Brooks B17 Imperial vs Selle Anatomica: Which one is for you?

Brooks​ B17 Imperial (also called B17 Carved)

Brooks is a company from the West Midlands, England. The B17 Imperial (also named as B17 Carved) was first designed by Brooks over 100 years ago (since 1866). Brooks came with a “registered cutting” with its B17 Model and named it as B17 Imperial or B17 Carved. The motto of designing B17 Imperial was to prevent all the perineal pressure and they are quite successful on their mission.

Brooks B17 Imperial

Brooks B17 Imperial (also known as B17 Carved). Two other versions of this saddle: B17 Narrow Carved & B17 Carved Short (for women).

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Brooks provide handmade leather seats with a warranty of 2 years. The company will award 10 years of extended warranty for the users who will register at (https://www.brooksengland.com/en_row/10-years-program).

John Boultbee Brooks the company’s founder, vowed to make the most comfortable leather saddles for the bike riders. He managed to make this happen and Brooks was born.

Selle Anatomica​ (X1 & H1 are their Popular Brands)

Selle Anatomica is a modern brand which is storming the market with some new technologies:

  • Selle’s Flex-Fly Slots provide hammock feeling to riders
  • Rails provide industry-leading fore/aft adjustability
  • No break-in period. Comfortable from day 1.
Selle Anatomica X1 Saddle

Selle Anatomica X1 Saddle. Popular for its Hammock feeling from day 1.

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Selle believes that when choosing a saddle you should first consider how soft or stiff you want the riding platform to be. All of their saddles are same in width because they believe width does not matter, only matter is your weight when you are buying their top quality Anatomica saddles.

Sadly Tom Milton, the founder of Selle, passed away in April 2010. But loyalty among the customers did not fall which proves its excellence in making quality saddles.

