Traditional English leather goods since 1878
View Brooks England collections on London Fashion Review Blog
Heritage of Brooks England
Brooks England is a brand steeped in history and heritage with almost 150 years of tradition in creating quality leather bicycle saddles, bags and accessories. Originally founded by John Boultbee Brooks as a horse harness and general leather goods company, the face of his operation would all change on the death of his horse in 1878. Having to use a bicycle to commute to work, Brooks found the wooden saddle impossibly uncomfortable. Consequently, Brooks used his experience creating horse saddles for his father, to create a comfortable leather bicycle seat. He filed his first bicycle patent just 4 years later in 1882 and the rest is history.
Over time, the Brooks brand range expanded and as of 2011, Brooks offered leather saddles (including seasonal editions, limited editions and one-of-a-kinds), leather bags (including tool bags and rolls, cycle bags and holdalls) and leather bicycle accessories (including handlebar grips, toe and trouser straps, and mud-flaps).
The Brooks brand has gone from a business based only in Birmingham, to a truly global brand, with Brooks products being sold in prestigious bicycle stores throughout the UK and Europe as well as in China, Japan, Hong Kong, Korea, Israel, New Zealand, Denmark, Germany and many others.
- 1865: John Boultbee Brooks left his hometown of Hinckly in Leicestershire and headed for Birmingham with just £20 in his pocket.
- 1866: Once in Birmingham, he founded JB Brooks & Co. on Great Charles Street as a business selling horse harnesses and general leather goods.
- 1878: Unfortunately Brooks’ horse dies, but it would provide him with a spark of inspiration that would change the face of his company. Unable to afford another horse, he borrowed a friends bicycle to commute to work, but he found the seat extremely uncomfortable and decided to do something about it.
- 1882: Brooks re-invented the uncomfortable bicycle seat files his first saddle patent. Brooks’ new and improved saddle became a huge success and the company soon became known for their handcrafted leather saddles. Before long the brand expanded to produce cycle and motorcycle bags as well as other general leather accessories.
- 1962: The brand grew and expanded under the guidance of several generations of the Brooks family until Brooks becomes part of Raleigh and moved to the premises in Smethwick in the West Midlands.
- 2000: Brooks’ parent company, Sturmey Archer collapses.
- 2002: Selle Royal of Italy acquires the Brooks brand.
- 2011: The Brooks brand brings Penny Farthing racing (also known as Ordinaries’) back to the streets of London by sponsoring an event that saw competitors from around the world taking part in two raced in the historic Smithfield Market.
Take a Seat: The Brooks Saddle
Brooks England has become well known for the luxury and comfort of their saddles. Popular styles of the Brooks’ saddle include the B17, Team Professional, Swift and Swallow – all of which are available with steel or titanium rails. The fundamental design of their saddle consists of a leather top, stretched between a metal cantle plate at the back and a nose piece, to which the seat is attached with metal rivets. The addition of a threaded bolt allows the nose piece to be moved forward allowing an adjustment in the tension in the leather to improve levels of comfort.
Recent Collaborations of Brooks England
- New York City Bicycle Film Festival: In 2008 Brooks England announced collaboration with the New York City Bicycle Film Festival to produce 100 limited edition Swallow saddles. The limited edition BFF saddle features original steel metalwork design and a leather seat in British Racing Green. Each saddle bears a unique serial number of authenticity and sales of the saddle went to benefit the 8th annual Bicycle Film Festival.
- Moulton Bicycle Company: In 2010 Brooks England collaborated with the Moulton Bicycle Company to commemorate the 90th birthday of Dr Alex Moulton. The collaboration saw the creation of just 90 limited edition saddles, based on the Books swift saddle, with its titanium chassis and large copper rivets. Each saddle is finished in Oxblood red leather and the ‘AM90’ stamp and is finished with a unique serial number (0 to 90). Each of the limited edition saddle comes with a saddle cover, polishing cloth and tensioning hex key.
- Vans Vault: Also in 2010, Brooks teamed up with popular skater brand Vans Vault to create a co-branded capsule collection that bridges the gap between the cycling culture and fashion. The capsule collection featured a limited edition saddle (just 500 produced) and a limited edition pair of trainers (just 1000 pairs produced), which combines Vans’ classic Era trainer with Brooks’ use of high grade leather to construct the body of the shoe finished off with a decoratively tooled leather tongue.
Brook bike saddles continue to be at the forefront of ‘cool’ for urban cyclists. Throughout the streets of London, be sure to see many fixie (fixed-gear) bikes carrying the traditional leather Brooks saddle.
Visit the official brooks website here