My Rides

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Brooks B17 - Adding Laces

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In my last post I mentioned that I'll be lacing the Brooks saddle.  Again, the reason is avoid some of the flexing in the middle of the saddle, and to encourage more break-in toward the rear.  Tonight, after a spin around the neighborhood (no padded shorts), I got out the drill (sorry cringing leather workers - please comment and recommend better methods if you read this), a small combination square, and a pen.

After feeling how & where the saddle was flexing, I:

  1. Marked out symmetrical points about 7mm in from the lower edge of the saddle.  
    • The forward point is on a line perpendicular to the lower edge of the saddle, intersecting the corner radius in the frame surrounding the Brooks logo.
    • The rearward point is on a line perpendicular to the top of the word "BROOKS", offset 3mm rearward from the rearward edge of the frame surrounding the Brooks logo.
  2. Lightly scribed an arc, offset 7mm from the lower edge of the saddle between the first & last point each side.
  3. I chose points, for each lace hole, about 13mm apart on the arc I lightly scribed.  
  4. I took my smallest bit (1/16) and drilled a small pilot hole at each point (be careful drilling, not to scratch up the rails) 
  5. I chose a bit slightly larger than the laces I had (3/16) and opened up each hole, and tested that the laces fit.
  6. With a pair of needle nose pliers, in the closed position, I used the tip to burnish (probably not the right word) each side of each hole (kind of twisted the plier nose around the hole to smooth it out).
  7. I applied Obenauf's to my hands and pulled the leather laces through, to get a coating on them.
  8. Laced the saddle, like a shoe, starting at the front - I think having the knot in the back will make for quickest / easiest adjustments on the road / trail.

With a quick sit, I didn't feel much of a difference - which is a good thing.  It may be a little firmer, but, of course that's what you'd expect.  I'll update when I've been for a ride.  Here's a couple of pictures.

Update (3/16/11):  

Rode 17 miles tonight on Hines Drive.  The laces are great.  The saddle felt a little firm, so I backed out 1 turn of tension.  It could probably be loosened a little more, but I'll give it another ride before deciding.

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Update June 2013:

A couple of years later.  The original saddle on my mountain bike has thousands of miles on it.  I've tightened the bolt a little, as the leather has broken in.  This saddle is noticeably more comfortable than those on my utility and road bikes (with only hundreds of miles).
I saw a picture online somewhere with only a single lace in the saddle.  As I thought about how the lace affects tension, and looked at my own saddles, I realized this makes sense.  For the B17 Special on my road bike, I added a single lace (a pair of holes on each side).  Works well, feels similar to the others, and makes less clutter under the seat.