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  1. #1
    lev
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    brooks B17 Help!!!

    hi everyone!!

    I'm looking for some advice from brooks owners and hope you can help.

    after our last short touring adventure with my wife we decided to get more comfartable saddles, preparing for our long touring in August up in hokkaido. reading all the great reviews on brooks saddles on this site and many othes on the net we decided to get brooks B17 (champion specials, men and womens size). after reading the instructions carefuly that came with it and disregarding all the advice about how to speed up the breaking in process, i put on only proofide before mounting them on our bikes. i put a light coat on top and a little more on the underside as to waterproof them..so far so good.

    anyway, left it for about 2 days (it was raining so had no chance of riding) and today we went on our first short ride. after 15 minutes of ride i was really happy as to how comfortable brooks really were. we both felt they were pretty comfortable right out the box and were glad that we weren't going to live through the horror stories of trying to break them in...however, after riding some more, i started to notice how soft my brooks had become so i got of my bike to check and to my surprise i could see that the saddle had become soft to the point where when i press with my thumb i could see slightly stretching a little. my wife's brooks however is still very hard with no effect when i put pressure on it.

    my question is did i put too much proofide on my brooks?? i doubt it is normal for it to be soft after a 30 minute ride. my only conclusion is that it may have been in the store for too long and the leather needs tensioning, but since i have read many places not to play around with tensioning i'm really reluctant to adjust it. another thing that i thought of is maybe since proofiding i was only able to let it sit indoors since it was raining for the last two days and the leather needs to be placed under the sun to dry ( but my wifes seems to have no problems...)

    i would really appreciate it if someone who has experience with these saddles can give me some ideas whether this is normal or some helpful tips....in the meantime, i stopped riding until i can leave it under the sun for a day to see if it will tighten a little.
    thanks for all your help in advance..

  2. #2
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    I think it will be alright. Natural leather varies and does not always break in predicatably. If the saddle is still comfortable just keep riding it, as you noted the saddle was comfortable from the get go- some people have extended break ins , also it wasn't a pre softened one was it? I have had three brooks over the last 30 years and it seems to me each one has broken in faster then the one before it.

  3. #3
    lev
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    thanks for your help imzimmer..
    no it wasnt pre-softened.
    i hope you are right and that its just my luck finding "the one" that was the easiest to brake in...

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    I have never bought the idea that Proofhide speeds up break-in. It's just some hard wax, probably beeswax, it's an old school product. There never has been such a wax that miraculously softened a product to perfect contours but was perfect for subsequent long term maintenance. It just looks like a standard beeswax product, nothing special. I couldn't find anything useful about PH on their site, but it's slow for me to load, so it may be there somewhere. I think it is very unlikely that Proofhide wreaked your saddle. It's possible the leather is just a reject. I'm well over 200 pounds and after 2000 miles my new Brooks looks like it came out of the box except for barely visible sit-bone depresions, it is otherwise well arched and hard. Admitedly I used a generic beeswax product, not proofhide.

    Leather is somewhat in my blood, usually make my own leather goods, sold shoes and hiking boots for a few years, and my Grandfather owned a shoe store for quite a while before switching to the law.

  5. #5
    Curmudgeon Wil Davis's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by lmzimmer
    …snip
    I have had three brooks over the last 30 years and it seems to me each one has broken in faster then the one before it.
    I bought my first Brooks in the early 1970s and still have it, although currently it's not being used. I have four other Brooks and each one has required little or no break in period, which leads me to believe that it's not so much that a Brooks needs breaking in, but that my butt was broken in by my first Brooks and adapted very quickly to the newer ones.

    - Wil
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    jcm
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    No worries. It's ok for a Brooks to begin moving immediately because of body heat and motion. Sounds like you used the Proofide according to directions. It should remain hard to the touch but it will form to your shape and become a perfect custom fit in time, say over 500 to 1000 miles.

    NOTE: Proofide does not waterproof. Use a plastic bag when off the bike in rain. Use fenders when riding in rain. There is no substitute for fenders.

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    lev
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    thank you all for the replies!!

    well, after leaving it under the sun for a whole day, i did go on a short ride and it feels the same if not just a little bit firmer. i didnt have much time to ride so dont know if it will soften more as i ride longer. however, so far the saddle is nice and comfortable and if it stays the same i will consider myself a very lucky guy
    i guess i will have to try riding more next few days to see if the saddle is going to hold its shape.
    also I must say after riding on specialized bg saddle, brooks feels so lovely!! thanks a million for all those who took their time to write about brooks saddles to let those of us know how a real saddle should feel!!

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    jcm
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    Lev,
    As you ride more, it will form more. Brooks saddles do not revert to their original form. It'll just get better.

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    Off subject, but I suspect PH is almost pure profit for Brooks. They may sell their saddles for close to break-even and recover their profit margin selling PH. I'd take their owner's manual advice with a grain of salt.

