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Old 04-18-10, 08:45 AM   #1
WestcoastPete
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Brooks B17 - Can the Imperial cutout be done manually?

I have a Brooks Flyer and a Brooks B17 Narrow. I was just wondering, out of interest, can anyone see a problem with getting the pattern of the cutout on a B17 Imperial, and cutting it out of an existing, regular, B17?
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Old 04-18-10, 11:52 AM   #2
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You could send it in for this:

http://www.selleanatomica.com/dollar%20buyer.htm#Brooks_Upgrade_Services,_LD_slot_-_$49.50_
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Old 04-18-10, 02:23 PM   #3
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Instead of hacking away...Just sell it and get a real saddle that will work for you.
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Old 04-19-10, 08:26 AM   #4
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I have one Brooks Imperial B17 and one Standard B17 that I cut out myself. The one difference between them is that the self-cut one is made from thicker leather so it is slightly more rigid than the Imperial.

I don't know if the Imperials are made from thinner leather or this difference is just the luck of the draw.

If I had it to do over again, I'd have cut out my Standard B17 sooner. I love it.
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Old 04-19-10, 10:22 AM   #5
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They're cut manually at the factory (it's not a machine cut), so you could feasibly do it yourself. The quality of the final product will vary depending on your skill level.

Some things to know before you start:
- Don't just chop away with a utility knife. Get a short, stiff X-acto blade suitable for the task. You might want to invest in an edge bevelling tool to round off the cutout when you're finished.
- The underside of the Brooks cutout has a shallow notch around the perimeter. This allows for the topside of the cutout to flex downward when pressure is applied, and keeps the cutout edges from flaring upward.
- You'll want to lace the skirts if you make a cutout. The center "hammock" of the saddle helps to retain the tension on the leather and maintain the formed shape of the skirts. Get a good 3mm punch (either a hammered punch or a rotary style), measure and mark your punch points, and make clean holes as opposed to drilling the leather (which really is just tearing the fibers.
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Old 04-19-10, 10:52 AM   #6
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Here's another question:

Any imitation brooks leather saddles that won't break the bank? I'm a great admirer of Brooks and Selle anatomic, but jeez, $100+ for them! Anyone?
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Old 04-19-10, 11:06 AM   #7
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I dont know the shape you want but,,, I have used pipe (large and small) to make a punch! Just grind or file the edge sharp or sort of sharp and back the leather with some wood and have at it. With thin pipe you can even make it into shapes or make 2 round holes and conect them with a sharp blade to make your slot.
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Old 04-19-10, 12:51 PM   #8
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Persons sells some cheaper leather saddles, but their quality is apparently quite poor. Rivendell and Velo Orange have their own models, but they're just as expensive as a Brooks. Your best bet is to keep an eye on Chain Reaction Cycles. They occasionally have some pretty steep discounts.

Also, remember that a Brooks will last just about forever. A synthetic saddle that costs half as much but wears out twice as fast isn't really any cheaper.
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Old 07-14-11, 11:17 AM   #9
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Sorry to dredge up an old post but I just did a cut-out on a VO saddle and am psyched. Brooks saddles have gone up in price considerably and some VO saddles are available for $65 (that's what I paid for the VO clone of the Brooks Flyer). I just did a slightly longer Imperial-style cutout on it. I made it about 140mm long instead of 125mm; its 25mm wide at its widest point and tapers to about 10mm. Originally it felt pretty good and now it feels even better. It's not perfect but it looks pretty good for a first effort.
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Old 07-14-11, 11:21 AM   #10
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Oh yeah, forgot to mention I drew a cut-out pattern on paper, cut it out and used a glue stick to stick it to the surface of the saddle. Then I traced around it carefully with a very sharp pocket knife to score the pattern into the saddle. Then I removed the paper pattern and did several shallow cuts around the scored pattern. Eventually it cut all the way through the leather; took about an hour soup to nuts.
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Old 07-14-11, 03:58 PM   #11
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[FWIW] Ok. Very much IMO, but here goes: when I was ~15 me dad bought what he thought was the only sort of bike proper for a sporting lad, a genuine Raleigh English Racer, complete with Brooks saddle and Sturmey Archer 3sp transmission. I hated it. 10 speeds were cool, 3 speeds with sit up and beg handlebars were not. The saddle was hard but strangely 'right'. The bike and saddle are lost in the mists of time, I didn't, wasn't able to appreciate it, like so many things adults foist upon their progeny without proper orientation and/or explanation... ... onward. There are anatomic saddles and there are anatomic saddles. A Terry Fly saddle is not the same as a Bontrager CRZ Sport or a Selle Royale SMP. The Brooks B17 with cut-out is an attempt to bring a wider audience to leather saddles. It is not actually necessary for it to have a cut-out and most people that are happy... ecstatic with their Brooks saddles find them comfortable without any cut-out whatsoever. I can be just as numb from a ride on my Bontrager CRZ which is cut literally from stem to stern as on the OEM non anatomic plastic saddle that came with my commute folder. Bike fit makes the difference. A lot of you are riding with saddles that are set too far back from KOPS (knee over pedal spindle) and you are unconsciously riding on the narrow, non-supportive part of your saddles for too large a percentage of your ride. No amount of cut-out will fix this. IMHO going through what seems like a lot of effort to properly cut a standard B17 is not a good idea. Something else is wrong if the B17 isn't at least tolerable. A saddle with a hole in it (Terry Fly, mutilated B17, etc. is a nod to current fashion. A proper anatomic saddle is a different thing entirely and you cannot create one out of an existing saddle. [/FWIW]

