I finally took a test ride of the repaired Brooks B66 saddle. As you may recall, I drilled out the front binder rivet, then fitted the saddle with a heavy duty bolt/spacer/lock washer/nut/loctite combo.
I had been using a heavy duty Brooks with braided coils and a front hairpin spring.
That saddle was sort of heavy duty for a Sports, and the B66 was always the saddle for this bike anyway. I bought it for about $60 in 2003 and had ridden it until winter 2010, when the front binder rivet became too lose to use the saddle. I visited a number of resources online, but no one responded and the basic answer from the usual armchair mechanics was to "replace the saddle". So for Christmas 2010 I received the big Brooks. It's a quality piece.
The larger Brooks is a nice saddle and it has the usual hardness that comes with new leather. It also has that Brooks "patter" texture that gives good grip but has that hamburger-izing effect on the hind quarters when you first start using the saddle. Heavy pants helped with that, but come summer who wants to wear those?
I always wanted to get that old B66 back on track. The leather was still nice, which is usually the part that goes first. You see plenty of Brook Beef Jerky models on ebay... This time, it was the frame though. I did the repair and figured I'd use it on the Raleigh Dawn project.
This week, I changed my mind. The B66 traditionally belonged to the Sports, and the 23 inch frame really didn't need a huge saddle like the larger one. I put the B66 back on and did a test ride of about 20 minutes today. It was like I'd never left the saddle. The saddle being off, I also got a chance to properly tension it using the tensioner wrench. I know Sheldon Brown always told people to stay away like the plague, but it really can be a useful tool if you're careful (think guitar neck truss rod adjustment type mentality).
The difference between this and the New World is pretty big. This has a nicely broken-in ride that I'm used to. The re-tensioned and repaired B66 is solid and comfortable so far. Broken-in leather really is the best stuff. The bike is smooth and responsive as ever. You can really see why they built these for so many years. And yes, those lugs are detail outlined with gold paint to match the pinstripes.