    After 500 miles my B17 has become comfortable, and has developed a more rounded shape. It is still quite hard, although not as hard as when it was new. I do think it gets more comfortable during a ride. 10 miles into a ride it feels better than at the beginning of the ride.

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by JPMacG
    Off subject, but I suspect PH is almost pure profit for Brooks. They may sell their saddles for close to break-even and recover their profit margin selling PH.
    I doubt Proofhide is Brooks' bread and butter. I've had my B17 for almost two years and have barely made a dent in my little can of the stuff. Even if I used a can a year, an annual net profit of $5 a can per customer is not a sustainable business model for a boutique company like Brooks. I imagine there is a sizable markup on their saddles. How much harder is it to make an $80 B17 versus a $250 Swift? Even with a $20 profit on B17, that an immediate 4x gain over Proofhide when using my imaginary numbers.
    Last edited by jjvw; 05-20-07 at 02:04 PM.
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  11. #11
    My itch crotches to go! treefire's Avatar
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    [QUOTE=Peterpan1]I have never bought the idea that Proofhide speeds up break-in. It's just some hard wax, probably beeswax, it's an old school product.

    I believe it has beef tallow in it also. Proofhide does soften, less than oil obviously. To me it stinks like...well, like rotton meat. I don't want beef fat, on my butt , that stinks, so i use a little bit of neatsfoot oil and Snoseal. I gotta happy butt!

    Clayton

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    My itch crotches to go! treefire's Avatar
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    I bought my first Brooks in the early 1970s and still have it, although currently it's not being used. I have four other Brooks and each one has required little or no break in period, which leads me to believe that it's not so much that a Brooks needs breaking in, but that my butt was broken in by my first Brooks and adapted very quickly to the newer ones.


    I've been thinking along the same lines....Everyone that tries my seat always whines about how hard it is....I love it and have been riding for seven years or so......Perfect buttage holder.

    Numbutt

  13. #13
    Slowpoach
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    Quote Originally Posted by JPMacG
    After 500 miles my B17 has become comfortable, and has developed a more rounded shape. It is still quite hard, although not as hard as when it was new. I do think it gets more comfortable during a ride. 10 miles into a ride it feels better than at the beginning of the ride.
    My experiences exactly. Feels hard at the start of a ride but more comfortable as the day goes on, not less. Except after a break, when it feels rock-hard again...

    I've got a great picture somewhere of a broken-in Brooks, looks like an abomination from the nether realm. After maybe 750km mine has a few creases and some slight indentations but still feels pretty hard. It feels softer after a day's riding, stays pretty hard now in the cold weather with me doing shorter rides than I was in summer.

  14. #14
    jcm
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    Quote Originally Posted by Cave
    My experiences exactly. Feels hard at the start of a ride but more comfortable as the day goes on, not less. Except after a break, when it feels rock-hard again...

    I've got a great picture somewhere of a broken-in Brooks, looks like an abomination from the nether realm. After maybe 750km mine has a few creases and some slight indentations but still feels pretty hard. It feels softer after a day's riding, stays pretty hard now in the cold weather with me doing shorter rides than I was in summer.
    Right. The leather does heat up and soften after a few miles of riding, only to harden again during breaks. It's all good, and part of the forming process. It should never become floppy soft. Brooks saddles should always remain very firm to the hand, but formed to the body. At 1000+ miles you will not even remember what it looks like now.

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    lev
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    hey all!!
    thanks for taking the time to help out! really appreciate it..

    well, I rode another 25km today and everthing is fine!! I dunno if this is possible or whether my mind is playing tricks on me but the saddle feels firmer than on my first day and holding its shape nicely.

    i will need time to break it in but at the moment its not too hard as to give me any discomfort like some people had with these saddles (i guess i just got the right ass for brooks!! )

    and one more thing, i dont know if you all would agree but i've noticed that the brooks really does improve ones riding ability not only due to comfort but rather it needs to be positioned at a correct height/position as its unforgiving..so in a sense it forces one to have a better position where you conserve energy all the while utilizing more of your power...

    anyway, i'm glad brooks worked out all fine for me..
    btw if you have any suggestions about brooks saddles feel free to give some tips!!

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    jcm
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    Lev:
    It's probably in your mind because people like me get on here and spread all kinds of witch-lore about Brooks saddles . However, your observation on the riding efficiency is true: a well made saddle, properly positined to the rider, does improve the performance. It's all part of the system of the machinery. Synergy.

    Here's a tip I've spread around: Don't do anything that reduces the slickness of the saddle. Many people don't realize that the slick surface is one of the key characteristics of a great longhaul saddle. If you find yourself sliding out of position, re-adjust, but don't try to over oil it in an attempt to make it more "grabby." Your movements while riding allow air to get in between you and the saddle, keeping you drier and sore-free. Padded/synthetic saddles can't do this. Since my first application of SnoSeal, I only occasionally polish my saddle with clear boot/shoe polish.

