Veteran Motorcycle Saddles

In the Veteran motorcycle era (pre 1915), motorcyles were fitted with a variety of saddles made by various providers.

Whilst we probably all know Brooks as a maker of fine Veteran era saddles, many more existed in the UK.

As my knowledge of the makers and models of saddles in this era is just starting, I have been lucky to be helped by Tony Colegrave who gives us the following summary of who was who -

Lycett started making cycle saddles in the very early 1890s, I think - certainly, I've got a pneumatic (pedal) cycle saddle of his from 1893. The Company was not 'taken over by Brooks in the 1920s', but continued as an independent business until the late 'thirties. The reproduction nameplate that you illustrate is a copy of a relatively modern Brooks-made thing, and totally inappropriate for a veteran saddle - the premier Lycett saddles 'in the day' were designated 'La Grande', and carried a fretted brass nameplate (nickel-plated) to that effect, and the inferior ones ('Imperial') had no nameplate. Edward Lycett took considerable interest in early motorcycle activities, and sponsored hill-climb contests amongst others. He was probably more celebrated for his transmission belts in the Veteran Era, but was certainly making Motor Saddles (and toolbags) by 1905. An injunction prosecuted by Brooks in 1904, presumably for Patent and/or Registered Design infringements and apparently settled out of Court, seems to have hampered his saddle-making business for a while, though.

Leatheries were certainly making Motor Saddles in the Veteran Era - Their saddles were designated 'Empire De-Luxe', or just 'De-Luxe'.

Middlemore & Lamplugh were also active saddle-makers in the Veteran Era, and their 'Rideasy' models were offered as 'standard' on Triumph m/cycles for a brief period from 1905-1908. The Company was formed (1896) by a merger of the long-established Middlemore leather business with one of the partners from the first major cycle saddle makers in this country (Lamplugh & Brown - partnership dissolved in 1891).

Goughs are shown in an illustration accompanying what I'm pretty sure is the 1912 Show Report, and appear to be well-established by then, although I think that they came more to prominence in the 'twenties. The Company seems to have had little or no involvement with pedal cycle saddles.

The 1909 Show Report mentions A.E.Wilby's 'new saddle of registered design', which suggests that they also might have been involved with Motor Saddles for some time before then. The firm was involved in a relatively minor way with the pedal cycle saddle market for quite a number of years, but probably had other interests in the leather 'industry' as well.

Hobday's catalogue of 1911 lists a Motor Saddle from Brampton, although I'm pretty sure that Brampton's saddlemaking business had been acquired by Lycett some years before - perhaps they maintained it as a separate business for a few years after, maybe until WW1 ? Certainly, the 'Brampton' saddle illustrated bears no detailed similarity to the Lycett ones illustrated alongside.

Hobday's 1911 also illustrates an 'all bells and whistles' thing, called XL'all, of which I've never seen an example although I'd seen illustrations before. These were made by a company that seems to have been exclusively involved with just one product (previously spring forks - their saddle was the 'new thing' in 1911, it would seem) and who were also unsuccessfully involved in a Court case initiated by Brooks, this time in 1913 - something to do with the suspension system introduced by Brooks with their B.400 model in 1912, I suspect. The XL'all was almost certainly the most expensive saddle on the market at that time, the top-of-the-range model (with aluminium frame and padded pigskin top) being about twice as expensive as Brooks' cheapest offering and about 25% dearer than the pigskin-padded B.104. These saddles were advertised extensively in 'Motor Cycle' for four or five years, but seem to have faded fairly quickly after that.

All that follows is from me so take it with a pinch of salt as I could be wrong!

I have a 1911 Triumph that still seems to have its original saddle, though I think it was restored by Brooks in the 1950's.

Below are three pictures from the 1911 Triumph catalogues.

Below are a few pictures of the saddle today.

I am starting this page to try and pull together the knowledge about these wonderful old craftsman made saddles and put it on the web for everyone to benefit from.

