize how uncomfortable you are until you switch.

First, conventional bike seats don't last very long. Many of them fall apart and degrade after a year. It's throwing your money away. The best leather bicycle saddles, on the other hand, can last a lifetime.

Secondly, they are ugly. A bicycle can be a beautiful thing, and those big, ungainly and ugly padded vinyl seats just ruin the whole picture. A leather bike seat is an easy and high impact upgrade to your bicycle's appearance.

Lastly, they are not good for you or your posture. Most of the time, if some is uncomfortable on their bike, they will blame the seat, and they usually seek more padding to solve it. That's a bad policy! The truth is, what your body wants is a solid perch, not some sliding mass of gel and fabric. A leather bicycle saddle will form to your shape and provide a stable platform that will keep the stress off your spine.

If your ride isn't comfy, it probably has more to do with your riding position and posture.

Leather Saddles For Bicycles: More Examples

Here are a few more leather saddles for bicycles to look at. All of the ones I've listed here are high quality and a good choice.

Thoughts or Comments on Leather Bike Saddles?

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      anonymous 4 years ago

      Have you tried a Selle Anatomica saddle? I like the cut out in the center.