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Old 01-01-12, 06:48 PM   #1
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Rock hard leather saddle

2012's first bike was picked up from scottryder this afternoon along with a few odd bits including a rather wooden Ideale 90. I've has mixed results bringing dried-out saddles back to life, so before I pitch into it I'd like to hear what some of you other folks have done.

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Old 01-01-12, 07:05 PM   #2
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Rock hard but still a good smooth surface, or full of cracks and crevices? If still a good surface I would tie it up to the shape you want and soak it in a bucket of water overnight. Let it air dry (still tied) slowly out of the sun. Then rub in some proof hide and ride it. Also, it helps to completely de-tension the nose before soaking.

This has worked well for me on a couple of otherewise unrideable saddles. But if the surface has a lot of cracks, this method might speed up it's demise.
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Old 01-01-12, 08:22 PM   #3
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funny you should mention this. just last night i took a hard coarse sanding disk to my, like yours, cracked and hard and unsightly brooks. now it's suede and a lot more pliable. be careful if you attach the disk to a drill, like i did, a lot of leather comes off in a hurry. i finished it off, by hand, with another rigid sanding disk of about 220 grit. i'm happy with the results. and i imagine the fuzzy suede effect will wear off in a while.
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Old 01-01-12, 08:42 PM   #4
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For what it's worth, I have an Ideale 80 and a Fujita saddle, both of which are in good condition but rock-hard (even in spite of the fact that the Fujita has thousands of miles on it).

- I have pretty well concluded that neither of these saddles will ever be as comfortable as my Brooks, but after tweaking and tuning their position, I find they are no more UN-comfortable than many of my non-Brooks saddles.
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Old 01-01-12, 08:53 PM   #5
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I have an Ideale 80 which was so hard and flared outward that it had to be soaked in water before it was pliant enough to tie in shape and air dry. After drying it was beyond Proofide's powers of renewal. So, in desperation I resorted to neatsfoot oil. It took more than I was comfortable with but the leather responded. The trick is judging when to stop with the oil.

So, now it's still hard enough but useable.
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Old 01-02-12, 04:18 AM   #6
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This is a rock hard saddle...

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Old 01-02-12, 07:21 AM   #7
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^ looks a little like a Cinelli.
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Old 01-02-12, 07:42 AM   #8
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This is a rock hard saddle...

Yes, the rare HeMan, or Selle Geologica!
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Old 01-02-12, 07:57 AM   #9
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Old 01-02-12, 07:57 AM   #10
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This is a rock hard saddle...

Whenever I ride on a Gel saddle, I get the feeling this is under my rump.

Randy, is this your picture? Or is it in the public domain? I'd love to put this on my website.
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Old 01-02-12, 08:16 AM   #11
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2012's first bike was picked up from scottryder this afternoon along with a few odd bits including a rather wooden Ideale 90. I've has mixed results bringing dried-out saddles back to life, so before I pitch into it I'd like to hear what some of you other folks have done.

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Go to a place that sells horse supplies, and buy a plastic bottle of Lexol leather treatment--it's a creamy water-based emulsion. Pour the whole quart of it into a big ziploc bag and soak the whole saddle in in for a couple of days, skooching the bag around occasionally to make sure everything soaks evenly. Then take the saddle, out, wipe it with some paper towels, and you're in business. I did that do an old Wrights saddle that was so dry it seemed like it had been fossilized, and it came back perfectly. I ride it regularly now, and you'd never know it had ever been in such bad shape. Oh, yeah, cut a corner off the ziploc bag and squeeze the Lexol back into the bottle. It will be a little grimy-looking, but it's still perfectly useable.
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Old 01-02-12, 08:42 AM   #12
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Whenever I ride on a Gel saddle, I get the feeling this is under my rump.

