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  1. #1
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    Brooks saddle and water

    I'm the new proud owner of a B17 and I can't believe that's what a Brooks is like. Seems so basic..anyway....The kit said not to get it wet. Is this just something they say to cover their *sses or is it in actuality detrimental to get it wet?

    Thanks,

    Gabe

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    Senior Member kesroberts's Avatar
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    Yep - you really don't want to get it wet, though it's inevitable that you will at some point. There are many options for keeping it dry. I used to just use a plastic bags, but now have a couple of covers. THe new one from Brooks itself is nice. I also have once from carradice that I like, but it leaks a little at the seams. I think that I read somewhere not to worry about riding it in the rain - that the real risk is from leaving it out in the rain and letting it get soaked all the way through.

  3. #3
    Senior Member Ziemas's Avatar
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    I'm a long time Brooks user and year round commuter. I don't worry about a little water when I'm riding, but I always cover my saddle with a plastic bag when my bike is parked. I also treat my saddles with a light coat of Sno-Seal, both sides.

    Once my plastic bag blew off in a storm and the leather my soaked. I still use this saddle on my beater, but it shows some cracking.

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    biked well well biked's Avatar
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    Yeah, they don't do well with water. I've gotten mine wet a few times, it will make the leather sort of swell up a little and temporarily discolor. I've heard different things about the Brooks Proofide and the affect it has in regard to this, mostly I've heard that it helps make the saddle water resistant, but by no means waterproof. I think one of the ingredients is beezwax, so I can see how that would repel water some.........In the case of my B17, I've used the natural neatsfoot oil on it several times, never Proofhide (I know this voids the warranty, isn't recommended, etc.), and lately it seems more water resistant than when it was new, maybe because it's got a good bit of oil in the leather now. I think the best advice is to do what you can within reason to keep a Brooks from getting wet, maybe a plastic covering kept in a saddlebag in case the bike is in the rain. Funny thing, though, the sweat that gets on it from a rider's backside doesn't seem to affect it........They're great saddles, the more you ride it, the more you'll probably like it-

  5. #5
    Prefers Cicero cooker's Avatar
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    All leather goods should be kept out of the rain. However if you treat it with the recommended Proofide or (against the warranty conditions) some other oil concoction, it will help protect it.

  6. #6
    Klaatu barada nikto cascade168's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by gqsmoothie
    I'm the new proud owner of a B17 and I can't believe that's what a Brooks is like. Seems so basic..anyway....The kit said not to get it wet. Is this just something they say to cover their *sses or is it in actuality detrimental to get it wet?

    Thanks,

    Gabe
    It's leather and if you get it wet and use it for any length of time it will permenantly stretch. Yes, it definitely is detrimental to get it wet. Any time it gets wet you should limit, as much as possible, how long you stay on it. Let it dry out completely before you use it again. Using Proofide will seal the leather and make it more resistant to moisture. Use it on the bottom of the saddle as well as the top. All of this affects the life of the saddle. I was just in a shop recently when a guy came in with his Brooks Pro and was asking if the sag in the middle could be fixed. The tensioning screw was at it's end and that is pretty much the end of it. Once they get to a certain point, it's the end of life.

    If you take good care of a Brooks they will last for many, many years. I have three of them and another on the way. One of them was new in 1965. I ride one of these bikes - my beater/rain bike - in wet and lousy weather on a regular basis. For this one, I use a waterproof Velox saddle cover like this one:

    http://www.wallbike.com/brooks/veloxseatcover.html

    Note that the Brooks cover shown on the same page is NOT waterproof. Wallingford Bike and Harris Cyclery are two excellent sources for Brooks saddles and accessories and are great with questions about them.

    In a pinch, get a plastic bag that you can get in any supermarket or Quikimart and tie it over your saddle.
    I keep one scrunched up in my saddle bag. They also make a nice glove for handling greasy chains.

    Enjoy your new saddle. In my opinion, and many others', it's the best you can get ;-))
    "Work is the curse of the drinking class."
    - Oscar Wilde

  7. #7
    Klaatu barada nikto cascade168's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ziemas
    I'm a long time Brooks user and year round commuter. I don't worry about a little water when I'm riding, but I always cover my saddle with a plastic bag when my bike is parked. I also treat my saddles with a light coat of Sno-Seal, both sides.

