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.
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.
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.
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.
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 !