I got a brand new Brooks saddle a couple of weeks ago. Rode it 3 times (about 5-10 miles each time) with no problems until the fourth ride of 25 miles - and now it looks like it has worn down one side. The other side is fine and I have polished the underside of the saddle with proofide twice before this ride. Is this part of the breaking in process? Or is the leather faulty and should I send it back?
too many bikes from 1967 10s (5x2)Frejus to a Sumitomo Ti/Chorus aluminum 10s (10x2), plus one non-susp mtn bike I use as my commuter
I don't think it faulty in the sense that a plastic or metal part might be. Leather is a natural product and there's always some variation, but that's something you might take up directly with Brooks.
My (not Brooks) leather covered saddle on the commuter has similar wear/damage in the back. The center is high polished from cycling shorts, but the rear beyond where my weight is is rough. I believe it's from grit thrown up by my rear wheel roughened it with incidental pressure like from when I'd shift my weight.
If I were you, I'd call Brooks, and ask them if they feel this is normal, or your fault, and how best to deal with it.
BTW- don't over use the Proofhide. It softens and relaxes the leather, and if used excessively will cause the saddle to sag prematurely. My 45 year old Brooks Pro is still going strong after over 50,000 miles (though I don't ride that bike as much anymore). I was very sparing with leather treatments, so the leather kept it's shape nicely. I used neatsfoot oil early on until it was broken in, and thereafter only treated the top with saddle soap and polishes I bought at an equestrian store. In all that time and mileage the only thing that broke is the frame in the back, which I had a friend weld back together.
I can't tell what that is from the picture. I'd go by surface roughness: if the leather is shredding, you might have a warranty issue (depending on whether you're riding in blue jeans with a sharp-edged rivet that rubs there). If the leather is smooth, go ahead and ride it.