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Old 10-07-13, 09:48 AM   #1
no motor?
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How much water does it take to damage a Brooks saddle?

I got caught in a downpour on mine Saturday, and it got pretty wet by the time I got to my destination. I was able to park it indoors and towel dry the saddle and figure that wasn't enough to hurt it, but wonder how much water would it take to damage one? And yes, I did put more proffide on it when I got home.
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Old 10-07-13, 10:21 AM   #2
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Hard to say.

I have 3 Brooks and each one has reacted a little differently to getting wet.

One is a honey Brooks which was left untreated. I got caught in the rain one time and it left a water stain on the nose of the saddle. It's still just as comfortable as before, just not as pretty.

One is a black B17. This one is treated with proofide and has been caught in a few showers (while on the bike rack of my car). No water marks like on the honey saddle but it's softer and saggier than before. Still very comfortable, though.

My third one is a black champion flyer. This one is on my rain bike and gets wet all the time. It is treated with proofide. No damage at all from riding in wet weather. Of course, I don't leave it out in the rain, but getting a little wet doesn't seem to hurt it.
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Old 10-07-13, 11:17 AM   #3
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I figured anything made in England was made to get wet (or at least damp).
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Old 10-07-13, 01:25 PM   #4
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I got caught in a downpour on mine Saturday, and it got pretty wet by the time I got to my destination. I was able to park it indoors and towel dry the saddle and figure that wasn't enough to hurt it, but wonder how much water would it take to damage one? And yes, I did put more proffide on it when I got home.

I use Obenauf's LP on my 4 brooks.
2 are on bikes that don't see much foul weather.
1 is on my main commuter and 1 is on my pedicab.
These get soaked. And ridden wet.
Holding up fine so far, bit of stretch first time or two, when soaked.

Here is the thing:
Don't put proofhide or any other oil based leather treatment on your saddle when wet.
Make sure it dries completely before treating........Otherwise, you trap the water in the fibers......
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Old 10-07-13, 01:54 PM   #5
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Soaking a saddle with water softens the leather temporarily; so riding while it's soaking wet is not a good idea, because it can soften and stretch the leather permanently. I said "can" because you can sometimes reverse the process by soaking it again, reshaping it, and applying some heat to bake the correct shape back into it. This doesn't always work, and can have pretty disastrous results if done wrong.

Just letting the saddle get wet, and letting it dry again, isn't really that bad for it. But if it gets so wet that brown water is dripping off it, some soluble substance is getting leached out of the leather; and that soluble substance, whatever it is, would be better left in the leather. Proofide is supposed to seal it in; and maybe it does. But Proofide does not really replace whatever is lost.

I know I haven't answered your question; the answer is that I don't know, and you won't know until you reach the tipping point. My advice, duh, is try to put off that tipping point as long as you can.
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Old 10-07-13, 03:03 PM   #6
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I've damaged Brooks saddles more by riding in stifling heat and humidity, and sweating all over the saddle while riding for several hours more, than by rain showers. Between my natural umbrella-like qualities (ahem) and fenders, the rain has to make an effort to get to the leather.

Still, if you're going to be riding in the rain (or sweating heavily) a lot, get something like an Aardvark saddle cover. It's also useful to keep plastic grocery bags on saddles if you put it on a bike rack for a long drive -- just tie the bag under the saddle so it doesn't flap and blow the cover off!
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Old 10-07-13, 03:16 PM   #7
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Brooks have been around for ages and have been the subject of many tales of how to break them in. Some folks swear by soaking them in hot water; others say to bake them in an oven. There's even a theory out there saying the best way to break in a Brooks saddle is to soak it overnight in motor oil.
So Brooks are crazy sturdy. I've ridden mine in rain, cold and Texas heat for years with no ill effects. I treat the underside of mine more thoroughly than the top, since it is a more absorbent surface.
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Old 10-08-13, 02:03 PM   #8
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How do they get wet when you're riding? Unless you stand up a lot, I mean.
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Old 10-08-13, 02:13 PM   #9
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I'm also very curious about the new Cambiums and how they handle water if anyone's got the inside scoop.
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Old 10-09-13, 09:14 AM   #10
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How do they get wet when you're riding? Unless you stand up a lot, I mean.
1. Road spray on the bottom, particularly when you're not using fenders.
2. Heavy sweating that runs down your back (or front), overwhelms the diapers most cycling shorts use as chamois now, and drenches the saddle.
3. Extended rain, particularly in warm weather, without a rain jacket, soaks the rider, and follows the paths noted in (2) above. With a rain jacket, you may start sweating heavily, see (2) again.
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Old 10-09-13, 10:42 AM   #11
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Cover it with a shower cap or seat cover when it sits in the rain, or when you are riding through a deluge and you will have no problems. If it does get wet, simply let it dry. If it is thoroughly saturated, which would take a lot, you shouldn't ride it if possible since it will stretch, but that is unlikely if you are riding it while it is raining. For the most part a little rain is a non-issue.
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Old 10-09-13, 11:07 AM   #12
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riding it home soaked through, it likely stretched faster than it would have , dry.

