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  1. #1
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    Breaking in a new Brooks b-17 with mink oil???

    Anyone know whether it is safe to use a small amount of mink oil to break in a new brooks b-17 saddle? I was planning to just wipe a reaonable amount on by hand, not soak it in a mink oil bath. I would switch to using proofide after the initial mink oil treatment. Just looking to use something to get the break-in process rolling (and I have mink oil at the house). I've seen Sheldon Brown's article, but he doesn't mention mink oil at all.

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    Breaking in the saddle is not the same as breaking in a baseball glove or a pair of boat shoes, you don't want it soft and flexible, you just want its shape to adjust w/o any of its physical properties changing. A teeny bit of mink oil might not over-soften it, but then it might also not get you where you want to go anyway. Time is the best, and it doesn't even take a lot, just a few hundred miles generally.

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    Perineal Pressurized dobber's Avatar
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    Proofide does not aid the break in process, it is a protectant. If you don't have any, use something similar like SnoSeal.

    Rubbing a little Mink Oil on the saddle isn't really gonna hasten the process, the only thing that'll get her broken in is your ass and mileage.
    This is Africa, 1943. War spits out its violence overhead and the sandy graveyard swallows it up. Her name is King Nine, B-25, medium bomber, Twelfth Air Force. On a hot, still morning she took off from Tunisia to bomb the southern tip of Italy. An errant piece of flak tore a hole in a wing tank and, like a wounded bird, this is where she landed, not to return on this day, or any other day.

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    Senior Member Sci-Fi's Avatar
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    The problem with mink oil is that while is makes a good waterproofing treatment, mink oil closes the pores of your leather, which "may" dry out your leather saddle faster. Better it just use mink oil for your shoes or boots. When it gets cold, mink oil will add/turn into a whitest haze to your leather which you have to buff out.

    Buffalo Butter is a better and safer choice for break-in, conditioning, and protection with 303 Aerospace Protectant being the high tech solution and adding UV protection to prevent your leather from fading. Many Brooks owners will argue using Proofhide, but using too much of it or too often will make your Brooks sag plus Wallbike recommends treating them no more than twice a year and using a very small amount of Proofhide.

    Personally I used 303 Aerospace Protectant on all my leather and vinyl (car leather/vinyl, leather/vinyl furniture, and leather/vinyl bike saddles) for years to keep them, looking and feeling like new. Lexol is the good, old standby to clean and protect leather of all types and is easier to buy locally. Quick break-in isn't high on my list, so opinions and YMMV.

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    Seņor Miembro JustBrowsing's Avatar
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    I used peanut butter on mine, though i did end up with some squirrel toothmarks on it afterwards...

    I'd say just ride the thing. I found that my B-17 brand new was more comfortable than the saddle my bike came with. And after about about 150 miles or so it only got better.
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    ride for a change modernjess's Avatar
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    Your butt on the seat, riding a lot. This is the best way achieve a good break in.

    Use proofhide annually to protect.

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by rohmen View Post
    Anyone know whether it is safe to use a small amount of mink oil to break in a new brooks b-17 saddle? I was planning to just wipe a reaonable amount on by hand, not soak it in a mink oil bath. I would switch to using proofide after the initial mink oil treatment. Just looking to use something to get the break-in process rolling (and I have mink oil at the house). I've seen Sheldon Brown's article, but he doesn't mention mink oil at all.
    Leave it alone. Put a coat of Proofide on it to protect it, then ride it. The B17 isn't as stiff as the Brooks Pro, and I've found B17s comfortable out of the box. The best way to break it in is to ride it and ride it some more.
    "When I'm on a bike, it's like I'm 14 again, racing off to the arcade with a pocket full of quarters."

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    Break-in periods? Mink oil? Proofide? Buffalo Butter? 303 Aerospace Protectant?


    Thankfully, my Selle Italia SLR required none of those, and only weighs 140 grams. Just sayin'.
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  9. #9
    Senior Member MrCjolsen's Avatar
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    You break it in with your ass.

    If you set up the saddle properly, any pain during the break in period will be like that experienced while being affectionately spanked vs. a conventional saddle which is like getting kneed in the groin.