    Once my plastic bag blew off in a storm and the leather my soaked. I still use this saddle on my beater, but it shows some cracking.
    Great advice! I use Sno-Seal on my leather boots and it's great. One tip they give you with Sno-Seal that also works great with Proofide is to heat up the leather with a hair dryer when you apply it. When the leather is hot you can see it suck in the treatment. With the Brooks saddles this is especially true when you do the underside. If you ride in wet conditions with no fenders, the line you get up your back extends to the underside of your saddle, so it's important to treat it with Proofide (or whatever) as well as the topside.
    "Work is the curse of the drinking class."
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    "Wet" can mean different things. A little moisture, e.g., rooster tail spray on the underneath side, isn't a big deal, and quite different from letting your saddle get soaked. Carry some kind of cover if the weather looks iffy; I use a plastic bag, with the handles tied underneath to seal off the bottom from spray. Treat the leather periodically to replace the oils; if your Brooks gets drenched, let it dry before riding again (as cascade168 said); ride and enjoy.

    I seem to recall reading that sealants (like Sno-Seal) are not particularly good for leather saddles because they prevent the leather from "breathing." Any leather workers here?

  9. #9
    Klaatu barada nikto cascade168's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by lrzipris
    I seem to recall reading that sealants (like Sno-Seal) are not particularly good for leather saddles because they prevent the leather from "breathing." Any leather workers here?
    SnoSeal is pretty much beeswax and Proofide has got beeswax in it, as well. So, I think it's safe to say that SnoSeal is fine to use on a Brooks. It does keep the leather from drying out and cracking and that's the real killer of leather.

    The debates on how to break in a Brooks and what to treat them with are endless. As always, Sheldon Brown has a very good article on this subject (well worth the read for any Brooks owner):

    http://www.sheldonbrown.com/leather.html

    As you can read in that article, one guy used SAE 30 motor oil and "only" got 300,000 miles out of his saddle.
    "Work is the curse of the drinking class."
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  10. #10
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    Wasn't there a post out here somewhere where someone had a neoprene cover? I was thinking that would be a nice thing to have. It might have been in the Triathlon section as someone used it when they came out of the swim wet and still rode a brooks in their race...

  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by Baggsy
    Wasn't there a post out here somewhere where someone had a neoprene cover? I was thinking that would be a nice thing to have. It might have been in the Triathlon section as someone used it when they came out of the swim wet and still rode a brooks in their race...
    It's been said already, and it's pretty simple; treat it, cover it, fender it, ride it. It could outlast you!

  12. #12
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    The English leather and retro design seem to endow Brooks saddles with heirloom status. They're bicycle parts. They carry a lot of constantly moving weight. They get wet occassionally. The cow is dead, it's not going to heal. I've been enjoying my B17 for a year. Three or four more would amount to my money's worth, beyond that will be bonus. Then I'm sure I'll get another of the same. Enjoy the ride.

  13. #13
    Senior Member broomhandle's Avatar
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    im also a proud new owner of a B17, and man, its gonan atake awhile to break it in. i had a ideal beofore that has seen better days. any ideas of breaking this thing in besides ridding? its just so stiff....

  14. #14
    Sensible shoes. CastIron's Avatar
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    I just today installed another Brooks (B17) on my fleet. Sheldon Brown has it right in my opinion. Lots of fear mongering with these saddles about moisture and the warranty and break in. Most of it pure silliness. Don't park it in the rain without a cover. End of worries there. My personal fav: Slather the new saddle with Proofhide--top and bottom--and put it in a warm <150*f oven for a few hours. Baste hourly. It really soaks in. The Brooks purists are happy because it's proofhide. I'm happy because it works. If it's a Team Pro, you might wish to add a bit more time and product.
    Mike
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  15. #15
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    Thanks everyone for the responses.

  16. #16
    jur
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    Quote Originally Posted by broomhandlde
    im also a proud new owner of a B17, and man, its gonan atake awhile to break it in. i had a ideal beofore that has seen better days. any ideas of breaking this thing in besides ridding? its just so stiff....
    I broke in 2 saddles for my wife and my daughter like this: Take the saddle off the seat post, lay it on the floor, preferable a carpeted floor. Take shoe off and place foot on saddle. Start taking weight on that foot, gently pressing on saddle in the seating area. Especially place the heel where the sitbones go, in turn. Do this for a few minutes; the leather should have some "give" at this stage.

    After doing this, these saddles were essentially broken in, not causing any discomfort. Longer rides will break it in further, causing 2 slight depressions where your sitbones go. If the leather becomes a bit damp from your sweat, this will accelerate the process.

