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Archive for the ‘brooks bicycle saddles’ Category

the beezer, pretty much completed

This has been a bit of an exercise in ‘period’ upgrading, without unnecessarily over-capitalising the bike. The way I mostly save on expenses is to do all the work myself, to avoid labour costs.  Not only that, but it’s more satisfying, especially when building up your own wheels.

Apart from consumables – chains, cables, tyres, bar tape, bearings, brake pads – I also try and use as many recycled components as I reasonably can.

the drive-line

The new bottom bracket cartridge turns in easily on the re-tapped threads, but it tightens up well. A Genetic brand 110.5 mm axle was about right for chain line.

I’ve chosen a set of Sugino Mighty cranks in the unusual 171mm length – the original (?) drillium inner ring was worn, but I salvaged a pair of rings in 144bcd from my Ofmega CX cranks as I can no longer use these without a good Ofmega or Avocet spindle. Apparently they ( Ofmega ) are incompatible with JIS or ISO tapered spindles..

144 b.c.d. is an old ‘bolt circle diameter’, and these rings can be hard to find in 3/16″ derailleur versions, though there are plenty still being made for 1/4″ track chains. Their down-side, in the modern world, is a minimum useable chainwheel size of around 42T.

1979 b17 narrow

The fork was refitted with new 5/32″ bearings in the original headset. For lightness and reliability I’m using a Shimano 500 rear derailleur, salvaged from a hard rubbish bike and a Shimano 600 front derailleur – with the Shimano band on down tube shifters from an old Bennett. The original 25.4mm seat pin was a bit short so I fitted a longer version of the same. The saddle is a 1979 Brooks B17 narrow.

The stem is a Soma Sutro 80mm with 25.4 bar clamp and a set of Charge classic drop bars.

Brake levers are 1st generation Dura-Ace, which look similar to my drilled 600 ‘Arabesque levers’ ( these, and those, are the nicest shaped non-aero levers I’ve used ).

The Weinmann centre pull brakes would have both been retained, with new pads fitted – except that the front one wasn’t long enough to reach the new 700C wheel and so had to be replaced with a period Dia-Compe.

The rear brake had longer reach so was re-used. These centre pull brakes have a slightly spongey feel to them compared with modern dual pivot brakes – steady does it.

weinmann/alesa concave 700c – they are tough !

The original Sturmey Archer hubs have been re-laced into Weinmann / Alesa concave 700C rims to allow a decent choice of tyres, and the freewheel is a Shimano Z-series 14-24T,  5-speed cluster. The bike’s reduced weight will hopefully compensate for the 52/42T chain set and should work pretty well for me, although it is a bit higher than the original 49/40T. I couldn’t get a 28T freewheel to clear the derailleur for some reason.

The tyres are Tufo ‘tubular clinchers’ in 700 x 25C – a tight fit on these rims. I’ve grown fond of Tufos, they are well made, light, and they also ride, corner and grip quite well. Removable presta valves allow the use of sealant if punctured.

Now it’s a matter of refitting the original stainless steel mudguards, fitting the chain, cables and bar tape, and a lot of adjusting and tweaking … woohoo — I can’t wait to take it for a spin !

 

P.S.  Here’s a list of the original parts – if any one happens to be restoring one back to original ( most are not in these photos ) :

Bars : Steel drops 25.4mm unbranded

Stem : Steel quill 1″- no branding.

Headset : 1″ loose ball 5/32″ 26t.p.i threading.

Chainset : Raleigh 49x40T cottered, steel. 26t.p.i. bottom bracket threading.

Freewheel : Atom 77,  14-25T 5-speed cluster

Derailleurs : Raleigh branded – made by Huret  rear with 26 & 28T options.

Brakes : Centrepull alloy —- Front : Raleigh/Weinmann 610 — Rear : Raleigh/Weinmann 750, Weinmann alloy levers with Dia-Compe ‘safeties’

Rims : Rigida Chrolux 27x 1 & 1/4″ HP steel 36H 3-cross spoking

Hubs : Sturmey Archer high flange steel 36H

Shifters : Raleigh, down-tube, band-on ( Huret again )

Stainless steel mud guards fitted – as in these photos.

Pedals : Raleigh 717, rat-trap steel as in these photos

Saddle and bar tape ( ? ) – non-original…steel seat pin 25.4mm.

 

 

Until next time – happy re-cycling !

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all-terrain

‘all-terrain’

I like collecting Brooks saddles – I don’t know why, but I think it has to do with their tradition, comfort, beauty and utility – and I love to swap them from bike to bike until I find the right balance of style and comfort.

