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Old 06-29-10, 11:55 AM   #1
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How much break in on a Brooks before a tour?

I'm leaving on a 11 tour in Oregon in less than 2 weeks and have a saddle issue. For some reason the Terry Fly on my touring bike is suddenly feeling hard and I'm getting numbness on even short rides. I never had the problem in the past and haven't adjusted anything in a several years. 2 years ago I did 2 week long tours and had absolutely no issue with it. Maybe the padding has worn out.

Anyway I have a Brooks B17N that I bought last fall and use on another bike. It has about 200 miles on it but doesn't have the usual sagged broken in look yet. In fact other than a little more flex and some fine wrinkles in the leather surface, it looks like it did out of the box.

Would I be crazy to use the Brooks on the tour this soon? It has felt generally comfortable to me since new but I haven't logged much more than 30 miles in one ride and not ridden it for consecutive days.

A long ride on it before I leave would certainly help but I don't know if I'll have that opportunity. Any experiences from Brooks owners who have toured on it early would be appreciated.
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Old 06-29-10, 12:00 PM   #2
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Until a saddle fits you or is broken in..... I would not take any saddle regardless of brand on tour. It's your ass so to speak.
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Old 06-29-10, 12:05 PM   #3
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I found my regular brooks was pretty comfortable the first time I used it. By then the sit bone positions were discernable, and I put pressure on them with a golf ball, gently pressed down with a few gentle taps from a mallet. Then I took off on a 1000+ tour.

The issue is whether the leather is a good fit, if you don't have adeqate pressure from your body parts it can take agonizingly long to get the fit. This is why shoes are stretched with tools. You wouldn't hammer a nail with your toes and it is also painful to try to stretch out a shoe or seat with similarly fragile body parts. The thing with the golf ball trick is not to overdo it. Underdo it to start with, and work up rather than going crazy on the seat the first time out.

The tour I am speaking of more or less started from my home, and I didn't care if I was forced back to home base and had to start again. It would have been unwise to try that starting on the far side of the country or world...
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Old 06-29-10, 12:05 PM   #4
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i really don't think you will have a problem ,if you reckon the padding did you say in your shorts are worn if so get a new pair of top quality shorts combined with the brooks you should be nice and comfy.
best of luck with the tour.
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Old 06-29-10, 12:07 PM   #5
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That's quite a dilemma that you have there. I don't know that you really could fix your problem with the B17 narrow: how is it going to feel softer than the Terry?

One hope though: did you start to use new bicycle shorts? That could be one explanation. Another one is that the chamois in your present bicycle shorts is loosing effectiveness. What you describe might happen also if you gained weight or got out of shape or simply did not ride as much as usual lately. Does any of these possibilities apply to your situation?
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Old 06-29-10, 12:11 PM   #6
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Personally, the only issue I find with new Brooks saddles is that I tend to slide around a lot at first, but it isn't a big deal. I feel pretty comfortable on mine early on, and I don't notice much change subsequently.
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Old 06-29-10, 12:14 PM   #7
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Brooks told me that the B17N may require up to 1000 miles to break in. I was still miserable after 400 miles and the vision of another 600 miles made me nauseous so I sold the saddle. Standard B17 may need half of that but I wasn't willing to experiment any further.
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Old 06-29-10, 12:25 PM   #8
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Without knowing Adam's situation specifically, that is exactly analogous to what happens in a shoe store every day. Get a customer who gets a near enough shoe that fits tight across the ball of the foot vs. the toes, and the toes are never going to stretch out a heavy box, while the ball of the foot might get the job done without any pain if the shoe was worn for several short walks. In either case, going mechanical on the problem with a shoe stretching machine should eliminate the problem pretty quickly. It's like if you try to build a deck with a nail file, vs a circular saw, your mileage to success will vary. Some people are just going to have a relationship to a leather saddle where their bones, weight, and position relative to structure in the saddle will create different break-in times. Using something less fragile than the butt to get the job done will pay off if you have the skill to do it.
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Old 06-29-10, 12:33 PM   #9
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How exactly do you think Brooks' saddles 'break in'??







(hint: by riding them on things like 11-day tours.)

If you want to work on the saddle form while you are riding, take a barely-damp washcloth and set it on the rear 2/3rd's of the saddle for ~5-10 mins before riding the first few days. The slight amount of dampness will help the saddle conform to your sitbones in the first few days, but will not make it so wet that it sags... the rest of the tour just ride it.

By the way, it should be pretty-durn comfortable from day 1. if its not, the adjustment is off, or it might not be the saddle for your keister.
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Old 06-29-10, 12:38 PM   #10
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Two weeks is plenty of time to get the saddle properly adjusted and to determine whether it is acceptable to plant your ass in for x hours a day. Best way to break in a Brooks...besides proper position, is by miles and butt sweat...you can get a lot of miles and butt sweating in over two weeks too.
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Old 06-29-10, 01:21 PM   #11
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You're asking me? I'd take the Brooks. Nothing beats a brand new Brooks.

