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Old 06-10-09, 01:46 AM   #1
johnknappcc
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Buying a used Brooks B-17, What to Look For?

I'm meeting someone to purchase a Brooks B-17 tomorrow. I'm excited since I think it will go nice with my vintage touring bike.

From the pictures it looks great, and the owner says there isn't a lot of use on it.

I know nothing about Brooks, but it seems like everyone around here says its the "s**t". For the price, I'm willing to give it a go.

I'm not liking my new InformRL saddle . . . no matter how I adjust.

What should I be looking for? What is the purpose of the tension rod? Are these really that nice? The painted rails, etc, don't bother me.

Given that fit is a personal thing, I loved my old saddle (San Marco Suede) it just didn't stand up.
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Old 06-10-09, 04:21 AM   #2
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The condition of the leather is everything. Dried-out, cracked, flakey, mouldy, or sagging leather is to be avoided. If it's firm and relatively smooth, then it's OK. Check around the rivets - if it's cracking there, then it's going to fail. The underside of the leather should have a clean suede-ish appearance, but smell of leather (not dirt or mould) and also be firm. Don't worry so much about scuffs or spots where the finish is worn - those are healthy signs of aging.
The frame shouldn't be bent or more than a little rusty. It's not nearly as important as the leather though.
The tension bolt is turned when the leather softens up and starts to sag. Eventually, the leather would come ito contact with the top of your seatpost and quickly wear it away if you didn't tighten it up to compensate. This takes a long time to occur though, so the general rule with tensioning is "very little, not very often".
I use my B17 on a daily commuter and am happy with it. I prefer flat-topped saddles anyway, and the "hammock-flex" makes it more comfortable than you'd think. That said, some break-in time is needed to make it not feel like a 2x4. Proofide it every 6 months, keep it clean and relatively dry (my fenders stay on year-round) and you'll grow to love it.
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Old 06-10-09, 10:21 AM   #3
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What McFlux said.

Quote:
Originally Posted by johnknappcc View Post
. . .owner says there isn't a lot of use on it. . . .
Make sure that's true to the extent that the changes wrought by the previous owner's sit bones have had minimal effect. I've seen this happen pretty quickly. One of the charms of Brooks is they take on a mirror image of their owner's nether regions.
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Old 06-10-09, 10:44 AM   #4
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McFlux is pretty much correct...
It is much better to find one that is too new (firm, hard) than too old (overstretched, very saggy). It is pretty commmon for folks to give up on a relatively new B-17 because of the time it takes to break them in. You want one of those. Be sure the saddle hasn't been over soaked with any kind of oil, neatsfoot etc., in an attempt to break it in rapidly. Some oil is okay, but too much is suspect.
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Old 06-10-09, 10:45 AM   #5
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What McFlux said.


+2



Make sure that's true to the extent that the changes wrought by the previous owner's sit bones have had minimal effect. I've seen this happen pretty quickly. One of the charms of Brooks is they take on a mirror image of their owner's nether regions.

Just check that the leather is in good shape and not dried or moldy.
you'll need to get a tensioning wrench that is specific for Brooks saddle - BUT do not tighten it yet! read what Sheldon says about leather saddles.
http://sheldonbrown.com/leather.html
If you treat it right it will last for years.
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Old 06-10-09, 12:26 PM   #6
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Picked it up, and it is still very stiff, doesn't look like it has formed to any particular "parts" yet, but I'll know when I mount it later today.

As far as McFlux said, it checks out on everything, including the suede-ish appearance, and good leather smell.

45 for a lightly used Brooks, seems pretty reasonable around these parts.
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Old 06-10-09, 12:42 PM   #7
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A real good price around here! Where did you find it?
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Old 06-10-09, 02:39 PM   #8
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I'm glad that I bought a new one when they were still going for $60 a few years ago.
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Old 06-10-09, 04:11 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by cbchess View Post
Just check that the leather is in good shape and not dried or moldy.
you'll need to get a tensioning wrench that is specific for Brooks saddle - BUT do not tighten it yet! read what Sheldon says about leather saddles.
http://sheldonbrown.com/leather.html
If you treat it right it will last for years.
Read what Sheldon says about tightening, but not everyone including Brooks agrees on what he says about assisting the break-in.

I don't like saddles that have depressions where the previous owner's sit bones are, and a resulting ridge down the middle. I've never found I could acclimate to that, having bought a few used ones in the past.
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Old 06-11-09, 12:51 AM   #10
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A real good price around here! Where did you find it?
CL, after I was about 20 minutes late to check CL to find a Giant (whatever their entry level bike is) 56cm offered for free (the person lived in my neighborhood), I keep the RSS feeds and check CL around every 5-10 minutes. Its pretty quick to only look at the new listings.

It's amazing how quick this stuff goes (when priced reasonably) . . .
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Old 06-11-09, 07:31 AM   #11
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I have 5 bikes, all with Brooks B-17s and I will never ride anything else. The break in period is not that bad so be patient and you will love the results. FYI, the best buy today on the B-17 is BikeIsland at $72 delivered for the black. I have never used the "soak" method and I have never regretted taking the time to break it in. The only thing to watch for is the transfer to the oil/wax to the backside of your shorts. I use an old pair that has already absorbed the stains.
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