L.A.84 Malvern Star

the L.A.84 Malvern Star ‘singlespeed’

This re-introduced Brooks ‘Conquest’ saddle is basically a sportier version of the B17 Flyer, with a ‘Team Pro’ leather top instead of the wider touring B17 top. The Team Pro is becoming one of my favourite Brooks models, now that I’ve become used to its initial stiffness. These saddles allow free pedalling and retain their shape really well over time.

it's spring time !

it’s spring time !

The Conquest has the skived lower leather edges and hand-hammered copper rivets of the better Team Pro models. Interestingly, the rivets are different to my other copper riveted Team Pro saddle, being smaller and slightly less flush with the saddle top. I thought that this was a ‘new’ thing, but a look at the Velobase site shows that the same rivets are on the original 1990s models.

the 'team pro' top

the ‘team pro’ top ( & drillium )

I’ve fitted the Conquest saddle to my Malvern Star L.A.84 single speed and it does a great job of damping the rough road shocks that were occasionally quite jarring. The down-sides include about 300g of extra weight and a bouncing or twisting tendency when spinning the pedals fast. This motion will vary according to how heavy the rider is as well as with the particular cadence and gearing employed.

At medium cadences it feels almost like an unsprung Brooks, but the improved comfort on sharp bumps is always noticeable.

I think the benefits are worth any of these trade offs, and in this case, it’s a lot less bouncy than my Flyer models, though it will also squeak a little bit when pedalling hard. I’m trying to locate the exact source of noise so I can neutralise it. The Conquest also seems to only be available in black, which may not suit all bikes.

It’s very appropriate for long distances and rough roads, as the ‘all terrain’ stamp suggests, and works best on a bike with a semi leaned forward riding position – for more upright roadster style bikes I would stick with the B17 Flyer or the B66 / B67 family of sprung saddles. For those with really sporty steel bikes I would look toward the unsprung models – Team Pro, Swift, Swallow etc.

L.A.84

L.A.84

Although by this bike’s era (1984, of course ) Malvern Stars no longer had Australian made frames, the L.A.84 ( an ex-12 speed } is still one of my favourite bikes. Although it’s not the lightest thing around, it fits me really well and feels solid, with the handling being steady and stable and it passes the ‘no hands’ test with flying colours. It’s a great town bike for when the hills are modest and the streets are rough, and I couldn’t now imagine it as anything other than a singlespeed.

Since I last posted about it I’ve also changed the gearing to 45 x 18T ( from 48 x 18T ) which is now pretty spot-on for my needs with the 27″ wheels. Those Speedplay Drillium pedals are the best flat pedals I’ve ever used – thanks to the slightly concave spiked ‘flats’ that grip the soles so well – and also because they have no fatiguing bulges around the axles like some other flat pedals.

It’s approaching some tiny kind of perfection, yet I never rule out further improvements to this, or any bike…

Happy Re-cycling !

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it must be spring..

it must be spring..

This is a partial rethink of the ” Almost Forgotten ” 3-speed bike of a few posts back. I’ve now refitted it with different drop bars – these are “PureFix” brand 25.4mm in alloy, with a more anatomic bend than I’m used to. Although a bit narrow ( approx 39cm ), they are a definite improvement in comfort over the previous bars, and the new Ritchey Classic bar tape absorbs some jarring of the hands and arms, thanks to its extra thickness. The levers are comfortable from the drops but would be improved with some rubber hoods for cushioning when riding with my hands on the tops.

@ belmont bay

@ belmont bay

I’ve changed the front hub to a low flange model and I think it better suits this bike. The rims are now a matching pair of Ukai 27×1″. The non-original fork on this frame has made the handling more ‘up-to-date’, at the expense of some comfort when compared with the more laid-back (missing) originals, and I think that’s partly why I had the pain problems I noted last time.

e-ne

e-ne bell stops bar-room brawls … small bike, tall stem 

The new bell is a Crane E-Ne ( ‘eenay’ ) which can be used horizontally or vertically. It has the typical rich Crane sustain, but in a smaller size. The clever little strap mount tightens with a single hex key and needs very little bar room.

The classic Brooks B17 Narrow saddle has better bag mounts than modern versions, in that they are thicker and more rounded, and so less likely to cut through the leather straps over time. The rivets are polishing up nicely with use, and it’s already comfortably pre-aged !

no year code on this one !

no year code on this one !

The Speedwell Special Sports frames aren’t as lightweight as the Flash’s, but the lighter wheels and components on this one help me to move it along at a reasonable pace, and the 3-speed hub is more versatile than the 2-speed kick back coasters that I’ve used on some of the other Speedwell bikes.

