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  1. #1
    Senior Member Northwestrider's Avatar
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    Modifying a Brooks B 17 ?

    I have a little over 5,000 miles on my standard Brooks B17, yet I'm still not pleased with it. I feel like the edges flare out too much when I apply my 170 pounds to it. The result is a feeling like a knife rubbing against my thigh on back to back rides of 50 - 60 mile days. Has anyone tried to modify their standard B17 with holes similar to the Imperial , then using a leather cord to keep the edges of the saddle from flaring outward ? If so, how did you make the holes, with a drill, or a punch. Was there any improvement ?

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    http://www.bikeforums.net/showthread...=#post15386408

    Check out my posts via above link. Works well to prevent the saddle from sagging.

  3. #3
    Senior Member Northwestrider's Avatar
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    Thanks, very clear. I like visiting Harbor Freight , this gives me a reason. The red shoe laces may be a problem to find bet it looks great.

  4. #4
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    Quote Originally Posted by Northwestrider View Post
    Has anyone tried to modify their standard B17 with holes similar to the Imperial , then using a leather cord to keep the edges of the saddle from flaring outward ? If so, how did you make the holes, with a drill, or a punch. Was there any improvement ?
    A leather punch is quicker and easier, but I try not to buy odd tools I'll likely never use again, so I used a drill and small bit. Tied with some outdoorsy cord from local BP/climbing shop.

    I made the mistake of using the Brooks apron embossing as a reference point for spacing the row of holes. Turns out the Brooks stamp was ~1cm off from left to right side, which coincidentally was the spacing for my holes, so I remedied the problem with 2 more holes. Be sure to measure the Brooks stamp location to make sure it's an accurate point of reference before you start making holes. Evidently they simply "eyeball" this step of the manufacturing process without any measurement.

    The holes should be located rearwards of the embossing to control saddle spread - up front they have little effect. Tying does control apron spread and reduces saddle sag somewhat too, but it will still sag some even after tying.

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    Quote Originally Posted by seeker333 View Post
    A leather punch is quicker and easier, but I try not to buy odd tools I'll likely never use again, so I used a drill and small bit. Tied with some outdoorsy cord from local BP/climbing shop.

    I made the mistake of using the Brooks apron embossing as a reference point for spacing the row of holes. Turns out the Brooks stamp was ~1cm off from left to right side, which coincidentally was the spacing for my holes, so I remedied the problem with 2 more holes. Be sure to measure the Brooks stamp location to make sure it's an accurate point of reference before you start making holes. Evidently they simply "eyeball" this step of the manufacturing process without any measurement.

    The holes should be located rearwards of the embossing to control saddle spread - up front they have little effect. Tying does control apron spread and reduces saddle sag somewhat too, but it will still sag some even after tying.
    Leather punch tool costs $5.60. It gives a much cleaner hole. Hole placement is also dead-on. And you can use it to punch holes in belt. Always start the 1st hole 3.5" away from the nose of the saddle. There will be some flaring at the front end as the saddle accumulate mileage. Do it right the first time by lacing the entire flap to maintain the structure of the saddle. More holes will reduce the average stress seen at each hole.

  6. #6
    Senior Member simplygib's Avatar
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    I had the same issue with mine. It was rubbing my inner thighs raw. Like seeker333, I used a drill and small bit and put two holes on each side. Used a zip tie for lacing. Works great, but I agree with what furballi said in the other thread, it seems to take longer to break in this way. It was feeling nice and broken in (other than the flaring issue) before, now it feels like it needs more breaking in again. And I've got over 1000 miles on it. Oh well, my thighs are happy now.
    Last edited by simplygib; 03-15-13 at 10:00 AM.

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    Some guys cut the skirt off.
    Everything should be as simple as possible...But not more so.---Albert Einstein

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    Quote Originally Posted by Booger1 View Post
    Some guys cut the skirt off.
    And you would end up with a very weak suspension leather saddle. The flaps are there to reduce sagging.

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    You might want to mention that to Selle......
    Last edited by Booger1; 03-15-13 at 01:02 PM.
    Everything should be as simple as possible...But not more so.---Albert Einstein

  10. #10
    aka Phil Jungels Wanderer's Avatar
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    I laced mine, (after punching holes with a leather punch) with a cotton black shoelace, saturated with molten candle wax. Looks like it should last forever.

