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  1. #1
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    Hitting Bottom--A Saddle Issue

    I'm relatively new to Bike Forums, learning of it after I decided to finally do my first tour--something I've been threatening to do since my early 20's, some 35 years ago. I've noticed the near universal acclaim for the Brooks saddles. My question, and I'll try to put it delicately, is after spending 8 or 10 hours on the Brooks which doesn't have a groove/cutout/gel padding aren't certain areas numb?


    Are most people riding them are in their 20's & 30's--when I was that age my 1974 Gitane had a narrow, molded plastic saddle incapable of any deflection what-so-ever and it only bothered me for the first one or two rides of the season. Starting in my early 40's when I took up cycling again I quickly settled on the need for a more anatomically aware seat design. I now have a narrow, light weight, slightly padded and grooved Rav-x saddle on my road bike which I find very comfortable, even doing 80-100 miles.

    I've now ordered a touring bike and am wondering if I should tempt fate by installing a Brooks or look for a wider male-friendly design. I'd appreciate hearing from some 40+ tourers.

  2. #2
    Macro Geek
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    If I had a seat that was "very comfortable" for up to 100 miles of riding per day, I wouldn't trade it for all the tea in China -- or for all the Brooks saddles in England!

    I'm 51 and installed a Brooks for the first time this summer. It took maybe three or four hours to break in, and now I consider it the most comfortable seat I have ever used. But I have never ridden 100 miles a day. I rarely ride more than five hours per day on a tour, and that includes breaks. Maybe 40 or 50 miles, max.

    You may find that riding a loaded touring is different than a road machine. I would start with the Rav-X saddle and see what happens. You can always change to a Brooks (or other saddle) later if the original does not work out.

  3. #3
    Slowpoach
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    If you have a "very comfortable" saddle, destroy your computer and internet connection now in case you are tempted to get rid of it to try something else that might, maybe, perhaps will work for you.

  4. #4
    jcm
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    I agree with the previous replies. Stick with what works for you.

    Brooks saddles have far from universal acclaim. I see them quite seldomly, in fact. Folks are generally afraid to spend the money on something they don't trust, or on something that they don't see alot of in the shops. Also, people that have asked me about mine are a little put off by my description at "over 60 miles..." They just don't ride that far, so why go with an enigma? BTW, I almost never see a Brooks under a young rider. I'm 51 and I've never experienced any numbness or undue soreness on a Brooks - even after centuries.

  5. #5
    Senior Member JimF22003's Avatar
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    I have the Specialized Toupe saddle (non-gel) and find it very comfortable. I've done 5 century rides on it this summer, plus numerous shorter rides. I've never done a loaded-down tour, so I don't know if that makes a difference though. It was mainly just me and the bike and whatever food and repair stuff I was carrying.

  6. #6
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    When I was young and skinny I also used a tiny seat w/ no problems. Now that I'm 43 and fat I worry that one of those tiny seats will just disappear up my butt, not to mention that they only seem comfortable for 30-40 miles.

    I got my first B17 a few months ago and the difference has been striking. I haven't been touring, but training for a century (my next tour will probably be in the late spring). However, 60 hilly miles on the brooks is quite comfortable for me, at least in terms of the seat, which has *never* been the case before. My second B17 (for the commuter) is due to arrive today.

    Wallbike has the MBG, but bikeman is cheaper.

  7. #7
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    Hi. First post here. I've been reading about all the praise for Brooks since I discovered this forum, but it hasn't swayed my opinion that Brooks never worked for me and I'll never try one again. I need the channel and Brooks doesn't have one, so Brooks aint in my future. I used a Brooks for many years, for commuting and all other pleasure riding in my 20s and 30s (I'm now 49), and frankly, I should have gotten rid of it sooner. I just kept waiting for it to get comfortable. Never happened. In the meanwhile, seats with channels and noseless seats came out (I've been using a noseless for the past few years). So, my conclusion is, everyone's anatomy is a different, and just 'cuase something works for someone else's rear end doesn't mean it's gonna work for you. My 2c.

  8. #8
    You need a new bike supcom's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by 2ering View Post
    I'm relatively new to Bike Forums, learning of it after I decided to finally do my first tour--something I've been threatening to do since my early 20's, some 35 years ago. I've noticed the near universal acclaim for the Brooks saddles. My question, and I'll try to put it delicately, is after spending 8 or 10 hours on the Brooks which doesn't have a groove/cutout/gel padding aren't certain areas numb?


