Join Date: Dec 2004
Location: Fife Scotland
Bikes: Airnimal Chameleon; Ellis Briggs; Moulton TSR27 Moulton Esprit
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Originally Posted by mycoatl
They're also pre-softened. There's a difference between the Brooks that are "antique brown" and those that are "pre-softened." I wonder if the softening process decreases their life, though. Also, anyone think it's worth the price difference? (at Nashbar, for example, pre-softened B-17 is $105, regular B-17 $60, at Wallbike it's $104 v. $67).
I don't get all this angst about Brooks saddles. There is no need to soften the whole saddle merely to soften the two areas of the indents. I do this when the saddle is in its new state i.e. dry and hard like wood. I protect the ball of a ball peen hammer with soft cloth and then use this to create the indents in the position of my seat-bones. This takes max. of 5-6 mins. When you have these two indents the saddle can be ridden-in to complete the job. Note: The rest of the saddle remains hard.
Following this I choose to give the underside a coating of "Hydrophane", which is a leather conditioner and does help waterproof the saddle. Do not allow this on the top surface of the saddle and be prepared to see the top darken and become weathered -looking if using a "honey" saddle. If you confine yourself to one coat and leave this overnight in a warm place to soak-in this will not soften the leather...no need to do anything else at all.
This softening process does not shorten the saddle's life. On the contrary it prolongs it in that the moulding process used by Brooks removes the natural oils in the saddle which otherwise would allow the internal fibres to slip over one another. That's why, after 20-30 years the saddles develop cracks.
Again it is unwise to use "neatsfoot" oil in that this is organic and can cause moulds to develop. The conditioner I use is created for the purpose and is used by saddlers before shaping leaather butts.
The above is not unsupported theory but based on my experience with around 40-45 Brooks saddles.