Days Gone By – Pt. 2 – The Brooks Riding School

Jumble Sale Box Reveals Hitherto Lost Details Of An Academy of Cycling Excellence.

31 May 2012  |  Posted by GARETH  |  Categories: Bicycles, Curiosities, Heritage, Stories

All students were obliged to buy a Brooks Instructor’s Belt upon enrollment.

We mentioned last week how a large, dust covered wooden box bearing the Brooks logo had been happened upon by a sharp eyed colleague rummaging through a car boot at a Nottingham jumble sale last January. It has quickly transpired that the contents of said box seem to shed light on a plethora of hitherto shrouded Brooksiana from the late 18- and early 1900s.


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The Definitive Guide to Puncture Repair

We angered the puncture gods to bring you this how-to.

29 May 2012  |  Posted by Alasdair  |  Categories: Bicycles, Uncategorized, Urban Cycling

Oh man, what a let down!

Ppssssssssssssssscchhhhhhhhhttttt. Darn.

Sooner or later every cyclist is likely to experience an unplanned tyre deflation episode. Whether due to a lack of dilligence and subsequent navigation through a patch of broken glass, or even a wanton stab through the sidewall from an irate property owner whose fence you’ve adorned regardless of signs to the contrary, the outcome is equally irksome.

No need to bestride your bike before reinflation has been achieved. Granted, it is possible to ride on a flat tyre, but this is likely to lead to further damage to the bike, and quite possibly even the rider.

Given the unlikelihood of experiencing a puncture outside a friendly bicycle shop during opening hours, you’re going to have to get your hands dirty. Or at least, as dirty as your bicycle wheel. If your steed is a filthy neglected object, your mitts will get just as grimy. A clean bike is easier to repair just as it is more pleasant to ride.


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The Field Narrows. WCR Grand Tour Update 11.

More Casualties As The World's Toughest Bike Race Takes Its Toll

25 May 2012  |  Posted by GARETH  |  Categories: Events, Sports Cycling, Travel & Adventure Cycling

Several WCR riders tackled the Nullabor Plain while racing through Australia.

Of the nine men who rolled over the start line for the WCR Grand Tour in London this past February, five now remain seemingly in contention to make it back to the capital under their own steam. Stephen Phillips called a halt to his record attempt late last week, while Jason Woodhouse decided on Monday morning that discretion might be the greater part of valour, and has now also withdrawn from the race.

With Martin Walker, Kyle Hewitt and Niel Coventry Brown also out, the rate of attrition is beginning to mirror a particularly rough installment of Milan-San Remo.

Clearly, all of these riders are to be commended for their supreme efforts in the face of all sorts of calamities and sundry tough calls. Most have vowed to resume their efforts at some point in the near future. And so to those still out there…


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BikeSnobNYC visits Brooks Works near Birmingham

Celebrated Cycling Blogger Drops By To The Smethwick Works For A Visit.

22 May 2012  |  Posted by GARETH  |  Categories: Correspondence, 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.


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Days Gone By – part 1 – The Brooks Tea Rooms

Brooks historical treasure trove found at Midlands jumble sale.

16 May 2012  |  Posted by GARETH  |  Categories: Bicycles, Curiosities, Heritage, Stories

Mrs. Brooks was always on hand with a bowl of dilute beef extracts for weary travellers.

Editor’s note- While recently scouring a car boot at a Nottingham jumble, we decided to happen upon a dusty wooden crate marked with the company logo.  Inside we found an amazing collection of historical notes and photographs about the Brooks company from the late Victorian era.  These notes fill in some gaps left in the Brooks Historical Record. We are still putting together the pieces of this massive find, but are able to already share some of it with you. The first of which are details concerning the Brooks Tea Rooms, related forthwith.

That late 19th Century Birmingham was a hotbed of both biking and bike manufacture is a fact of which even the most casual student of cycling history will be aware. By then, Brooks was already the world’s pre-eminent purveyor of bike saddles, while Sunbeam in nearby Wolverhampton could barely meet the customer demand for its “Dwarf Safety”.

A lesser known fact, however, is that England’s Second City was also the site of the world’s first incarnation of what we now know as “the Cycling Culture Café”.

The Brooks Tea Rooms opened its doors in 1877, just a stone’s throw from the Brooks Works in Great Princess Street. Initially planned by management as a sort of open Works canteen, it quickly attracted regular hordes of non-employees with its selection of beef potions, pork scratchings and triple fermented gooseberry cider.


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Brooks at the London Springtime Tweed Run.

It's Every Quaintrelle's Favourite Woollen Cycling Fabric.

14 May 2012  |  Posted by GARETH  |  Categories: Bicycles, Events

We have looked before at various popular Cycling Cliques, or Velosophies, and their attendant membership costs. One of these is, of course, Bike Dandyism. And no Bike Dandy is worthy of the name without having once in his life participated in an Olde Worlde group ride.

(All photos Frank Herholdt)


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The Four Corners In Four Years.

Charlie Walker is Taking his Grand Tour at a More Leisurely Pace Than Others.

10 May 2012  |  Posted by GARETH  |  Categories: Bicycles, Correspondence, Friends, Travel & Adventure Cycling

Englishman Charlie Walker got in touch with us a couple of years ago. He had a tour in mind and was on the hunt for the right saddle.

The objective of the expedition was, as he put it, “to reach the ’4 corners of the Old World’ (before the Americas were discovered). Namely Nordkapp (most northern point of Europe), Singapore (most south-eastern point of Eurasia), Uelen (most eastern point of Eurasia) and Cape Agulhas (most southern point of Africa).”

So we equipped him with one of our Flyer Specials, and off he went.


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Martin Walker & Niel Coventry Brown are Calling It A Day.

7 May 2012  |  Posted by GARETH  |  Categories: Events, Sports Cycling, Travel & Adventure Cycling

Fast Food? Certainly Long Distance Food nestling atop Sean Conway’s cockpit.

The almost unimaginable physical and mental demands made by the WCR Grand Tour on its riders have this week taken a heavy toll. Martin Walker and Niel Coventry Brown have both announced that they are pulling out of the race.


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Let’s Celebrate our Top Employees!

The Chamferer Murray Slowly Approaches Pensionable Age, But Is Staying Put.

3 May 2012  |  Posted by GUEST  |  Categories: Events, Stories

Eric Murray receiving his birthday bottle of bubbly from Works Office Manager Steven Green.

“Building a Brooks is both famously and justifiably labour intensive. Before reaching a seat post (your seat post), during the various stages of its construction at Smethwick, the composite parts of a saddle bearing our name will typically pass through a dozen separate pairs of expert hands and eyes.

The successful coordination of these different stages of production, culminating in an end result worthy of the Brooks nameplate, is absolutely reliant on the expertise of veteran steelworkers, riveters, cutters, soakers, pressers, packers and polishers.

So earlier this spring, a short ceremony was held at the Brooks works to recognize the enormous and lasting contributions of Maria Thomas, Barbara Lawrence, Eric Murray, Stephen Bell, Mohamud Hirey and Malgorzata Krawczyk to our story…”

By Brooks Works Office Manager Steven Green.

Friday 24 February saw a day of celebration at the Brooks factory in Smethwick. Two happy events were being acknowledged.


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