Brooks B17 Imperial vs. Selle Anatomica: A quick comparison

Preview
Brooks Saddles Men's Imperial B17 Narrow Bike Saddle with Hole and Laces, Honey
Selle Anatomica X Series Leather Bike Saddle for Comfortable Racing Long and Short Distances Watershed Black with Copper Rivets
Selle Anatomica H1 Leather Bike Saddle for Comfortable Racing Long and Short Distances Black Gunmetal
Saddle Weight (grams)
520
515
515
L x W x H (mm)
275 x 175 x 65
285 x 165 x 64
295 x 183 x 69
Cut-out
Carved ("registered cut-out") version of Brooks' flagship model B17. Prevent riders from all kinds of perineal pressure.
Special Flex-Fly Slots able the saddle to move with your movement. Less pressure on perineal area, sit bones, and less saddle discomfort.
Special Flex-Fly Slots able the saddle to move with your movement. Less pressure on perineal area, sit bones, and less saddle discomfort.
Build Quality
Handmade in England with top quality vegetable tanned leather. Excellent craftsmanship.
Made in America with full grain American Leather
Made in America with full grain American Leather
Leather Type
Traditional
Watershed leather
Watershed leather
Fore-aft Adjustability
Regular adjustability
Rails support enough fore/aft adjustability
Rails support enough fore/aft adjustability
Break-in Period
200 - 500 miles. After the break-in period, you will feel like the saddle is made for you.
Comfortable from day one. Flex-Fly Slot provides hammock feelings to riders.
Comfortable from day one. Flex-Fly Slot provides hammock feelings to riders.
Rider's Weight Limit (lbs.)
400
190
250
Best for
Long distance sports touring, Trekking, MTB
MTB, Long distance touring, Offroad, Commuting
MTB, Long distance touring, Offroad, Commuting
Our Verdict
If you accept the higher break-in period of traditional leather saddles, go for this saddle. Extra-ordinary handmade saddle.
If you want comfort from day 1 from your leather saddle, buy a Selle Anatomica withtout any confusion. Takes care better of the sensitive areas.
If you want comfort from day 1 from your leather saddle, buy a Selle Anatomica withtout any confusion. Takes care better of the sensitive areas.
Preview
Brooks Saddles Men's Imperial B17 Narrow Bike Saddle with Hole and Laces, Honey
Saddle Weight (grams)
520
L x W x H (mm)
275 x 175 x 65
Cut-out
Carved ("registered cut-out") version of Brooks' flagship model B17. Prevent riders from all kinds of perineal pressure.
Build Quality
Handmade in England with top quality vegetable tanned leather. Excellent craftsmanship.
Leather Type
Traditional
Fore-aft Adjustability
Regular adjustability
Break-in Period
200 - 500 miles. After the break-in period, you will feel like the saddle is made for you.
Rider's Weight Limit (lbs.)
400
Best for
Long distance sports touring, Trekking, MTB
Our Verdict
If you accept the higher break-in period of traditional leather saddles, go for this saddle. Extra-ordinary handmade saddle.
Price Comparison
Saddle Name
Preview
Selle Anatomica X Series Leather Bike Saddle for Comfortable Racing Long and Short Distances Watershed Black with Copper Rivets
Saddle Weight (grams)
515
L x W x H (mm)
285 x 165 x 64
Cut-out
Special Flex-Fly Slots able the saddle to move with your movement. Less pressure on perineal area, sit bones, and less saddle discomfort.
Build Quality
Made in America with full grain American Leather
Leather Type
Watershed leather
Fore-aft Adjustability
Rails support enough fore/aft adjustability
Break-in Period
Comfortable from day one. Flex-Fly Slot provides hammock feelings to riders.
Rider's Weight Limit (lbs.)
190
Best for
MTB, Long distance touring, Offroad, Commuting
Our Verdict
If you want comfort from day 1 from your leather saddle, buy a Selle Anatomica withtout any confusion. Takes care better of the sensitive areas.
Price Comparison
Saddle Name
Preview
Selle Anatomica H1 Leather Bike Saddle for Comfortable Racing Long and Short Distances Black Gunmetal
Saddle Weight (grams)
515
L x W x H (mm)
295 x 183 x 69
Cut-out
Special Flex-Fly Slots able the saddle to move with your movement. Less pressure on perineal area, sit bones, and less saddle discomfort.
Build Quality
Made in America with full grain American Leather
Leather Type
Watershed leather
Fore-aft Adjustability
Rails support enough fore/aft adjustability
Break-in Period
Comfortable from day one. Flex-Fly Slot provides hammock feelings to riders.
Rider's Weight Limit (lbs.)
250
Best for
MTB, Long distance touring, Offroad, Commuting
Our Verdict
If you want comfort from day 1 from your leather saddle, buy a Selle Anatomica withtout any confusion. Takes care better of the sensitive areas.
Price Comparison

Brooks B17 Family vs Selle Anatomica Saddles: Both are great, but which one is best for you?

We all know that both are very best on their own. Both brands follow their own unique style. Brooks holds its 100 years old tradition while updating the saddles over time. On the other hand, Selle follows modern design and styling at the same time maintains super quality.

So which one will suit you the most? How would you determine that this one’s for me?

Well, we have made a simple comparison based on our own experiences and reviewing experts’ opinions to help you out on this topic.

1) Break In Period: Brooks 7.5, Selle Anatomica 8.5

Brooks B17 and Selle Anatomica both are leather saddles. Buying a leather saddle is like buying a new pair of leather shoes. At first they might be a little rigid, but they will loosen up over time.

The Brooks B17 usually has a bit longer break-in period. But when you are able to exaggerate this period, the saddle will adjust to you like it was made for you and you will feel no soreness or tenderness. Because of this issue with break-in period, Brooks has introduced other models as well like the B17 Softened version.

Selle, on the other hand requires shorter break-in period or I should say it has no break-in period at all to be exact. The laminated cover layer reinforced with full grain leather makes the saddle comfortable starting from day one.

Our Verdict:

This is where Selle beats Brooks as their break-in period is shorter than B17, at least that’s what the majority of the riders found. Normally Brooks saddles take up to 200 – 300 miles of riding on them for properly breaking-in to adjust to your body shape.

There is also a situation that you should always keep in mind that, a saddle without break-in period is obviously good but if it doesn’t fit you from the first moment, I am afraid it won’t get any better in the future.

