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Leather Bicycle Saddle Repair

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by John "If it broke, fix it" Allen
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This page is a companion to our page about leather saddles.

Repairable!

Leather saddles, unlike most plastic saddles, are repairable. Leather saddles can break in three main ways:

Any of these problems can be corrected. It makes very good sense to replace a broken undercarriage when a saddle has a good leather top, especially if it is well broken in. A bicycle collector or museum may wish to replace the leather when restoring an antique bicycle.

Brooks repairs saddles at its factory location in England, and as of this writing there are three other authorized Brooks repair locations around the world. Transport Cycles in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA, is one. Simon Firth, at Transport Cycles, reports that he also repairs the new Cambium (non-leather) saddle, and covers Brooks warranties.

Simon Firth, at your service!
Simon Firth

Brooks will extend a warranty to 10 years if a saddle is registered on its Web site. Aaron's Bicycle Repair in Seattle also offers leather-saddle repair. Brooks stocks and supplies replacement parts; repair of old saddles is still entirely possible, because the basic design of Brooks saddles has remained the same for decades. Repair of other brands depends on parts availability. Contact information on repair sites is at the end of this article.

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A home mechanic may also attempt this work, and it is sometimes possible to cannibalize parts. When a saddle rail broke on a Brooks B17 -- after 30 years of service -- I checked and found that the undercarriage of a Wright's saddle -- Brooks's low-end brand from the 1970s -- was identical except for the finish. I drilled out the rivets from the Wrights saddle and removed its misshapen leather, installed the leather from the B17 and had a perfectly functional saddle again.

You'll need an electric drill and bit, a hammer, flat-ended punch -- an old pedal spindle will do -- and a sturdy metal surface. The flat surface at the rear of a bench vise will do. There is little to lose in making the attempt. If you drill out the rivets from the inside, you are unlikely to damage either the leather or the undercarriage.

You need only replace the rivets at the rear of the saddle. The metal shoe inside the nose of the saddle comes off with the top, once you have removed the rivets at the rear. Copper rivets suitable for saddle repair are available at hobby shops.

With a sprung saddle, you may be able to avoid drilling rivets, by disassembling the undercarriage and replacing the broken parts. I did this when the rails broke on a Brooks Flyer.

My Flyer with broken rails
Broken rails on Brooks Champion Flyer

I was able to order a new undercarriage from Brooks in England. Getting the wrench past the springs was a bit tricky. I found it easiest to undo the nuts at the top of the springs, replacing the springs along with the rails. The Flyer is now as good as new -- no, better than new: it is already broken in!

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Brooks Repair Locations

U.K.
British flag
Brooks
Downing Street, Smethwick Tel: +81 75 622 7755
B66 2PA, West Midlands, Fax: +81 75 622 7766
England, UK Email:
  Web: Repair enquiry to Brooks
USA
American flag
Transport Cycles
1105 Frankford Avenue Tel: +1 215 425-4672
Philadelphia PA 19125 Fax:  
USA Email:
  Web: Transport Cycles Brooks Saddle Repair
Japan
Japan flag
Diatech Products
Yubinbango 612-8042 Fushimi-ku Tel: +81 75 622 7755
KakinokiHama cho address 431 Fax: +81 75 622 7766
Kyoto, Japan Email
  Web: http://www.diatechproducts.com/
Germany
German flag
RTI Sports
Universitatsstrasse 2 Tel: +49 (0) 2618 999980
56070 KOBLENZ Fax: +49 (0) 2630 955230
Deutschland Email:
  Web: https://www.rtisports.de/

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Links

Also see the more general article about saddles

...and our article about leather saddles

Saddles for sale at Harris Cyclery

Brooks, home page

Brooks, 10-year warranty registration

Gilles Berthoud

Lepper

Rivet Cycle Works

Selle Anatomica

Aaron's Bicycle Repair, repair of leather saddles

Conservators' advice on leather treatment

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Last Updated: by John Allen