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Old 10-28-09, 08:05 PM   #1
meaculpa
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Tensioning a Brooks

After 6000 miles, it feels like my saddle needs a teensy bit more tension. But I run across two problems, the first is I read that the great Sheldon Brown said don't mess with the tension bolt, leave it alone, you'll just screw up your saddle.
The second is after trying to tension it anyway (apologies to Sheldon) not only does nothing move but I lose the little wrench. And since then a few mechanics have tried to tension the saddle with no success.
Is this little operation typically such a challenge?
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Old 10-28-09, 08:33 PM   #2
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Shouldn't be. I lost the wrench too, but had no real trouble finding a workable box end in my tool box. Not perfect, but it got the job done. B 17.

As a last, or first resort, I'm sure Walingford Bike in New Orleans can get you the wrench.
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Old 10-28-09, 08:44 PM   #3
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Pliers work.
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Old 10-30-09, 12:21 AM   #4
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Have you laced your saddle? Do that first before you touch the tension. Use synthetic instead of leather chord. They do not stretch. I suggest a shoe lace.
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Old 11-01-09, 09:27 AM   #5
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+1 on lacing the saddle.
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Old 11-01-09, 11:27 AM   #6
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Have you laced your saddle? Do that first before you touch the tension. Use synthetic instead of leather chord. They do not stretch. I suggest a shoe lace.
I'm intrigued. What is this all about?
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Old 11-02-09, 10:19 PM   #7
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Lacing seems like a more radical measure. The tension comes from pulling the sides inward right? I just don't know...
I think I will call Wallbike before lacing the saddle. I mean, you can't undo a lacing job.
Finally, nobody knows why Mr Brown advises against tensioning? Theories?
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Old 11-02-09, 11:32 PM   #8
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Originally Posted by meaculpa View Post
Lacing seems like a more radical measure. The tension comes from pulling the sides inward right? I just don't know...
I think I will call Wallbike before lacing the saddle. I mean, you can't undo a lacing job.
Finally, nobody knows why Mr Brown advises against tensioning? Theories?
So does Brooks advise against too much tensioning,check out there site.
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Old 11-03-09, 07:06 AM   #9
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Lacing seems like a more radical measure. ...I mean, you can't undo a lacing job.
Sure you can, just cut the laces.

fwiw, I laced my B17 after the first few rides. It mainly stops the skirts from flaring and rubbing on my inner thighs, especially when riding in the drops. The fore to aft stiffening was an added bonus that did not require stretching the leather.
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Old 11-03-09, 12:03 PM   #10
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Originally Posted by meaculpa View Post
Lacing seems like a more radical measure. The tension comes from pulling the sides inward right? I just don't know...
I think I will call Wallbike before lacing the saddle. I mean, you can't undo a lacing job.
Finally, nobody knows why Mr Brown advises against tensioning? Theories?
no, lacing IS the way to go. really. Parachute cord works well.


tensioning is bad because the structure of the leather is fibrous, and rips (on a microscopic level) a bit when stretched. The result is that the leather becomes structurally weaker after tensioning, and this causes the leather to sag faster and faster... Obviously it can be done, but its best used on leather saddles that are about to die anyway, and only to take up slack. YOu should not really be pulling the leather, just taking up the slack.

lacing works well, and is a safer alternative
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Old 11-03-09, 03:22 PM   #11
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I say go ahead and tension the saddle - after 6000 miles you are due.
its not that hard. turn the nut not the bolt. A drip of lube on the bolt will help too. - just do it a little bit like a 1/4 to 1/2 turn at most and then ride and see.

I've use the bolt and laced my saddles - both things help. I keep a record of how far I've turned each bolt and the date I've tensioned them. Helps me keep 3 bikes with 4 leather saddles strait.
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Old 11-03-09, 08:36 PM   #12
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You can take that saddle and soak it in water for a few days then dry it out and it will tighten back up for you. Some say it will ruine the saddle, once a year will not hurt the saddle. Look at leather boots for a example, wet dry wet dry and so on.
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