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Brooks vintage saddle vs new

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Brooks vintage saddle vs new

Old 08-12-10, 09:54 AM
  #1  
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Brooks vintage saddle vs new

I've been reading comments here and there about new Brooks saddles being of lesser quality than the older ones. Thinner material, shorter life, not necessarily sub-par construction, but perhaps. I've found this critique of modern craftsmanship to hold true with other classics, like my Blundies (Blundstone boots), so I'm ready to believe the theory. But what do you all think? And, if that's the case, can you get a vintage Brooks saddle and expect any more life than a "thin" new one? And what about the re-shaping that occurs while the leather conforms to the original owners shape, is that a problem for the buyer? Actually, my Blundies are known to do the same, and I don't think I'd buy them used, for that reason.

And what's with all the honey colored saddles at Brooks. Why can't you get a standard B-17 in good ole fashioned brown.

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Old 08-12-10, 10:06 AM
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Well, I am probably responsible for some of the comments that say the new Brooks are inferior to the old ones, and I stand by that assessment. But to be fair I have to point out one thing: I'm comparing a 2007 B17, and a 2008 Flyer (both of which were thin and flimsy and have stretched far too much) to a 1980 Pro, a late 70's Pro, and early 70's Pro (all of which have held up very well). Very possibly these are apples-to-oranges comparisons and should be ignored entirely.

I would like to try a NOS B17, like one from the 60's to early 80's, just for the sake of comparison.
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Old 08-12-10, 10:12 AM
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Having owned 5 or 6 Brooks saddles of different models and different ages, I think it's impossible to say.

I have a Brooks Pro from the early 80's that is great. I had a Brooks from the mid-80's that was crap. I had a Brooks Swift from ?? that was well built but I never liked it. I have a Brooks B17 I bought in 2008 that is going strong after 3,500 of year-round riding, with lots of miles in the (gasp!) rain.

Also, my experience is that Brooks saddle don't deform *that* much to the rider's weight.

All things being equal I'd buy a used Brooks on eBay if I could find one in great condition and save some $$.
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Old 08-12-10, 10:20 AM
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IMO, the couple of new Professionals and couple of new B-17 I have and ride (all 2-3 years old at most), are of the same quality as the used and NOS Brooks I've acquired from the '60s & '70s. I have seen a couple of late '80s early '90s Brooks that did not appear to be as durable. One was marked "Pre Softened."
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Old 08-12-10, 10:21 AM
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It's because of the cows. The parents are coddling the youth, making the calfs 'thin skinned' now-days.
I know, it is a broad generalization.
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Old 08-12-10, 10:25 AM
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I've been poring over the Brooks saddles on eBay--I can't speak to the quality but the prices stagger me. I ride enough in the city that I don't want a shiny new $125 saddle on my bike so that I worry every time I go into the grocery store. I also just prefer the patina and look of an old saddle--a better fit for most of my bikes.

There are a couple of nice vintage saddles on eBay right now, including a Wrights that looks like a B17--doesn't look very worn but nice patina.
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Old 08-12-10, 12:18 PM
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Maybe it's more of "different cows/different leather quality" kicking in here. as I have heard of problem saddles from Brooks back in the 80's as well (My firend had one with a stretching problem). As leather is an organic material and cannot be entirely controlled quality-wise as much as machine/chemical made synthetic materials can be, a few leather saddle covers with questionable (but not evident to the eye) internal characteristics can slip through the Brooks production lines once in a while.
Maybe it's just like choosing and buying a baseball mitts, no two are exactly alike, some feel better than others, despite being of the same mode,l so you got through a bunch of them at the sporting goods store before you find the one that feels right.

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Old 08-12-10, 05:12 PM
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Of course nothing is as a good as things used to be. This is the C&V forum for chrissakes.
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Old 08-12-10, 05:37 PM
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Clearly climate change is causing the decline in quality, directly linked to the evil Bush environmental policy initiatives! Actually I can't break in any of my brooks saddles (3) no matter how much I ride. Though my brooks swallow shows the most signs of breaking in, even though it hasn't seen as many miles as my still rock-hard swift. Thinner leather I guess.
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Old 08-12-10, 05:47 PM
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Originally Posted by jtgotsjets View Post
Of course nothing is as a good as things used to be. This is the C&V forum for chrissakes.
+1
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Old 08-12-10, 06:23 PM
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The leather is not as thick as it used to be but the quality is still good. Personally I prefer the less thick leather. Sure it "could" end it's life sooner but it breaks in a little faster. I am not a fan of old used Brooks saddles as I prefer to break them in myself.
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Old 08-12-10, 07:29 PM
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Originally Posted by David Newton View Post
It's because of the cows. The parents are coddling the youth, making the calfs 'thin skinned' now-days.
I know, it is a broad generalization.
Someone just posted a Brooks podcast this week. They said there were problems with the leather due to mad cow disease. They were slaughtering cows at a young age and apparently the hide is not as thick.
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Old 08-12-10, 09:56 PM
  #13  
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This is my most comfortable saddle and It's not a Brooks. It's a BIM, whatever that is. It's obviously very old, but there's no sign of tearing around the rivets. I paid $20 for it on eBay.

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Old 08-12-10, 10:06 PM
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Originally Posted by greengage View Post
There are a couple of nice vintage saddles on eBay right now, including a Wrights that looks like a B17--doesn't look very worn but nice patina.
I've got one of those- a W3.N- on my commuter hybrid and I love it. I find it just as comfy as the B72 on my DL-1.