    All this assumes you are treating the leather with Proofide, Dubbin or Hydrophane - these product prevent the leather from drying out and cracking. Treat the saddle BEFORE you do the beaking in or leather fibres may break instead of sliding over each other.

  17. #17
    Banned. Bekologist's Avatar
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    I ride All Brooks in Seattle all winter long, have so for the last decade, and haven't covered my seats for anything except if it is absolutely pouring AND I'm going to be inside all day. Errands like at the grocery store, neaugh or watching a movie, no. You want to avoid saturating the saddle, and if you know how to waterproof leather properly, its pretty easy.


    Just treat it with your own secret saddle dope, and ride. No worries. Here's a picture of a wet one for the doubting thomases. Parked out in Seattle weather all the time.
    Attached Images Attached Images

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    What a lot of crap information your getting. First don't take your foot to your seat! the seat is suppose to break into your butt not your dam foot! Second, have your read your instructions that came with your seat? did you read the warranty disclaimer? It says (I own several Brooks) not to use any product other then Proofide or your warranty will be voided; I don't care what Sheldon Brown has used your warranty will be voided using his method. Now if you don't care about the warranty then use any thing you want on it, but do realize that you may be shortening the life expectancy of your expensive saddle. Also keep in mind that Brooks has been making leather saddles for over 100 years...don't your think they just might have some sort of clue on how best to treat their own saddle? Follow their directions and not some know it all's!!!!

  19. #19
    biked well well biked's Avatar
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    I love a Brooks saddle thread. Nothing gets folks more riled up than a discussion on how to treat a Brooks!........I agree with what geog dash said earlier in the thread; it's just a saddle, get over it...........I do wish Bekologist would give more details on what he does to get them to bead water like the one in the photo. When mine gets wet, it, uh........don't look like that.

  20. #20
    jcm
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    Quote Originally Posted by geog_dash
    The English leather and retro design seem to endow Brooks saddles with heirloom status. They're bicycle parts. They carry a lot of constantly moving weight. They get wet occassionally. The cow is dead, it's not going to heal. I've been enjoying my B17 for a year. Three or four more would amount to my money's worth, beyond that will be bonus. Then I'm sure I'll get another of the same. Enjoy the ride.
    Well said.

    About Sno-Seal: It is not a conditioner, it seals the leather against moisture with beeswax. That's all it does. It does not contain tallow like Proofide or Leather Care Wax-Oil. These do condition leather to some extent. They also seal because they are mostly beeswax.

    This pic shows a B-67 still warm from the oven after 5 very heavy applications of Sno-Seal to the under side, with two light coats on top. The soak-through is coming from the bottom side.
    http://i2.tinypic.com/t9bg20.jpg

    Same saddle after 600 miles. Your body heat, sweat and motion will bring the wax or wax/oils through. I maintain the slickness with neutral boot wax. Water beads up like a duck's back but I still cover my saddles when they're standing in rain. Also, I use fenders.
    http://i2.tinypic.com/t8ahhi.jpg

  21. #21
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    My trick is to simply use it.

    For adjustments, nothing beats a two-bolt seatpost, because the angle setup is critical. But once you find the right angle, it's really comfortable.

    I terms of protection:

    – I ride with fenders, so the underside is protected at all times. Otherwise, find something to put underneath because water spray will soak in like mad. Remember that the underside is rough so water sinks in like a sponge; besides, since you have your weight on it, you'll reshape it and destroy it very quickly.

    – I put a plastic bag when I stop.
    Michel Gagnon
    Montréal (Québec, Canada)

  22. #22
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    Quote Originally Posted by geog_dash
    The English leather and retro design seem to endow Brooks saddles with heirloom status. They're bicycle parts. They carry a lot of constantly moving weight. They get wet occassionally. The cow is dead, it's not going to heal. I've been enjoying my B17 for a year. Three or four more would amount to my money's worth, beyond that will be bonus. Then I'm sure I'll get another of the same. Enjoy the ride.

    Quote Originally Posted by Bekologist
    I ride All Brooks in Seattle all winter long, have so for the last decade, and haven't covered my seats for anything except if it is absolutely pouring AND I'm going to be inside all day. Errands like at the grocery store, neaugh or watching a movie, no. You want to avoid saturating the saddle, and if you know how to waterproof leather properly, its pretty easy. Just treat it with your own secret saddle dope, and ride. No worries. Here's a picture of a wet one for the doubting thomases. Parked out in Seattle weather all the time.
    +1. Sage & wise counsel offered in these posts.