    "Retirement is the best job I ever had!" Me, 2009


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  11. #11
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    I used a drill and black dress shoelaces and am perfectly happy with the results.

  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by Booger1 View Post
    You might want to mention that to Selle......
    Just because it's sold by Selle doesn't mean that it's a durable product. Based on the pictures, this saddle would quickly sag like in a few thousand miles if there is no additional backing behind the leather.

  13. #13
    Senior Member Northwestrider's Avatar
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    I've punched my holes, and it looks nice. I'll have it laced with shoe laces tomorrow and look forward to giving it a test shortly after. Thanks.

  14. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by Northwestrider View Post
    I've punched my holes, and it looks nice. I'll have it laced with shoe laces tomorrow and look forward to giving it a test shortly after. Thanks.
    If the saddle is too firm with the flaps tightly laced, then you can add a little slack to allow the flaps to flare about 1/4" away from the steel rails. I use Army lacing. Good luck with the ride.

    http://www.fieggen.com/shoelace/lacingmethods.htm

  15. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by furballi View Post
    Just because it's sold by Selle doesn't mean that it's a durable product. Based on the pictures, this saddle would quickly sag like in a few thousand miles if there is no additional backing behind the leather.
    Do you own one? I do and yes it does sag because it is supposed to. It is not designed to maintain a straight across shape. In fact, if you try to tension this Selle like a Brooks it will be quickly ruined. This is a great saddle. I have one on my Cannondale T1 and have B17N's on both my 2X10 road bike and singlespeed road bike. Al

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    Quote Originally Posted by Altbark View Post
    Do you own one? I do and yes it does sag because it is supposed to. It is not designed to maintain a straight across shape. In fact, if you try to tension this Selle like a Brooks it will be quickly ruined. This is a great saddle. I have one on my Cannondale T1 and have B17N's on both my 2X10 road bike and singlespeed road bike. Al
    You prefer a sagging saddle. Many Brooks riders don't. Most manufacturers try to minimize saddle sag by using thicker leather, lacing, or bonding cloth/plastic to the underside.

  17. #17
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    Sorry to participate in carrying this thread off the subject, but I, too, own a Selle Anatomica saddle as pictured above. While it lasted, it was by far the most comfortable saddle I ever rode. No pressure points; it felt like sitting in a hammock. But it stretched into uselessness, beyond the range of the tension screw, in less than two years, and I only used that tension screw when I could solidly feel the seatpost trying to have its way with me. It looked to me like the reason it stretched so badly, even with a laminate on the backside of the leather, was that large hole and the short side skirts. They didn't leave enough material to support my weight. I'm told that newer versions have addressed the stretching problem, but I didn't feel like I got my money's worth out of my Selle Anatomica saddle, and they cost too much to try again.

    Back to the point, I have a VO saddle with laced skirts, and it keeps its shape real well. Like furballi mentioned above, the lacing is a little loose, and that seems to help keep the top pliable and comfortable under me. I wouldn't hesitate to lace another leather saddle.

  18. #18
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    Quote Originally Posted by furballi View Post
    You prefer a sagging saddle. Many Brooks riders don't. Most manufacturers try to minimize saddle sag by using thicker leather, lacing, or bonding cloth/plastic to the underside.
    Actually, I don't prefer a sagging saddle. I prefer a saddle that works as it was designed. I find my unmodified Brooks saddles to be very comfortable and durable. I also find my Selle Anatomica to be both comfortable and durable. Both need to be maintained and adjusted in accordance with the manufacturer's instructions if they are to last and perform well beyond the first few months. I find that to be the rule with most things we buy and use. Al

  19. #19
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    Quote Originally Posted by Altbark View Post
    Actually, I don't prefer a sagging saddle. I prefer a saddle that works as it was designed. I find my unmodified Brooks saddles to be very comfortable and durable. I also find my Selle Anatomica to be both comfortable and durable. Both need to be maintained and adjusted in accordance with the manufacturer's instructions if they are to last and perform well beyond the first few months. I find that to be the rule with most things we buy and use. Al
    1. You said in post #15 that the Selle "does sag because it is supposed to".

