27 May 2015

Maintenance And Makeovers

I've been back to riding regularly, more or less, for nearly two months.  It feels really, really good:  I'm starting to overcome how little riding I did this winter, and my age.

It's a good thing I'm back in the saddle most days.  You see, being the old-time mechanic I am, when I'm not riding I work on my bikes.  Now, there's some maintenance I normally do during the winter:  I usually replace my cables and chains. Sometimes I install tires, brake pads, cogs and handlebar tape.  More rarely, I'll put on other new parts or accessories, depending on how badly they're worn.

But this past winter I went "above and beyond" what I needed to do.  You see, I changed the looks of my bikes a bit.  

Here is Arielle, my Mercian Audax, with her "makeover" that she didn't need, if I do say so myself:

After Ely of Ruth Works made those bags for me, I had a feeling that they would look even better with a Brooks honey saddle and handlebar tape.  I asked Ely; he encouraged me and assured me that (in his opinion, anyway), it would look fine with the paint, whether it was showing its purple or green side. (It's Mercian's #57 "flip flop" finish.) 

I was fortunate to find this slightly-ridden "pre-softened" Brooks Professional--with copper-plated rails--for $100.  Apparently, it was made during the time Sturmey-Archer owned Brooks. At least, the style of the nameplate on the rear (which I like a lot on this saddle) would indicate as much.

Tosca got a similar revamp, except that she got a current Brooks Professional.  Somehow I don't think it's that much, if at all, stiffer than the "pre-softened" saddle was when it came out of the box.

Somehow I get the feeling the bikes, the leather and canvas are going to grow old together nicely.  I could say the same for Vera, my green Miss Mercian mixte:

The saddle is a B17 and I used one roll of tape on the handlebars.   The front bag on this bike--and the British Racing Green paint--seemed to call out for the honey leather even more than my other bikes did.

And, no I didn't leave Helene--my other Miss Mercian--out.  I'll have some shots of her soon.


  1. Your makeovers look terrific and classy. I am in the process of buying a used Brooks Professional to replace a current saddle. I am thrilled to see this post, and that we share the same taste:) I like the Team Pro Imperial, but they are hard to find used. I was thinking of cutting a slot in a used Pro, which I have done with a B17. I need a narrower saddle for a lower handlebar position, so I think I'll give the Professional, with it's classic shape and looks, a try.

  2. Chris--Thanks for the compliments. I find I like the Pro for my dropped bar bikes and the B 17 for my bikes with VO Porteur Bars. (I'd probably use the B17 with a moustache or turned-down North Road bar as well.)

    I know I lucked out in finding the used one. Just keep trying on eBay, CraigsList, swap meets, etc. I got mine in the dead of winter, which is usually a better time for finding such things--and the kind of deal I got!