Monthly Archives: March 2013

Carlton Corsa – saddle choices

The Carlton Corsa that I have already blogged about has been on my mind a lot lately.

I am still to use this bike to commute to work – but I did use it for a shopping trip yesterday. It was rather a lot of fun but one thing that I did not enjoy has been the rather narrow saddle that adorn this bike:

Big Ben Saddle

The original “Big Ben” saddle on this 1977 Carlton Corsa

The saddle unfortunately seems to be narrow enough to move into the space between my ischial tuberosities/ sitting bones, and a lot of my soft tissues are resting on the saddle. This isn’t too bad for a 10 minute trip to the shops, but won’t do for the 30 minute commute. Now, as you will learn soon – I am a very big fan of leather saddles, namely ones made by Brooks. I have tried various saddles, but none have been as comfortable to me as leather saddles so I stuck with them.

I have two brooks saddles so far, one for each bike, and I plan to get a Brooks saddle for this bike.

I’ve narrowed it down to three choices:

The B17 Special, which comes in a rich, deep green, and copper rivets:

B17 Special with copper rivets

B17 Special with copper rivets – in a rich green colour

The B17 Special is really quite tempting, the copper rivets look good as well as reportedly increasing the longevity of the leather on saddle. These saddles cost in at £90.

The B17 standard, which comes in a choice of colurs, including Apple Green:

B17 Apple Green

Apple Green B17 Standard with Steel Rivets

The B17 Standard is more affordable at £70, and the Apple Green colour (looks more like an acid green to me) will actually match with the colour of the frame a lot better (I think). This is a matter of debate, of course, matching the colour of the saddle to the frame does not necessarily mean to match the colour as closely as possible, but instead a nice clash might be best (this remains open for discussion) The steel rivets are reportedly inferior to copper rivets.

Last but not least, the Brooks Flyer:

Brooks Flyer - black

Brooks Flyer in black, steel rivets and cushioning springs

The Brooks Flyer is an alternative to the green B17 saddles. The leather top is the same as the B17, but it offers the addition of 2 rather handy springs which cushion the ride. Seeing as the bike has no suspension to speak of, the Brooks Flyer seems like the logical, sensible choice – despite the copper rivets. The flyer costs £70, same as the B17 Standard.

Note that the saddles above are essentially the same in terms of size, they all the the B17 leather top on them.

I currently own a Brooks Flyer Select, and can attest to its comfort. As much as I love the Brooks Flyer Select, its light tan colour does stain very easily, and the price is a little prohibitive at £125.

I also own a B73, which contains a lot of springs and I really find these great for my upright bike. The B73 doesn’t come in a select or special option, and so is effectively a standard Brooks saddle in black, with steel rivets, and I certainly haven’t had any issues with it so far. The difference between the Flyer Select and the B73 might show in terms of longevity in a few years time, but at the moment, the steel rivets vs copper rivets issue doesn’t bother me.

Back to the matter at hand – what would you do about getting a saddle for this green vintage bike? Would you go down the fashion route and colour match a green saddle, or would you go the sensible/cautious route and get the sprung saddle for increased comfort and shock absorption.

Thanks for reading, answers on a postcard, or just email me, tweet me, or comment on here.

First Post – Bringing a Carlton Corsa to its former glory part 1

I had no idea how to start this blog; too many ideas you see – a review, a random musing, a piece of advice?

I settled in the end with writing about my latest bike acquisition – my mother-in-law’s Carlton Corsa.

Today has been the culmination of getting this bike roadworthy. It was actually completed last weekend, on the 10th of March – except that me and a friend built it in a “minimalist style”, without mudguards or a rack. I was quite happy that it was roadworthy as it was, but in reality if I was going to use this bike in London to get from place to place, it needed full length mudguards and a rack of some sort.

Here is a picture of the bike in its final form:

Carlton Corsa - refurbished
The last thing I want to do is grab this bike, make my way outside, see that it is raining, and then have to change bikes. And your opinion may vary, but I would never ride on wet ground without mudguards, especially in London. I don’t want to arrive at my destination with a wet streak of muddy water on my back as well as my bottom. I see plenty of other cyclists do it, but it is not for me. So all my bikes have full length mudguards attached to them, as well as a rack, so sue me! 😛

In terms of the bike’s history – I am reliably informed that this bike has seen about 5 miles on the road back in the late seventies, and has since been hung up in the garage. So I have a mint condition steel frame bicycle on my hands, which should last me for a good long while, seeing as steel is comparatively fatigue-free, not to mention that this grame is rather light and responsive. 🙂

When I got the bike to London, after examining it I saw that various components needed changing out; namely the wheels and the brakes. The wheels were untrue, and their soft steel spokes were very slack after 30-odd years in a garage. The brakes were not pulling uniformly from both arms, and there was no way to adjust the spring tension. I decided to get some new brakes to replace them, and while I was at it I decided to modernise the whole braking system – seeing as this is quite important for safety, that and I had a particular brake configuration in mind for a while.

Tektro LeversI decided to go with Tektro drop bar levers twinned with Tektro secondary levers (cross top interruptors). It’s my first time on a bike like this (my other bikes have me reasonably upright with either flat or mary bars) and I want the option between two different riding positions so that I do not have to spend all my time on the drops as I’m not used to riding like this. The secondary levers allow me to ride on the top of the bars and the modern drop bar levers allow me to ride on the hoods, which I have so far favoured.

Speaking of brake levers – I definitely think there is something to be said of any items, including bike components that are made by a company that specializes in making only one type of component. Tektro are an example of this, as Tektro only make brake components. I’m sure that there are brakes made by other companies that are brilliant – all I’m trying to say that a company that only makes one component is extremely unlikely to be making that component badly. So far I have really enjoyed my Tektro levers, and I’m quite happy that I only paid £20 for each set of brakes levers. I’ve had great experiences with Tektro brakes and levers in the past and these have so far not disappointed.

I have placed a KMC 8 speed chain onto my Carlton Corsa.

Carrying on with the theme of companies that only make one type of component – I wanted to make a special mention of the chains that I now use. I have stopped using Shimano chains (I will cover this in more detail in another post) and have started using KMC chains exclusively. KMC are a company that only makes chains, and these are highly regarded by cyclists as well as various bike manufactureres who place these chains on their bicycles. I have found KMC chains to be hard wearing as well as looking the part.

I had some spare green camouflage tape, which I decided to use on the chainstay, to act as a chaingard, guarding against chipping the paintwork on the chainstay in the event of a chain slap. I don’t think there will be much chain slap with this bike and its transmission system – but better safe than sorry.

I am going to end this post here, there is plenty more to write about, but that’s another story for another day.