Just In: Brooks Cambium C13 Carbon-railed racing saddle

At the end of the summer, just before and during Eurobike, we previewed a carbon-railed saddle from Brooks, a pretty dramatic move for them. The new Cambium C13 builds on the other vulcanized rubber and cotton topped saddles in their Cambium range, but ditches the aluminum structure and steel rails to shave off more than 100g from their next lightest saddle. We’ve apparently been added to the pool of early testers, so one of the new narrow saddles showed up on our doorstep this week. I’ve thrown it on a cross bike that I’m getting around town on this week and already have some thoughts on the new perch…

Brooks_Cambium-C13-saddle_carbon-rails_rubber-top_beta-test_rails-detail

Brooks sells the Cambium line on the idea of comfort, flexibility, and that they are ready to ride out of the box, unlike their leather saddles which require a real break-in period. With the C17 that means an incredibly comfortable, yet still supportive feel as the rubber kind of hangs between the aluminum structure at the nose and tail of the saddle.  I haven’t sat on the narrower C15, so was really curious to see how that feel translated into the again narrower C13 with its carbon undercarriage.

Not entirely sure what to expect then, when I hopped on the saddle for the first ride, my immediate thoughts were actually how stiff it was. The saddle has a quite long nose that stays relatively thin and narrow through the mid section and a rear that is just about 130mm wide, with the widest point about 2cm in front of the outside rivet. Since the saddle top is quite narrow (modeled after the B17 narrow), my sit bones tended to want to rest between this widest point up to sitting over the rivets themselves, so there isn’t really much room to allow the saddle to flex where it is supporting my weight. Add in the fact that the single looped carbon rail seems very rigid and the stiff feel of the saddle isn’t so surprising.

This rigid feel leans towards that of saddles with carbon rails and shells, but doesn’t seem to really take full advantage of the flexibility that is a trademark of the rubber Cambium line-up. Important to note of course, is that this is a test period for Brooks, and we are beta testers on a product that is not yet ready to hit the market. I’ve spoken with Brooks, and they have reiterated the test phase nature and said that they do intend to release the C13 in several variations, including with differing rubber densities to address this personal stiffness feel. They went through the same beta process when they introduced the C15 and apparently really did take test rider feedback into consideration to make final tweaks before the production models were released, and anticipate the same process here. In our conversations with Brooks about the C13’s feel, they also hinted at using this new stiff carbon rail setup with varying width Cambium saddles in the near future as well, which will likely add even more comfort while still benefiting from the weight reductions.

Brooks_Cambium-C13-saddle_carbon-rails_rubber-top_beta-test_actual-weight-265g Brooks_Cambium-C13-saddle_carbon-rails_rubber-top_beta-test_carbon-rubber-underside

The texture of the top also carries over from the other Cambium saddles. While it starts out as a soft cotton, when it gets imbedded in rubber and vulcanized it takes on a harder quality, to the point that I could feel the texture when commuting with a regular pair of pants on. I haven’t given it enough time to see if it is as abrasive as prior models, but I didn’t slide around at all on the cover, so clearly there is some friction going on with the top.

Our C13 sample weighed 265g, which while light for a Brooks saddle, still is a solid 100g more that a similarly shaped, carbon-railed saddle with a more traditional lightweight construction. The nose and mid-section of the saddle have a good bit of flexibility, but the fairly stiff rubber of the top still offers a good bit of support. When pedaling, the edges of the saddle flex up and down with the movement of the legs, without feeling like the saddle is moving around underneath you. But seat your sit bones near those aluminum rivets along the back and the rigid underlying carbon rail translates all of this solid support into a stiff ride. We’ll have to wait and see if product versions remain so stiff.

BrooksEngland.com

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fergus
fergus
6 years ago

I think I understood when Brooks went with the rubberised top instead of the leather with the cadmium, you could leave your bike in the rain etc. This is such a departure from what the Brooks brand is that I think its confused, why have space age material with rivets?
Can we have rod brakes on a carbon frame also?

Raouligan
Raouligan
6 years ago

They’re not actually rivets though on the cambium are they? They use bolts that screw together to hold the parts together, it means that the parts are replaceable, that’s surely a good thing?
Are saddles that allow years of use through replaceable components so much of a departure for Brooks, I think they’d probably claim otherwise…?

Dsand
Dsand
6 years ago

It’s cool, they are doing what they need to do to progress. Yes I would buy a B17 imperial sprint with carbon rails.

Wayne
6 years ago

It’s also called product identification…..Brooks has always been known for the big brass rivets. This is a way for them to maintain that identity. I like it.

James
James
6 years ago

I have the C17 and C15 and really like both. I’ll try this one too. I wish they were doing titanium rails too.

Adam2
6 years ago

It’s different and cool. Good for them!

Larry Falk
Larry Falk
6 years ago

Selle Royal of Italy bought Brooks in 2002 and I think they are doing a very good job at preserving Brooks’ history all the while creating a new product line (Cambium). If there was a carbon railed B17 saddle, I would be stupid enough to consider it (it would be pricy!)!

James
James
6 years ago

It’s a pretty attractive looking saddle … I’m certain it’s built better than any normal race saddle.
But it seems like a solution in search of a problem, unless that problem is someone with an imprecise sense of practicality, and a too-thick wallet.
I don’t see the value of adding 110 grams to my bike for a lot of money to get a long-lived saddle…. long live isn’t really a key thing for race saddles.
If you are a tech startup owner who has a Pinarello he rides three times a month, fair enough.

And you can go too far the other way… like with specialized. just can’t get much life out of the carbon railed ones… they wear out the plastic where they enter the plastic shell and start moving around.
Fizik, no serious worries, at least 12,000 miles or more.

Star
Star
6 years ago

As a CAT 3 dude in California, I’ve gradually moved out to 155mm width, I’ve tried the narrow weight weenie thing, and get power to weight ratio, but dam, that’s a narrow saddle!

Justin
Justin
6 years ago

You may want to pick up one of these: http://www.amazon.com/Thomson-Oversized-Seat-Clamp-Black/dp/B00DNJSJ8A

I cringed a bit seeing that saddle clamped in the standard fittings.

antares
antares
6 years ago

@Cory Benson, are those rails 7x9mm, 7×9.6mm or 7×10mm? I haven’t found the info on BrooksEngland.com

thx!

TV
TV
3 years ago
Reply to  antares

Mine measured 7 x 9.6 mm.

wunnspeed
6 years ago

This saddle looks quite interesting to me without the big, aluminum frame. Although, I’d much rather see it with Ti rails for longevity rather than just for weight. Currently, I have a C15 on my bikepacking bike and the only two nitpicks I have are that, for me, it’s a bit too wide (hence, the interest in the C13) and it’s pretty heavy. Otherwise, it’s a great saddle. My Ti Swift is a wonderful saddle but the constant abuse of bikepacking, sun, weather is just really hard on it.

Sadly, I’ve failed to be chosen on all four Brooks Beta testing attempts. Call me jealous!

Bicycle Playground
6 years ago

I pre-ordered this for my store months ago when I first heard about it. A lot of my customers liked the feel of the C15, but can’t get past the weight (or look) on a modern bike. I’m excited about this version. We’ll keep it in stock.

greasedupdeafguy
greasedupdeafguy
6 years ago

want.

rupert3k
6 years ago

Trick as #*%^!!

bikehorr
bikehorr
6 years ago

alot like the Fabric saddles