2) Cut-out: Brooks 8, Selle Anatomica 8.5

“Anatomica” comes from Selle’s Anatomic Design and they have also made the cut-out to work that way. This is why the cut-out is known as ‘Flex-Fly’ slot. The cut-out of the Anatomica is longer than the B17 Imperial which means the user can put much pressure on the perineum (a human part below the pelvic diaphragm and between the legs).

The B17 has a smaller cut-out compared to Selle Anatomica which makes it firm but will not allow too much pressure. As a result it will cause discomfort to inner thighs.

Our Verdict:

Although both of the saddles feature cut-out, but I think Anatomica takes the lead as the design of the cut-out can handle pressure especially for bigger and heavier riders.

3) Side Edges: Brooks 8.5, Selle Anatomica 7.5

Brooks B17 is generally a wide saddle and the side edges are long which makes them comfortable on the sides for preventing chafing in inner thighs.

On the contrary, Selle Anatomica has a larger cutout area that kind of spread out the edges. Although Anatomica claims that the cut-out will stop the edges to flare out but this is not true for all riders. Some riders out of bravery cut a small amount of leather from the side edges.

Our Verdict:

This is where Brooks takes over Selle. Brooks B17 has small holes and they are laced together which makes the side edges wider.

4) Adjustability: Brooks 8, Selle Anatomica 8.5

It is simple when you have the tool provided by Brooks. But it is difficult when the tool is not around you and you cannot use anything to adjust a Brooks B17 saddle to your bicycle.

When it comes to adjusting Anatomica to your bicycle, a common 6mm Allen key (Hex key) will do just fine. Both seats require the same adjustments at the front: tightening a tensioner bolt at the very front of the saddle. For the installation and adjustment purpose this video (FROM BROOKS OFFICIAL WEBSITE) might help.

Our Verdict:

I think it will be difficult to have the required adjustment tool with you all the time and sometimes there is a possibility that you might lose the tool. So, Selle does an excellent job here making it simple by allowing the regular tool to use. Some people often ruin their Brooks saddles by using adjustment wrenches.

5) Cover Material: Brooks 8.5, Selle Anatomica 8.5

Both saddles use High-quality leather. The B17 uses best quality vegetable tanned leather on its top handmade in England. Selle provides WaterShed leather on the top which is supported by a stiffer laminated layer crafted in the U.S.A. Unfortunately none of these saddles is good for wet weather. You have to use a waterproof cover to keep them protected on rainy days. Water can come up from the road or may come up off your tires in wet weather, you should always keep that in mind.

Our Verdict:

It is hard to judge the quality of the leather of these saddles as they both features extremely good leather. But if you are choosy or really into leather you should go for Selle.

6) Rails & Rivets: Brooks 8.5, Selle Anatomica 7.5

Brooks feature much stronger rails than Selle. The B17 rails are made of Steel and they are Chrome plated. Selle uses different materials for their rails. For example, the X1 model has chromoly steel on rails which can support riders who weigh equal or less than 250 lbs. They also feature Tubular Stainless Steel rails. But the rails have a bad tendency to bend. Again Brooks rails are comparatively short which can be a disadvantage for riders who have long legs.

Brooks feature Tubular Steel Rivets and Selle Anatomica feature rivets made from steel but you can also select Copper as an option.

Our Verdict:

Both brands are unique for using materials on rails and rivets. Some people have issues with this subject while some people do not care much. Both of these brands produce ultra-durable rails and rivets. The issue with the B17 having short rails can be fixed by using a seat-post with long setback (I.e. Velo Orange Grand Cru).

7) Weight: Brooks 8, Selle Anatomica 8.5

We should take a head to head look at the differences of weights between the two best recommended saddles. The B17 weighs around 520 gm and the Selle Anatomica X1 model weighs around 515 gm and the other models of the X series are comparatively lighter than the B17.

Our Verdict:

The Brooks B17 can be a bit heavier than the Selle Anatomica, heavier than the X series to be specific. But I guess the weight doesn’t really matter as they both provide adequate comfort.

