Since 1866, Brooks England has been making bicycle saddles in the UK. While their original facilities were located in Birmingham, the current factory is nestled in the industrial town of Smethwick.
We’ve all probably owned a Brooks saddle at one point in our life and can attest to their longtime comfort and character that develops from heavy use. Before a saddle ever touches a seat post, they begin as just raw leather and steel. The process by which they make the transformation to a bicycle saddle is complex, yet streamlined in their bustling factory.
Dozens of employees make Brooks England tick and each has their special task. While they will transfer stations every few months, a unique marker on the saddles can tell you who was doing what, when. This catalog of information spans decades and is what makes Brooks so unique. If something goes wrong with a batch, Brooks can asses the situation and make their end product better.
For me, the most interesting part of the process was talking to the workers and watching them move through their tasks with efficiency… In an age when Great Britain has shipped much of its industry overseas, it’s great to see heritage and craftsmanship are still alive at Brooks.
See more in the Gallery, as I walk you through this process.
This morning, after no sleep and a long day of traveling, I landed at Heathrow with the sunrise. In fact, I’m pretty sure it was the sun, peeking through the neighbor’s window, hitting me in the face that kept me from getting an iota of sleep.
I hopped on the Express train and made my way to the hotel, before taking a stroll with the PEdAL ED team around the neighborhood.
Holding onto consciousness, in an almost sleepwalking state, we swung through a few shops, all of which I’d like to spend more time combing through the details and doing proper Shop Visits at, but in the interest of time, I’ll have to go with these random details.
Kinoko was amazing. One of the nicest shops I’ve been in and the Rapha Cycle Club was quite the experience… I’m here with Brooks England, for their Eroica event and our days are pretty packed, but I’ll do my best to document our journey.
I love seeing frame builders gain notoriety through supporting grassroots cycling teams. Not to say that Aaron Stinner wouldn’t be as popular today without building the Mudfoot racing cyclocross frames, but it certainly helped.
During my visit to Santa Barbara during the ATOC, Jeremy Dunn and I spent the afternoon with Aaron, riding bikes, photographing bikes and making a mess at his house.
Aaron is lucky enough to have a decent sized workspace set up in his garage and he’s even luckier to have a great ride just seconds from his front door. As his queue stacks up, Aaron continues to crank out road, cross and MTB frames for customers, who happen to be mostly from California. Many of which are looking to race on a steel frame, made in their home state, rather than buy overseas production.
Stinner Frameworks is still new in the grand scheme of things, but if Aaron continues at the current momentum, he could vary well be the next big thing…
Cycleast in Austin is having a sale today, May 3rd. Make sure you swing by for discounts and deals!
No controversy here… just a drug-free, three time Tour de France champion fixing a flat at NYC Velo in Manhattan!
Oh you 21st Ave guys are so funny…
Paul Sadoff is a character. His personality has a patina. One that’s formed over years of racing pedigree and loud music. The name of his company was derived by the B-52’s billboard hit but before Paul would name his brand Rock Lobster, he had to have built a MTB first. “I couldn’t call it Rock Lobster if I didn’t have a MTB” Paul said when asked about the origins of his namesake… Then he built a MTB and the world changed for the frame builder.
The logo was even derived from MTB riding. Those blocks holding the letters represent rubble falling down the trail as you’re riding…
His frames have always been some of my favorite in the industry. These no-nonsense bikes are straight-forward, tig-welded masterpieces. Yes, utilitarian art – I’m standing by that phrase. Paul builds each frame in an industrial building within the Santa Cruz city limits. His own space is literally littered with cycling memorabilia from the past twenty years (even longer?) and is a gold mine of interestingness.
From track to TT, each of Sadoff’s frames bear some uniqueness and have a story to tell. Even the various crash-replacements…
While I was in town for the Giro #SantaCruzEffect, our group of 10 journalists swung through Rock Lobster to see Paul and his space. It was probably one of the most rushed Shop Visits I’ve done to date, but I managed to gain some understanding as to how Paul works and what makes Rock Lobster tick… Check out a narrated Gallery for more!
One of my favorite shops, Blue Lug from Tokyo, visited one of my favorite US-made component companies, Paul, right after NAHBS. I’ve yet to spend time in Chico with the crew from Paul, but these photos make me feel like I was there. Thanks Blue Lug!
See more at the Blue Lug Flickr!
This is a great watch. Jonathan at Bluegrass Bicycle Company looks like he’s living the dream.
While I was in Minneapolis for Frostbike, we spent some time at Angry Catfish, one of my favorite bike shops in the US. As I’m walking around looking at all the winter apparel (we don’t get a lot of that stuff in Texas), I noticed this stunning A-train Cycles road bike on display. It turns out, Alex from A-train is a part time mechanic at the shop and built this beaut to display in the store (and to sell).
Dura Ace, Thomson, ENVE, DT Swiss… what else could you ask for? Complete as shown, the bike will cost you $9,500. Holler at Angry Catfish for ordering information.
Oh and see more of this stunning road machine below!