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22 May 2012 8 comments
BikeSnobNYC visits Brooks Works near BirminghamCorrespondence Stories
Eben Weiss is an American writer who has made his name over the past five years with the tremendously popular cycling blog, bikesnobnyc. He recently visited us at Brooks Works just outside Birmingham while on the European leg of a tour to promote his latest book "The Enlightened Cyclist". It's easy nowadays to fall in to the trap of fetishizing consumer products, but a casual read through his blog archives leave one in little doubt that Weiss is a staunch proponent of Common Sense, at least where matters of what one bolts to one's frame are concerned. Of course, the foundation of our success lies not in fancy marketing, but rather in refusing to deviate from the course set by John Brooks almost a century and a half ago. And the expert application of Skilled handwork is often a humbling process for the Unskilled to observe. Rarely less so than at the Brooks Works in Smethwick. We gather that Mr. Weiss was not exempt from these emotions, but overcame some attendant initial shyness, and by Elevenses was enthusiastically emptying the drinks machine of its Bovril supplies. With pictures sometimes worth the proverbial thousand words, we invited our photographer along to capture a few images from the day. (all photographs by Liz Seabrook) A Trouser Strap for the first person who can read the second line. There used to be leather where your saddle's lace holes are, obviously. The board of plates which are used to press each saddle's insignia into the side flaps. Bregan politely explains that this one isn't ready to be broken in yet. One of the moulds used to shape a leather top in the early stages of production? No, silly. This is a top from a limited edition we did for our best Dealers of Excellence a while back. Would be an easy mistake for anyone to make, though The works machinery is currently undergoing a paint job. Green being the artist's colour of choice. Readers with 3D glasses can derive full benefit from this photo. A lot of sprung saddles need a lot of springs. Machine-riveting is no less skilled a task than hand-hammering. Bike Snob peruses a copy of this year's Brooks Bugle. To keep him on his toes, nobody told Eben who or where Luke was. The Irresistible Force steels himself for a meeting with the Immovable Object. The Immovable Object nonchalantly wields chamfering knife. They say you should never meet your heroes, but Mr. Weiss wasn't visibly worse off for his encounter with our very own Eric Murray. "The Chamferer" has featured more than once on the pages of bikesnobnyc, frequently held up as an example of all that is good in British manufacturing tradition. At the time of going to press, however, it was unclear who had actually won the Stiffest Handshake Contest, but we gather the two have hatched a plan to corner the elusive Anglo-American Boutique and Bespoke Saddle Riveting Market. Eric, giving a Limited Edition 2012 Brooks World Traveller its final touches "How many of these do you think we could crank out at the weekend?" Assembly of a Brooks undercarriage undercarriage in progress. Mudflaps are cut from the same leather hides as those taken for our saddle tops.