Author Topic: Best bicycle component you ever bought?  (Read 234 times)

Andre Jute

  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 3334
Best bicycle component you ever bought?
« on: November 08, 2019, 06:14:19 PM »
So as not to hog John's handlebar and setup thread for his new bike with perhaps irrelevant enthusiasms, I've made this new thread for this:

Another part of the [sitting more upright] formula is a wide springy seat. I've got a Brooks B66 on that bike. They make saddles that are even springier.

Yes. The absolutely best bicycle component investment I've ever made was a B73 saddle that was on sale at SJS for £50, years and years ago. It's the only component that has come over with me to all the bikes I've bought since. The irony is, I bought that saddle only because it wasn't very expensive on the sale, merely to see what everyone else was going on about, Brooks this and Brooks that. Now you'll take it away from me only by unclenching it from my cold dead... Well, I'll leave the anatomical imagination there.

The B73 has triple helical coils, one at each corner of the saddle, plus four flat springs in the double-rail mounting. The coils and the thick leather still feel ultra-stiff but the ride is very comfortable indeed. I also have matching grips, edge-on leather rings assembled on tiny bicycle spokes (I kid you not..) between cast ali end pieces, the whole thing a surefire icebreaker with cyclists met on the road.

My B73 and the grips were honey-colored but I immediately made them a custom mid-brown by application of neatsfoot oil.

Here is the black B73 that SJS currently has on sale for £95:
Here's a link to the saddle and spare parts for it:

Frankly, I don't see the need to stock up on spare parts as my saddle, except for a few scuffs from an adventurous life on narrow ways and rough roads, is in virtually as-new condition as regards the hardware, and the leather is still smart.

If you're tempted to buy the B73 SJS is offering, there is one extra you should buy, which is this overpriced piece:
on the same page. It absolves you from using Brooks' wretchedly crude old style saddle mounting clip, and finding a candle-head seatpost to fit it to, and permits you to use a standard micro-adjustable seatpost. It is absolutely essential to have one of these if you own a twin-rail Brooks saddle and are at all particular about your saddle position. (I am. My back doesn't work unless saddle and handlebars and pedals are arranged to within 1mm in all directions.) My twin-rail adaptor is nylon, a gift from Julian (Julk), and a real lifesaver as at that time there was absolutely nothing available in the stores to do the job.

Brooks actually makes -- or made -- two bigger saddles than the B73, the B135, for really big people, and the B190, for sumo wrestlers only. The only B135 I ever saw had pebble finish to the leather, presumably as a location aid so the owner wouldn't slip off his throne. When I was a boy, the B190 was a standard fitting on "Colonial" Raleighs, the extra-heavy-duty jobs that municipalities in small towns provided to its health inspectors and meter readers; both bike and saddle were indestructible: there were boys riding riding to school on their fathers' discarded bikes, which were good for a generation or two still. When I bought my Utopia Kranich ten years ago, Utopia still listed the B190 as an option for German baumeisters.

There is also a downspecced, racier version of the B73, called the B72, which doesn't have the helical coils at each corner but is a hammock additionally sprung only by the double rails being curled into round springs halfway along their run. It looks clever, and may well be a comfort revelation to those accustomed to B17 Brooks saddles. SJS describes it as a "unisex" saddle.

If you're tempted, don't forget the twin rail adaptor further down that page. It's essential to your sanity.
« Last Edit: November 08, 2019, 06:41:43 PM by Andre Jute »

julk

  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 936
Re: Best bicycle component you ever bought?
« Reply #1 on: November 08, 2019, 06:49:09 PM »
One of my sons has matured and wanted a wider more comfortable saddle.
I pointed him at a B67 - similar to a B66 but with single saddle rails.
He is now seated more comfortably thanks to Brooks.
Julian.

julk

  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 936
Re: Best bicycle component you ever bought?
« Reply #2 on: November 08, 2019, 06:54:03 PM »
On another tack.
From my personal perspective the biggest improvement I have seen in my riding lifetime is the introduction of led lights both battery and dynamo driven.
The latest ones are just fantastic in light output performance and low current draw.
Julian.

martinf

  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 642
Re: Best bicycle component you ever bought?
« Reply #3 on: November 08, 2019, 06:57:00 PM »
Tried a B72 and didn't like the shape.

For upright riding in modern Brooks saddles I prefer the B67, got one of these on the big visitor bike, which has North Road style bars.

I still have a B66 Champion bought 31 years ago. I find this very comfortable for a semi-sporting position, it has softer springs than the modern equivalent. I've ridden a tad over 65,000 kms on it so far.

