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Cutting a relief in a Brooks saddle?

Old 08-23-14, 02:00 PM
  #1  
JimboMartin
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Cutting a relief in a Brooks saddle?

Hello All:
I have a Brooks saddle that looks great on my commuter. In recent years I've gotten to where I only ride saddles with cutouts so I no longer use the Brooks. I see that Brooks makes a saddle with a cutout so I'm wondering if I could simply make a cutout myself. Anyone tried this? How did it go?
Thanks,
Jim
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Old 08-23-14, 03:04 PM
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this isn't uncommon surgery. i think people that do this use a paper template and an x-acto knife to mirror the brooks imperial.

it's probably important to then lace the skirts with a waxed thread or leather.
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Old 08-23-14, 03:27 PM
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Interesting project. Which model Brooks is it? I've never tried this and I think it would be tricky to get it right. There's no practice, after all. Once you start, you're committed.

I work a bit with leather and I think if I were to try it, I would use a scalpel. In my experience, you want something much sharper than an Xacto knife.
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Old 08-23-14, 04:07 PM
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Thanks Eschlwc and Rootboy.
After posting I found this link: B17 Special ? Imperial Cut DIY | Cycle Seattle
which is what I was thinking of.
Cheers,
Jim
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Old 08-23-14, 04:37 PM
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Interesting pics. What is the purported purpose of these cutouts anyway? Take pressure off the fromunder?
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Old 08-23-14, 05:49 PM
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Believe it or not cutting up a Brooks is referred to as "butchering." I butchered this B-17 6-7 years back.

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Old 08-23-14, 07:10 PM
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Originally Posted by onespeedbiker View Post
Believe it or not cutting up a Brooks is referred to as "butchering."
Name says it all...

Yes, I get to be a old pisser if I want to.
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Old 08-23-14, 09:21 PM
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Originally Posted by onespeedbiker View Post
Believe it or not cutting up a Brooks is referred to as "butchering." I butchered this B-17 6-7 years back.

How does that go?

I love B17s but I do kinda think they could look a bit more racy, which is what I guess motivated your own knife work?
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Old 08-23-14, 10:10 PM
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Originally Posted by yugyug View Post
How does that go?

I love B17s but I do kinda think they could look a bit more racy, which is what I guess motivated your own knife work?
It's a actually quite comfy, I've rode a few centuries on it with no problems; you will have to tighten up the adjuster nut quite a bit though.

If I did it again I would probably leave about an inch more on the sides like this Swallow
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Old 08-23-14, 10:47 PM
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Originally Posted by onespeedbiker View Post
Typos are my life!
Originally Posted by onespeedbiker View Post
... I've rode a few centuries...
and conjugation?

we're even. heh.
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Old 08-23-14, 10:56 PM
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Originally Posted by eschlwc View Post
and conjugation?

we're even. heh.
Thats wasn't a typo, it was a grammar error, which is even worse!!

https://www.verbix.com/webverbix/English/ride.html

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Old 08-24-14, 01:57 AM
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Originally Posted by onespeedbiker View Post
It's a actually quite comfy, I've rode a few centuries on it with no problems; you will have to tighten up the adjuster nut quite a bit though.

If I did it again I would probably leave about an inch more on the sides like this Swallow
but then you would be cutting through the Brooks logo? Might not look so good?
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Old 08-24-14, 04:59 AM
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Originally Posted by onespeedbiker View Post
, I've rode a few centuries on it with no problems; you will have to tighten up the adjuster nut quite a bit though.
Isn't the need for the adjustment after only a few 100 miles problematic? I've read where Brooks frowns upon these mods because it jeopardizes the integrity of the saddle

If I did it again I would probably leave about an inch more on the sides like this Swallow
The Swallow also has the material which would have been the apron, brought under the saddle and riveted together to keep the saddle from becoming a hammock like sling

For comparison, I'm 240lbs, and have put several thousand miles on a Swallow and still haven't found the need to tighten the tension bolt.

You can see the apron attached under the Swallow here.



Nice as your B-17 looks, I think you've put it into an early grave.
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Old 08-24-14, 11:04 AM
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Originally Posted by yugyug View Post
but then you would be cutting through the Brooks logo? Might not look so good?
I said I would leave an inch more, not less; also the back area where the logo is is already cut short enough so their is no reason to mess with it.
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Old 08-24-14, 11:05 AM
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Originally Posted by onespeedbiker View Post
Believe it or not cutting up a Brooks is referred to as "butchering." I butchered this B-17 6-7 years back.

I remember that! Do you still ride it? Has it been durable?
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Old 08-24-14, 11:12 AM
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Originally Posted by Velognome View Post
Isn't the need for the adjustment after only a few 100 miles problematic? I've read where Brooks frowns upon these mods because it jeopardizes the integrity of the saddle



The Swallow also has the material which would have been the apron, brought under the saddle and riveted together to keep the saddle from becoming a hammock like sling

For comparison, I'm 240lbs, and have put several thousand miles on a Swallow and still haven't found the need to tighten the tension bolt.

You can see the apron attached under the Swallow here.



