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Triumph 3HW Saddle Material...


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As far as I'm aware, the black sprung saddles on British motorcycles which first appeared during the late 1920s were never leather-covered, unlike the brown leather pan saddles fitted to many true vintage motorcycles.

They were covered with a leathercloth, in most cases the 'Rexine' which Steve refers to. This was a linseed-based covering over a canvas backing. It was relatively 'hard' to the touch. Not soft and 'warm' like modern vinyls. Unfortunately, ICI appear to have stopped producing the upholstery grades during the 1960s, although specialist bookbinders have access to some very thin examples.

The non-availability of 'Rexine' is one of the greatest barriers to authenticity in the restoration of a 'post-vintage' motorcycle. New Old Stock WD covers (from the 1950s) do appear from time to time but they're not common and any original saddles are likely to be worn and fragile.

There are some harder grades of vinyl as used by car upholsterers with a more correct look than the mass-produced covers. Additionally, I've never seen an original example with that 90° corner to the back edge - although common on replicas, they always look wrong.

I don't believe that there has ever been documented evidence of the supply of canvas seat covers for motorcycles. The general view is that they were fitted as gunner's seats in some self-propelled guns.

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I agree the modern vinyl seats ruin the look of any ww2 bike, but they do turn up pretty regularly on places like epay, sometimes at ridiculous prices, but I have recently found a couple for my wm20 and it looks so much better even if it quite worn. Be careful tho because there seems to be a lot of slight variations in the size


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I'm with you on that, Steve - but I'm quite glad that most people seem happy with vinyl - the same goes for cloth-covered control cables  :-)

Most of the recent NOS that I've seen seem to have been made by Brookes. They lack a rear stitched panel that was a feature of Terry and Lycett covers - but no-ones ever noticed on my 16H .

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Indeed, 'Linoleum' was linseed oil based (those of us old enough to remember making lino-cut prints at school will recall the smell !) - 'Rexine' must have had something similar - a canvas backing instead of jute and a component to keep it flexible (although eighty years seems to be pushing it)

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