    Are most people riding them are in their 20's & 30's--when I was that age my 1974 Gitane had a narrow, molded plastic saddle incapable of any deflection what-so-ever and it only bothered me for the first one or two rides of the season. Starting in my early 40's when I took up cycling again I quickly settled on the need for a more anatomically aware seat design. I now have a narrow, light weight, slightly padded and grooved Rav-x saddle on my road bike which I find very comfortable, even doing 80-100 miles.

    I've now ordered a touring bike and am wondering if I should tempt fate by installing a Brooks or look for a wider male-friendly design. I'd appreciate hearing from some 40+ tourers.
    I am 40+ and use Brooks saddles on all my road bikes. As a randonneur, 8 to 10 hours is a short day on the bike for me. I have never had any numbness in the region of the body that contacts the saddle. I have never used butt cream or gotten saddle sores.

  9. #9
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    I got my first Brooks this summer. Like others mentioned I was a little hesitant to spend that kind of money on something that doesn't even look comfortable. I have to say I am now a believer so far. I'm 36 and 235 pounds. I've had several 45-65 mile trips on it without any pain or numbness. This weekend is the final test. I'm riding an MS150, doing a century on Saturday and 75 back on Sunday. If I'm pain free on Monday morning I'll be switching my other bikes over to Brooks saddles.
    Please support the National MS Society
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  10. #10
    jcm
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    Quote Originally Posted by madopa View Post
    I got my first Brooks this summer. Like others mentioned I was a little hesitant to spend that kind of money on something that doesn't even look comfortable. I have to say I am now a believer so far. I'm 36 and 235 pounds. I've had several 45-65 mile trips on it without any pain or numbness. This weekend is the final test. I'm riding an MS150, doing a century on Saturday and 75 back on Sunday. If I'm pain free on Monday morning I'll be switching my other bikes over to Brooks saddles.
    Not to be a smart-a**, but, that will be a heck of a week-end. When you say "...several 45-65 mile trips...", that's really not too far as Brooks go. Have you ridden over 60 miles, maybe back to back on consecutive days before? Be prepared for some discomfort, if you haven't ridden a century before. Even with several thousand miles on my oldest B17, there is still the issue of gravity, road shock and fatigue - which sets in at about 85 miles for me. I'm 51 and weight 235-240lbs. My typical century bikes are a Trek 520 or a lighter Sequoia Elite. Both are like soft riding sedans.

    Just sayin' - Brooks saddles are very, very good for distance, which is what they excel at. But, you still have to grind it out, and every little item will show itself after 75 miles. Good luck, have fun, eat lots and rest lots.

  11. #11
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    Saddles are the ultimate example of "Your Mileage May Vary"

    Go to a Specialized dealer and have them measure your sitbone locations with their "butt-ometer". It's a "memory foam" pad that you sit on and that leaves indents where your sitbones are. Sit and lean forward like you're on a bike. Have them measure several times so you're confident you've got it right.

    Now, you can get any saddle that will provide plenty of support under those sit bones. That is, you can measure the "support width" of the saddle and check that it is the right width for you.

    The saddle does not need to have a cutout to prevent numbness. It just has to support you in such a way that nearly all of your weight is on the sitbones, and none of your weight is on the soft fleshy parts.

    Among the group of saddles that will not cause numbness for you, you may find models that are more or less comfortable on long rides. So for instance, I rode a Specialized Avatar (155) on the Boston-Montreal-Boston 1200Km (750 miles) last year. No numbness, but I couldn't possibly have ridden a bike the day after. The last 50 miles were excruciating. All that said, it's a great saddle for "shorter" (up to 400 miles) rides.

    This year on Paris-Brest-Paris, I rode 1160Km (I DNF'd with pneumonia at Dreux) on a Selle-Anatomica watershed leather saddle. It's a fabulous saddle and was so comfortable that I was riding my bike with no pain whatsoever after I got a ride back to Paris (still coughing like crazy, though). I rode it all the next week on rides in England. I've ridden it on 23 rides this year that were each at least 125 miles -- total mileage of about 3500 miles.