    As you form the saddle, the slickness will seem to go away somewhat, but it's really just that you have formed a custom imprint.

    Be aware: If you are a heavy rider, or have wide sitbones, you may with time, experience some discomfort on the outside edge of your sitbones on long rides. This is likely due to the saddle letting you down into it as it forms. The heavier the rider, the further you will go into 'the sling.' At some point, if your sitbone pads are wider than the steel horseshoe frame underneath, you may find that you are sitting on the inside edge of that steel. That can be bad.

  17. #17
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    Quote Originally Posted by JPMacG
    Off subject, but I suspect PH is almost pure profit for Brooks. They may sell their saddles for close to break-even and recover their profit margin selling PH.
    What is your source for this information? I think you dreamed that up. I think they make money selling saddles. After all they have been doing it for a little while now and some of the saddles are quite pricey if you haven't noticed.

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    No source, just my guess. I could be completely wrong.

    One can get a B17 on a good sale for $50 or so. I figure the wholesale price must be around $40. I understand B17s are made in England, where labor costs are relatively high. My guess is that Brooks does little more than break even on the saddle.

    I suspect (again, just a guess) that the PH material costs Brooks pennies per can, and the fancy can and label might cost them 50 cents. So if they sell a can of PH wholesale for 6 or 8 bucks they have made a nice profit. If they sell a can of PH to everyone who buys a B17 they may have a successful business plan.

    Again this is just my guess with no inside information behind it.

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    lev
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    just to update people..

    i've ridden over 100 km and although i'm happy with it i do have a few issues with it that maybe you can help..
    only after 100km i can see the two points forming (which was way quicker than i had thought possible). i've also realized not only am I right handed but also this applies to my butt! the shape of the saddle is slighty slanted to the right!!
    there is a quite markable difference with the softness of the saddle on the right hand side. the left side feels nice and firm. and although i am putting as much pressure on the left it just seems the saddle is holding its firmness there..however, i should point out that the right side had felt slightly softer since my first ride compared to the left so i dont know if its just my style of riding but i suspect that it may have something to do with the leather.. any ideas??
    i tried to play with the angle position yesterday but when i put the nose slightly up i felt the nose part digging in so i reverted back to flat position. i think its caused due to the softnes of the center area. i am thinking of playing with the tension if nothing changes after a few morerides as i do prefer the seat to be a little more firm (hard).
    also, my seatpost doesnt allow me to put the saddle further back so whats the best solution for that?? i really want to try placing it just a tad bit more towards the back..
    i will try to attach some photos i took. unfortunately they arent that clear as i took it with my mobile phone...
    thanks for your time to help out..

    one more info just in case you are wondering, i only weigh 73kg so not a big guy like some who have said their weight may have helped speed up the breaking in process...
    Attached Images Attached Images

  20. #20
    Senior Member greenstork's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by lev
    just to update people..

    i've ridden over 100 km and although i'm happy with it i do have a few issues with it that maybe you can help..
    only after 100km i can see the two points forming (which was way quicker than i had thought possible). i've also realized not only am I right handed but also this applies to my butt! the shape of the saddle is slighty slanted to the right!!
    there is a quite markable difference with the softness of the saddle on the right hand side. the left side feels nice and firm. and although i am putting as much pressure on the left it just seems the saddle is holding its firmness there..however, i should point out that the right side had felt slightly softer since my first ride compared to the left so i dont know if its just my style of riding but i suspect that it may have something to do with the leather.. any ideas??
    i tried to play with the angle position yesterday but when i put the nose slightly up i felt the nose part digging in so i reverted back to flat position. i think its caused due to the softnes of the center area. i am thinking of playing with the tension if nothing changes after a few morerides as i do prefer the seat to be a little more firm (hard).
    also, my seatpost doesnt allow me to put the saddle further back so whats the best solution for that?? i really want to try placing it just a tad bit more towards the back..
    i will try to attach some photos i took. unfortunately they arent that clear as i took it with my mobile phone...
    thanks for your time to help out..

    one more info just in case you are wondering, i only weigh 73kg so not a big guy like some who have said their weight may have helped speed up the breaking in process...
    If you'd like your saddle back farther, I'd consider a setback seatpost. I have a Salsa Shaft that I love, mainly because of the fact that you can micro-adjust the tilt of the saddle

  21. #21
    jcm
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    My B17's are lop-sided to the right as well. My view is that if the saddle is comfortable, don't be concerned. If you want a firmer saddle, you can try a quarter or a half turn. Should be no problem. That's what the adjustment is for. Just don't do it while you have a fresh application of some kind of unguent or something.

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