    2. user Disposable owns the same Selle saddle and his sample "stretched into uselessness, beyond the range of the tension screw, in less than two years".

    And now you're telling others that you "don't prefer a sagging saddle". So according to you, it's OK for the Selle to sag because "it was designed" that way? A good leather saddle is suppose to last +20 years.

    I have a Brooks Imperial Narrow with cut-out slot. Saddle has flaps but still sag badly if the flaps were not tightly laced. You can't stretch a "flap-less" piece of leather with a center cut-out and expect little sag with load.

    Tightly laced flaps do not interfere with pedaling efficiency. The only downside is longer break-in period. The flaps are there to provide additional structural support to the suspension saddle. Adding weight to the saddle will cause the flaps to flare out. This is not rocket science.

  20. #20
    coprolite fietsbob's Avatar
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    Happened to see a picture [hand made bike show] where instead of laces, the skirts pulled together
    with a threaded portion of a few Spokes, and 2 nipples on either end..

  21. #21
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    Quote Originally Posted by furballi View Post
    1. You said in post #15 that the Selle "does sag because it is supposed to".

    2. user Disposable owns the same Selle saddle and his sample "stretched into uselessness, beyond the range of the tension screw, in less than two years".

    And now you're telling others that you "don't prefer a sagging saddle". So according to you, it's OK for the Selle to sag because "it was designed" that way? A good leather saddle is suppose to last +20 years.

    I have a Brooks Imperial Narrow with cut-out slot. Saddle has flaps but still sag badly if the flaps were not tightly laced. You can't stretch a "flap-less" piece of leather with a center cut-out and expect little sag with load.

    Tightly laced flaps do not interfere with pedaling efficiency. The only downside is longer break-in period. The flaps are there to provide additional structural support to the suspension saddle. Adding weight to the saddle will cause the flaps to flare out. This is not rocket science.
    Look all I'm saying is that the Selle Anatomica is a different saddle design. It is a very comfortable touring saddle that I've found to be quite durable. But it's different than a Brooks. The Anatomica would be ruined within a few weeks if it was tensioned like a Brooks. Selle used to have a video of the Anatomica in action on their Anatomica page. It's well worth the look.

    As mentioned before, I have two Brooks B17Ns that are working quite fine for me without modification. The experience for others might be quite different. People have been modifying Brooks saddles probably since the first ones were made.

    Whatever works. Al

  22. #22
    Senior Member Northwestrider's Avatar
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    I've just had two fairly short rides totaling 26 miles on my newly modified B 17, and so far I'm pleased. However I'll need 2 or 3 back to back rides of 50 miles or so each before I declare it an unqualified success, but so far so good. Thanks for the help.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Northwestrider View Post
    I've just had two fairly short rides totaling 26 miles on my newly modified B 17, and so far I'm pleased. However I'll need 2 or 3 back to back rides of 50 miles or so each before I declare it an unqualified success, but so far so good. Thanks for the help.
    The saddle may feel a touch stiff after lacing, but it will conform to your shape in about 500 miles. I don't like the cut out on the Imperial because it can occasionally pinch your skin when you move around on the saddle. Tilting the nose up by 1/4" to 7/8" can relieve some pressure at the front. I do this on the Brooks Pro because the leather is so hard when new. As the saddle ages, you can angle the nose down to a more horizontal position.

  24. #24
    Senior Member Northwestrider's Avatar
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    Furballi : I have the nose of my B17 pointed up a fair amount, and may move it a bit more. I however am unable to understand why in doing so it will relieve pressure. Any thoughts ? I know it to be true, but would like to know why it is so. Maybe just one of life's unsolved mysteries ?

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    A higher nose allows you to slide back toward the widest part of the saddle, where you should plant your sit-bones. This reduces the pressure on tissue forward of the sit-bones because you're not sliding forward into the saddle.

    Too much tilt can restrict pedaling movement because you're positioned too far back on the saddle. This can also compress the tissue forward of the sit-bones when you're in the drop.

    My Brooks Pro lacks the three circular openings at the top. This makes the leather more stiff. I slowly reduce the tilt angle as the leather soften with use. The saddle is dialed in for maximum comfort when my hands are at the top of the bar. I shift my body around after 2 miles to allow blood to circulate around the seating area.

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