Re: [Classicrendezvous] B15 vs. B17

(Example: Racing:Roger de Vlaeminck)

Date: Sat, 28 Oct 2000 22:14:50 -0700
To: "Donald Dundee" <>,,,
From: "Joseph Bender-Zanoni" <>
Subject: Re: [Classicrendezvous] B15 vs. B17
In-Reply-To: <>

I have to say that the post below from a few days ago has a number of assertions that are questionable.

Quickly measuring the 10 or so Brooks B-15s, B-17s, Pros and Swallows that I have, the average leather thickness at the flaps is typically 5mm plus or minus .5mm. Of the three B-15s in the sample, none are thinner than the average and in fact, the thickest leather on a Brooks saddle I own is a B-15 at about 5.8mm.

As to quality I have one B-17 Champion Narrow that is at 5.5mm on the right flap and 4.5mm at the left. Guess what- this 1964 saddle is pretty crooked over the years.

None of my B-15s have an under patch. I have a Lycette Swallow with an under patch but it has 5mm "flaps" too.

Also the B-15s and Swallows are not chamfered.

I agree about the steel rivets.

It also seems to me that many Schwinns (Sport Tourers and Super Sports) came with B-15s well after 1971. Of course Schwinn may have held a large inventory. Who knows how many sets of Nervex lugs they bought in advance of their immediate needs.

Maybe the B-15 was intended as an OEM variant? Does anyone on the list remember buying one new that wasn't part of a bike?

After all that, and all those Brooks saddles I seem to own, I am still not a Brooks aficianado and Ideale has never worked for me at all. I am coming to realize that the Narrows and especially the Swallows fit me better. On the other hand, Larry Strung has a 50's Brooks sprinting saddle so narrow that it only fits, as the Vermonters say, where the sun don't shine.


MyAt 11:35 AM 10/27/00 EDT, Donald Dundee wrote:
>Well, sort of. Firstly, a comment about the B15 line vs the B17 line. The
>B15 line of Saddles, which included the B15 Standard, narrow and Swallow,
>was a lesser grade saddle than the B17. The leather used was thinner and
>generally rejected for inclusion in the B17 line. B15's normally employed a
>reinforcement under-patch which was intended to strengthen the saddle.This
>patch was not used on the B15 Swallow. Finally, perhaps teh most
>distinguishing feature of B15's was that they used hollow steel rivets. You
>can tell by the fact that they are split on the underside.
>The B15 line was produced until 1971, when it was discontinued for economic
>reasons within the company.
>The B15 Swallow had cutaway sides that were interconnected underneath by a
>riveted plate. The B17 Swallow, which had a similar profile to teh B15, and
>utilized the same hardware, was an extremely well-crafted saddle. Made of
>heavier leather, it employed an integral stiffener wire, hand stitched
>within the side flaps, and a chrome-plated fastening plate on the underside.
>This model was produced until 1970/71, to the best of my knowledge, but
>according to george flegg, shop foreman at Brooks, it was made on a few
>occasions subsequent to 1971 on special order.
>Both B17 and B15 lines were available in Black or Brown. Earlier versions of
>the B17 Swallow were available with optional "dull" finish. Also, earlier
>versions of the B17 swallow normally used black rails, with chrome rails
>There were also lightweight versions of the B17 Swallow (model B57) which
>employed stainless steel rails and aluminum cantleplate. these are quite
>rare as bi-metallic corossion often occured at the cantleplate/rail
>location, causing fatigue failure.
>My 1970 WB Hurlow shown at Lars Anderson this past season was equipped with
>a B17 Swallow with shiny black finish. My 1950's Ephgrave had an earlier
>version of the B17 Swallow with optional dull finish, oval embossed logo,
>and early nameplate.
>The last reiteration of the Swallow was in response to demand and did not
>hold a candle to earlier versions. This model, produced from the late 80's
>through mid 90's, had the side flaps riveted to an arch-shaped, black
>enameled, steel plate which connected the side flaps together with exposed
>copper rivets. The production of this saddle had nothing to do with Mike
>Kone or Bicycle Classics, but rather the company's interest in
>retro-introducing the item. It fell short of expectations.
>>From: Sheldon Brown <>
>>To: Jerry Moos <>, Jeff Slotkin <>
>>CC: Classic Rendezvous <>
>>Subject: Re: [Classicrendezvous] B15 vs. B17
>>Date: Fri, 27 Oct 2000 10:59:56 -0400
>>Jerry Moos wrote:
>>>I have a similar question, which Sheldon can certainly answer, but others
>>>may also know. Was the Swallow made up until the shutdown? Sheldon had
>>>them on his site, but I didn't find them offered by any other vendors.
>>>Were Sheldon's NOS? Also, is the Swallow technically a variation of the
>>B-17? (I think I remember hearing references to a "B-17 Swallow")
>>In the 1960s, there were both B15 and B17 Swallows, and lots of other
>>models that no longer exist. Some time in the late'60s, I believe,
>>there was a fire at Brooks, which put them out of action for quite a
>>When they got back up on their feet, it was with a much reduced
>>product line. They gave up on their extensive line of touring bags,
>>leaving that market to Carradice and others. The Swallow was one of
>>the models that was discontinued at that time, and I think the whole
>>B15 line went out then as well.
>>The prices of used Swallows got so high (I've heard of Japanese
>>collectors paying as much as $400 for them) that they were prevailed
>>upon to re-introduce the model sometime in the mid '90s. I think
>>Mike Kone may have had something to do with this. The recent
>>Swallows have no reference to B17/B15.
>>Sheldon "About To Leave For Work On One Of My Swallows" Brown
>>Newtonville, Massachusetts
>>| A Nader vote is a Republican vote! |
>> Harris Cyclery, West Newton, Massachusetts
>>Phone 617-244-9772, 617-244-1040, FAX 617-244-1041
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