How To: EX-ALL saddle rebuild
Veloce and a few other manufacturers used XL-ALL seats in the 19teens. They were a competitor to Brooks, Lycett’s, etc. in the market for motorbicycle saddles. My project bike came with bits of an old Brooks, but I luckily stumbled upon most of a XL-ALL on ebayUK and quickly snatched it up without any competition. Finally, a score on ebay… But of course it needed work.
XL-ALL (pronounced excel all) made one of the most complicated seats that I’ve ever come across. There is a parallelogram linkage that allows the seat pan to move up and down without tilting. Two tension springs are mounted roughly horizontally to take the rider’s weight. Above the linkage is a subplate that holds it all together, and the seat pan mounts above that. And it is very adjustable: spring tension, spring preload, seat tilting angle and seat height are all simple to adjust with some screws. It is claimed to be comfortable; I’ll have to report back on that after the bike is done and I can put a few thousand miles on it.
A coincidence: XL-ALL was in Hall Green, Birmingham, which was later to be the famous home of Veloce, where the Velocette models were made.
The seat was in decent shape, but the pan was missing. I had a spare one from the old Brooks, so some time was spent with hammers and dollies to adapt it. It would have been great to find a genuine XL-ALL pan, but this one was made to fit well. Big thanks to Mat Gil for help with the hammer/dolly work! A surprising amount of tweaking was required to make the two parts fit together across the compounded curved surfaces, then some final TIG welding and drilling of mounting holes and it was ready for paint and leather.
Chuck and Jo at the Saddleshop in Florida were very highly recommended by several friends, so I decided to try them out on this seat. I’m very pleased with their work. They hadn’t done an XL-ALL before (not many of them are left anymore), but they worked from some old photos that I sent them, plus their knowledge of early saddles. After all the sheetmetal work, it was fine to see their fine leatherwork completely covering up the sheetmetal pan, on the top and bottom. And the black powdercoating is good too. Not too thick, and I can still read the logos and patent information that was stamped into the metal parts. I can definitely recommend them if you need some leather work done on your early bike.
For some reason the period advertisement shows the seat inclined to a very high angle. I’m probably not going to mount it that steeply, as there may be some comfort issues associated with that nose sticking up that high!