[CR] Leather saddles vs leather covered - Now Brooks Website

(Example: Component Manufacturers)

Date: Fri, 29 May 2009 15:01:02 -0700
From: Jerome & Elizabeth Moos <jerrymoos@sbcglobal.net>
To: <Stronglight49@aol.com>, <classicrendezvous@bikelist.org>, <kfhume@hotmail.com>
Subject: [CR] Leather saddles vs leather covered - Now Brooks Website

It appears that Brooks is selling saddles direct to the public on their website. When did this begin? How are the Brooks dealers in UK and US reacting to this competition from the the manufacturer? I do note that the prices are rather high, and that most shops, both in UK and even the larger-volume Brooks sellers in the US can beat the prices by a significant amount. So maybe this protects the dealers a bit, but I wouldn't think they would be happy about the direct sales.


Jerry Moos
Big Spring, Texas, USA

--- On Fri, 5/29/09, kfhume@hotmail.com wrote:

> From: kfhume@hotmail.com <kfhume@hotmail.com>

\r?\n> Subject: Re: [CR] Leather saddles vs leather covered

\r?\n> To: Stronglight49@aol.com, classicrendezvous@bikelist.org

\r?\n> Date: Friday, May 29, 2009, 4:07 PM

\r?\n> Hi Bob,


\r?\n> Thank you for that insight into the development of

\r?\n> saddles.


\r?\n> I have an orginal Brooks Professional saddle on my road

\r?\n> bike and was rather pleased to discover tonight that these

\r?\n> saddles are once again being made in Manchester, England.


\r?\n> The full range now on sale can be seen at :-


\r?\n> http://www.brooksengland.com/en/Shop_CategoryPage.aspx?cat=saddles+-+road+%26+mtb


\r?\n> How cool is that ?


\r?\n> Regards


\r?\n> Ken Hume

\r?\n> London, England



\r?\n> ----- Original Message ----- From: <Stronglight49@aol.com>

\r?\n> To: <classicrendezvous@bikelist.org>

\r?\n> Sent: Friday, May 29, 2009 8:54 PM

\r?\n> Subject: Re: [CR] Leather saddles vs leather covered



\r?\n> A couple years ago I read that UnicaNitor saddles made a

\r?\n> rather

\r?\n> flashy debut among the Pros in 1959 when the French teams

\r?\n> including Anquetil and Derrigade suddenly adopted them for

\r?\n> the

\r?\n> TDF and the Giro.  These had simple unpadded plastic

\r?\n> tops, later

\r?\n> modified to a dimpled finish to attempt to quell the

\r?\n> slippery feel of

\r?\n> the smooth plastic.  But, in only a couple years the

\r?\n> same teams

\r?\n> had returned to the comfort of the alloy framed Ideale,

\r?\n> although a

\r?\n> bit heavier.  Tom Simpson was claimed to have been the

\r?\n> first to

\r?\n> glue a leather top to his own plastic Unica, but by 1970

\r?\n> the factory

\r?\n> was already rolling out saddles with leather covers and

\r?\n> with some

\r?\n> padding above the plastic shell as well.


\r?\n> I  rode with both Brooks (and Ideale) and Unicanitor

\r?\n> saddles during

\r?\n> the late 1960s through early 70s.  The Cinelli

\r?\n> Unicanitor was viewed

\r?\n> then as the ultimate - just as we might view the latest

\r?\n> high-tech San

\r?\n> Marco or Selle Italia racing saddles today.  They were

\r?\n> noticeably

\r?\n> lighter in weight than the old fashioned full leather, and

\r?\n> were

\r?\n> advertised (and endorsed by racers) as being designed for

\r?\n> superior

\r?\n> comfort... and since they were seen on the bikes of the

\r?\n> Pros, they

\r?\n> surely MUST be superior - Right?


\r?\n> Well, the Unicas were NEVER  comfortable for me. 