  12. #12
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    I appreciate all the responses and got a good chuckle from some of them. I do subscribe to the "If it aint broken, don't fix it" theory, but my concern with using my current saddle for touring is that I suspect my position will change from the aerodynamic "high butt, low hands" of my road bike to a much more upright position with increased weight bearing on my rear.

    Good luck to you madopa.

  13. #13
    End of Hard Shoulder
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    I rode my brooks this summer for 4800 miles of touring this summer (w/ 3 130+ days in a row) and the only problem I had was when i put my shorts on inside out :-0 and got chafed by the seem. The various people I rode with all carried Chamoix Butt'r but i never saw the need for it. in fact...I'm thinking of buying a Brooks for my desk at work...once it molds to your butt; heaven.
    The best shocks are the ones I was born with.

  14. #14
    Emperor of the Universe Raven Stands Al's Avatar
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    Go here http://www.hiwheel.com/ and check out the accessories and scroll down to the "Large Antique Style Hairpin Saddles." These were originally designed to be the suspension system for the old bonecrusher highwheel bikes.

    They work just as well on modern frames. I have one on the Paramount fixie and one on the Mongoose S2O Mountain bike. I also have one on order for the Raleigh Marathon.

    I bought my first one in 1988 and wore it out completely sometime in 2003. Very comfortable, very durable and very long lived.

    Note: I did have to replace their original cheap, split rivets immediately. I replaced them with flashy brass bolts with nuts and washers. I keep 'em greezed up with mink oil and the occasional beeswaxing.
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    This is my new signature: Thanks ohno.

    Alright, first off, i'm not a guy, i'm a kid. They're different. I don't have bar tape, I have grips. And your web design hurt my brain enough. Your bike isn't special, it's just like every other conversion out there. Make a thread about something worthwhile, which your bike is not.

    I'm not here to be your punching bag. I'm here to report on the state of what is out of your control!

  15. #15
    jcm
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    Quote Originally Posted by Raven Stands Al View Post
    Go here http://www.hiwheel.com/ and check out the accessories and scroll down to the "Large Antique Style Hairpin Saddles." These were originally designed to be the suspension system for the old bonecrusher highwheel bikes.

    They work just as well on modern frames. I have one on the Paramount fixie and one on the Mongoose S2O Mountain bike. I also have one on order for the Raleigh Marathon.

    I bought my first one in 1988 and wore it out completely sometime in 2003. Very comfortable, very durable and very long lived.

    Note: I did have to replace their original cheap, split rivets immediately. I replaced them with flashy brass bolts with nuts and washers. I keep 'em greezed up with mink oil and the occasional beeswaxing.
    OMG!!! We now have an Official Goth Saddle!

  16. #16
    Emperor of the Universe Raven Stands Al's Avatar
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    Modded Goth Saddles

    I got so charged up by the concept of custom seats that I took out my trusty sheath knife and carved a chunk of leather out of the seats on my Paramount fixed-gear and my Mongoose mountain boat-anchor.

    I took the point of the knife and carefully traced a thin line in the leather I wanted to remove. I left plenty for the broad part of my anatomy. On the Mongoose I left the point more rounded and on the Paramount went for the swallow-tail look. On the Paramount I left a little more of the skirt towards the rear.

    This made both saddles a little bit loose so I re-tensioned both of them and immediately started riding. I've done 60 miles last night and today on the fixed-gear and I did about 10 last night in between other stuff on the boat anchor. Both are ridiculously comfortable with even less chafing than before. (Which was negligible to start with.)

    Edit: That is the actual knife and only tool I used on the leather pictured below. After trimming (which was a very clean edge after due to the knife being sharper than most razors) I sealed the edge with beeswax.
    Attached Images Attached Images
    Last edited by Raven Stands Al; 09-28-07 at 08:20 PM.
    This is my new signature: Thanks ohno.

    Alright, first off, i'm not a guy, i'm a kid. They're different. I don't have bar tape, I have grips. And your web design hurt my brain enough. Your bike isn't special, it's just like every other conversion out there. Make a thread about something worthwhile, which your bike is not.

    I'm not here to be your punching bag. I'm here to report on the state of what is out of your control!

