[CR]Re: $200 for a B17? What am I missing? (Chuck Schmidt)

From: LeMansGTMAN@aol.com
Date: Tue, 9 Sep 2003 16:11:54 EDT
To: classicrendezvous@bikelist.org
Subject: [CR]Re: $200 for a B17? What am I missing? (Chuck Schmidt)

I'm a little late responding to this topic - but it caught my eye when I got in from work this evening.

Chuck makes a valid observation here - basically; something is worth what someone is prepared to pay for it...

In this case a lot of lolly for something that a few years ago in the UK would have been skipped (thrown in a dumpster) without a second thought. Now B17s are highly sought after now - but to absolutely objective, and with 20/20 hindsight - with some good reason.

When I was in the cycle trade in Oxford back in the 1970s, B17s were standard fitment on most good quality marque, low to mid-range sports bikes, not highly regarded at all.

Then someone discovered the delights (manufacturing economics) of cheap imported rock-hard molded plastic saddles - and a new nightmare in bruised buttocks began for generations of nascent cyclists, until gel padding was discovered that is... B17s had disappeared forever it seemed - read on...

Anyway, in those days all we racing types HAD to have a Brooks Professional (made in one model / colourway then - dark brown) it was simply essential fitment for every self regarding roadman. I still have mine from way back then and have always treasured it, v.comfy indeed - whilst always having nagging doubts about the design:- big copper rivets stretching ever bigger and bigger holes in the softening leather. Tightening just makes it worse. So now mine is deformed almost to the point of being unusable. Most others I have seen in the UK have ended up the same incidentally.

To the point then! - Recently I acquired a B17 of similar vintage to my "Pro" - perhaps even older, attached to an ancient Tom Godwin tourer purchased from an old gent in Birmingham.

This saddle was showing its age for sure (scuffed / stained etc.,) but was taut and soft and the (small) rivets had not stretched or deformed holes in the leather. Also v.comfy. I was SO impressed that I have now started "B17 spotting" - guess what? the ones I see are all in the same general condition as mine, which is now used constantly on my training bike - and swapped to whatever bike I am using for a long ride.

Others will probably violently disagree - but here's my view:- Brooks Pro - stylish 1970s icon, but an unsound crap design, basically because of the huge (but v.sexy looking) copper rivets. Brooks B17 - ugly old pups with small steel rivets and a pretty naff image, but really a great design that will probably outlive me. Both types are equally easy on the old bum though.

I would however really have to take issue with our Japanese collector colleague who has just paid $1000s for a particular model of the type - but it's his money and I'm sure what started out as a pretty humble posterior support in the Midlands of England will be enjoyed to the full when it reaches its new home...

I on the other hand (and being basically cheap) have just purchased a NOS WRIGHTS W3ST, also on ebay - the same as a B17 but with black enamelled rails and different branding - £10 inc shipping (about $14?). God I'm a smug idiot!

Ian Briggs