  10. #10
    stringbreaker stringbreaker's Avatar
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    Proofide it and ride it a lot. Take Brooks word they know what they are doing having been at it for a while. I have 3 new B-17's all felt different out of the box and they are a bit fussy on adjustment but when you get it dialed in they are great. I had the most trouble with the fore and aft setting.

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    Spandex free since 1963! HauntedMyst's Avatar
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    I'm with the "just ride it" crowd. I have a new B17 and a new Flyer and both feel great out of the box, stiff but great. You just need to get your ass used to the saddle.

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    jcm
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    Agreed. The simple approach is the best approach. Ride it til you feel you need to adjust it, then ride it some more, adjust some more. With a B17, I suggest that you set your bar tops level with the saddle and tilt the saddle up a bit in front to start, just so the seat area is level with the ground.

    A Brooks should never get "soft". So, if you're expecting that, you'll be dissapointed. They should always remain hard to the hand, but pliable to the weight of the rider. Not like a pair of work boots, but like a saddle. If you apply compounds that are meant to condition and soften leather, you may go too far and end up with a saddle that won't stop "breaking-in".

    At about 200 miles you should begin to see some wrinkling or a slight denting appear where your ischials (sit bones) are. At about 500 to 700, the saddle will have taken the form of your entire backside. At about 1000 miles, it should basically stop forming, and will stay that way for years.

    Proofide twice a year. A dab of mink oil (about a teaspoon) won't hurt.

  13. #13
    Just ride it. MrPolak's Avatar
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    This little piggy used a ball peen hammer... This little piggy used some water... and this little piggy rode wee-wee-wee all the way home!

  14. #14
    stringbreaker stringbreaker's Avatar
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    That little piggie trashed a perfectly good saddle

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    Senior Member littlewaywelt's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by rohmen View Post
    Anyone know whether it is safe to use a small amount of mink oil to break in a new brooks b-17 saddle? I was planning to just wipe a reaonable amount on by hand, not soak it in a mink oil bath. I would switch to using proofide after the initial mink oil treatment. Just looking to use something to get the break-in process rolling (and I have mink oil at the house). I've seen Sheldon Brown's article, but he doesn't mention mink oil at all.
    don't use mink oil or snowseal on leather. They are absolutely horrible for it. They oversoften the leather and will actually shorten life span. Oversoftening causes the outermost part of the leather to breakdown prematurely and makes gouging and scratching more likely. wax based products clog the pores of the leather. Break it in naturally via saddle time and mileage. Care for it by wiping it with water, or soapy water occasionally. Once a year use some lexol to clean it.
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    Quote Originally Posted by littlewaywelt View Post
    don't use mink oil or snowseal on leather. They are absolutely horrible for it. They oversoften the leather and will actually shorten life span.
    Sno-seal shouldn't. It is beeswax and not much else.

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    Senior Member littlewaywelt's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by HardyWeinberg View Post
    Sno-seal shouldn't. It is beeswax and not much else.
    I've seen it first hand on countless pieces of leather. Snoseal is 100% junk. It has solvents in it. It was ok 20 years ago, but today there are vastly better products on the market that last longer and do a far better job and are safer for the leather.
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    My B17 behaved just as JCM said.
    I suggest you start out riding little and often. Dont go and ride 70miles on a new Brooks, try 5 miles here and there. The dimples will appear after a week or so and you will stop sliding around on top of the saddle.

  19. #19
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    When I got my B67, I used a modified version of letting it sit in the sun then slathering it with Proofide.

    Figuring that if a tool is good then a power tool is better, I heated up the oven to 175 then stuffed the saddle in there for 15 minutes. After 15 minutes, I removed the saddle then slathered it down with Proofide on both sides using a piece of cloth from an old t-shirt (white, of course). The saddle just soaked it up. After about 15 minutes, I wiped the excess off the top and sides.

    I haven't treated it again since and it's been about four months. The saddle immediately felt comfy and has only continued to get better.
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  20. #20
    Raving looney
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    I followed the saddle care instructions with the Brooks B17s I have. Both broke within 300 miles, the first (Black) one took a bit longer, it felt like. I may've added a little more proofide than was necessary with that first one too, but I didn't want to over do it.

    The saddles will still look and feel hard as wood, but once you sit on it, and it's moulded to your sit bones/ass groove, then you're golden and they're so beautiful to ride on - I've ridden around 2000 miles combined between my older Black (temporarily retired awaiting my fixie) and the new green/copper B17 I picked up.

