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  1. #1
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    leather saddles & rain

    I'm considering a Brooks B17 saddle from all the rave reviews. However all Brooks saddles are leather, which can be sensitive to moisture.
    Not only do I ride in heavy rain, my bicycle is often locked up outside where it will get rained on, and I often take road trips where
    it will be punished by heavy rain at 70 miles an hour. I know there is a waterproof cover available, however moisture can still get in underneath
    and I'm probably not disciplined enough to keep the cover on at all times necessary.

    So I'm wondering how sensitive are these leather saddles to moisture. Is their anything I can coat them with to make them
    reasonably water resistant?
    Thanks

  2. #2
    Senior Member Northwestrider's Avatar
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    I have both the Selle Anatomica, and Brooks B17, The B17 is reported to be very sensitive to rain if unprotected, where as the Selle is supposedly rain resistant. I cover both of them with a plastic bag when in rain, ( easy and effective ) which for me is often during the winter. The Brooks is my preferred saddle for reasons of comfort ( others will and have disagreed ) my Selle makes a squeaking sound, which is still there even after the fix Selle recommends. If your sole concern is rain, IMO the Selle wins, in other areas IMO Brooks wins my vote.

  3. #3
    Senior Member mtbikerinpa's Avatar
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    Mink oil shoe treatment has served me well. I use it on all my leather Terry saddles(Liberators and a perforated leather Butterfly). All have stood well to daily and winter commutes, even when I had a outdoor lockup which I am glad to say is a thing of the past now since the new jobs allow break room storage. None of the saddles show any signs of wear and it makes them softer. I should say though that you want to use the mink oil warm and VERY liberally. It should look like a glazed donut for the first treatment and let it sit for at least overnight if not a couple days. Polish it off and enjoy. It will still absorb but not very heavily and it won't be damaging. Reapply monthly.
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  4. #4
    7-speed doomsday prepper ThermionicScott's Avatar
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    I love my Brooks saddles. That said, if you're not disciplined to keep a cover on them whenever there's a hint of rain, I'd go with something else. The various oils will soften them too much if you're reapplying all the time.
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  5. #5
    Senior Member jputnam's Avatar
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    I commute year-round in Seattle on a leather saddle, so I have a bit of experience with it in the rain. I've never had it get wet enough to matter while I was riding, even riding all day in the rain. (But then, I do ride with fenders. That makes a huge difference.)

    For storage or on a car rack, I use a waterproof drawstring bag over it, cinched tight to the seatpost. Keeps it dry even at 80mph in a thunderstorm.

    I treat mine with Nikwax boot wax, re-treat the saddle every fall and if it seems to be starting to absorb too much rain.

    My touring saddle has over 100,000 miles on it, commuter saddle probably around 30,000, both are as good as new with this sort of treatment.
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  6. #6
    Senior Member wahoonc's Avatar
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    I treat mine yearly with Proofide, bikes have fenders. When not riding and parked outside they get covered with a shower cap. For transport I usually use a Target bag tied around it and keep a few spares in the trunk. The trick is to NOT ride them wet if at all possible.

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  7. #7
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    I have two Brooks b17's, one looks like it's 60 years old. Both are on Mtn bikes. I do very long rides and can never go back to non leather saddles. I use rubber gloves and goop the hell out of them occasionally with Kiwi Mink oil, then let them sit in the sun. Before next ride buff it up. I would think it would be tough to hurt a B17.

    IMO. Proofide is not a good bargain.

  8. #8
    No fashion sense cyclist IR Baboon's Avatar
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    I've gotten pelted with some nasty rains in Alaska. The shiny has kinda come off some of the places where my shorts (yeah I like riding in shorts in the rain) rub against the saddle. I cover it when I have to leave it outside with the old grocery bag like others have suggested. It still looks pretty good. Your body will keep it from getting crazy wet while riding it if you use fenders for the bottom side.

    Once my proofide gets used up, I'll probably switch to mink oil.

  9. #9
    coprolite fietsbob's Avatar
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    Bring a few plastic bags and put one on top of the saddle.

    When I took a long tour in a wet climate, since I was wearing Rain over-trousers,
    I tended to just leave the plastic bag on top of my Brooks saddle A Lot.

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    Quote Originally Posted by fietsbob View Post
    Bring a few plastic bags and put one on top of the saddle.

    When I took a long tour in a wet climate, since I was wearing Rain over-trousers,
    I tended to just leave the plastic bag on top of my Brooks saddle A Lot.
    +1 on the plastic bags. I usually keep a couple of nice and ugly supermarket bags in my messenger bag. Not only good for rain, but also for making your saddle look like crap when locking up, and want to make it less of a target for theft.

    Also, I'm not going to get into the really, really, really previously discussed issue on here and the rest of the internet of how to care for a Brooks saddle, but be aware that not everyone agrees with using anything besides Proofide on their Brooks saddle. I say this only to make you aware that there is disagreement, not to start the discussion again on this thread. If you are interested in more info, just do a search. I really am not looking to start an argument.