Nice as your B-17 looks, I think you've put it into an early grave.
I did not mean I needed to tighten the adjuster every 100 miles. What I meant to relay where two different thoughts 1) after I cut the Brooks saddle, I needed to adjust the tension quite a bit, but only one time 2) After I cut the Brooks I rode it that way on several 100 mile bike rides and the saddle was comfortable than and is still comfortable now. As far as shortening the life of the saddle you are probably right, but as I said, if I did it again, I would leave more leather on the sides. I did not mean that it would hold up as well as the Swallow, I was simply using the length of the leather on the sides as an example.

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Old 08-24-14, 12:45 PM
  #17  
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I ride a B-17 that I cut a relief slot in the top to mimic a SelleAnatomica slot, which is simpler than the Imperial: just a larger radius in front, smaller radius in back connected with slightly curved cuts on the sides. I have a set of tubular punches that I used for the holes, then connected them with cuts made (carefully) with an Exacto knife.
I chamfered the edges with a leather tool made for that. I have been very happy with the improved comfort over the un-cut B-17, and have not done any tension adjustment nor laced or clamped the apron (saddle sides). YRMV.
I have shared my template with a few other DIY saddle butchers over the years and never heard of any complaints... nor any success stories either.
I have had a LOT of experience cutting with Exacto knives, and a fair amount with leather work, but this is the first and so far only "saddle butchering" or modification I have made...maybe the term "butchering" is a little off-putting so we should call it "artisinal meat-cutting"
I'll see if I can attach my template to this post.
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Old 08-24-14, 05:31 PM
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Originally Posted by Velognome View Post
Isn't the need for the adjustment after only a few 100 miles problematic? I've read where Brooks frowns upon these mods because it jeopardizes the integrity of the saddle

The Swallow also has the material which would have been the apron, brought under the saddle and riveted together to keep the saddle from becoming a hammock like sling
For comparison, I'm 240lbs, and have put several thousand miles on a Swallow and still haven't found the need to tighten the tension bolt.
You can see the apron attached under the Swallow here.



Nice as your B-17 looks, I think you've put it into an early grave.
Hmmmm, here's a quote from Bill Laine, proprietor of Wallingford Bicycle Parts:

Of the narrow Brooks models the Swallow is advised for lighter riders (<145#). The Swift would be better for mid-weight riders (145-185#) and the Team Pro would best suit the heavier riders. Of course, this is a guideline and the numbers aren't firm. But a heavier rider would probably not be happy with the durability of the Swallow in the long run. The B.17 N is a versatile saddle that would work for most riders whose riding style suited a narrower Brooks.

I am 6' 235# and may well swap out my B17 for a Swallow like the poster above. Velognome's post is very significant to me.
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Old 08-24-14, 10:59 PM
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Originally Posted by onespeedbiker View Post
I said I would leave an inch more, not less; also the back area where the logo is is already cut short enough so their is no reason to mess with it.
I meant regarding the embossed leather logo on the sides (not the metal plate) - if you leave more, you will be cutting through it. Seems to me you made your cut in order to just run over the top of it?
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Old 08-25-14, 12:32 AM
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Originally Posted by yugyug View Post
I meant regarding the embossed leather logo on the sides (not the metal plate) - if you leave more, you will be cutting through it. Seems to me you made your cut in order to just run over the top of it?
My bad, you are right; it's been a while since I did the butchering. I would however cut closely around the embossed logo if I had to do it again; you would still be trimming 3/4" of each side.
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Old 08-25-14, 01:13 AM
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Originally Posted by rootboy View Post
Interesting pics. What is the purported purpose of these cutouts anyway? Take pressure off the fromunder?
Yeah to take the pressure off the "perineum region".



I didn't trust myself with a scalpel on a $180 saddle so I bought this Swallow lookin' B17 Champion special modification for my Trek 970. I wound up having to get it from the Netherlands so it's about $180 shipped. If you would've told me I'd be paying as much for a saddle as a crankset in the '80s I would've laughed at the absurdity of such a suggestion. So I'm about 200lbs. I guess we'll see how it looks and lasts.

You can also get them made from a B17 select or a standard and in brown or tan.
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Old 08-25-14, 10:41 AM
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I had Selle An-Atomica slot my B17 Champion Special about 8 years ago, when the original owner of SAA was still alive. Part of their modification was a bonded thin layer of leather under the original Brooks skin (already Pro thickness on this version). That saddle has been holding up well, and the bonded layer shows no sign of coming off. The SAA Tru-Leather Titanico X that I owned for a while last year also had a bonded on layer.
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Old 08-25-14, 11:26 AM
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Hmmmm, I'm wondering how long you'd want to give a new B17 before deciding it's time to cut a slot into it.
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Old 08-25-14, 12:36 PM
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My understanding is that Selle Anatomica got their start by slotting Brooks saddles for customers.
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Old 08-25-14, 01:56 PM
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Originally Posted by Route 66 View Post
Hmmmm, I'm wondering how long you'd want to give a new B17 before deciding it's time to cut a slot into it.
I used mine pretty thoroughly for two years, trying many adjustments, before deciding that slotting was the answer for me, and it has worked out well, although my recent (last year) addition of a Gilles Berthoud Aravis on another bike doesn't require as much nose-up, hence no slotting required.
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