Andre Jute

  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 3334
Re: Best bicycle component you ever bought?
« Reply #4 on: November 10, 2019, 04:39:34 PM »
Tried a B72 and didn't like the shape.

How did those novel springs work, Martin?

martinf

  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 642
Re: Best bicycle component you ever bought?
« Reply #5 on: November 10, 2019, 10:39:51 PM »
How did those novel springs work, Martin?

IIRC, as expected, somewhere between an unsprung saddle (B17) and a conventionally sprung saddle with two coil springs (B67 or Flyer).

My favourite sprung saddle is still the old B66 Champion. The wire used for the springs is a bit thinner than on modern equivalents, so they are not so stiff. Despite being theoretically too narrow for upright riding I found it more comfortable than the wider B67. But it has gone back on my old utility bike, as I use that far more often than the big visitor bike (which is mostly used by visitors).

I was thinking of trying to get a small batch of softer springs made for the more modern saddles, this would probably benefit my wife more than myself as she is about half my weight.

For riding my drop bar bikes, I don't need springs. A B17 does nicely for me. I don't crouch down low enough to be comfortable on anything narrower like a Brooks Pro.


Andre Jute

  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 3334
Re: Best bicycle component you ever bought?
« Reply #6 on: November 10, 2019, 11:47:26 PM »
How did those novel springs work, Martin?

IIRC, as expected, somewhere between an unsprung saddle (B17) and a conventionally sprung saddle with two coil springs (B67 or Flyer).

About as I expected then. Thanks, Martin.

leftpoole

  • Jr. Member
  • **
  • Posts: 78
Re: Best bicycle component you ever bought?
« Reply #7 on: November 11, 2019, 11:42:31 AM »
Continental Gatorskin tyres!
John

Andre Jute

  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 3334
Re: Best bicycle component you ever bought?
« Reply #8 on: November 11, 2019, 03:33:58 PM »
From my personal perspective the biggest improvement I have seen in my riding lifetime is the introduction of led lights both battery and dynamo driven.
The latest ones are just fantastic in light output performance and low current draw.
Julian.


Absolutely. We can probably point to the very day bicycle lamps matured by looking up the day BUMM launched the first series CYO.

John Saxby

  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 1598
Re: Best bicycle component you ever bought?
« Reply #9 on: November 11, 2019, 05:11:48 PM »
Good question, Andre, and some interesting answers too.

For me, the best single item remains my Rohloff, for all the reasons justly celebrated on this forum.
 
Clustered more or less together, but a step behind the Rohloff, are my Brooks B17 Champion, my Velo Orange Grand Cru rando bars, my Marathon Supremes, and my Cygolite battery-powered headlight (replenished by my SON28 dynahub).

martinf

  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 642
Re: Best bicycle component you ever bought?
« Reply #10 on: November 11, 2019, 08:17:13 PM »
I think my best single item was a Sturmey-Archer S5/2 hub.

Over the 40-odd years since I started noting my cycling distances I've done about 110,000 kms (slightly less than half the total) on hub gears, mostly on S5/2 hubs.

The S5/2 showed me that there was a viable alternative to derailleurs for cycling, at least in moderately hilly areas, and eventually led to me getting my first Rohloff 7 years ago.

leftpoole

  • Jr. Member
  • **
  • Posts: 78
Re: Best bicycle component you ever bought?
« Reply #11 on: November 12, 2019, 09:47:08 AM »
The S 5/2 was a fabulous hub and I had one fitted into a Claud Butler back in the 1990ís. I was living in Dorset and itís hills. The gear range was brilliant and I would ride with another anytime!
John

geocycle

  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 1219
Re: Best bicycle component you ever bought?
« Reply #12 on: November 12, 2019, 11:58:49 AM »
Brooks saddle and rohloff hub come to mind as others have mentioned, however, I would probably go for my Schmidt dynamo hub.  This just works and has overcome the tyranny of batteries for the last decade. I've lost count of the number of times I have used it unexpectedly when I would otherwise have been without light.  It had one wobble, literally, when the bearings went but these were repaired under warranty.
 

PH

  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 761
Re: Best bicycle component you ever bought?
« Reply #13 on: Today at 11:55:30 AM »
Yep, predictably hubs, Rohloff and dynamo (I have the three S's SON, SP and Shimano) and the LED lighting that goes with them.
What about consumables, do they count?  If so  - Tyres, on every level, grip, puncture protection, longevity, today's offerings are so much better than anything available a couple of decades ago.