Introduction: Re-cover Brooks Bike Seat

Picture of Re-cover Brooks Bike Seat

A new Brooks saddle costs £90, or $160.

A really crappy worn out one is

A fine price when you can buy an Indian copy for £40 from an over-priced UK dealer. Well, what to do if you have an old one that's been left out in the rain for some years?

You can re-cover it.. and its not hard to do.

Total cost: about £2 - $3.50.

The advantages of canvas/PVA over vegetable tanned hide...

1) Its almost free.

2) Its no maintenance: You don't sweat if you leave it out in the rain / sun / hail...

3) Any colour you want.

Step 1: Make a Last....ing Impression

Picture of Make a Last....ing Impression

Cut off the old leather.

Remove the old rivets (I used pincers).

Flip the saddle frame upside down and draw round it on a block of old pine.

Set the adjuster bolt to short (backwards) to give a short overall length. - This means you can take up any slack in the seat later.

Cut it out.... Make sure your pine block is around 1 3/4" thick / 4cm thick.

Step 2: Lasting Away

Picture of Lasting Away

This is what you're after. A nice smooth block just a tad smaller than the saddle itself (its the female that fits beneath your saddle).

I used a spokeshave - a lovely old wooden thing.

Offer it up next to the saddle frame to make sure you're on track to the right size.

Sand it smooth.

Add a block beneath it so you can grip the whole thing in a bench vice...

Step 3: Canvasing for Results

Picture of Canvasing for Results

Take some old canvas - in this case an old pair of chinos. And cut strips around 1 ½" wide 13" long. (35mm wide by 37cm long...).

Mix up some PVA - I used flexible flooring PVA - with 50% water. Mix it up good.

Put two or three layers of clingfilm / sarin wrap over the last to protect it and then...

And then soak each strip of canvas in the water/PVA mix and stretch it over the last.

I did a complex criss/cross pattern..

I made mine about seven layers deep altogether.

I think you can get away with pulling full pieces of cloth over the entire last - if your cloth is stretchy enough to make the curves without kinking over.

Finish with one or two full pieces of canvas stretched over the whole thing and stapled down..

Step 4: Stuck Up Good

Picture of Stuck Up Good

When its done .. let it dry for many days. Too many days. Five days?

Then its HARD like a hard plastic shell.

Then draw round the cut line with a pencil - this is surprisingly tricky to get right.

And cut it out. I used an ordinary box cutter knife.

Step 5: Fitting and Stitching

Picture of Fitting and Stitching

There!

Drop the saddle frame onto it to make sure you got a good fit. Yep..

And to stop the edges from fraying... I run round it with a saddle-stitcher.

Step 6: Riveting Stuff

Picture of Riveting Stuff

I cheat. I use glue to hold things really tight.

Glue the nose first.

Select some rivets (bought on e-bay for around $1 a pack of 50), choose the biggest ones that will go through the holes in the saddle frame and at least 9mm long.

I made a rivet setting tool from a piece of iron bar filed into a four-sided point.

When the nose is glued up, drill the holes out (from the inside out and through the canvas).

Push the rivet in and whack it flat with the setting tool.

Do the nose first, then glue the back, let it harden, drill the holes, set the rivets.

Step 7: Saddled Up

Picture of Saddled Up

You're done.

The advantages of canvas/PVA over vegetable tanned hide...

1) Its almost free.

2) Its no maintenance: You don't sweat if you leave it out in the rain / sun / hail...

3) Any colour you want.

Have fun!

Comments

seamster (author)2015-03-03

Very interesting approach! Have you used this new saddle for a while yet? If so, I'm curious how it has held up.