Best way to find out, do Science.. buy 2 and run a control test :1 wet, 1 dry , .. equal ride time otherwise.

I have my old Brooks' out of the weather, now that I live in the Temperate Rain Forest coastal zone.

Took tours for months , left a plastic bag on all the time .. wearing rain pants.. anyhow..

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Old 10-09-13, 04:02 PM   #13
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I have my old Brooks' out of the weather, now that I live in the Temperate Rain Forest coastal zone.
Do you mean you took your Brooks off for the winter? You get as much or more rain than I do. I have good fenders but I though I would onlyl need to use the rain cover when I park the bike for the day in the bus yard.
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Old 10-09-13, 10:23 PM   #14
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My wife got a perfect butt print in her B17 by doing the bike portion of a sprint triathlon after swimming in her bike shorts. That saddle had been treated with Proofide but I can't say if it was a recent application. She is happy with the result and now recommends the process to others.
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Old 10-09-13, 10:42 PM   #15
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...[I] wonder how much water would it take to damage one [Brooks saddle]?
I owned two Brooks saddles that were NOT pre softened. I put fifty thousand miles on each one of them (minimally). The first one I totally abused, the second one I babied with Proofide and rain covers. They both lasted until I just got tired of them. Then I bought a pre-softened one - it was fairly new on a ride I took on a really hot day. I squirted ice water through the vents in my helmet all day (now and then) which totally drenched my shirt, shorts, and saddle that was treated with Proofide but not covered. I sat on it wet all day. It was never the same after that and I tossed it in the garbage soon after. It never really broke in properly before I sat on it wet all day, then it broke in crooked somehow.

Just an experience, maybe a fluke. I quit riding Brooks after that and have been MUCH happier anyway. Wouldn't ride a Brooks again if I got a free one. Back in the day it was the best we could do. Modern materials and science have vastly improved saddle comfort over the years. Sort of like a bench seat in a pickup truck versus a bucket seat in Lexus. The only thing that impresses me about Brooks today is the wonderful marketing campaign they run to make people believe the bench seat is somehow better and more "hip". And none of my modern saddles give a hoot if they get wet (I have 5 bikes and not a Brooks in sight).

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Old 10-09-13, 10:51 PM   #16
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The Ideale on my 1951 CCM was quite literally an ass hatchet when I found it... it was cleaned and then soaked for quite a while, and then tied down a little once it softened to bring the shape to what one would consider rideable, I then let it dry a good deal before I rode it but did not let it dry completely before I rode on it for 60 miles.

The saddle is one of my favourites.



It is usually (moisture) and gravity that breaks in a leather saddle and my 245 pound partner always jokes that he can break in a Brooks in an afternoon as he sweats like a small pony.

After the saddle has broken in you want to protect it from any extra moisture as it will then change with it's rider.
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Old 10-09-13, 10:58 PM   #17
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My wife got a perfect butt print in her B17...
We are lucky men. My wife has a perfect butt too.
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Old 10-09-13, 11:05 PM   #18
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Just an experience, maybe a fluke. I quit riding Brooks after that and have been MUCH happier anyway. Wouldn't ride a Brooks again if I got a free one. Back in the day it was the best we could do. Modern materials and science have vastly improved saddle comfort over the years. Sort of like a bench seat in a pickup truck versus a bucket seat in Lexus. The only thing that impresses me about Brooks today is the wonderful marketing campaign they run to make people believe the bench seat is somehow better and more "hip". And none of my modern saddles give a hoot if they get wet (I have 5 bikes and not a Brooks in sight).
Technology has not come that far... where I am from wool still beats synthetics for staying warm and dry and a good percentage of my bicycle, all my wife's bicycles, and my daughter's bicycles have leather saddles.

Some are modern like their leather topped Terry saddles and I have one of their men's versions on a touring bike and the same on my mountain bike because it is so comfortable.

Coming out of Portland I'd say that leather saddles stand up quite well to being wet if they are properly treated... 50,000 miles is a good service life for a saddle in a climate like yours where there is also a lot of humidity. If it not the moisture it is the organisms (mold and fungus) that infest leather items and cause it to break down that cause their early demise.

