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Thread: Proofide

  1. #1
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    Proofide

    Does brooks proofide have any list of what exactly is in it? I was looking at the local tack/equine store and saw many products for leather... I'm wondering if one of them is a substitute for Proofide. They all pretty much said the same things as far as conditioning, protecting, waterproofing, .... except the Neatsfeet which said it softened also.

    Some were a lotion, some a paste, and some a wax like substance. What is the Proofide like?

    I would like to try something like proofide, first before trying Neatsfeet as a softener (although, I will probably resort to localized softener in the seat bone area simply cause I ride in a low position and only weigh 125lbs)

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    Proofide is a waxy paste, but it will melt to a liquid in heat. I would not recommend you use Neatsfoot oil, as it does soften the leather, often too much and can lead to saddle droop. I would think any good saddle dressing from a tack store would also work on a Brooks saddle. I've always just used the proofide, though.

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    biked well well biked's Avatar
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    The ingredients printed on the top of a Proofide tin: tallow, cod oil, vegetable oil, paraffin wax, beeswax, citronella oil.

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    Senior Member stokessd's Avatar
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    Yummy on toast...


    Sheldon

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    Proofide is mostly an oil dressing with a bit of wax thrown in. Pure neatsfoot is an oil dressing without the wax. Neither will hurt your saddle if you don't overuse them.

    I've had great luck using two coats of baseball glove oil (neatsfoot with lanolin added) to assist with breaking in a B-17. Afterward, it was slightly softer than another B-17 with just Proofide applied and noticeably more comfortable.

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    Hi,
    as a former of hiker, I have some experience with leather. Stay away from Neatfoot's Oil. Proofide is safe. There are some hiking boot dressings I have considered trying. But in the end I stuck with the Proofide.

    If you want a faster break in on the center of the saddle; this is an old trick from my hiking days. Use a hair dryer to melt the Proofide. While you doing that play the dryer over the sadle LIGHTLY to warm both sides.


    Apply the liquid proofide to both sides of the center, and use the dryer to keep it
    liquid so it will soak in better.

    How long you do this depends on how dangerously you like to live. I did it for about a minute, but on just one side. Since you weigh half what I do, you may need to put some on the underside of the saddle as well.

    ...Edit...
    Just apply Proofide to the underside where it hurts. The idea is to create a small pocket of softness. You also don't need to do it all at once. When I was trying to get my wife comfy on her Brooks for a while it was a weekly routine. We would ride, she would complain, I would apply some Proofide. But... just try and tke her saddle away from her now. You'd draw back bloody stumps.
    Last edited by late; 07-23-07 at 09:50 AM.

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    I do this maybe 4 times a year:
    Melt some beeswax, paint it on my brooks, buff it out using a old cotton t-shirt and a hairdryer (to remelt the wax). On the underside I just paint it on, I don't bother buffing it out.

    Cheap, and works like a charm.

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    Proofide.

    E.U.regulations now require that the constituents of virtually every product must be itemised on the packaging - in descending order of proportions, although actual percentages apparently don't need to be disclosed (except in the case of comestibles, maybe?). These regulations may not apply outside the E.U., perhaps.
    I'm fairly sure that tallow is the overwhelmingly predominant constituent of 'Proofide', and the various oils, waxes, etc. are no more than 'trace elements'. Any sort of oil, in anything more than miniscule quantity, is a sure way to ruin any suspension-type leather saddle and the use of neatsfoot, or suchlike, should be avoided if you wish to enjoy the various benefits to be derived from the use of these seats.
    So far as the use of 'Proofide' is concerned, a light dressing two or three times a year is generally sufficient - on the top, never underneath. Heating the stuff is not a good idea - just wipe it on with your finger, leave for a reasonable time and then polish-off any residue.

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    Can use Lexol Cleaner and Conditioner without a problem or a high end product like Leatherique's Prestine Clean and Rejuvenator Oil. But most Brooks saddle owners are going to use Brooks Proofide because it's..well..Brooks. Many automotive leather care products can be used without harming your Brooks saddle. The main thing is to "not" let the leather dry and crack from the lack of proper care. Some prefer having that "waxy" feel to their saddle if they live in a high humidity or rainy area for more protection from the elements or sweat.