Happy Re-cycling !

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brooks b5n

brooks b5n

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.

nicely aged

nicely aged

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.

38 yrs old

38 yrs old

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.

nearly gone..

nearly gone..

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.

they haven't changed much..

they haven’t changed much..

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.

tweedy cruiser with mangroves

tweedy cruiser with mangroves..

And Happy Re-cycling !

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IMG_3214

“The racing cyclist, on the other hand, uses a light small perch which acts as a fulcrum for his efforts…a mere positioning knob, as it were, to keep him centrally secure on the machine. ”

(Extract from “The Art of Easy Cycling” 1946 by F.J. Urry).

it makes the current b17 'narrow' look like a new mini vs an old mini !

it makes the current b17 ‘narrow’ look like a new mini vs. an old mini !

Those words came to mind when I first saw this saddle, and the conundrum here is why the saddle has hangers for a saddle bag, since it was seemingly designed for short distance racing events !

Never mind, because it is a very charming saddle anyway and the frame and hangers are of a good quality, although it’s certainly not light for its size and intended purpose.

so narrow !

so narrow !

But it’s still in fine shape for 56 years old – and it will probably last another 56 if properly cared for, though it does have one broken rivet at the back …

"genuine leather - made in england" on the top

“genuine leather – made in england” on the top

And how do I know it’s a 1960 model ? Well a little research tells me that after Brooks was purchased by Raleigh in late 1958 (and perhaps up to around 1990), they stamped a code on the metal cantle plate at the back of the saddle underside. It has a 3 month letter (A,B,C or D) and the last 2 of the year digits, hence D60 is Oct-Dec 1960 …. easy !

you might just make out the D60 at the centre of the back plate

you might just make out the ‘D60’ at the centre of the back plate

This model had been introduced to the Brooks line-up from 1925, with a few detail changes along the way, of course – and even a current re-release (though quite dissimilar to this one).

The numbers stamped on the leather underneath saddles of this era are apparently batch codes and have little or no relevance to the date of manufacture.

again compared with a modern b17 'narrow'

again compared with a modern b17 ‘narrow’

This saddle generates an almost irresistible urge to put it on a bike and see how it rides, but methinks secretly …

“Ouch, I’ll bet it hurts ! ”

I’ll soon find out …

See Ya !

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commuting - newcastle street art

commuting – newcastle street art

This is my one and only ‘road MTB’, a 1990s Giant Boulder 550. I’ll be frank, I like it mostly because it has a classic horizontal top tube, a nice purple single-colour paint job ( even if a little worse for wear now ), and while being too big for me as a mountain bike it’s an ideal size for the road with a 60cm C-C seat tube and a 59cm top tube.

the non-drive side

the non-drive side

The actual seat tube is almost 63cm C-T which means that I can run the saddle and bar tops almost level with each other for comfort, and I have a good reach with just an 80mm stem. The lack of stand-over height doesn’t concern me here, I can touch the ground with one toe from the saddle and I tend to ride cautiously in stop/start environments anyway.

From the previous rebuild I have retained the Panaracer Ribmo 26 x 1.75 tyres and Tektro RL520 V-Brake drop bar levers. The RiBMo tyres are tough and fairly heavy, being peaked in the centre with a thick layer to help against punctures, and so they ride on a narrower footprint when vertical and a wider one when leaned over.

After some riding, I felt that my last build wasn’t quite right, and it has taken a little time and the right parts to figure out the improvements. It might be noted again that this frame was found as hard rubbish, with no wheels or seat post. The only original bits are the frame, the fork, and ( now no longer ) the rear Acera-x derailleur. The original cantilever brakes I had long since replaced with the more efficient V-brakes and the riser stem and flat bars disappeared with them.

This latest version’s adds are :

suzue promax 36h

suzue promax 36h

A new Suzue Promax 36H front track hub – it has very smooth bearings, solid high flanges, and is really good looking with its opaline decoration. Rear hub is a recycled Joytech – it’s one of their better ones for thread-on freewheels, but they have made some junk also … Rims are Sun MC18, also recycled, with 2mm plain spokes.

