We assembled outside Brooks’ factory in Smethwick, near
The plant is now producing up to 800 handmade leather saddles a day, and during a brief tour we saw every part of the production process, from the cutting and colouring of the leather to the pressing of the shapes, hand leather finishing and hand beating of the brass rivets to anchor the leather in place.
But the real reason for the day was the Picnic Ride, an assembly of 40-plus members of the cycling press from as far-flung fields as
The dress code was simple – vintage or tweed – and the sight of us all weaving our way through the maze of
It was good to see that all those invited had bought into the idea, bar just two UK-based journos who deemed it okay to turn up in Lycra (not us though – we’re all up for the tweed) and were made to ride at the back.
As is traditional for a British summer, the weather varied between long periods of heavy rain and heavy periods of torrential rain. Fortunately, we were provided with the new
This huge triangle-shaped canvas with a built-in neck and hood is made from waxed cotton with tweed detailing. Woven into this fabric is a Scotchlite reflective that glows in the dark but looks normal in daylight.
It may look a little strange but there’s a reason why the cape has been de rigueur for cyclists for most of the last century – it works. This version will be sold as the
If the quality of the cape and the clever reflective tweed is anything to go by, then the clothing range should offer something very new.
The new-for-2011 Brooks Select range is based around the B17, B67, Flyer and Swallow, plus ‘S’ women’s-specific versions of each.
Instead of Brooks’ standard leather, which is sourced from cows that aren’t intensively farmed, Select leather is from Swedish ‘freedom farmed’ cows, which have been reared organically outdoors for many years, making it tougher and stiffer.
The saddles are left in their natural colour so the finish is different on each but generally much lighter than the vegetable-dyed standard
Brooks claim that the Select models are much harder wearing than the standard saddle and feel noticeably stiffer. We’ve seen Brooks saddles that have lasted for decades, so if the Select is as hardwearing as they claim, this will be one saddle you can pass onto your kids or even grandkids! All prices are still to be confirmed.
Brooks' Flyer Select saddle uses organic leather from Scandinavian cows
Bags of goodness
Brooks are also expanding their luggage range for 2011. A first for the company is the Islington rucksack, made from waxed cotton with a structured shoulder and straps that can be run vertically as normal or be crossed over for carrying heavier loads.
The strap system features a clever quick-release clasp for adjustment and a series of loops you can clip to with a karabiner style hook to alter the depth of the straps. The bag expands massively and features a drawstring rain cover inside the flap to keep the contents nice and dry.
Brooks' Islington rucksack features a clever adjustment system and rain cover
The ever-popular Barbican messenger bag is now available in an all-leather variant. It won’t be cheap but it’s a beautiful thing.
The Hampstead holdall could be the ideal weekend bag. It can be strapped to a rear rack, carried just as luggage or you can quickly adjust the straps with those karabiner style clasps and it can be used as a rucksack
Brixton satchel – smaller version of the Barbican messenger bag. It converts into a tote bag, so we reckon it’s one for the ladies