Brooks saddle tension pin and shackle on a pebbled concrete surface. The tension pin is a shiny zinc-coated screw. The shackle is a sintered metal object of a dull finish with one lobe broken off.

Well that sucks

The forecast today was for warm weather with light wind, following several days of rain and gale-force winds. Ever since I discovered the entrance to Tamagawa Sky Bridge, I’ve wanted to try starting from there to go to Yokohama, and I thought today might be the day to do that.

Nana had not prepared any rice for her world-famous onigiri, so as soon as she woke up I started getting ready for the ride. As it happened I lollygagged enough that it was well after 8 before I set out.

Clipped in, or locked?

En route from home to Tamagawa, I found that my left foot was balking when I needed to unclip at traffic lights. I was able to each time to get the shoe to release, but it’s definitely a safety issue. I decided to have a break at the first stop on the Tamagawa, where rows of various varieties of sakura grow, and have a look.

Sure enough, the cleat had worked loose following a recent adjustment where I set the cleat further back on the sole than it had been previously. I was sure I’d screwed it down tight at the time, so I’m thinking that the loosening came as a result of the cleat bedding itself into the sole in the new location.

At first I’d got the cleat secured 1-2mm to the outer side of the sole, so when I mounted up again my big toe was rubbing against the cadence monitor on each pedal stroke. When I stopped for lunch in Kanagawa after crossing Tamagawa Sky Bridge, I got the cleat back in the center and that fixed the issue.

We’re still waiting for the emergence of the famed 染井吉野 (somei yoshino) variety of cherry blossom, but there were a couple usuzumi sakura in bloom along the cycle path where I stopped to adjust the cleats.

I continued downriver in bright sunshine and a very light wind to find some enormous puddles left over from the previous days’ rain. A little water won’t hurt me, and I knew there were no surprises lurking below the surface, so I bombed right through. I was already dry again when I stopped at a convenience store for some food before continuing on to Haneda.

After crossing Tamagawa Sky Bridge, I stopped in a little park to enjoy my lunch. I was still thinking about riding to Yokohama and getting in 100km for the day. But the thought of all that traffic and broken pavement was off-putting, and I decided in the end just to return home.

As I traveled back upriver on the Tokyo side, I saw lots of people who had turned out for hanami — cherry blossom viewing. They were determined to enjoy the good weather despite the lack of blossoms.

When I mounted up again I heard a metallic clatter from the saddle. I’d been hearing a squeak all day each time I passed over a bump, and the clatter brought the cause home to me: there was an issue with the saddle’s tensioner. I rode back to the park with the usuzumi sakura and stopped at a bench to have a closer look.

Brooks saddle tension pin and shackle on a pebbled concrete surface. The tension pin is a shiny zinc-coated screw. The shackle is a sintered metal object of a dull finish with one lobe broken off.
Well that sucks

The tensioner was quite loose. I tried tightening it, only to have the whole assembly fall off into my hand. It was easy to see the reason — one of the ears had broken off the shackle that links the tensioning pin to the saddle rails.

I tried for a couple of minutes to see if I could get it back together and hold for the ride home, but no dice. I was glad this happened with only about 15km remaining. I continued the ride home without the tensioner, meaning the leather saddle was resting on the top of the seat clamp: uncomfortable, but not unrideable. I mentally patted myself on the back for having wisely decided not to ride to Yokohama.

GPS record of cycle ride
Well that sucks

I arrived home well before 2 p.m., a bit miffed with myself for not having got 100km in but glad at the same time that the mechanical hadn’t left me stranded far from home. On a moving time of 3:40:51, I averaged 18.7km/h, for a nice, relaxed pace.

Strava awarded me a few personal bests for the ride, mostly for places like Tamagawa Sky Bridge were I’d just spent less time taking a break for photos than on previous occasions. I also got a badge for completing 400 minutes of activity in March. And my Garmin dashboard showed that I’ve ridden Kuroko a total of 16,000km since 2018.

Options for repair

Brooks does not list the shackle on its repair products page. They mention the part under the Tension Pin and Nose Repair section of their repairs page, which is how I know it’s called a shackle.

I’ve entered a quality claim via the site, based on the fact the saddle is less than 10 years old, and asked if they can just ship the shackle to me. I’d rather not pay to ship the saddle to England for repair, and wait for the delay that would entail.

I searched for a replacement shackle. Several outlets showed a match, but all were out of stock. I finally found one at SJS Cycles. It’s not exactly the same part — it’s the same shape but it looks like it’s stamped out of steel and chromed, while mine appears to be sintered.

I’ve ordered the part just so I’ll have something, in case Brooks doesn’t come through. But in the calm light of reason the following morning, I wonder if the steel part will notch the titanium rails. That could well be the reason this part is different for the titanium model.

A formed metal part that has been chromed
Brooks shackle in chrome

I have other saddles I can use while I’m waiting for the answer from Brooks. I also searched my local sources for something similar and found this Gilles Berthoud with a pressure cut-out. It might be worth a try — I’ve been regretting not getting the cut-out model of the Brooks — but it’s not cheap.

Update

I just gave the tensioning pin a shot of WD-40, and as I was turning the nut by hand, the bolt snapped in two.

A shiny steel bolt, snapped in two, resting on a crumpled paper towel
That’s not supposed to happen either

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3 responses to “Well that sucks”

  1. […] I want to get in as much riding as I can. Tomorrow the weather will be OK, and I’ll be swapping out the broken saddle so I can take that to a repair shop, and then going on for a bit of a ride. Sunday’s weather […]

  2. […] I could set out, I had to replace the saddle that broke during last week’s ride. I have another Brooks, a C15 that I’d used until my Lejog attempt ended in […]

  3. […] found the shop easily enough. I’d brought my saddle, complete with the broken bits, to have it […]

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