  17. #17
    Occasional poster countrydirt's Avatar
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    Wow Raven - nice job of saddle butchery. How do those screws (?) work? Seems like that would take a little away from the back side of your saddle. Seriously, I want to know. I have a B-17 that I think will pull away from the rivets, so am curious as to how it works to put in those brass screws that appear, from the photo anyway, to protrude fairly substantially above the saddle surface. Do you mainly ride the nose? Or do you have a cast iron fanny?

  18. #18
    Emperor of the Universe Raven Stands Al's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by countrydirt View Post
    Wow Raven - nice job of saddle butchery. How do those screws (?) work? Seems like that would take a little away from the back side of your saddle. Seriously, I want to know. I have a B-17 that I think will pull away from the rivets, so am curious as to how it works to put in those brass screws that appear, from the photo anyway, to protrude fairly substantially above the saddle surface. Do you mainly ride the nose? Or do you have a cast iron fanny?

    I guess it's a case of cast-iron fanny then.

    Actually, the seat is very much forward on the rails but I do not notice the bolts. The seat on the Mongoose has smaller bolts with a lower head profile but I would recommend getting and going through the process of using copper swat-rivets that have a flat head profile (http://www.outfitterssupply.com/prod...?number=WLF900) and a post that you trim off after application. You can probably find this same product at Lowe's or Home Depot. If not, I would check the local mom and pop hardware store.

    On the Mongoose seat I actually disassembled the seat to do the replacement but on the Paramount seat I just replaced their rivets one at a time in-situ.

    Here is a picture of a Brooks B-17 with the same type of copper rivets. Notice that it adds $20.00 to the cost of the saddle. http://hiawathacyclery.com/cart/inde...p_image&pID=19 & http://hiawathacyclery.com/cart/inde...=index&cPath=5
    Last edited by Raven Stands Al; 09-28-07 at 08:08 PM.
    This is my new signature: Thanks ohno.

    Alright, first off, i'm not a guy, i'm a kid. They're different. I don't have bar tape, I have grips. And your web design hurt my brain enough. Your bike isn't special, it's just like every other conversion out there. Make a thread about something worthwhile, which your bike is not.

    I'm not here to be your punching bag. I'm here to report on the state of what is out of your control!

  19. #19
    Occasional poster countrydirt's Avatar
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    ok on the rivet link - so they don't stick up too high!? and snag your shorts?

  20. #20
    Emperor of the Universe Raven Stands Al's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by countrydirt View Post
    ok on the rivet link - so they don't stick up too high!? and snag your shorts?

    Before I ever sat on the saddles after the rivet mod I took some 200 grit emery cloth and carefully buffed the heads and then some 600 grit to polish them so that there are no sharp or burred places on the heads and slots. I kind of like the look. It's a sort of retro/industrial kind of look.
    This is my new signature: Thanks ohno.

    Alright, first off, i'm not a guy, i'm a kid. They're different. I don't have bar tape, I have grips. And your web design hurt my brain enough. Your bike isn't special, it's just like every other conversion out there. Make a thread about something worthwhile, which your bike is not.

    I'm not here to be your punching bag. I'm here to report on the state of what is out of your control!

  21. #21
    Senior Member BigBlueToe's Avatar
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    I rode a century on a Brooks Champion Flyer today. My review follows.

    Let me preface it by saying that I had a Brooks in the 70's. It was a black model that came standard on my Raleigh Gran Prix. I could only ride it for 20-30 miles at a time before the pain would start. By 40 miles numbness would set it. I rode a century on it once; it was agony! Needless to say, I was skeptical when I heard the chorus of voices singing the praises. Furthermore, my next road bike, a Nashbar tourer that I bought in about 1992, had a Vetta gel saddle that I found to be wonderful! I never felt pain on it ever. After a century my whole body could be wracked with pain, but my butt was fine. I was very sad when it got old and torn.

    I bought a similar Vetta on Ebay, and it seemed pretty good too. However, when I built my new LHT, I decided to take the plunge, buy a Brooks, and see what the fuss was about. I settled on the Champion Flyer, thinking the springs would help by offering a softer ride.