8) Dimensions: Brooks 9, Selle Anatomica 9

Here I will not give you an extensive lecture, I will just mention the dimensions for Brooks B17 Imperial and for Selle Anatomica, it depends on the model. We are showing the dimensions of the popular X Series (Selle Anatomica X1):

Dimensions
Brooks B17 Imperial
Selle Anatomica X1
LENGTH
275 mm
11.2 inches (290 mm)
WIDTH
175 mm
6.5 inches (≤130 mm)
HEIGHT
65 mm
2.5 inches (≤64 mm)
Dimensions
Brooks B17 Imperial
LENGTH
275 mm
WIDTH
175 mm
HEIGHT
65 mm
Dimensions
Selle Anatomica X1
LENGTH
11.2 inches (290 mm)
WIDTH
6.5 inches (≤130 mm)
HEIGHT
2.5 inches (≤64 mm)

Our Verdict:

I just can’t declare a complete winner in this section. I will just leave it to you. Just want to say, Selle is a longer saddle than the B17.

9) Maintenance & Care: Brooks 7.5, Selle Anatomica 8.5

Some people are having Brooks saddles for over 10 years or more. If you just keep maintaining them like adding Proofide (Brooks Leather Conditioner) may be in a 6 months basis that is like 2 times a year and keeping the saddle covered from rain, it will be a long lasting saddle and you won’t want to switch to any other saddle then.

Again the Anatomica does not require much maintenance. But you should keep it out of water as it is not waterproof.

Our Verdict:

Brooks need better conservation than Anatomica as they have to break in over time and for that you need to properly add Proofide which helps to assist the break-in process. This is where Anatomica beats Brooks as they barely need any maintenance and care.

10) Design: Brooks 9, Selle Anatomica 9

Brooks has been making saddles of pretty much the same design as the B17 for a long time. They haven’t changed the design much. They want to maintain the traditional style and for the users the design and everything else just work flawlessly. It is like when someone notices the saddle, they will get an instant idea that “Okay! That is a Brooks.”. Also the B17 comes in a variety of styles, sizes and colors (mostly black, brown and honey).

Selle says, they have moved beyond the traditional process especially for the X Series. Its slot (patented) moves underneath the rider’s position. Their seats look modern and stylish that will go for any kind of bike whether it is a vintage bike or not. Seats also feature a variety of designs with color combination like (Black Gunmetal, Black Copper, Oxblood Copper) depending on the model.

Our Verdict:

If we are judging the design of the seats, it is for sure that Selle holds the top position. Well, some of us may like the old vintage style saddle, but it does not always fly around. Human mind is set for looking newer designs rather than holding the same design for ages. It is true, especially for the young riders. But for some users, a Selle Anatomica saddle look odd on vintage bikes.

11) Warranty & Guarantee: Brooks 9, Selle Anatomica 7.5

Brooks always provides a 2 years warranty from the date of purchase and the company will award a 10 year extended warranty when you register your product at their official website (https://www.brooksengland.com/en_row/10-years-program). Now that is cool.

Selle, on the other hand is a little bit strict about warranty. They will provide a 1 year warranty from the date of purchase, as they have mentioned in their official website (https://selleanatomica.com/pages/warranty-text). But the good news is, they have a 30-day comfort fit guarantee. You can always return the product if you don’t like it within 30 days from the date of purchase.

Our Verdict:

I would go for Brooks as you can clearly see the warranty time limit is much higher than Selle.

Winner of the competition

I just want to say, Brooks adds comfort to your bum and guarantees you a long lasting saddle. Another thing to keep in mind is that Brooks has been around for a long time, so it is a reputed company which guarantees absolute quality. You just can’t ignore these facts.

So I want to say, Brooks just takes the lead. It is like an unbeatable brand in the saddle industry. Although it may take time to break-in but the B17 Imperial is still the legend as preferred by the majority of the riders.

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Last update on 2020-01-27 at 14:44 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

Dion Lewis
My name is Dion Lewis.

I’ve been cycling from my childhood. When I was in high school, I started racing in our local competitions.

At my college life, I took a part time job in a bicycle shop and I learned how to repair and maintain bicycles professionally.

Though I love racing, mountain biking is another thing I do frequently. My friends, neighbors, and colleagues treat me as an avid rider and take my suggestions while they plan for a new bike or a bike gear.

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