Having ‘umm-ed and ahh-ed’ about which saddle to go for on my Felt F85X ‘do-everything’ adventure bike, knowing that a lovely old leather Brooks would look hideously out of place on it, I decided to give the Cambium series of saddles a go. I was a little apprehensive at first, as I have struggled to get along with almost all popular brands of modern saddles, however as leather Brooks saddles I own have always been the comfiest, I figured there was nothing to lose.
WHAT ARE THEY
So, the Cambium saddles are a product range developed by Brooks England to cater to performance cyclists who want the comfort that comes from a Brooks saddle, without succumbing to the weight of a classic leather one. Whilst slightly heavier than some of the foam and gel performance saddles available, the Cambium does offer much more flexibility, and in turn comfort, which is worth more to most performance cyclists than saving a few grams.
In terms of the feel, the flexibility comes from it being made from vulcanized rubber which moves with your body, rather than against it, much like a well worn in, supple leather saddle. Straight out of the box, it felt like the saddle had been designed for me. I was able to ride long miles, with no discomfort – something I haven’t had before, despite trying many saddles over the last few years.
The design of the saddle means the top acts like a hammock for you to sit in, which soaks up a lot of vibrations – ideal for me as I ride a CX bike for both road riding on some sketchy lanes and adventuring through woodland, trails, bridleways and wherever else looks fun on the ride!
One issue I’ve found is the location of stitching on some saddles. Thanks to the organic cotton top, there isn’t actually any stitching to rub the inside of your legs, or to wear away at your bibs! You can move around on the saddle very easily, but have just enough grip to keep you where you want to be when putting down the power.
Although I’ve never been one for nerding-out about the materials used in saddle rails, it’s pretty clear that the steel rails on the C17 are made for years and years of use, just like the classic Brooks saddles.
One of my favourite things about the Cambium range is the look. With most modern saddles, I cannot stand the techy look, however the Cambium pulls off being a performance saddle with a lovely traditional look. The rubber/cotton top looks very natural, and super minimal which means the saddles work on almost any bike. Despite needing some matching bar tape, I think it looks great on my rather modern Felt, however it would also suit a vintage road bike/town bike at the same time.
The cotton top does wear more and more, and change colour slightly with each ride, which for me is part of owning a Brooks saddle. I love my leather Brooks saddles because they wear and get comfier with every mile spent on them. The same can be said for the Cambium.
Obviously saddle choice is an entirely personal thing, and it is very hard to choose a saddle based on how someone else gets on with it as we aren’t all built the same. However, I think the structure of the Cambium allows it to be a far more comfortable option for a wider range of people, regardless of differing anatomies! I was surprised by how quickly I got on with the saddle and expected to at least need a few rides for my body to adjust to a new saddle but it didn’t even take that long.
All in all, cannot recommend this enough and know when I add more bikes to the stable, the Cambium will be the first saddle in mind to chuck on them!
Note: If you’re looking for a daily saddle that you can do lots of miles on, I’d suggest the C17, however if you’re touring/doing very long miles back to back, give the Carved C17 a look – it has a cutaway which allows even more flex to relieve pressure down ‘there’, meaning comfort for those BIG rides! The Cambium C15 is more of a race saddle, as it is much narrower. This also comes in a carved option which is more flexible, plus has a weight saving if you are that way inclined! If every gram counts, and carbon is your thing, the C13 is the lightest option, with carbon rails and aluminium rivets making it 150g lighter than the C15.
Thanks for reading this review – if you’ve ridden the Cambium range, let me know what you think of it!