Recycled Winpista alloy bars 41cm c-c with black KT leather tape and SR 80mm stem. Wider bars wouldn’t really suit here as there is plenty of leverage with this frame geometry.

sakae custom 52/36

sakae custom 52/36 double

The major change though has been the chain set – the triple ring 48-38-28 has been replaced by a recycled Sakae (SR) Custom 52/36 compact chainset. Although it only has swaged on cranks and a non-replaceable ‘big ring’ this is a much simpler and lighter rig. The old 48T big ring was too low for the 6-speed (14-16-18 -20-24-28T) freewheel cluster, at least for the lower overall ‘geared’ 26″ wheels . 52T is much better on the flat or down hill with the 14,16 or 18 cogs. The 36T small ring is a bit low when the going is easy, but great on slight inclines or strong headwinds at 36 x 16T or lower. I would like a 13T small cog on this, perhaps as a 7-speed, as the 52 x 14 is only just high enough for downhills, but I don’t want to lose the 28T low gear. ( Note – I have since fitted a 7-speed cluster 13-28T and changed to friction shifters and that has improved things greatly when in the small ring ).

Compact chainsets seem to do better with a large range of rear cogs to avoid having two nearly completely different sets of ratios. This avoids excessive shifting between the front rings which was happening here while running as a 6-speed.

For a moderately fit person the 36 x 28T will climb up a decent hill without trouble, while eliminating some of the weight and complexity of the triple.
Bottom bracket is now a Gist 110mm sealed square taper to suit the new chain set.

This model MTB originally came with a micro-drive triple chainset ( 38-32-24 – tiny rings ) and an unusual front derailleur that was integrated with the BB and cable operated from above. It did take some fiddling to fit replacements as the original chain set was worn out. At least the seat tube wasn’t oversize for a standard band-on derailleur but the cable had to be run in an outer, which is cable tied on to the down tube. The 16 tooth up-change from the 36 to 52 rings took a degree of care and was a bit clunky compared with, say, a 42/52T – as one would expect.

I swapped a to a better ‘recycled’ Shimano front derailleur and fitted a new Tourney ( basic ) rear derailleur and some new Jagwire gear cables to try and improve the shift. Along with the smoother friction shifters this has been successful.

great levers

great levers

I have settled on stem shifters as I’m not fond of the original revo-shifters which don’t fit on drop bars anyway. Down tube shifters would be miles away on this frame, and there are no bosses either. Band on fittings would not even fit on the thick tapering down tube.

Only bar-end or stem shifters would work for me here so I have gone with the easy option – and I have plenty of salvaged friction stem shifters to choose from. I find the subtle fine tuning of friction shifters can be an enjoyable challenge, mostly !

The Tektro RL520 levers work really well and are very cosy in the hands. Saddle is a Brooks B17 special “copper” on a 25.8mm Kalloy post. If the bars were lower I would use a narrower model saddle as the B17 really is a touring saddle – naturally, it works fine here.

B17 special - 'copper'

B17 special –
‘copper’

The Brooks small ‘Isle of Wight’ saddle bag  ( above ) is quite discreet and well thought out. My only minor niggle is that it’s possible that the neat toe strap front fitting could scratch an alloy seat post.

The Giant’s small wheels give it a light and quick low speed steering, yet the laid back geometry and longish wheelbase mean that overall direction changes are fairly slow.

It’s arguably the most comfortable of all my bikes ( except the Gazelle Toer Populair ) and it is very versatile. The main frame is 4130 cro-mo but it is still pretty heavy, partly I guess because it’s such a large frame – along with the weight of the wide tyres etc. I notice the weight on hills and when accelerating out of corners, mostly. The small wheels allow a very gentle side to side rocking motion when pressing on ( compared to 700C ) but are quite stable at speed, and very much so through rough corners.

Also, for such a large frame it is very flex free at the front end compared with my road bikes, perhaps because of the wider top and down tubes. These tubes appear to be ‘butted’ on the outside as they are quite noticeably thicker on each end where they form a frame joint.

I can’t exactly tell you what it weighs but it compares reasonably to some modern ‘retro’ steel framed tourers I have lifted up in the shops, though it’s very much heavier than a good steel road bike. To make it significantly lighter than it is now however would cost too much, or possibly reduce the ride quality.

one of my fave 'bike shot' trees

one of my fave ‘bike shot’ trees

I present it here again as an improved example of converting an MTB to a touring style bike, though for my taste only the classic ‘rigid’ mountain bikes have the appropriate good looks to be worth putting this much effort into. Modern MTBs with suspension forks and crazy graphics wouldn’t work as well aesthetically, at least in my opinion.

I guess this bike is nothing special either in appearance or rarity, but it does do many things very well.

Not as quick as a road bike, but its stability, rough road ability and sure-footedness are a joy. On a recent dark and rainy commute home I was only 8 minutes slower over the c.26km than on the previous dry night in spite of taking things much easier, and that surprised me !

Steady as she goes —- and happy Re-cycling !

shot on the morning commute

shot on the morning commute

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