Bicycle Times does England: Part One: Brooks Saddle Factory

When this press trip came up at the office I shoved all the other staffers aside and politely volunteered myself for duty. I had never been to England, so to get a taste of British culture through a Brooks Saddle factory tour and picnic ride was going to require expertise only and old codger like myself could handle.

The plan? Fly to Birmingham, have dinner, Brooks factory tour in the morning, ride 30k to picnic. Pashley and Moulton tours the next day. I really get a great vibe when I see a actual factory making stuff. It leaves me poptimistic and hopeful that all is not lost to the almighty Pound, Dollar, or Euro. It takes a company with a conscience to stay true to the bigger purpose of a business operation. The fact that they are making one of my favorite things is icing on the cake..

Yes, leather and metal come in one end, saddles come out the other. Ever since 1866 in fact, surviving through thick and thin. The factory in Smethwick in the West Midlands is a wonder of machinery and human craftsmanship to be awed. The best way to proceed with this blog might be through pictures, especially since I cannot hear our tourguide over the metal machine music of the factory.  I could have spent all day here but we had a ride on the schedule, so I took as many photos as possible.

Blank saddles are softened with water before shaping

So gotta go, time to suit up and RIDE! Which is going to be awesome, because it is pouring cats and dogs and the fine folks from Brooks marketing were hoping for this. One of brook’s new products is a fancy rain cape and we get to test them out! Yay! Bigger problem is that there are 50 cats to herd here. It’s going to be slow going down the canal.

After the picnic was time for the press conference. Besides the Oxford rain cape, there are some other things to tell you about. Like Brook’s line of bags and such, real old-school solid construction. Take this BMW motorcycle, I mean Barbican messy bag for example. Sure looks good.

Then there’s the Hampstead bag, which can cleverly be mounted to your back or rack. At $399, it is expensive and nice.

But back to saddles. The new Select line of saddles was introduced today. Naturally-colored leather that is guaranteed for five years instead of the usual two.

And lastly, we got a sneak peek at a cool saddle that partners with the Vans brand in style.

Well folks, that’s about all. All I got left, is one lonely minute. if you’d like more, head over to for more info. And stay tuned for the next installment in my tour of England.


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