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How To: EX-ALL saddle rebuild

July 3, 2012

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.

 

saddle shop xl all

 

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.

xl-all 1916

 

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.

 xl-all saddle rebuild

 

IMG_6015

 1913 Veloce 500cc

 

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.IMG_1959

IMG_1963

 

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!1914 Veloce catalog

 

xl-all december 1913

 

december 25th 1913

 

 sparklets july 1913

12 Comments leave one →
  1. July 3, 2012 2:21 pm

    How long did it take Saddleshop to do the work? I have heard up to 8 months…
    I am going with Jethro Smith in Oregon for the seat on my 15′ Pope. They are doing five Persons Pan Dandy seats at once and seemed like a good bet for me. I have seen the work and it seems good. About $300 bucks. They have some NOS parts too.
    Brian

    • July 3, 2012 3:29 pm

      Hi Brian. It was about 2 months. I asked them to do it fast for me, as I have a deadline for this bike. The Smith price up in Oregon sounds good!

  2. Alan Harper permalink
    July 4, 2012 12:18 am

    Pete, I have had the saddle on my 1919 D1 Velocette done in leather by Paul Darby, Walsall, England. I know he has done others since. The cost was around £125 each.

  3. July 4, 2012 10:05 am

    I scrubbed and resewed the air cushion/cannister sprung (?) Messenger on my 1915-16 Excelsior after I got it unfrozen some and rejuggled configuration wise. I also have a nice redone saddle for the 1914 bike and also a really stiff spare and also another new skin with a misplaced and incorrect pommel accompanied by various more frame bits. Lots to do! Congrats on the beautiful job, Paul

  4. July 4, 2012 10:07 am

    PS Shouldn’t your nuts and bolts be cad or something? Did the Brits paint them? I recently had an Elgin Robin bicycle saddle done for $200 and he powdercoated the fasteners. I think that’s not right.

    • July 4, 2012 10:30 am

      I left the whole thing together when I sent it out for leather, as I wanted them to know where all the funny linkages were, etc so they didn’t hit any of the leather. And they powder coated it as is, which is fine. I’ll pull it apart soon to replace the fasteners. I haven’t found a good reference photo for what finish the hardware had originally. maybe dull nickel…

      • Anonymous permalink
        September 1, 2012 1:53 am

        Normal practice at Brooks in 1912 was to assemble the frame then dip the whole assembly in paint before fitting the cover so the all black finish is correct. These were functional items made to a price so plating nuts, springs etc. wasn’t done. My source is an article on a visit to the Brooks factory in an original 1912 Motorcycle magazine. I guess Xl-all would do the same.

  5. TheKid permalink
    August 2, 2012 9:33 pm

    Howdy, I will be putting my wrecked bike back together soon, as a rigid, and I am very interested in this style of seat for something unique. Do you have any other closeup pics to help me understand how the linkage moves? Any help would be appreciated, Thanks

  6. John Parsons permalink
    April 7, 2014 8:05 pm

    That leather looks just beautiful.

  7. Keith Marshall permalink
    October 25, 2015 9:24 am

    Hi Pete .. I’m looking for an XL ALL for my 1923 Scott project.. If you hear of anything could you let me know ?

    • October 26, 2015 10:12 am

      Hi Keith. I found mine on eBayUK via a saved search. They don’t come up very often though!

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