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Singlespeed & Fixed Gear "I still feel that variable gears are only for people over forty-five. Isn't it better to triumph by the strength of your muscles than by the artifice of a derailer? We are getting soft...As for me, give me a fixed gear!"-- Henri Desgrange (31 January 1865 - 16 August 1940)

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Old 09-22-05, 12:11 AM   #1
benm
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Butchered my Brooks

This summer I bought a Brooks B17 Honey. Hotter than your grandma's '85 Crown Vic. Got it from Nashbar during one of their frequent sales for less than $50. It sat in my closet until a couple of weeks ago.

Sadly, I didn't take before pics, but here is what it looked like:

The objective: make it look like the svelte Brooks Swallow, "Antique Brown", cost ~$300 (?)

I read the FGG page on modifying Brooks saddles (linky: http://www.fixedgeargallery.com/articles/brooks.htm)and searched the forum archives. That guy used an angle grinder, but I used a Dremel as my weapon of choice. I used some tape to mask off what I wanted to cut, and then started rocking out. Unfortunately my dremel has taken some abuse over the years, and now only has two speeds - off, and Kamikaze!! It burned through cutting wheels like nobody's business. I ended up using three or four cutting wheels doing the first side. The wheels didn't wear down, they just got really smooth and stopped cutting. My apartment smelled like burning dead cow for quite a while. I imagine there is some sort of tool that is made for cutting leather that would be well suited for this purpose. I imagine such a tool would be called a "leather cutter".

After I cut the first side, I used the piece I cut off as a template for the second side. Rinse, lather, repeat. I didn't cut quite enough off - there is still a little bit of the stamped label visible. I need to trim it a bit more, but that isn't too easy with just sandpaper and wood files. I will try the dremel sanding drum next. Still, it looks presentable.

My saddle wasn't completely broken in when I chopped it. I had it on my bike for about a week, so it probably had 100 miles or so on it. It has about another 100 miles on it now, and so far, so good. I only weigh 150 lbs. so hopefully it will last for quite a while. The saddle is definitely less stiff that it was before, but I doubt it will be a problem. We'll see in a couple of years. If it doesn't last, well, that is the cost of good science.

Another note: the saddle is darkening nicely. It is nowhere near as dark as "Antique Brown", but it'll probably get there some day. The original color was just like the top pic. Ingredients: Proofide and ass sweat.




This pic makes the side look uneven, but I think it is just from shadows. I'm going to sand it some more later. The bike is an '05 Bianchi Pista, a replacement for my poor conversion Raleigh with a bent frame that was cannibalized for another bike. If it was a dog I would have shot it.




That's right, it's a kangaroo bike. You know you want to be just like me when I grow up.




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Old 09-22-05, 12:49 AM   #2
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nice work on the saddle. I did my first chop job about a month ago and am very pleased. You can now get heavy-duty disks for dremels and I was able to use one disk for both cuts and both saddlebag tabs (they're super-beefy!) The smell was so bad (I think I was actually doing a high-precision burn rather than a cut on the leather) that I had to use an organics respirator even in my well-ventilated shop with 3 fans on.

On another note, I think that from looking at your pictures that I don't like up-sloping top tubes...just doesn't look balanced, especially with those big-ol' track drops...but to each their own.
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Old 09-22-05, 01:09 AM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by benm
That guy used an angle grinder, but I used a Dremel as my weapon of choice.

It is nowhere near as dark as "Antique Brown", but it'll probably get there some day.
I've been using a Dremel with a diamond cutting disc since my first couple of butcher jobs using that Makita grinder.

The butchered Pro pictured below used to be honey. I used some Miss Clairol permanent hair dye to 'antique brown' it.
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Old 09-22-05, 01:58 AM   #4
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good job on the saddle. i'll be doing mine sometime soon.

on a sidenote: i believe that sloping top tube effect is an optical illusion
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Old 09-22-05, 02:31 AM   #5
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I just measured it, and it does slope a little bit, but I think the camera angle and the tilt of the bike is making it look greatly exaggerated. It normally looks pretty much level.
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Old 09-22-05, 07:01 AM   #6
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Nice.
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Old 09-22-05, 07:12 AM   #7
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Nice job. The Brooks looks good. Next time Nashbar has a sale, I'm going to have to pick one up.

On a side note what kind of lever do you have set up there? It looks pretty decent on drops.
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Old 09-22-05, 09:02 AM   #8
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Can't remember where I saw this but I do remember seeing a butchered Brooks with the sides stiched together underneath. I imagine this would make it feel a bit stiffer... I intend to try it one day but probably not anytime soon.
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Old 09-22-05, 11:09 AM   #9
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Originally Posted by Wierd Beard
Can't remember where I saw this but I do remember seeing a butchered Brooks with the sides stiched together underneath. I imagine this would make it feel a bit stiffer.
One of my coworkers does that. He leaves a little more leather when he does the cutoff, makes small holes in the leather and laces it up corset style. It's pretty hot, but rather time-consuming.
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Old 09-22-05, 04:27 PM   #10
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Looks good. Rehab Circus and myself chopped both of ours a few months ago...I know what exactly what you mean about the "burning dead cow" smell...Although we did laugh our asses off when we thought about his female roomate coming home drunk only to find a cloud of smoke from burning cow hide.