The climate here is arid and leather goods tend to stay well preserved.
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Old 10-09-13, 11:14 PM   #19
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We are lucky men. My wife has a perfect butt too.
My wife rides on a Brooks B66... I could add her perfect Polish dupa to that list.
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Old 10-10-13, 09:38 AM   #20
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Do you mean you took your Brooks off for the winter?
No, its on my Made for self supported touring, bike , and I don't use it for my daily cycling.

When I did my last tour, starting in March on the Southern Irish Coast,
the plastic bag, over the Brooks Pro (bought in '75) never came off..

have a Pleather covered saddle on my daily riders , now.

Somewhat like being on the Irish coast , but more trees.... and Salmon.

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Old 10-10-13, 10:31 AM   #21
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The only thing that impresses me about Brooks today is the wonderful marketing campaign they run to make people believe the bench seat is somehow better and more "hip". And none of my modern saddles give a hoot if they get wet (I have 5 bikes and not a Brooks in sight).

I have a saddle like this:


Brooks Flyer. Do you know any other saddle model (of different brand, non leather if possible) that has springs really hard like the Brooks Flyer? Those springs are perfect - I don't bounce when peddaling, but when I hit an unseen bump, it saves my back from being broken. That was the only seat with hard enough springs I could find.


As far as leather goes: it is nice in the summer, but in the winter it is much colder than synthetic saddles. I treated it with proofhide, but once I left the bike for an hour in pouring raind, than rode home. After that, the saddle was shaped like my but.


It is a nice, comfortable seat.
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Old 10-10-13, 10:36 AM   #22
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How do they get wet when you're riding? Unless you stand up a lot, I mean.
Water spraying up from underneath from the wheels especially if you don't have fenders. As the top of the saddle is 'finished' (what is the correct word?) and the bottom is 'raw', I would worry more about the underside of the saddle.

BTW: When I'm out touring and the bike has to be outside, I use a shower cap to keep the rain and dew off the saddle.
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Old 05-27-15, 07:21 AM   #23
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Here is the thing:
Don't put proofhide or any other oil based leather treatment on your saddle when wet.
Make sure it dries completely before treating........Otherwise, you trap the water in the fibers......
Old thread, new Brooks owner. I got my first Brooks (B17) last summer and have about 2,000 miles on it.

Last weekend, the wife wanted to go for a ride with light mist conditions. I typical keep full fenders on this bike, but was in the middle of a project and had no fenders on it. I figured the saddle bag was good enough to keep spray off it. However, the rain was heavier than expected, we waited too long to get our covers out, and the Brooks got wet. Add insult to injury, I took the same bike out the next day for 30 miles. This is when I noticed I had stretched the saddle, not the center line, but the seat bone positions. I have had the saddle in house for the last two days to dry it out, the leather is tightening and most of the sagging is gone. My wife's B17 didn't suffer at all, but that saddle is only a month old.

My questions:

How long does it typically take to dry a Brooks through-and-through? Days, weeks, ... ?
Should I ride it before reapplying Proofide? The leather is not cracked or showing signs of being dried out.
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Old 05-27-15, 08:47 AM   #24
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Riding the saddle 30 miles after getting it wet, well, that probably wasn't a very good idea. But I guess you figured that out.

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...
How long does it typically take to dry a Brooks through-and-through? Days, weeks, ... ?
Mostly dry in a day or two, but completely dry may take a lot longer, depending on humidity in the air. In the humid late summer, around here, it takes until November. But if you leave it out in the sun and it should be okay in a day or two.
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Should I ride it before reapplying Proofide? The leather is not cracked or showing signs of being dried out.
Don't go overboard with Proofide. If the surface is rubbed to the point of looking porous and dull, rub just a little Proofide into it and buff to a shine. All it's supposed to do is ****** the absorption of water.

edit: Oh, my, I hadn't realized "******" (which I consider to be a rather innocuous verb, meaning to inhibit or slow) is banned. Ooops!
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New leather for old saddles.

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Old 05-27-15, 09:01 AM   #25
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Riding the saddle 30 miles after getting it wet, well, that probably wasn't a very good idea. But I guess you figured that out.


Mostly dry in a day or two, but completely dry may take a lot longer, depending on humidity in the air. In the humid late summer, around here, it takes until November. But if you leave it out in the sun and it should be okay in a day or two.

Don't go overboard with Proofide. If the surface is rubbed to the point of looking porous and dull, rub just a little Proofide into it and buff to a shine. All it's supposed to do is ****** the absorption of water.
Thank you for the feedback! I will be quicker put the cover on with rain, and be sure to let it totally dry prior to riding.

I will hold off on the Proofide for now, since the leather doesn't appear dull. I feel like reapplying Proofide prior to a gravel century (next month) would be prudent (I haven't applied any Proofide this year).
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