    How fast/quickly you want to "break-in" your saddle is a personal preference. Some prefer a pure natural process while other use a softening product to accelerate the process or to get a quicker comfort satisfaction from their purchase.

    This what's in Proofide and a link to an old thread about it:
    Tallow, Cod oil, Vegetable oil, Paraffin wax, Beeswax, and Citronella oil
    Brooks Proofide Ingredients

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    Tallow contains animal oil (which can be extracted by simply pressing it). In fact, McDonalds for years cooked their fries in 97% beef tallow. Of the other 5 ingredients listed on a can of Proofide, 3 are either animal or vegetable oils. Proofide is primarily an oil based dressing with a bit of wax in it. Neatsfoot is also an animal oil which has been used successfully for hundreds of years to protect leather. Neither neatsfoot nor Proofide will ruin your saddle if you don't overuse them. Used in similar quantities, neatsfoot will soften a saddle a bit more than Proofide will but only a bit.

    Brooks warns you not to use anything but Proofide because they can get $8 a can for it.
    Last edited by Proximo; 07-22-07 at 05:39 PM.

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    Proofide.

    Tallow is a fat, not an oil. It can be 'rendered down' to produce oil, of course, and I'd imagine that McD. used the renderings in their cuisine.
    Unless you're going to cook your saddle you need to keep the oil to a minimum, and this is why any abnormal heat should be avoided when using 'Proofide'. The amount of oil that will penetrate your saddle, if you apply 'Proofide' correctly, will be negligible.
    The frequent suggestion that Brooks only advise use of 'Proofide' because they make money out of it is absurd - a cynic might suggest that they would be better advised to encourage the use of neatsfoot, etc. (which they did, at one time), as this would probably significantly increase their sales of new saddles. A tin of 'Proofide', used sensibly, will last for very many years (unless you've got a shed-full to service, of course).
    It's probably not too important whether you use 'Proofide' on your saddle, or not - it's the overall care and attention that's important. Obviously, quality of leather can vary tremendously (even within the same model) and some saddles will never be much good whatever you do with them (it's generally agreed that the overall quality of Brooks saddles deteriorated badly in the late '80's/early '90's, when they were being screwed by a parent company desperate to save money where-ever possible), but a good leather saddle should last a lifetime, given appropriate care.
    If you want a saddle that is soft and/or waterproof there is a wide choice available - just don't waste your money on a leather one. Or on the neatsfoot, with which to 'treat' it.

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    jcm
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    Everyone here is right. It's amazing what a leather saddle can survive. I have over conditioned enough leather in my time that I no longer trust myself with oils and conditioners that soften. In fact, Brooks doesn't really trust us either. That's why they say to go easy with Proofide, despite the fact that they might only be able to sell you a single tin in a lifetime. Once, I thought that Proofide was mostly beeswax and parrafin, but no longer. If it were beeswax, then no application warning would be needed, because beeswax cannot over soften leather. Perhaps my logic is flawed, but I don't think so.

    Impatience will ruin a Brooks. It's been done. By me once, by others, I'm sure. Too much oil and/ or conditioner will keep on softening beyond the owners intent, often for weeks or months. You simply can't gage when enough is enough. Yes, I know all about the story of the famous guy who immerses his saddles in 30wt motor oil for six years, then rides them while still dripping. So? Maybe he likes the hammock effect. I know that Sheldon Browne, whom I nearly worship, has said that motor oil works, too. Yeah, sure it works. So do all the other unquent's, salves, and witches brews that people use.

    Softeners, conditioners and the like belong in the realm of clothing, boots, ball gloves, etc. A saddle should remain very firm, but molded to the rider. Many oils will reduce the slickness of a smooth finished Brooks. This is a mistake. The slick surface is one of the most important characteristics of a super comfortable long distance saddle. It allows for air to get between the rider and the surface, thus aiding the wicking process. There should be little or no clamminess on a Brooks in hot weather. If a rider is sliding out of position, re-adjust the setup, but don't try to make the surface 'grabby'.

