I have had this saddle for several months now, ever since it was first introduced by Brooks. I purchased one of the original allotment of 500 that were released. I am not going to do the type of typical product review that you often get with new products. Instead, my assessment will be an ongoing test over a period of time and not just a quick first impression. All too often you can buy a product that you like and think will work well for you only to discover through time and use, its flaws or shortcomings.
My initial impression of this saddle are that it appears to be well made and is very attractive. The quality of the materials and its finish are first-rate. At 415 grams it is just slightly heavier than a Brooks Swift Ti (390g) which makes it a fairly lightweight saddle. The version I have (pictured above) is a special edition model and newer versions will be offered in other colors. Brooks seems to be expanding it’s line of non-leather offerings.
Early road tests have been somewhat limited due to the onset of winter, but as weather permits I will contribute ongoing reviews. The test bike is a new Rawland Nordavinden which is set up as a gravel grinder. It is a bike capable of handling a wide variety of roads and conditions. It should be a good platform to test this saddle on.
The few hundred miles I have put on the saddle so far have been good but not particularly revealing. The rides have mostly been short and in colder weather. The saddle sits nicely and does not appear as though it needs a break-in period but it is not as comfortable as my Brooks Swift or B-17. Shorter rides in colder weather are probably not the best conditions for saddle testing however. I hope to get a longer ride in on it soon!
Okay, I had my first extended ride on the Cambium at the Gila Monster 300 km brevet in Arizona (ride report here). My impressions from that ride are that the saddle was just okay, neither bad nor outstanding. Hardly a definitive statement I know. It was good for a newer saddle but was definitely not as comfortable (for me) as the many leather Brooks saddles I have. I originally assumed that a synthetic saddle would not need much of a “break-in” period, but now I am hoping that a little “break-in” will help this saddle. At this point for me, a conclusion is not possible. Clearly, only more testing will identify this saddle strengths or weaknesses.
I once again used this saddle on an extended event, this time the El Camino Double Century (ride report here) in southern California. I can say pretty conclusively at this point that I do prefer most of my broken in leather saddles (Brooks B-17, Professional and Swift) to this saddle. I like it overall but it seems that it is a very stable saddle, it simply does not change (or improve) with use. If it is a saddle that you like at first then it should stay that way. But, if you find it less than comfortable in your first use then it is not going to get any better.
After more use on a variety of small rides and events (totaling over 1000 miles over a couple of years) I can tell you that I still like this saddle, but it is not my favorite saddle. On the plus side it is durable and weatherproof, reasonably light weight, has a nice look and is well made. On the negative side it simply is not as comfortable as a well cared for leather saddle. I have also seen examples on other Cambium saddles (not my own) of surface wear that created a very slick surface once that impregnated cotton material was abraded away. This was on the saddle of a touring cyclist that came through my town last year. He had perhaps 5000 miles on that Cambium and it appeared to have worn excessively. This cyclist often rode in clothing other than cycling shorts which may have accelerated the wear, but the result was not good.
I think the qualities and characteristics of this saddle have been pretty well revealed to me by now. I do not expect to discover anything new or telling about the saddle at this point. The way that the saddle sits when it is new will not change much, with the exception of abrasion to the surface. This may result, after several thousand miles of use, in a slippery seating surface. Brooks may address this in future models but in the early generations of these saddles, surface wear is an issue. If you have not been satisfied with leather saddles that you have used in the past then this might be an option for you. But, if you have had good luck with traditional leather saddles then I think you will find that this saddle may not quite meet your expectations. Traditional or modern, that is essentially the question. Which one are you?