Below are a few pictures of the saddle from my 1914 Triumph - the bike came with and I am going to try and work out if it is correct for this year.

You can read my ramblings about it on the 1914 Triumph pages.

veteran motorcycle saddle

veteran motorcycle saddle

Looking at all the lovely comfy looking period saddles and then at a friends beatiful period Brooks saddle, got me hankering after a proper saddle for my bike. Not being an expert on veteran saddles (or anything veteran yet..) I have lashed out £40 on a tatty Brooks B90. The leather has had it, but the chassis of the saddle looks OK and it may be the basis for something. So far my research seems to show that the B90 dates from 1901 to 1904 when they seem to have been fitted to motorcycles and the posher bicycles.

A little more investigation about my Brooks saddle with the kind help of friends with copies of period Brooks literature and I now know the following. My Brooks B90 saddle was originally intended for a bicycle although some very early motorcycles (1901 on) seem to have used the available saddles - with only bicycle saddles available. In 1908 Brooks listed the B90 at 11 shillings and 6 pence for an enamel finish or 14 shillings for a nickel finish at the Size 1 model. They produced three sizes and for different rider weights so your saddle would be quite suited to you. Brooks also produced a B90M model by 1912 specifically for motorcycles. It seems to look very much like a B90 Size 3 bicycle saddle but with the lower part of the metalwork being cut from sheet metal rather than from steel rod. Brooks also made a B90MP with the "P" indicating that the seat was Padded. Brooks produced quite a variety of motorcycles saddles in the veteran era. As I learn about this subject, it seems that they produced saddle designs that allowed for easy pedalling and ones that were less suited to pedalling but were more comfortable. So in the era you might have chosen your model of Brooks saddle based upon whether you had a bike that was pedalled a great deal or had the luxury of power/a clutch and suitability for pedalling was a lesser concern over comfort.

Below is the Brooks catalogue for 1912.

I have electronic PDF versions of the Brooks catalogues for the following years. 1905, 1906, 1907, 1908, 1910, 1912, 1914, 1916, 1919, 1920, 1923, 1925, 1926 and 1927.

if you would like a copy of one of these, then please email me and I will email it to you. My email is paulg@go-faster.com

 

 

brooks B90 saddle

The saddle on my Triumph appears to be the correct shape and look for the year. In the 1914 Triumph literature it shows (below) a similar Brooks saddle as the default.
Mine looks similar, but is adjustable so probably not a Brooks saddle.

1914 Triumph saddle

1914 Triumph Brooks Saddle

The Brooks saddle below sold on ebay UK in April 2012 for £475. I have included pictures of it below for reference.

Brooks Saddle

Brook Saddle

Brooks Saddle

Brooks Veteran Motorcycle Saddle

Brooks Veteran Motorcycle Saddle

Brooks Veteran Motorcycle Saddle

Brooks Saddles 1911

Brooks Saddle B250 1911

Brooks 1913 Advert

Below a small editorial from The Motor Cycle 1914

Brooks motorcycle saddle

Other makes of motorcycle saddle from the Veteran era apart from Brooks were:

Lycett. I think this company was founded in the early 1900's and operated from Birmingham, England. They seem to have been taken over by Brooks in the 1920's. I am not sure from what era the picture below is from but it may be Veteran era?

lycett motorcycle saddle

The replica badge below is available from vendors such as http://www.thunderbirdspares.com/

lycett saddle logo

Leatheries. No pictures yet - do you have one to give to this web page?

Middlemore & Lamplugh. Have no information yet.

Gough. Goughs are shown in an illustration accompanying what I'm pretty sure is the 1912 Show Report, and appear to be well-established by then, although I think that they came more to prominence in the 'twenties. The Company seems to have had little or no involvement with pedal cycle saddles.

In the USA the saddle makers were Persons, Mesinger and Troxel.

Most motorcycle manufacturers outside the UK/USA seem to have either used local makers or often sported the well established British-made saddles.

XL ALL Saddle