Sunday, August 29, 2010
Old ways that still works - the story of Brooks company
Brooks is a seat company that have been around for a long time..1866 to be exact. It is extremely interesting to see that in an era of hi tech bicycle technology... where bike companies continue to churn out latest Carbon Kevlar krytonite gear... to cut down say 50 grams...
Brooks says.. "sorry sir.. it is my way or the highway, drink tea and have cakes...". and continue their age old method of doing their seats.. the low tech and long winded way. Manually selecting and cutting leather and shaping them to fit cyclist bums. To me as a product designer, I am very impressed how the company have used their heritage to face of the competition. At the same time quite skeptical if this is all marketing talk....So it happened I bought my Brompton which came with the Brooks flyer. The first ride on the brooks seat was a very painful affair... it was like sitting on a rock! I couldn't believe that why there was so much praise for the seat.. At one time I wanted to chuck it into the dustbin and replace it with a gel/air seat. To the seat credit.. it look really really nice on the bike. I keep on riding it for a few more longer rides...helped by my gel riding tights. And it now fits me like a glove! The feeling is a strange thing.. if u press the seat with ur finger..it is hard and flexes very slightly. But somehow when the seat gets seasoned... it was the most comfortable compared to the air seat which I loved.. and the longer u ride, the better.
Brooks is also using milking their heritage in their design to appeal to the retro riders like my self. Recently the company released a very interesting design based on the topography patter of Alpe d'Huez.. one of the most challenging stage in the Tour de france. Well, I am not racer but I was once shown an amazing video of lance armstrong and co... climbing up the mountain.. he looked back at the guy in pink... as if challenging him " is this all u got" then step into another gear and just pulled away.... That was pure magic and power! I cant climb and I dont ride as fast...but I do respect Lance armstrong and all the riders in the tour de france.. so I was decided to buy it...
Information taken from the Brooks company description:
Alpe d'Huez is one of the main climbs and has been a stage finish in the Tour de France almost every year since 1976. The first was in 1952, won by Fausto Coppi, at a time when most cyclists were riding Brooks Saddles.
The pattern of the Alpe d'Huez impressed on this saddle has been designed by Dan Funderburgh, a wallpaper designer and artist in Brooklyn, NY. His patterns, prints and installations are varied in content but all demonstrate an unabashed love for decorative arts.
With influences ranging from Moorish mosaic to American op art, the work is a repudiation of the fabricated schism between art and decoration. Some of Dan's work can be found in the collections of the Cooper-Hewitt Design Museum and the Miami Museum of Modern Art. Dan loves bicycles and has created wallpaper patterns with bicycle parts.
But man, it still feels like a rock... I hope it softens up real soon.. here are the pictures.