Re: [Classicrendezvous] B15 vs. B17

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From: "Donald Dundee" <>
Subject: Re: [Classicrendezvous] B15 vs. B17
Date: Mon, 30 Oct 2000 09:38:51 EST

"a number of assertions that are questionable"..... Well, what are they?

My information comes from not only observations over 25 years of collecting, but from George Flegg, shop foreman at Brooks for over 50 years, and a close friend of mine. I suppose if I did an averaging of thicknesses of the B15's in my collection, I would find the following to be true:

1) The B15 is of thinner leather, on avearge, than the B17. 2) The consistency of the B15 is highly variable, with thickness measurements running all over the map. 3) The B15, for the most part, have under-reinforcements when cut from a thin hide, which is the most common. 4) there may be examples of B17 with this reinforcement. There may be examples of B15 without it.

Furthermore, who said anything about chamfering. I could give you a history of that technique, but I won't. But just for your information, there was a period when both B17 and B15 were tooled instead of chamfered, and there was a period when both were chamfered.

I still don't understant your point about your crooked saddle? What is the relevency?

Ken denny Boston, MA

>From: Joseph Bender-Zanoni <>
>To: "Donald Dundee" <>,,
>Subject: Re: [Classicrendezvous] B15 vs. B17
>Date: Sat, 28 Oct 2000 22:14:50 -0700
>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
> >reinforcement under-patch which was intended to strengthen the
> >patch was not used on the B15 Swallow. Finally, perhaps teh most
> >distinguishing feature of B15's was that they used hollow steel rivets.
> >can tell by the fact that they are split on the underside.
> >The B15 line was produced until 1971, when it was discontinued for
> >reasons within the company.
> >
> >The B15 Swallow had cutaway sides that were interconnected underneath by
> >riveted plate. The B17 Swallow, which had a similar profile to teh B15,
> >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
> >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
> >the B17 Swallow were available with optional "dull" finish. Also, earlier
> >versions of the B17 swallow normally used black rails, with chrome rails
> >optional.
> >
> >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
> >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
> >through mid 90's, had the side flaps riveted to an arch-shaped, black
> >enameled, steel plate which connected the side flaps together with
> >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
> >>>may also know. Was the Swallow made up until the shutdown? Sheldon
> >>>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
> >>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
> >>while.
> >>
> >>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! |
> >>+--------------------------------------+
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> >>Phone 617-244-9772, 617-244-1040, FAX 617-244-1041
> >>
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