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5 September 2011 8 comments
BROOKS STYLE or "Brooks-style"?Saddles, Bags, Etc.
From the 1898 Catalogue. Warning! We have received complaints that SADDLES OF VARIOUS OTHER MAKES not bearing the name "Brooks" Have Been Passed Off upon unsuspecting buyers as "MADE BY BROOKS." We wish to impress upon all Cyclists that EVERY SADDLE MADE BY US BEARS OUR NAME on both flaps, and has at the back the name plate, "BROOKS", so well known to all riders. NO OTHER SADDLE IS MADE BY US. When buying a Saddle, Cyclists should LOOK FOR THE NAME, and not be put off with inferior imitations sold as "made by Brooks." (Excerpt from the 1903 edition of the Brooks Book) Business in the Back. If Imitation truly is the Sincerest Form of Flattery, then the Brooks factory in Birmingham might well have been painted a bashful red these last 140 years. Since copper-fastening our claim over a century ago as producer of the world's finest leather cycling saddle, the Brooks company has been besieged by a host of admirers. Not all of them, however, have been simply intent on buying a new perch for their frame. From the early 1900's onward, the company has necessarily been at pains to make new customers aware that a "Brooks-style" saddle generally bears but superficial resemblance to a BROOKS saddle. Nowadays, as poured plastic seats have gradually begun to fall somewhat from favour- even among less discerning cyclists- increasing numbers of "admirers" are electing to have a go at producing leather-topped saddles. And of course their primary source of inspiration has the name BROOKS at the back. Commemorative Limited Editions are labour intensive. Other leather saddle makers don't do them. Usually, when a leather saddle is sold somewhere without the Brooks stamp and nameplate, this dreadful turn of events has come about for one of two reasons. 1. The saddle is cheaper than a Brooks. 2. The saddle is more expensive than a Brooks. The Brooks Swallow has many "Admirers". The first reason is hardly even a reason, of course, more an excuse. And at that hardly even an excusable excuse. Quality costs, and has done so since at least 1866. Something which looks like a Brooks, but whose price tag causes a potential buyer's eye to wander will simply not measure up in the long or even short term. The composite materials, their provenance and conditions of manufacture will not bear scrutiny. Choosing a leather saddle substantially cheaper than a Brooks might well be the dictionary definition of False Economy. As to the second reason, we could describe it as a clear example of two wrongs not making a right. But at work here is nonetheless the unspoken (and correct) assumption on all sides that Brooks saddles are best. The seller deliberately prices his piece above that of a superficially comparable Brooks, hoping that a potential buyer (who uses Brooks as his Gold Standard) might somehow equate this higher price with "betterness". Devious doesn't begin to describe it. Readers are also advised that some admirers tag and box their pieces in packaging materials that bear a striking similarity to those we use at Smethwick. Perhaps a minor point, but one worth mentioning. To be forewarned is to be forearmed. BROOKS saddles and BROOKS style. Original since 1866. If your saddle does not bear the name BROOKS at the rear, then you are riding something else.