The Brooks B5N is very similar in shape to the current B17N model (N = Narrow ) and was apparently fitted as OEM equipment to various road bikes of the 1970s. It has slightly thinner leather than is usual for Brooks saddles, perhaps as a result of the company’s attempt to compete with the cheaper plastic saddles of the day.
This one is in decent shape, though it had some cracking along the row of side holes that I’ve tried to fix with a little glue. I’ve added red laces to match the bike that it’s currently on ( without them being done up too tightly ) and some leather conditioner has been applied, as the leather was pretty dry. The adjustment bolt has hardly been used, so there is plenty of tensioning life left.
The code ‘A78’ is stamped on the cantle plate to indicate first quarter 1978 manufacture. Unfortunately the rear badge seems to be made of plastic and the lettering has worn off leaving only a faint impression.
There is some surface rust on the frame and rivets which I’m carefully attempting to physically remove. The top leather surface has a pleasantly dimpled texture much like the current B66/67 family of sprung roadster saddles and it has hangers for a saddle bag.
I’m a bit of a fan of the ‘narrow’ saddles as they suit the ‘moderately leaned forward’ riding position that many of my bikes have. For those unfamiliar with the various Brooks saddles I would recommend the wide-ish B17 Standard or sprung Flyer where the bars are level with the saddle or only a little lower. The Narrow saddles have an advantage when used with lower drops, though for the most pedalling freedom, the B15 Swallow ( for light-ish riders ), or the Swift and Team Professional models have narrower noses and less leg interference than the ‘N’ models and may suit Brooks riders and bikes with more aggressive riding styles.
I’ve temporarily fitted the B5N to my 80s Vectre 58cm steel road bike, to see how it rides …
Don’t forget the Newcastle Vintage Tweed Ride on Sunday 28/08/16 – meet at Islington Park at 0930 hours.
And Happy Re-cycling !