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Old 02-19-11, 07:45 PM   #1
lemondirgopie
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Reshaping an Old Beat-up Brooks Saddle Bag?

Hi! Just became the proud owner of a '69 Raleigh Ladies Sport, bought off of Ebay. It came with a large-ish black leather saddle bag (cloth-lined), that I assume is Brooks, though I could be wrong.
Right now it isn't in the best shape to hold things. It isn't particularly cracked (besides the straps, which have seen better days), it just can't hold its shape. I'm afraid that if I kept anything in it I would loose everything I put in. Despite this it is a pretty bag and I would love to use it rather than buying something new.

My question is: Is there any way to reshape this leather bag? Would leather conditioner help, or would that just make it worse? Any ideas?
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Old 02-19-11, 09:01 PM   #2
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Stuff it with balled up news paper. If you are worried about ink being transferred to the cloth lining, use the plastic bags you get at the grocery to put the paper in ahead of time. Then use conditioner on the leather, but before doing so, post some pictures so we can see what you are up against.

Welcome to C&V. Also post pictures of the bike!
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Old 02-19-11, 09:03 PM   #3
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I have used old plastic jug containers to reinforce old vinyl saddle bags. Cut what will fit around, and shape it with the use of a hair dryer. Make ends, that overlap underneath the piece that goes around, and that should help your bag keep its shape.

I have only done this once but the results seemed to work pretty well. I still have another saddle bag with just the jug cut and left round. I had to make the liner because I, somehow, lost the original one...
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Old 02-20-11, 09:08 AM   #4
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Flexible plastic cutting boards (mats?) from the dollar store make pretty good bag stiffeners.
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Old 02-20-11, 09:21 AM   #5
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Are you sure it's leather? I only ask because I picked up a '69 Ladies Sports last summer from a garage sale, original owner, and it had Brooks B-72 and Brooks bag, but the bag was vinyl. The bags had been leather for many years but somewhere in there they substituted vinyl...then of course they switched out the B-72 for a 'Brooks' vinyl mattress saddle.

Congratulations on the bike, by the way! You will get lots of friendly advice on care and feeding of it here, if needed. Though the focus of this forum tends to be vintage lightweight bikes, Raleigh Sports and their kin are rightly regarded as classics.

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Last edited by Chicago Al; 02-20-11 at 11:15 PM. Reason: oops, fixed where I had written 'leather' meaning vinyl...what a maroon!
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Old 02-20-11, 11:29 AM   #6
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Look up saddle bag supports as well. These allow you to carry some weight without tearing off the straps.
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Old 02-20-11, 12:19 PM   #7
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I'm with Chicago Al, in suspecting the bag is really a leatherette vinyl. Make sure there's a piece of steel rod in the top, where the leather straps attach; if the rod is missing, you can use a 1/2" wood dowel instead. Then cut a piece of coroplast to the correct width (about 8"?) and put a few creases in it to match the corners, and pop that in there; it should reinforce the top/back/bottom from the rod/dowel at the top to just below the opening. T
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Old 02-20-11, 01:50 PM   #8
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It probably is vinyl, the leather was a total guess.
Here are some pictures of the bag:

http://www.flickr.com/photos/armyoftwo/5461947889/

http://www.flickr.com/photos/armyoftwo/5461948925/

http://www.flickr.com/photos/armyoftwo/5462551104/

The art mat is a good idea (though I'm guessing it would be hard to cut for a girl that only owns a weak Xacto knife). Should I condition it still? Or will that make it weak?

Oh, and Chicago Al, the bike looks great! I just ordered a cheap pair of gum wall tires, but plan to eventually upgrade to those pretty creme Schwalbes.

Also, luckily the steel rod is still in place in the back. But thanks for the instructions anyway, I will keep that in mind.

Last edited by lemondirgopie; 02-20-11 at 01:54 PM.
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Old 02-20-11, 07:58 PM   #9
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Based on your photos, your saddle bag is vinyl, and appears to be in pretty good shape. I would just follow some of the suggestions to use crumbled up newspaper to reshape it. I would also suggest that you look into buying a Pletscher rear rack that was common to the Raleigh Sports. The rack will support your saddle bag and what ever you carry in it. Here's a link to show you what they look like: http://harriscyclery.net/product/ple...ilver-3064.htm
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Old 02-20-11, 07:58 PM   #10
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Treat the straps, you don't want them to fail on ya'. Is the saddle leather ? There is a Brooks product called proofide that works great, although there are many who have used other leather care products.

You should enjoy that Raleigh, my wife ditched her modern Trek hybrid when I walked through the door with a mint 72 blue Raleigh. It's the only bike she will ride.

Agreed on the advice, if you need any , ask ! Welcome !
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Old 02-21-11, 12:32 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by lemondirgopie View Post
Also, luckily the steel rod is still in place in the back. But thanks for the instructions anyway, I will keep that in mind.
Good, I figured the rod was still there; they don't usually get lost. Do the coroplast (or other fairly rigid plastic card) thing anyway.
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Old 02-21-11, 02:00 PM   #12
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Ok I'll definitely start looking around for some coroplast, and fill it with some newspaper in the mean time.

Otherwise, I've been treating the saddle with some Bickmore Bick 4 leather conditioner that I picked up at a local leather/western shop. It seems to be working very well and the saddle looks a lot better, and once I use up the bottle I plan on getting some Proofide. I also plan on lacing the sides once I find a leather hole punch.
I've also been putting some cheap motor oil in the gear hub. It has helped immensely -- I can now actually shift the gears!


I was just saying to my boyfriend yesterday how nice and helpful everyone has been on here. Thanks for all the help and great advice!! Seems like a great online biking community.
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Old 02-21-11, 02:27 PM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by lemondirgopie View Post
I was just saying to my boyfriend yesterday how nice and helpful everyone has been on here. Thanks for all the help and great advice!! Seems like a great online biking community.
Yeah, the people here are the biggest reason I stay.

There have been a lot of good suggestions here. I strongly agree with the comments about getting a bag support. Like gbalke mentioned, the pletscher style racks will do the job and you can buy a pyramid branded version for about 13 dollars. I think the Carradice bagmans look a little nicer but they cost more too.
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Old 02-21-11, 03:02 PM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by lemondirgopie View Post
a large-ish black leather saddle bag (cloth-lined), that I assume is Brooks, though I could be wrong.
Leather saddle bag, cloth-lined? That's vinyl, not leather. And it's not Brooks either, but it was pretty standard on Raleigh bikes of the era. Other than that... good suggestions in the thread.

EDIT: After looking at the picutres, yeah, it's vinyl I think. You should be able to get the shape back with the suggestions in the thread.
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