Beautiful saddle; nice quality. Rode it for 100 miles after 2 initial Proofide applications and thought it would break in. But even after that it's still pretty rigid. I'm going to stick with it because the seat has great potential. The cutout was a game changer for numbness. I give the cutout 5 stars and the overall seat 4 stars.
This Brooks B17 Imperial saddle is on my main touring bicycle, a 1993 Bianchi Project 5 cross bike, converted to a gravel bike with aero bars. I will benefit from the comfort of this saddle on multiple consecutive, 40 mile days of cross country travel.
Monkey see monkey do... Go show up to a rando ride and count the number of Brooks chosen by cyclist who regularly ride 200K to 1200K events. The first time you sit on your Brooks Saddle you will think eh... its pretty good (I road mine fresh out of the box on a 300K event with no problems)
The first time you ride your bike after your saddle is broken in (For me this was at mile 819) you will think Holy smokes! This is wonderful... now I understand why all those old dudes use these saddles!
The bottom line is that once your saddle becomes shaped to YOUR BUTT you will never have a saddle problem again. Just like breaking in a good pair of boots....
I applied several coats of Proofhide to the underside of the saddle over a 2 week period. I also loosened the adjusting screw approximately 12 turn. After 50 miles or so of use the saddle is quite comfortable. Much easier to break in than the standard B-17 which I also have.
It's a great looking saddle. It is very slippery. I think it may be broken in. Rode 54 miles on it the other day with out any soreness. According to the instructions there is maintenance required. Brooks special oil needs to be rubbed on the under side. It is also not suppose to get wet so i bought the saddle cover. I used it and the saddle is less slippery. I think it is going to work out very well. It was a good price through Western Bikeworks.
This is the fourth Brooks saddle I've owned and by far my favorite. The best part is you don't even notice it while riding, it's just there as a natural extension of the bike. Shock absorbing in the city and a source of ease and comfort for miles, this is the one for me from now on.
I have some experience with leather cut-out saddles, as I've owned three Selle An-Atomica versions. The Selle is very comfortable and compliant, but the Brooks Imperial is less expensive, and provides a firmer feel while still providing the benefits of the cutout. This was my first Brooks saddle purchase. The perineal cutout seemed perfectly sized and positioned for me, but the saddle feels fairly wide for my sit bones, I think I might try a B17 Narrow Imperil, if I have occasion to purchase another Brooks saddle in the future. The best part of the B17 Imperial was the absolute lack of any painful/uncomfortable break-in period so often associated with Brooks saddles.
What is there to say about this saddle that hasn't been said before? It's the standard for bicycle enthusiasts, and those who want a classic handsome saddle for their vintage beasts. Many people worry about the break in period, I havent found it to be too bad of an issue (that said I havent taken a brand new saddle out on a big tour)
People also go back and forth about the difference the cut out makes on the imperial makes. I own two B17 standards and two B17 Imperials. The difference is indistinguishable. If you wanna save a few bucks, get the standard. If you must have chrome rails, or like the look of the cut out, get the imperial.
Have known about Brooks Saddles since I was 15, finally bought one at 36. Had to try the modern styles out only to realize that there was a reason seasoned touring riders swear by them. I do wish they sold a Cutout saddles w Springs on the frame. I'm stoked to another 1000 mile jaunt!