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    I think you must get the idea by now Rohmen. Everyone has a heartfelt opinion but nobody actually knows if their method works better than others. Use your mink oil, then you can be an expert too.

    As for me, I did the neatsfoot oil routine. Seemed to work perfectly, just as Sheldon Brown said it would. Would I have done better with Proofhide, mink oil, or nothing at all? I'll never know.

  22. #22
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    The best thing to put on your Brooks saddle is your backside. Ride. Repeat.

  23. #23
    Perineal Pressurized dobber's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by littlewaywelt View Post
    I've seen it first hand on countless pieces of leather. Snoseal is 100% junk. It has solvents in it. It was ok 20 years ago, but today there are vastly better products on the market that last longer and do a far better job and are safer for the leather.
    I'll have to disagree with you here. I've used SnoSeal exclusively on 7 Brooks saddles with seasonal applications and have had no detrimental problems.

    I do apply it without heat, let it sit overnight and then buff it out on the topside, on the underside I just leave it in place.

    According to the MSDS, SnoSeal is ~65% Wax, ~35% Mineral Spirits (http://www.setonresourcecenter.com/m...6/wcd006ee.htm)
    Last edited by dobber; 11-16-07 at 03:46 PM.
    This is Africa, 1943. War spits out its violence overhead and the sandy graveyard swallows it up. Her name is King Nine, B-25, medium bomber, Twelfth Air Force. On a hot, still morning she took off from Tunisia to bomb the southern tip of Italy. An errant piece of flak tore a hole in a wing tank and, like a wounded bird, this is where she landed, not to return on this day, or any other day.

  24. #24
    jcm
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    Quote Originally Posted by littlewaywelt View Post
    I've seen it first hand on countless pieces of leather. Snoseal is 100% junk. It has solvents in it. It was ok 20 years ago, but today there are vastly better products on the market that last longer and do a far better job and are safer for the leather.
    I respectfully disagree. SnoSeal is almost completely beeswax. The trace parafins it contains are there to keep it in a soft and spreadable consistency so it can be used cold.

    Beeswax is indeed an old leather treatment compound. It was undoubtably used with tallow on Roman shields as a water resistive coating. Their shields were plywood, covered with leather, and hand painted to record battles and other events that the owner wanted to preserve in honor. They picked an excellent product.

    Beeswax is almost inert in it's effect upon leather fibers. That is, it cannot soften or condition the leather, no matter what the ads say. The verbage is just marketing because evryone wants something that says it "conditions and preserves".

    A new Brooks needs neither.

    SnoSeal is a topical water-resistant coating when applied cold. When applied to a warm saddle out of the oven, it penetrates deeply and does coat the fibers with wax. To say it seals the leather from any future applications of some type of conditioner is essentially correct. However, a saddle thus treated retains all of it's structural ridigity and is as water resistant as you can get while avoiding the unpredictable pitfalls of drenching the leather in oils.

    The latter can give good results at first, but may - I say may - cause the leather to sag beyond the ability of the tensioner to alleviate. This can happen just when it begins to feel fine, then, over a warm summer some months in the future, you begin to lose the form and wonder why it sags so much. Oils don't quit working, that's the risk. Often, we figure if a little is good, then alot must be better. I caution against oils. Even Proofide can be over done.

    Professional saddlers are divided on their opinions about beeswax on leather these days, not because it is a bad product, but because there are other options. One thing they most all agree on is that silicones are to be avoided. Fine for jackets, purses, dress shoes, etc. but not for working leather.
    Last edited by jcm; 11-16-07 at 03:55 PM.

  25. #25
    Perineal Pressurized dobber's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by jcm View Post
    Oils don't quit working, that's the risk. Often, we figure if a little is good, then alot must be better. I caution against oils. Even Proofide can be over done.
    Agreed. We're trying to protect the leather, not make it more pliable. Repeated soaking with anything will hasten the demise of the saddle.
    This is Africa, 1943. War spits out its violence overhead and the sandy graveyard swallows it up. Her name is King Nine, B-25, medium bomber, Twelfth Air Force. On a hot, still morning she took off from Tunisia to bomb the southern tip of Italy. An errant piece of flak tore a hole in a wing tank and, like a wounded bird, this is where she landed, not to return on this day, or any other day.

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