Meeting Point

A post on saddles – why saddles? They are one of the three (or four, depending on how you count the handlebars) points of contact between rider and bike, and arguably the one people spend most time on thinking about the perfect solution for their needs.

Riders certainly did in past decades, as there were a great number of really wonderful saddles. Having collected bikes for the past 30+ years, I was lucky enough to find nice specimens several times. I´m still not a member of Ebay, so the saddles shown here are real barn finds, if you include specimens from shut down bike shops and so on.

There are a number of great Brooks resources on the net, among them Kurt Kaminer´s website, the Vintage Trek site and Hilary Stone´s article on Classiclightweights, so there´s no need for any groundbreaking research. I´ll just present the nicer stuff from my boxes.

OK, here we go. Lets start with a stunning example of how little or large saddles can be.

littlnlarg

Both are Brooks, one is a

903side

and the other must be one of the littlest ever made by Brooks, a

15Flyerside

The B90/3 came off a wrecked nondescript Dutch roadster, and one wonders what things have come to if you need an endorsement on a Brooks that it has been made with “real leather”. The B15 was bought new, used and passed on to me by the late Ron Sant. It dates from 1961, third quarter, if I read the letter above the number on the cantle plate correctly. It was meant for track use, and Ron could tell many a story from Manchester tracks. In a way I feel honoured to have been trusted with this saddle.

15Flyermarks

It also shows some rubber stamp imprints the meaning of which I have not been able to decypher.

15Flyerstamps

A comparison between two price points: Firstly there´s an unused 1960 B15 Swallow, and next its more expensive counterpart, also NOS, or thereabouts.

15Swalltop

The underside of this saddle shows the missing patent number plate, and the saddle leather not having been peened over. Chrome´s nice, though.

15Swallbottom

15Swallmark

This saddle should date from the second quarter of 1960. It still has the rivets inside the saddle bag loops that were there to increase saddle bag strap life.

Swallfull

So this is the pricier one. It´s also some years earlier – pre-1958 as there is no date stamp in the cantle plate. The sausage-shaped leather stamp looks rather old-fashioned, too.

Swalltop

The leather is darker brown in reality than on this photo. This is what it looks like on the underside:

Swallbottom

The leather on the sides of the saddle, where it has been “cut away” for freer leg movement, has first been split in half and then sown back – very nice. Also there´s the famous patent number plate serving to hold the sides together – OEM stitching. The saddle even has its original 65 Shilling price tag. Lot of money for a saddle, Lycett´s and other lesser Brooks brands sold for half that.

Swalltag

One really nice saddle which I got from a closing down wholesaler about 17 years ago is this Idéale. OK, it´s not the coveted alloy rail model, but still.

Idside

It has a serial number on the badge,

Idnamepl

and all rivets are stamped with the maker´s name.

Idrivet

The most intriguing thing about it, though, is the little folder which came with it.

Idheftvorn

Of course the illustration shows the most expensive saddle of the line, but if you look closely you´ll see that the 51 is there, too. Besides, there´s no doubt that the folder belongs to the saddle as the serial number is quoted in the document.

Idheftmitte

The only saddle I have I know the day it was made on. And on the back cover I learned who to ask if there´s ever a problem.

Idhefthinten

Now some Brooks saddles in use on my bikes.

ProEB

There´s the 1973 Pro on my 1976 Ellis-Briggs. The saddle came out of a Dutch cycle shop being closed down. My son and I were returning from a 2CV meet in Holland when we saw this shop, the contents of which had been emptied into the street, and everything went for 2.50 Euros per item. This was in the early days of the Euro, and I guess people were still reckoning in Guilders – it would have been 5, a rounder figure.

17Mercian

This is the B17 Standard I bought in Ashton-under-Lyne in the winter of 1984/5 when I worked in the Manchester area. It was really cheap, 11 Pounds, and the shop owner said it was a seconds. All those years of polishing have not made it easier to photograph, but you can still see some scars in the leather right in front of the first and hole up the nose, running from South West to North East. The scars have done no harm, and the number of miles I covered on the saddle I can´t keep count of. Eleven quid well spent.

CloegrEB

Lastly the saddle Tony Colegrave made for me some years ago. It´s not a restored Brooks, but a Swallow made on the rails of a B17 Standard, because I wanted the Swallow design (leg clearance), with the width of the B17 Standard. Tony warned a ridge might form over time, but roughly 10.000km later it´s still ok.

There´s some more interesting saddles on my bikes, and I hope to edit this post to add more snaps when I have the time.

BTW, it seems my blog has a number of readers more than I knew.

Bildschirmfoto 2013-01-25 um 18.49.07

Don´t believe a word of what it says in the ad, at least not that the blog has hundreds of thousands of visitors.

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