The one that's up on Ebay right now looks pretty good; it will probably go for about $50 including shipping.
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Originally Posted by bragi "However, it's never a good idea to overgeneralize."

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Old 08-12-10, 10:26 PM
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On the topic of brooks-style saddles. Will a used broken in saddle purchased 2nd hand work for another person? Or will the broken in leather be all screwy with another persons rear end?
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Old 08-12-10, 10:34 PM
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It will work fine from my experience. However, I agree with BengeBoy that I don't notice deformation in my 37 yr. old Pro that I have had since the bike was new. I threw another old one on my bike and haven't noticed any difference when I was riding it.
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Old 08-12-10, 11:33 PM
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Yep. I have the one pictured above and the one on my 1966 DL-1 which has the original seat (got the bike two years ago) and they both fit fine.
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Originally Posted by bragi "However, it's never a good idea to overgeneralize."
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Old 08-13-10, 04:29 AM
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Originally Posted by pastorbobnlnh View Post
IMO, the couple of new Professionals and couple of new B-17 I have and ride (all 2-3 years old at most), are of the same quality as the used and NOS Brooks I've acquired from the '60s & '70s. I have seen a couple of late '80s early '90s Brooks that did not appear to be as durable. One was marked "Pre Softened."
So far my family of B17 Imps (papa bear, momma bear, and my trial saddle, a skinny bear) are all holding up quite well, but are also rather low in mileage. My early '80s Pro was pre-softened, and I agree, it has sagged and softened rather early. It's on one of my bud's bikes, now, who says it disappears under him. For me it's just poor support that never fails to numb. Maybe I'll try a newer one someday ...
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Old 08-13-10, 05:19 AM
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BIM (off-topic)

Originally Posted by Grand Bois View Post
... It's a BIM, whatever that is...
I have a BIM as well (see pics).

What I found out is that BIM was a brandname of the french Tron & Berthet (TB) saddlecompany, apparently from the last years of its existence. The same company which built the IDEALE saddles.

This is obvious when you look at the pictures. The company logo of BIM is nearly identical to IDEALE (by the way: your BIM seems to be the same like mine and that's an IDEALE 39 clone).

... ... I paid $20 for it on eBay...
I got mine for free from a dealer.



brooks vintage saddle vs new:
can't compare, I only got old ones
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Old 08-13-10, 05:51 AM
  #20  
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Purchased a very used Brooks B-17 on ebay. When it arrived it was dry, hard, and tearing somewhat from the rivets. A application of mink oil on top and bottom of the saddle did little to improve it. Put it on my bike and road it last summer and the more i rode the better it felt, and the better it looked. Now after two summers the saddle is super comfortable and the leather is supple and shiney. The leather hasnt broken away from the rivets any more either. The old ones last for ever.

Also won a Wrights on e-bay. Another very dry, cracking saddle. Its pretty far gone, but its still functional. The more I ride it, the better its getting.
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Old 08-13-10, 01:33 PM
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buying vintage Brooks saddles on eBay has its pitfalls too. i got one B-17 that was dry but had no visible tears. I applied proofide to it every night or so for two weeks and then started riding it. five days later this happened while riding:


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Old 08-13-10, 02:50 PM
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Originally Posted by Catnap View Post
buying vintage Brooks saddles on eBay has its pitfalls too. i got one B-17 that was dry but had no visible tears. I applied proofide to it every night or so for two weeks and then started riding it. five days later this happened while riding:


Um.... I think you applied to much proofide. I think once a year is the most that is recommended.
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Old 08-13-10, 05:59 PM
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I've bought several vintage Brooks saddles from the 70s (B17N, Pro, Competition), and I can tell you that they're like rocks compared to a new Brooks. I think that this is mainly because they have been disused for years, yea decades; and I may end up like poor Catnap too. But they are beautiful. I don't really think there's that much difference in leather thickness, maybe a little. I don't have a new Pro to compare to the venerable one.

I seriously doubt that Catnap's failure had anything to do with how much Proofide was applied. I've looked at a lot of leather maintenance/restoration stuff on the internet (including bike- and saddle-focused), and I've found very little that I think isn't hoodoo: faith-based rather than science-based. Old unused leather probably dries out and changes internally, in a way that's not good for picking it up and riding it again. I plan on treating my hard saddles with a good leather conditioner, before I start riding them -- but that's just what I believe at the current time.

And, if a vintage Brooks isn't stiff enough for you, then get a vintage Idéale!

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Old 08-13-10, 06:04 PM
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Originally Posted by Charles Wahl View Post
I've bought several vintage Brooks saddles from the 70s (B17N, Pro, Competition), and I can tell you that they're like rocks compared to a new Brooks. I think that this is mainly because they have been disused for years, yea decades; and I may end up like poor Catnap too. But they are beautiful. I don't really think there's that much difference in leather thickness, maybe a little. I don't have a new Pro to compare to the venerable one.

And if a vintage Brooks isn't stiff enough for you, then get a vintage Idéale!
I had an old B15 that was as tough as granite. The leather was really thick on that saddle compared to the professionals. That was the only Brooks that I thought was kind of ugly, I sold it and kept my Wrights W3N.
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Old 08-13-10, 07:40 PM
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Originally Posted by Catnap View Post
buying vintage Brooks saddles on eBay has its pitfalls too. i got one B-17 that was dry but had no visible tears. I applied proofide to it every night or so for two weeks and then started riding it. five days later this happened while riding:


It's amazing how a simple thing as READING the directions can save thousands of dollars.
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