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    For every person who has ruined a saddle or boot with neatsfoot there are probably thousands who haven't. In my experience, every time this subject comes up in these forums there are a lot of folks predicting dire consequences who are just repeating what they've heard elsewhere. I personally have treated my brooks saddle with neatsfoot (glove oil) with no ill effects. Sheldon Brown, who has more experience with these matters than most of us recommends neatsfoot (http://www.sheldonbrown.com/leather.html). If you want to spend the extra money on Proofide in the belief it is a superior dressing, you are free to do so but, as Sheldon points out, you are more than likely prolonging the break-in time unnecessarily.

    By the way, tallow is what you get *after* you render beef fat. It's full of oil which can be separated from the solids by pressing it out. Or you can just heat the tallow up to liquify it then cook your fries. It works just like lard and it should since they are both produced by rendering fat (pork = lard, beef = tallow). Tallow has a melting point of about 104F (40C) so unless you heat your saddle so the Proofide will soak in, a lot of that magic juju you spread on it will sit on the surface just to be wiped off by either your bike shorts the next time you ride it or the towel you use to wipe the "excess" off after "treating" it. That's probably why it takes so long to break in a Brooks if you just use Proofide. Very little of it is actually penetrating the surface of the saddle.

    Oil is what protects the saddle and keeps it from drying out and cracking. The wax in Proofide provides some waterproofing but just until your bike shorts rub it off. It's the oil that does the bulk of the work, though.
    Last edited by Proximo; 07-23-07 at 07:12 PM.

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    I went with some horse saddle conditioner... so we'll see.

    I MIGHT use neatsfoot oil, but only on the direct sit bone area, I don't see how that could allow the seat to stretch out. I'm gonna give it a good run without it first.

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    Just curious, what's on the ingredient label of the saddle conditioner?

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    Quote Originally Posted by tony colegrave View Post
    The frequent suggestion that Brooks only advise use of 'Proofide' because they make money out of it is absurd - a cynic might suggest that they would be better advised to encourage the use of neatsfoot, etc. (which they did, at one time), as this would probably significantly increase their sales of new saddles.
    I think you have it all wrong. Brooks gets no money out of neatsfoot, which doesn't ruin saddles, whatsoever so there's a well to be tapped. What Brooks did with Proofide is called "branding". Take a commonly used product -- let's say an oil based leather dressing -- change it slightly to make it unique, give it a special name that is trademarked then advertise the hell out of it to convince the public that it's the only way to fly. You know, just like the big distillers do with vodka. It's just simple business and if you think Brooks is above doing business then you are naive.

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    Ah, just buy the Proofhide. You only use it once a year (no more than twice; you certainly don't need weekly applications or anything like that). I bought a can six years ago when I lost my old one, and I've maintained three B-17s and a Brooks Pro since then and I have half the can left. A glob between the size of a pea and a small grape does a whole saddle.

  18. #18
    Senior Member stokessd's Avatar
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    I have a team pro from the early 80's which has at least 30,000 miles on it. The bottom is neatsfooted and the top has been treated regularly with saddle soap. Never has it seen proofhide until this year. It's a touch hammocky, but very comfortable on our tandem. The surface of the leather back by the rear rivets is a bit cracked, but it's still hanging in there.

    I have a new team pro. and my wife has a b67 and a flyer S. We are treating these only with proofhide. Ask me in another 25 years and another 30K miles and I'll have some data.

    I neatsfooted the bottom of my brooks to protect it from the rain. I proofhided the bottoms of the new ones for the same reason. You guys who don't treat your saddles or only sparingly so, what do you do about riding in rain? I never go out in the rain, but I get caught more than I'd like.


    Sheldon

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    jcm
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    I ride in the rain alot. I live in the Seattle area. I use SnoSeal only. Not because other stuff is bad, but because that's whatv I have alot of. And, it's been my life-long water repellant for all my out door leathers. I start by heating the saddle in the oven on low. Slather on the Snoseal while the leather is hot. It'll melt in like butter. I only apply it to the bottom side because it can be sticky on top. I keep applying til it begins to soak thru the top. Then I stop. That's all I ever do.

