Brooks

When the writer complained about discomfort during longer cycle journeys she was told to get a Brooks saddle. That solved the problem.

brooks saddles

A search revealed that Brook’s founder, John Boultbee Brooks, was the son of a Victorian leatherworker who sold horse tack.

brooks velocipedeWhen his horse died in 1866, it is said that Brooks started commuting to the workshop in central Birmingham on a velocipede (aka a boneshaker), which had a wrought iron frame and tyres, a carved wooden saddle, no chain and wooden wheels.

After a week or so riding it, the wooden saddle was giving him so much trouble that he made his own out of leather. 149 years later, some of the earliest saddles that JB Brooks patented — notably the leather B17 — are still being produced in Birmingham to a virtually identical specification.

The leather is sourced from English and Irish cattle because the relatively harsh island climate means these animals have developed thick skin.

The original factory, founded in 1866, was in Great Charles Street, just off New Street in the centre of Birmingham. As the company grew, Brooks commissioned the building of new purpose-built premises next to Snow Hill railway station. The business was sold to Raleigh in 1958 and moved to a redbrick Victorian factory in Smethwick.

brooks saddles logoSince 2002. Brooks has been owned by Italian saddle giant Selle Royal. Cycling Weekly reports that 34 people are currently making saddles in Brooks’ Smethwick factory, which is divided into three sections: metalworkers, leatherworkers and assemblers. It manufactures other cycle accessories such as handlebar grips, leather bar tape, rain capes, trouser straps, toe straps, mud flaps, maintenance tools and tool bags.

“We can make 1,000 saddles a day,” says Brooks’s Steven Green. “So it comes to about 5,000 a week, and we work 46 weeks of the year.”

In Italy, Selle Royal manufacture 80,000 foam padded saddles a day – technologically advanced products – but Selle maintains the traditions and history of Brooks, made only in Smethwick, Birmingham, England.

Today Brooks saddles are available in over 20 countries. Germany continues to be the largest consumer of Brooks saddles by quantity, the Netherlands per capita.

brooks tokyo cycling club

They sell well in Japan – see the interesting exchanges on Tokyo Cycling Club’s forum.

Future prospects are promising: more high-end manufacturers of bicycles are now specifying Brooks saddles as original equipment.

 

 

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One Response to Brooks

  1. Ban Trees Now! says:

    “the relatively harsh island climate means these animals have developed thick skin.”

    Till recently the human residents of uk had thick skin too. Then the industry of being offended and obsession with policing “hate speech” took over.

    With saddles it is horses for courses. I myself found no saddles a good fit for my “perch” until I tried a Brooks “Professional” (even though I’m a far from “professional” person). It was perfect from the off, so I got a second one for my other bike.
    Just before, I had thought a women’s saddle (wider) would be most comfortable, so got one of those padded Selle things, but it rapidly became clear that that wasn’t the case and I got a swap for it.

    Meanwhile many others have allowed their Brooks to get soaked by rain and end up heavily sagging rather than tightly tensioned (as the designers intended. They insist it is still perfectly comfortable like that, but I suspect they just haven’t got sufficiently discerning posteriors.

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