We ride and stock Brooks saddles almost exclusively. Year after year since the 19th century, those who spend the most time on their bikes reiterate that Brooks saddles are the most comfortable available. We offer a one year happiness guarantee on all Brooks saddles. If you don't like it for any reason, return it and we'll offer a refund for 30 days, and store credit for a full year.
If you rap your knuckles on a new Brooks leather saddle, it seems hard, though not as hard as the most comfortable wooden chair or park bench you’ve never complained about. But that’s not how your sit bones interface with a saddle. Press your knuckles hard into the saddle as if bearing much of your body weight: that’s more accurate. It should give quite a lot, be compliant, not hard. In fact, it should give enough that padding would be superfluous, like a cool comfy hammock.
What’s wrong with padding in a saddle as opposed to a seat/sofa? 3 things. 1. Padding traps heat, an insulator. Whether foam or gel, fleece or batting, you could make an oven mitt or toasty hat out of the same stuff. Now remember that you’re working, maybe even hard, maybe getting hot and sweaty. The last thing you need is an oven mitt wedged into your crotch. 2. When you sink into the padding, the padding sinks into you. That’s right: when your sit bones — 2 dime-sized points evolved over millions of years to support a primate’s weight comfortably squatting on the hard ground or a log or rock or whatever — when those proud bones sink down into that hot squishy gel or other "comfort saddle” gimmick, that junk presses up into the adjacent tender tissue, where it impairs circulation, compresses nerves, and leaves sweat no place to go as the pumping legs knead it all over hours into a throbbing hot mess of pain and regret and feelings of inadequacy.
And every spring, new bikers come into bike shops complaining that their parts hurt, so obviously they need to buy a saddle with MORE PADDING, even wider to CHAFE MORE. And some cynical ones keep selling it to them, a trap. Oh and 3.: padding breaks down over time, limiting the life of the saddle. Many kinds trap water (and sweat) leading to wet pants and bad smells. Traditional unpadded leather saddles last decades of daily use with care, getting more and more comfortable like leather boots with scuffs rubbing out into a beautiful patina.