    Body heat and motion will draw the wax up thru the leather. No further treatment is needed - forever.

    B67 fresh out of the oven with three good coats on the bottom side:
    http://i9.tinypic.com/54br7gp.jpg
    Same saddle at one week:
    http://i9.tinypic.com/53kfuqt.jpg
    After 500 miles to present 3000:
    http://i15.tinypic.com/4v4t6vb.jpg

    Here is a B17 with just a smidge of Proofide at 1000 miles, with clear boot polish every two weeks or so:
    http://i15.tinypic.com/6guf881.jpg

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    Quote Originally Posted by Proximo View Post
    Just curious, what's on the ingredient label of the saddle conditioner?
    Sorry it took so long to finally look this up. Here's what I'm using. BTW, it was not recomended by anyone, I simply went to the store, read the cans, and made a decision based on avoiding the neatsfeet oil. Which I MIGHT use locally on the sit bone area of the saddle... only cause I weigh 125lb and ride in the dops, and have no problem lacing if need be.

    Directly from the can...
    "Fiebing's Golden Mink Oil Leather Preserver
    Water Proofs, Preserves, Conditions all smooth Leather and Vynal.
    Contains Silicone, Lanolin, and Vitamin E. Oil"

    6oz can. 168g for ~$3 at the local Tractor Supply co.

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    Here's my experience for whatever it's worth....

    I applied neatsfoot oil generously to top and bottom of my new B17 per Sheldon Brown's directions. I was careful to purchase pure neatsfoot oil, not the oil compund. I found pure neatsfoot at a tack shop. After 200 miles the saddle had taken on a more rounded shape and become comfortable. After 1000 miles to the best of my perception the saddle is unchanged in comfort and appearance from the 200 mile condition. I do not see that it is stretching at all. Basically, the saddle behaved exactly as Sheldon Brown said it would.

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    If you can't find it locally, you can get Fiebing's 100% pure neatsfoot oil through Amazon for $6/16oz.

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    Proofide.

    In case anyone is in doubt, and at the risk of boring most readers rigid, I'd like to make just one more posting to this thread.
    For those still paying attention, please be assured that this is not someone 'just repeating what they've heard elsewhere', bit a well-informed professional opinion; the use of neatsfoot, or other such oil, in anything other than miniscule quantities will most certainly ruin a good leather saddle and do little or nothing to improve a bad one - no question. This is especially the case if it is administered by heating or 'total immersion', as advocated in some quarters.
    It's unfortunate that reference is so often made to Sheldon Brown's 'advice' on this matter. This has been on hs web-site for many years now, and indicates a lack of understanding of the cardinal virtues of a leather saddle; I'd hope that he's learned a bit more about the subject since then, although, to be fair, he does add the rider that 'there are those that claim that some of the products I've listed are harmful'. Too damn true there are!
    It may be different in the U.S. and elsewhere, of course, but in the U.K. I've never seen any evidence of Brooks' attempts to 'advertise the hell' out of 'Proofide'. It's a product, developed specifically for use on cycle saddles, that's been available for at least 70 years and which, I'm told, 'has not changed at all over that period' - although the colour certainly has. Perhaps things are changing now, under the new ownership of the Company, but it seems to me that they've got much bigger (and more questionable) interests to pursue than the marketing of a few extra tins of this stuff.

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    I read recently that heating leather with a hair dryer will melt long connections in the leather that will reconnect in shorter lengths resulting in a less resiliant leather. Years ago I used a hairdryer to put Sno Seal into a Brooks and it is became hard as rock. Admittedly it is 35 years old but I rode it to work this Monday and it's still hard as rock.

    Neutral shoe wax also works well. You have to work it in but it will buff to a nice shine with a soft cloth.

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    One thing is for sure, you won't hurt your saddle using Proofide -- unless you use too much Just ask Brooks.

    As for heating the saddle being a bad idea, I heated both my B-17s before, during and after treating one with Proofide and one with neatsfoot. The saddle with Proofide was about as firm as before and the one with neatsfoot was notably softer. Go figure.

    Any leather product will become hard as a rock after 35 years if not conditioned regularly. The natural oils dry out and need to be replenished.

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