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Old 10-05-09, 04:15 PM   #1
jimn
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Brooks Mattress Saddle restoration

Hi,

My mid-60s Raleigh Sports features a Brooks mattress saddle - vinyl cover, metal frame with horizontal springs, the whole thing sitting on two more vertical springs.

This type of thing.

Between the horizontal springs and the vinyl cover of the saddle is a thin board material of some sort, which ideally would have given the saddle some stiffness. This board has become soft (I've had this happen on three of these saddles) and the whole saddle is becoming uncomfortable.

Has anyone figured out a way to replace that board, or any other good way to spruce up one of these original Brooks saddles? They're quite comfortable when they work properly.

Thanks,
Jim
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Old 10-05-09, 04:23 PM   #2
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Hmmm, well... most of the other mattress saddles I have ridden have consisted of 3 layers: Vinyl top, horse hair or hair of some type??, and springs. I would figure that your saddle should be a-ok without the board underneath. That may not be entirely accurate... I am a bit drunk at the moment....
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Old 10-05-09, 06:14 PM   #3
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Hmmm, well... most of the other mattress saddles I have ridden have consisted of 3 layers: Vinyl top, horse hair or hair of some type??, and springs. I would figure that your saddle should be a-ok without the board underneath. That may not be entirely accurate... I am a bit drunk at the moment....
I wonder how many times I've taken advice from someone on these boards without knowing that they were drunk.
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Old 10-05-09, 07:02 PM   #4
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I love my Brook's B66! Most comfortable saddle I've ever had on a upright 3-speed machine.
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Old 10-05-09, 07:33 PM   #5
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I wonder how many times I've taken advice from someone on these boards without knowing that they were drunk.
haha... many many times I am sure. Fortunately, I don't drink very often.
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Old 10-05-09, 08:03 PM   #6
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Some of them had sheet of pasteboard, others a thin layer of plastic sheet. I have never bothered to rebuild one, I just keep a few around and when one goes bad it gets tossed in a box and swapped for one in better shape. I only use them on my beater bike(s). My good Raleighs get the Brooks saddles, usually a B66.

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Old 10-06-09, 08:48 AM   #7
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The original saddle for this bike would be the mattress saddle, and a leather saddle is a bad choice for me for a number of reasons. First, I don't want to put a $100 (or more) saddle on a bike that gets locked outdoors all the time. Second, I don't want to worry about maintaining the leather in rain, slow, etc., and finally, I don't really like the way those saddles look. These days people are sticking bits of leather on anything more than 10 years old, going for some sort of imagined authentic look.

Maybe I should stock up on these things before people start wanting them again.

Mine must be the one with the pasteboard. I will look in to getting some material and cutting it to size. Maybe a thick plastic.
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Old 10-06-09, 10:00 AM   #8
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You may be able to find a saddle cover designed for this type of saddle. Not a modern padded one; those are made for something else. But the original covers on these saddles were designed to be replaced as necessary. I got an old Troxel one on ebay a couple years ago, and it's quite nice. With luck you can find good old name-brand saddle covers.

Try removing the cover without braking anything; you probably have to bend a couple of steel clips, and you may have to pop a couple rivets. Then the whole cover should come off. At that point you should be able to replace whatever needs replaced, including the whole thing.
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Old 10-07-09, 07:39 PM   #9
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...and finally, I don't really like the way those saddles look. These days people are sticking bits of leather on anything more than 10 years old, going for some sort of imagined authentic look.
To be fair, you're riding around on a bike that actually is 40+ years old. But I can get you on the aesthetics thing.

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Maybe I should stock up on these things before people start wanting them again.
I just don't see that happening.
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Old 10-08-09, 01:53 AM   #10
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You would be supprised what a "Good" motor trimmer can do !
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Old 10-08-09, 05:07 AM   #11
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Today's garbage is tomorrow's treasure...

Though I have little use for the old mattress saddle, I do believe that one day in the not too distant future they just might have some value. The interest in vintage bicycles is growing rapidly creating an increased demand on what is basically a fixed supply. Sooner or later, people will want to restore bicycles that did come fitted with the mattress saddle when attempting to complete accurate restorations.

Three or four years ago I would not go to the trouble of removing an old bell from a vintage bicycle. If I did have to remove the bell I simply tossed it away. Well, guess what? Some of these old bells now fetch twenty dollars an up. Who knows what they will sell for in a couple of years. Today, I tuck all vintage bells away as I believe that their value is on the rise. And, of equal importance, I recently mounted a vintage bell on one of my bikes. Again, something I would not have done a couple of years ago.

So, do not think that any of the old components on your most recent find are of little or no value. Tomorrow's market just might want what you threw away today. My opinion, of course.
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Old 10-08-09, 10:15 AM   #12
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I hear you.

The thing is, if you can get one in good shape, they are pretty comfortable. They just don't stay in good shape for too long, because the materials are so old.

Brooks should re-introduce those, with a flexible carbon-fiber board replacing the horsehair and pasteboard. After all, what is carbon fiber but the horsehair of today?
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Old 10-08-09, 11:48 AM   #13
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Gotta tagget already...

Actually, I have a couple of Brooks mattress saddles in The Old Shed, one white and one black. I am going to try each on a recently acquired Mercier. The first old Mercier I have found with cantilever brakes.
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