\r?\n> But, I naively

\r?\n> assumed I was simply an anomaly and did not even consider

\r?\n> that

\r?\n> it could have been the fault of the unyielding plastic

\r?\n> shell - especially

\r?\n> since the padded saddle certainly seemed and felt to the

\r?\n> touch

\r?\n> like it should be a more comfortable seat than a hard

\r?\n> leather  top.


\r?\n> By the early 1970s, I suspect even Brooks began to fear the

\r?\n> growing

\r?\n> popularity of the trendy "modern" racing saddles as more

\r?\n> brands and

\r?\n> models were being offered every year and were selling for

\r?\n> substantially

\r?\n> less than a top line Brooks model.  They were

\r?\n> definitely easier and

\r?\n> cheaper, faster to manufacture.  And, priced

\r?\n> accordingly, they were

\r?\n> quickly replacing leather as OEM saddles for new bike

\r?\n> sales.  The

\r?\n> main hold-outs I remember were the mid-range French bikes

\r?\n> which

\r?\n> still were offered with lower tier stiff leather saddles

\r?\n> (Did the Ideale

\r?\n> model 39 saddles EVER break in before that UO-8 bike rusted

\r?\n> away?).


\r?\n> And, among my crowd, the olde leather was already being

\r?\n> viewed

\r?\n> as an obsolete relic of the racing past.  High end

\r?\n> bikes were still

\r?\n> offered with a (suitably expensive) Brooks Pro as an

\r?\n> alternative to

\r?\n> the fancy Cinelli Unicanitor models (which were far more

\r?\n> costly

\r?\n> than most of the contemporary copies).  Unicas were

\r?\n> even offered

\r?\n> with various leather top finishes.  I had a padded

\r?\n> black suede  model

\r?\n> - which I liked only because I never slid on it... but, it

\r?\n> was never  as

\r?\n> comfy as my old Brooks Pros. The clear "CINELLI" imprint in

\r?\n> silver

\r?\n> at the rear of the saddles added an air of expense and

\r?\n> race-proven

\r?\n> respectability and mystique to the saddles so we all looked

\r?\n> very

\r?\n> serious about our bikes.


\r?\n> Brooks eventually began to offer  plastic based

\r?\n> saddles, and during

\r?\n> the early 1970s Ideale was already selling their 2001, 2002

\r?\n> etc.

\r?\n> models, so they surely must have perceived a growing threat

\r?\n> to

\r?\n> their traditional model sales pretty early on and were

\r?\n> already

\r?\n> hedging their bets.


\r?\n> I think the US became more weight obsessed than  many

\r?\n> countries

\r?\n> as the novelty of race-looking bikes suddenly entered the

\r?\n> American

\r?\n> consciousness and became so popular during the early

\r?\n> 1970s.

\r?\n> Even less serious riders who never raced were attracted to

\r?\n> any

\r?\n> bike which looked lighter and faster then it really was -

\r?\n> kind of like

\r?\n> the bold "racing stripes" option so popular on Camaro and

\r?\n> Mustang

\r?\n> cars.  Everyone with a 40 pound Schwinn Varsity wanted

\r?\n> their

\r?\n> campus bike to LOOK as racy as possible and a sleek modern

\r?\n> looking saddle helped the illusion.


\r?\n> I think this concern about the appearance of one's road

\r?\n> bike has

\r?\n> continued right up to today.  Now every casual rider

\r?\n> wants a too

\r?\n> narrow and too uncomfortable saddle which looks cool... and

\r?\n> then

\r?\n> they complain and suffer or just know no better... and then

\r?\n> ride

\r?\n> their weekend bikes even less.  Do 95% of modern

\r?\n> riders really

\r?\n> NEED a modern Dura-Ace or Ultegra group over a cheaper

\r?\n> 105?

\r?\n> My 250 pound 5'8" dentist has full Campy Record 10-speed

\r?\n> components on his seldom used bike.  I'm sure he has

\r?\n> the latest

\r?\n> 150 gram racing saddle, too.


\r?\n> I have a modern saddle on my daily commuter bike... so I

\r?\n> can leave

\r?\n> it out in the rain or snow, and not even worry about the

\r?\n> saddle being

\r?\n> stolen.





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