    I've had it for about 2 months. I've taken it on longer and longer rides. The furthest prior to today was 50 miles. On all my long rides, it felt like my butt was about to hurt, but it never got to the point where it did. It was more like discomfort that felt like it would soon be pain. I decided to keep it on the bike for today's century. Here are the results:

    Between 35 miles and 50 it started to hurt. By 50 miles I was afraid I was going to have to call my wife to rescue me. The rest of my body seemed like it might be able to do the century (I haven't done one in a couple years, and my training for this one was inconsistent) but it seemed as if my butt was not. I felt as if the agony I used to feel in the 70's was going to return. Granted, 50 miles before agony was an improvement on that old Brooks, but not up to the performance I'd experienced with my Vetta.

    Anyway, at about 57 miles we reached the turn-around spot, so I took a long rest, sitting in a lawn chair that the organizers provided. When I got back on my bike, the discomfort was gone and my butt felt "good as new". For the balance of the ride I tried to get my butt off the saddle from time to time - either while on the bike through unweighting and sliding back, or by getting off for a rest. The result was that I finished the century with no more butt discomfort than I would consider normal for such a long ride.

    I have a motorcycle with a cushy seat and a comfortable riding position, but after an hour and a half my butt always starts to hurt, bad. I've discovered that if I get off when this happens and give it a short rest, I can get back on with almost no residual discomfort. This results in my taking tons of stops for gas, food, etc. It would be nice if I could ride all day without stopping (except when I really need gas), but this is an acceptable compromise.

    I'd say my conclusion about the Brooks is similar. It seemed like I had to get off of it occasionally to achieve all-day comfort. While it would be nice if this wasn't necessary, it's not unacceptable.

    One last negative though - the thing is noisy. The springs creak. I've tried spraying it with spray-on lithium grease. It helped a bit, but there's still a lot of noise.

  22. #22
    Emperor of the Universe Raven Stands Al's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by BigBlueToe View Post
    One last negative though - the thing is noisy. The springs creak. I've tried spraying it with spray-on lithium grease. It helped a bit, but there's still a lot of noise.

    Oh yeah, I forgot to mention that. The springs talk to me but, I am so used to it after nineteen years of riding these things. These are not Brooks however and I have never had an uncomfortable ride on them as long as they were adjusted properly to suit me.
    This is my new signature: Thanks ohno.

    Alright, first off, i'm not a guy, i'm a kid. They're different. I don't have bar tape, I have grips. And your web design hurt my brain enough. Your bike isn't special, it's just like every other conversion out there. Make a thread about something worthwhile, which your bike is not.

    I'm not here to be your punching bag. I'm here to report on the state of what is out of your control!

  23. #23
    Got an old Peugeot kipibenkipod's Avatar
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    Is it possible the the saddle didn't broke yet?
    Please update about the saddle when more miles are done.
    On the bike I feel like a conqueror ;)
    4 months touring trip from England to Spain http://www.underadometent.com

  24. #24
    jcm
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    BigBlueToe:
    That's a pretty normal scenario. A century on a barely formed 17 or Flyer can be a bit of a challenge. Taking rest stops frequently is a good idea. In a year, you probably won't even remember that feeling - unless you have, by that time, bought another Brooks for another bike.

    Are you certain the sqeak is from the springs? They rarely sqeak. 17's and Flyers can sqeak when the leather works against the steel frame on each side as you push down on the pedal. I wrote about this on another thread, "How's Your Brooks Treating You?"

    Test:
    Off the bike, grasp the skirts and sqeeze them together. Does the sqeak happen as you move the leather? If so, place your finger tip between the end of the frame and the last rivet. Just touch it gently. Sqeeze the skirts agian, and feel for the vibration with your finger tip as the noise occurs. If the leather is working against the steel, you'll feel it.

    A postage stamp-size piece of innertube wedged between the leather and the frame will eliminate this. Have an assistant spread the skirts away from the frame while you stretch the rubber and get it as close to the rivet as possible.

    If it is the spring bolts, you can easily loosen the bolts, spray some teflon on the threads, then re-tighten.

  25. #25
    Tinkerer since 1980 TheBrick's Avatar
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    http://www.wallbike.com/content/butchering.html

    For those interesting in modifing a brooks. Example of tied models, and even one with a split down the middle.
    Travelling without inertia

    London's single speed and fixed gear forum

    http://www.londonfgss.com/

    Lets make this happen.

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