  11. #11
    Travelling hopefully chasm54's Avatar
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    If you put mudguards (fenders) on your bike you don't have to worry about the weather while you're riding, because the underside of the saddle will stay dry. No need for a saddle cover while you're riding. As for leaving it outside in the rain, I put a shower cap over the saddle. While I'm riding the shower cap is simply tucked under the saddle - the saddle rails keep it from blowing away.

  12. #12
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    What about putting a leather saddle on a mountain bike that occaisionally gets muddy? I guess the easy answer is to install a rear mudguard, but I have been so completely covered in mud in the past I have trouble believing it is a good idea. I am pretty convinced I should get one for my commuter bike, though - full fenders kick arse!

    PS: Our local grocery store has begun charging 5 cents for plastic bags if you don't bring your own. I use the plastic bags for things like dirty cat litter and bicycle seat covers. I cannot imagine spending much more than that for a seat cover. Ontario liquor stores used to give out bags made out super thick plastic and they were the cat's pyjamas, but they don't have them any more.
    The shower cap idea is great, too. I need to do more travelling through my work so I can collect disposable shower caps.
    Last edited by LarDasse74; 08-28-12 at 09:41 PM.

  13. #13
    Quirky Grifter LesterOfPuppets's Avatar
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    I tried a leather saddle for a couple of years. It didn't jibe so well with my ride wet roads 300 days a year lifestyle. I got tired of the plastic bags and massaging of oils into the saddle.
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  14. #14
    coprolite fietsbob's Avatar
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    There is that.. nylon base foam and "Pleather" covered saddles
    don't sag if they are ridden wet...
    Last edited by fietsbob; 08-29-12 at 12:53 AM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by ThermionicScott View Post
    I love my Brooks saddles. That said, if you're not disciplined to keep a cover on them whenever there's a hint of rain, I'd go with something else. The various oils will soften them too much if you're reapplying all the time.
    This is an overlooked issue, I think. Most sources recommend Proofhide only once or twice year, along with a rain/sweat cover when necessary. I have a 20+ year old Brooks Pro and three B-17s, the youngest at least six or seven years old. All have been soaked more than once (but not ridden until they dried) and gotten Proofhide no more than every six months (I live in the desert, so I compensate). One of the 17s is showing a few cracks around the rivets, but they all feel fine. Overgooping is bad.
    20

  16. #16
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    I've a 39 year old Ideale Record 80 on my Moto B. Wet can play havoc with leather. Particularly the wet then dry then wet periods which leads to cracking (will eventually happen anyway no matter what). A wet saddle will stretch (remember leather hiking boots?). A stretched leather saddle is a disaster, particularly if you keep tigthening it up. A fenderless bike will wet the saddle from underneath.... The best way to keep it dry is to not get it wet at all. I used a bike cape and fenders on my Moto B for years here in the PNW and attribute my saddles survival to that and a shower cap when parked. But I don't ride the Moto B in the rain any more...Leather is for classics and retros in nice weather.

    I use saddle soap sparingly. And oil even less to avoid softening leather too much. Hard chromed leather surface responds to wax based treatments without softening leather. However, after thousands of miles the original hard chromed surface of my Ideale is long gone. I really have to be careful now.
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  17. #17
    Warning:Annoying to jerks RaleighSport's Avatar
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    I definitely prefer B17's and if I might make a suggestion, get a plumbers bung and QR seatpost binder.. you can pull your post and bung the seat tube and take your saddle with you if it's raining, then the usual proofide treatment should be enough for preserving your saddle.
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  18. #18
    coprolite fietsbob's Avatar
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    Once I warmed up my Brooks Pro, upside down in the oven [100f]
    it soaked up a big tbsp dollop of Proofide, and I have not needed to treat it
    much since,
    that was 30 years ago.. there is a waxy underside of the saddle, even now.

  19. #19
    Senior Member wahoonc's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by fietsbob View Post
    Once I warmed up my Brooks Pro, upside down in the oven [100f]
    it soaked up a big tbsp dollop of Proofide, and I have not needed to treat it
    much since,
    that was 30 years ago.. there is a waxy underside of the saddle, even now.
    That is what I do with mine. I have a Wrights (similar to the Brooks) that is pushing 40 years old and has been coast to coast twice, plus thousands of general riding miles. It is currently on my tour bike, but is getting moved over so I can break in a new Brooks Flyer. I counted up my Brooks saddles the other day and I have enough that I could have bought another bike

    Aaron
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  20. #20
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    I have Brooks B-17's on all three of my bikes. I treat with proofide once per year. I also keep an aardvarck cover stuffed under the seat and use it whenever it is raining (or looks like it will). So far not problems, After 2.5 years and about 7K miles, I haven't even had to adjust tension yet. And the leather still looks nearly new..

  21. #21
    Senior Member stevebiker's Avatar
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    In general, an excellent leather conditioner is 100% pure neatsfoot oil.

    WARNING: ONLY USE 100% PURE NEATSFOOT OIL. There are other "neatsfoot oils" out there that will actuall damage your leather. The key is to look for "100% PURE" on the label, and avoid anything else like the plague. See, for example:

    http://www.amazon.com/Fiebing-Compan...782820-8474329

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