I can't remember where exactly we saw the original post about chopping Brooks, but we both agree that there should be a dumbass disclaimer. You know, one that basically says "don't be a dumbass, do this outside."

Anyhow, nice chop job.
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Old 09-22-05, 04:30 PM   #11
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i butchered a brooks using a ginsu knife, you know those giant serrated knives. it took about 5 minutes and looks exactly the same.

if you're coming to chicago you'll see the beautiful piece of work that resulted.

Last edited by salome; 09-22-05 at 04:47 PM.
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Old 09-22-05, 04:45 PM   #12
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If you want a different colour, try dying the honey brown darker with leather dye.

See this: http://flickr.com/photos/cricketcam2000/40638334/

Looks like this, nice eh?

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Old 09-22-05, 06:01 PM   #13
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i am baffled at the fact that nobody has mentioned his kangaroo cranks. so i will take this opportunity to formally denounce benm in his foolish ways, scoff at the sheer ridiculousness of his ride, and emphasize that he is no longer my friend.
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Old 09-22-05, 06:22 PM   #14
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i am baffled at the fact that nobody has mentioned his kangaroo cranks. so i will take this opportunity to formally denounce benm in his foolish ways, scoff at the sheer ridiculousness of his ride, and emphasize that he is no longer my friend.
Woah! Didn't notice that. Wha's up wit dat?
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I explained that he could never pay me enough cash for the amount of work I had put into that bike and the only way to compensate me for it was to ride the hell out of it.
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Old 09-22-05, 09:56 PM   #15
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whaa??

That's just strange.

Well, I guess I know what the new bike trend will be.
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Old 09-22-05, 11:19 PM   #16
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The Fixer - nice saddle. The dye worked well. I'm gonna stick with Proofide and ass sweat for now. I might dye it someday.
------
Quote:
On a side note what kind of lever do you have set up there?
nightfly - it's a Tektro something or other brake lever. I think it's from nashbar. I got it from rwan.

------

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i am baffled at the fact that nobody has mentioned his kangaroo cranks. so i will take this opportunity to formally denounce benm in his foolish ways, scoff at the sheer ridiculousness of his ride, and emphasize that he is no longer my friend.
rwan - General insult. Questioning of parentage. Rebuttal of inferior crank setup.

For a guy who tried to put SPD cleats on Converse Allstars, you seem surprisingly recalcitrant to kangaroo cranks. Maybe I'll just start up my own bike company, and sell my kangaroo bikes. With gambling and hookers.

To anybody who has never seen kangaroo cranks in their unabashed glory, I'll give you a mental picture. Imagine a frog riding a bicycle. Then imagine the frog being a person. The awesome. Try it.

You can also put the cranks at a 90 degree angle - horse cranks. It looks like you're galloping.
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Old 09-23-05, 12:06 AM   #17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by salome
i butchered a brooks using a ginsu knife, you know those giant serrated knives. it took about 5 minutes and looks exactly the same.
Did you slice cleanly through a tomato afterward?
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Old 09-23-05, 12:32 AM   #18
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Did you slice cleanly through a tomato afterward?
she did! and the only tears she cried were tears of joy!
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Old 09-23-05, 06:55 AM   #19
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those knives are fabulous. i should be their spokesman/woman. I used it to cut some small pipes once. and it can cut tomatos really well. basically it's the only knife i use. wonderful for bread as well.

doink
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Old 09-23-05, 10:56 AM   #20
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I got second place in a kangaroo race about 2 years ago...
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Old 09-23-05, 10:57 AM   #21
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...never tried it fixed, though
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Old 10-24-05, 09:30 PM   #22
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stop press: just butchered mine with an xacto. easy as pie
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Old 10-25-05, 10:44 AM   #23
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pics/process?
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Old 10-25-05, 11:05 AM   #24
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pics/process?

very simple. masked a line with tape, cut gently along it with a sharp xacto. kept cutting along that line, deeper each time but not forcing it. about five passes did it.

used a grip to put the cut piece against the other side and cut along that to get the line, then same process.

xacto blade is good because you can also use it to put a slight bevel on the edges, as i did.

then shoe polish to blacken the exposed edge.

very, very easy. maybe 10 mins tops start to finish
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Old 10-25-05, 11:40 AM   #25
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very, very easy. maybe 10 mins tops start to finish
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