    I have a 30 year old Brooks B-17 which has been ridden in the rain & wet for many miles. For some years that bike was kept @ night on the back or a boat I lived aboard. It also sailed back there for more then a few miles of the East Coast. Suffice it to say that this B-17 has had more than it's share of wet. Over the years it has been occasionally treated to treatments of various leather treatments, including but not limited, to Needsfoot oil, mink oil, Snow Seal, et. al. This saddle remains my most comfortable one.

    To paraphrase geog-dash; "I've been enjoying my B17 for a 30 years. Three or four more would amount to my money's worth, beyond that will be bonus. Then I'm sure I'll get another of the same. Enjoy the ride." Bob

  23. #23
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    Lucky you, you used Needsfoot oil and mink oil with no problems. Funny thing about leather saddles is that they are not baseball gloves or shoes instead they are tensioned and act like a hammock and as soon as oil is introduced to the leather it weakens the hammock effect and the saddle needs to be retensioned which is something that under normal use should not have to be done except maybe every 10 years. Maybe you didn't use the oil products very much, but I've seen saddles where someone listen to someone who knew how to treat a Brooks and the oil destroyed the saddle in less then 5 years!! But don't take my word for it, go ahead and oil away since it's not my saddle I could care less!!

    As far as Sno-Seal goes, the original formula is made of beeswax and wax contains no oil and may have similar ingredents that Proofide uses; but wax will not harm your saddle...BUT, Brooks does say not to use any other product on their saddles; so who's to say whether or not Sno-Seal since it's a wax would effect their warranty. HOWEVER Sno-Seal also makes other products that don't contain wax but other ingredents which I'm sure would void the warranty and shorten the life of your saddle.

  24. #24
    jcm
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    Use of any other product on a Brooks will void the warranty. But, I don't care. The warranty is only two years, I think. You're on your own after that anyway. Besides, these things are pretty basic products that have shown very little problems over many decades. It's just leather and steel. Anything that will work on horse tack will work on a Brooks. I've spoken to a couple of saddlers about this very subject since there seems to be so much cult lore out here.

    They say: Leather is leather. High grade hide like Brooks or any tack-quality blank is essentially the same. One pointed out that beeswax like Sno-Seal will seal out future applications of conditioners (tallows). I reminded him that these things can go into the oven and thus the original wax becomes molten again, allowing additional conditioners into the grain. He agreed. Most saddlers apply their initial treatments using heated oils.

    Beware: Too much tallow based oil can cause early sagging and the subsequent need to tension. This is why I opt for Sno-Seal only, as it does not contain tallow - just wax, which does not soften the leather. That's the job for your backside.

    Proofide users are doing fine as long as they don't over apply. It's good stuff. Truth be told, if I had some Proofide around, I'd probably cook in some of that, too. I simply go for maximum water protection first and let my body do the breaking-in job.

  25. #25
    Klaatu barada nikto cascade168's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by jcm
    Use of any other product on a Brooks will void the warranty. But, I don't care. The warranty is only two years, I think. You're on your own after that anyway.
    You made me look Here is the warranty, verbatim (from a brand new saddle):

    "Your Brooks saddle is guaranteed for two years from the date of purchase against defects in manufacture or materials. If you believe you have a claim under this guarantee, you should return the saddle to the place of purchase along with your proof of purchase."

    That's it. Earlier in the section on Leather Saddle Care (on the little folding tag that comes with the saddles) it says that "Proofide is the only substance that should be used to care for your saddle". Nowhere does it state that your warrantee is void if you use something else. I mean, really, do you think Brooks is going to carry out a spectral analysis of a returned saddle to find out if someone was cheating and using SnoSeal (or, whatever). That would cost many times the value of the saddle.

    All that being said, if there is a defect in your new saddle, using something other than Proofide is VERY unlikely to point it out. If you can destroy one of these saddles and make it look like a "defect in manufacture or materials" and do it in less than two years, then more power to you.

    If you happen to be a rider that buys (for example) a Swallow and puts 30,000 miles on it in two years and a rivet tears out then they are probably going to ask you "Did you use anything other than Proofide on this saddle?" And when you answer "no", the seller will probably give you a new saddle and return the broken one to Brooks. I have seen so many debates on this issue and NEVER seen anyone say that they were denied a warrantee claim because they used some other leather treatment. If there is someone out there who believes they were denied a legitimate, or reasonable, warrantee claim for a Brooks saddle, I'd love to hear about it. The amount of misinformation and just_plain_speculation on this topic is really amazing (and, seemingly endless).
    "Work is the curse of the drinking class."
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