H
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Old 07-18-11, 01:12 PM   #12
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That's funny, I bought an old Schwinn World Sport for my son and put a B-67 saddle and a Northroad handlebar on it for him. He likes it because it's a lot faster than his 24" kids MTB was. Anyway, getting to the point, why settle for a "tolerable" saddle when you can ride a comfortable saddle? I actually liked my saddle before I did the cut out; it was more than tolerable, it was pretty comfortable. Only issue was I'd need to stand up and adjust myself every 10 miles or so. I decided to make the cut out to see if I could make a good saddle even better. I think the cut out helped; now I can go significantly further without feeling any numbness. For those who like to tinker for tinkering's sake, there's also the fun factor to consider. AND, Brooks has been making the Imperial since 1900-something so I'm not sure I'd agree that a cut out "is a nod to current fashion" any more than those crazy pneumatic air-holdin' tires everyone's running around with. So if people want to tinker with their saddles, I say let 'em.

Last edited by soma2x; 07-18-11 at 01:13 PM. Reason: typo
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Old 07-18-11, 01:35 PM   #13
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Yes. Been there, done that. Worked great. Went from comfortable to perfect. I ride hours and hours in it. Start with a small cut and keep going from there. you can always cut more if it isn't enough of a relief.
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Old 07-18-11, 01:45 PM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by soma2x View Post
Oh yeah, forgot to mention I drew a cut-out pattern on paper, cut it out and used a glue stick to stick it to the surface of the saddle. Then I traced around it carefully with a very sharp pocket knife to score the pattern into the saddle. Then I removed the paper pattern and did several shallow cuts around the scored pattern. Eventually it cut all the way through the leather; took about an hour soup to nuts.
That is basically what I did. I didn't need to do the lacing at all. It has been about a year since I did it. No sagging at all.
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Old 07-20-11, 07:11 AM   #15
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I asked the question because I love my B17 Imperial. I have always loved my Standard B17 but since I got my Imperial I just haven't been able to look at the other saddles in the same way. It's not that the standards are uncomfortable at all, far from it, it's just that the Imperial is so good...

Rather than replace them with what I want and have to wear in new saddles, I think I'll have a go at cutting them.

Thanks for the responses.
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Old 10-15-11, 09:50 PM   #16
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I was also wondering if the B-17 could be cut to resemble an Imperial. This morning I cut a hole similar to the Imperial cutout, but slightly wider toward the front. I then rode 50 miles somewhat slowly as a rolling sag support on a local ride, so I spent a lot of time in the saddle today.

I could not be happier, my butt and "that" area didn't bother me a bit. That particular saddle used to bother me after a few miles, now it doesn't. I will be doing it to my other B-17 ASAP, but I'll get a shorter blade and try to do a nicer job next time.

I used a regular Exacto knife blade and had to make many passes. The flex of the blade made me wish I had a shorter blade like someone else suggested.

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Old 10-15-11, 09:59 PM   #17
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On second thought, I think I'll put some miles on this one and see how it holds up. It doesn't need it now, but someday it might need hole-punching and lacing.
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Old 10-16-11, 06:43 AM   #18
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Can't imagine why anybody would do this, instead of selling what they have and buying an imperial. Brooks retain their value incredibly well, until you do something silly like this.
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Old 10-16-11, 08:10 AM   #19
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Can't imagine why anybody would do this, instead of selling what they have and buying an imperial. Brooks retain their value incredibly well, until you do something silly like this.
Perhaps because some Brooks models are not available with the cutout. For example, the Flyer, which is popular with tourists, is not available with a cutout.
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Old 10-16-11, 10:48 AM   #20
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Can't imagine why anybody would do this, instead of selling what they have and buying an imperial. Brooks retain their value incredibly well, until you do something silly like this.
You're confusing silly with smart. I spent no additional money and ended up with what I wanted. I think you're just upset because you didn't think of it first.
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