Brooks England are makers of fine leather saddles and bicycle accessories, with almost 150 years of history behind them. Now based in the West Midlands, UK, the company creates classic, timeless and high quality leather saddles and bicycle accessories inspired by the very products that the original family business, JB Brooks & Co. produced all those years ago.
1. Brooks saddles are spectacularly beautiful, and it is clear why people would love them, but, how did you decide to start? Why saddles?
Brooks began with our founder, John Boultbee Brooks, who originally started a business manufacturing saddles and harnesses for horses. According to family legend, upon the death of his horse he tried using a bicycle for the first time. He loved the new machine but the wooden seat was very uncomfortable. He vowed to do something about and filed his first patent for a comfortable leather seat in 1878.
2. Since the last decade how has the cycling world and a biker’s need changed?
In the last decade, the cycling world has seen a marked return to prominence in large cities around the world as traffic has become too much of a burden, and the pleasure and practical sense of cycling has again caught the attention of many.
A biker’s needs have changed along with this, as more and more cyclists has meant a wider variety of tastes for appropriate cycling gear. Brooks has answered this call by providing elegant, refined, and practical solutions to complement the cycling lifestyle.
3. Whilst many brands are outsourcing their manufacturing abroad, Brooks decided to keep the production in England. How has this influenced the way you produce?
Producing most of our products in the UK and Italy allows us to work much more closely with those who manufacture the products we design and sell.
4. The production expanded from saddles to all sorts of cycle related goods. How and when did this transition begin?
Brooks has a very long history of producing accessories and bags for cycling. In fact, we were already making such items when the modern “safety bicycle” was invented! When the company broke apart in the 1960’s, the bags division became Antler, U.K., a brand which continues to this day.
After the sale of Brooks in 2001, plans were immediately laid to return Brooks to its bag making and accessories production.
5. What is your favorite bicycle brand?
We love all kinds of bicycles, and don’t have any one “favourite” brand, only favourite saddle brands.
6. Talking about materials, how do you choose your leather?
Our leather comes from UK cows and is tanned by longstanding partners in Belgiumand, Sweden. We only choose the toughest part of the hide for use with Brooks saddles.
7. Your brand is always a step ahead in fact of biker’s needs, making bike bags for golf players and photographers. In which direction you think these needs will evolve into?
A great thing about cycling is the never-ending progression and evolution of ideas. We see great things ahead for cycle bags, also in widening the market as cyclists realise the benefit of having the right bag for the trip.
8. How important are craftsman’s skills when producing high quality saddles and bags like Brooks’ ones?
Many of our products require a great many operations to produce. Likewise, the materials cannot be damaged during production, so the skills must be well-honed and exacting to produce consistent results year after year.
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