Randy, is this your picture? Or is it in the public domain? I'd love to put this on my website.
He got it from a Sheldon Brown page, I think he had April Fool's products at some point.
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Old 01-02-12, 10:04 AM   #13
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Rock hard is good. Soft and flexible is bad, so is cracked on the top of the saddle. DON'T soak it in water or anything else to get it to soften up. Use Proofide only.
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Old 01-02-12, 10:47 AM   #14
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Originally Posted by jonwvara View Post
Go to a place that sells horse supplies, and buy a plastic bottle of Lexol leather treatment--it's a creamy water-based emulsion. Pour the whole quart of it into a big ziploc bag and soak the whole saddle in in for a couple of days, skooching the bag around occasionally to make sure everything soaks evenly. Then take the saddle, out, wipe it with some paper towels, and you're in business. I did that do an old Wrights saddle that was so dry it seemed like it had been fossilized, and it came back perfectly. I ride it regularly now, and you'd never know it had ever been in such bad shape. Oh, yeah, cut a corner off the ziploc bag and squeeze the Lexol back into the bottle. It will be a little grimy-looking, but it's still perfectly useable.
JV
Despite the many admonitions about using only Proofide on leather saddles, which I agree with, when an old saddle is dried out, I believe Proofide alone won't bring it back, unless you soak a whole lot of it into the leather using a heat gun or something. I like this suggestion above. Rock hard is one thing, in a new saddle that still contains its natural oils. But over twenty to forty years leather can dry out, the oils oxidize and more radical measures are required. IMO.
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Old 01-02-12, 10:53 AM   #15
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Despite the many admonitions about using only Proofide on leather saddles, which I agree with, when an old saddle is dried out, I believe Proofide alone won't bring it back, unless you soak a whole lot of it into the leather using a heat gun or something. I like this suggestion above. Rock hard is one thing, in a new saddle that still contains its natural oils. But over twenty to forty years leather can dry out, the oils oxidize and more radical measures are required. IMO.
I think you're right. Lexol claims to replenish the fats that are originally present in new leather, and from my experience it works exceptionally well. If a saddle is really dried out internally, Proofide alone just isn't going to do it.
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Old 01-02-12, 11:26 AM   #16
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Randy, is this your picture? Or is it in the public domain? I'd love to put this on my website.
No, the picture is not mine and you can read all about the Real Man Saddle on Sheldon Brown's website.
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Old 01-02-12, 01:59 PM   #17
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If you soak that saddle in a bucket of clear clean water for a couple hours, it will come out much softer. And the water will be brown. I don't know exactly what is in that water now, but I'm pretty sure you'd be better off to have left it in the saddle. So if you do try softening it with water, I'd suggest using it sparingly; add as much as the saddle will soak in, but not more.

Second, if you soften it with water, I'm not sure how much it will stay softened. When it dries out, it will be just as hard and dry as before.

A couple years ago I tried softening a saddle by riding it wet. It worked; that is, riding the wet saddle created permanent soft spots right were I wanted, making the saddle much more comfortable. But it also made that saddle alarmingly asymmetrical, which is a terrible look. So if you try that technique, you can't predict what's going to happen.

I would apply some neatsfoot oil and ride it. I like a hard saddle.
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Old 01-02-12, 02:12 PM   #18
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Rock hard is good. Soft and flexible is bad, so is cracked on the top of the saddle. DON'T soak it in water or anything else to get it to soften up. Use Proofide only.
Soaking in water should not really be done to make it softer, but to make it pliable so that it can be shaped - that is, if it has become flared, or hammock'y. And yes, saddles should be quite hard, though virtually rock hard may be a bit too much

Proofide (or whichever other product in that vein) only most sparingly.
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Old 01-02-12, 02:16 PM   #19
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If you soak that saddle in a bucket of clear clean water for a couple hours, it will come out much softer. And the water will be brown. I don't know exactly what is in that water now, but I'm pretty sure you'd be better off to have left it in the saddle. So if you do try softening it with water, I'd suggest using it sparingly; add as much as the saddle will soak in, but not more.
The guy who taught me the soaking trick - and he knows just-about-everything worth knowing about really old bikes - told me that a saddle could be left in water for months without coming to any harm. So I guess that the colour is just that: colour.

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Second, if you soften it with water, I'm not sure how much it will stay softened. When it dries out, it will be just as hard and dry as before.
Well, in my limited experience, yes, almost-but-not-quite.
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Old 01-02-12, 03:09 PM   #20
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No one has suggested anything I haven't tried before at one time on another (including Lexol) so I guess I'll stick with what's worked best in the past: sealing the saddle in a ziploc bag with a wet sponge in a sunny window followed by treatment with Pecard's.
Thanks for all the input.

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