Anyone who wants to trade a new Brooks, either B17 or Flyer, for a broken in one: contact me.
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Old 06-29-10, 01:46 PM   #12
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Two weeks is plenty of time to get the saddle properly adjusted and to determine whether it is acceptable to plant your ass in for x hours a day. Best way to break in a Brooks...besides proper position, is by miles and butt sweat...you can get a lot of miles and butt sweating in over two weeks too.
+1. I'm lucky with Brooks, they don't give me much of a problem from the off, but I agree with chipcom. Do plenty of riding on it in the next two weeks and by the time you're ready to go, you'll know whether you're comfortable - and you'll have another 300 or so miles on the Brooks and it'll be well on the way to being broken in.
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Old 06-29-10, 03:39 PM   #13
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If you were just going down to the local campground for a trial run, I'd say "Go for the Brooks". You can always take a bus home.
If you are going to put a few mountain passes between yourself and home, I think I'd reconsider breaking in the new saddle on the road.
I have a Brooks somewhere in my garage (along with some other Brand X units). It never did "Break In" to where it was comfortable. Thousands of kms later it was still and anvil. Of course that can happen with any saddle.
Like the man said"It's your ass".
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Old 06-29-10, 04:44 PM   #14
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Perhaps I should have gone with the regular B17 not the narrow, or altogether a different one, but I was less than two weeks from my first tour and I didn't want to try another Brooks. I may still try another model in the future. I picked the B17N because it was the cheapest and lots of people reported good result with it. Perhaps that was a mistake. It was my perineum that suffered so it seems now that maybe it was too narrow, didn't engage my sit-bones properly? But I think if it had a cutout it'd be better since I'm pretty sure I was sitting on my sit-bones. My current saddle isn't any wider.

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If you were just going down to the local campground for a trial run, I'd say "Go for the Brooks". You can always take a bus home.
If you are going to put a few mountain passes between yourself and home, I think I'd reconsider breaking in the new saddle on the road.
I have a Brooks somewhere in my garage (along with some other Brand X units). It never did "Break In" to where it was comfortable. Thousands of kms later it was still and anvil. Of course that can happen with any saddle.
Like the man said"It's your ass".
I was considering taking a "known good" saddle along if I decided to go with the Brooks. Just in case.

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+1. I'm lucky with Brooks, they don't give me much of a problem from the off, but I agree with chipcom. Do plenty of riding on it in the next two weeks and by the time you're ready to go, you'll know whether you're comfortable - and you'll have another 300 or so miles on the Brooks and it'll be well on the way to being broken in.
I did 400 miles, including two weekend overnighters, some dayrides and a few weeks worth of commuting and I just figured it's not going to work for me.

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Old 06-29-10, 04:56 PM   #15
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I have used a method similar to what positron described. I fold a microfiber towel in 1/4's so it is about 12x3in. Put it where your sitbones contact the saddle, and slowly pour enough water on the contact points to dampen the towel til it is moist to the touch. Now ride until the towel dries (the moisture will soften the contact points). I have 'broken in' 4 different Brooks this way, with no ill effects. It does not make the saddle so wet that it damages the leather, only softening it enough to conform to your sit bones.
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Old 06-29-10, 05:09 PM   #16
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I have a B17 (regular) and a B17N (narrow) on my bikes.

The B17 got reasonably comfortable after about 100 miles. The B17N however has not softened up one bit, even after about 200 miles and chopping the sides off.

FWIW I'd say that if the Terry is an older saddle, just get a new one and deal with the B17N some other time.
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Old 06-29-10, 05:10 PM   #17
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I never had to break in my Brooks, it was really comfy from the get go. If it's not causing any discomfort on long rides, I'd say it's already broken in.
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Old 06-29-10, 05:58 PM   #18
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Until a saddle fits you or is broken in..... I would not take any saddle regardless of brand on tour. It's your ass so to speak.
Thanks for the laugh out loud.
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Old 06-29-10, 07:10 PM   #19
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Like chasm54, Chipcom, and KrisPistofferson, I've never had break in problems with a Brooks. I have 4, and I find that they start comfortable, and just get better. You'll be fine if you ride a bunch before your tour starts.
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Old 06-29-10, 07:34 PM   #20
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Like chasm54, Chipcom, and KrisPistofferson, I've never had break in problems with a Brooks. I have 4, and I find that they start comfortable, and just get better. You'll be fine if you ride a bunch before your tour starts.
I won't say that I've never had break in problems with any Brooks. My Team Pro and my taint have been having a love-hate relationship for years.
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Old 06-29-10, 11:06 PM   #21
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I bought a new B17 Standard and, when riding that saddle, perineum pain begins within half an hour or so. I then bought a new B17 Imperial and find it to be very comfortable with no discomfort at all so far. I hope the first will become more comfortable once I give it a cut out similar to the Imperial.
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Old 06-29-10, 11:41 PM   #22
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I have done almost 1400 km on my Brooks B17 Standard. It was fairly comfy when I first got it, but as my sitbone dimples have grown, it is now lovely. It does minimize the choice of riding shorts, as it can be a tad slippery, but that isnt much of a problem.

The longest I have had my arse on it so far was 5 hours, and there was a little pain after that, but less, I think, than using other saddles I have used.

Looking foward to some longer rides on it now that it is broken in.

New LHT coming soon

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Old 06-30-10, 12:51 AM   #23
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I'm not sure about this, but I think that Brooks riders who are suffering from any kind of pereneum pain are simply not getting their weight on their sit bones. Your body weight should never be on your pereneum (chode, taint, call it what you like) on any saddle. A cut out in a saddle should (in my theory) be unnecessary if your weight is properly distributed via a correctly angled and oriented saddle. Remember, before you flame me: this is just my theory.
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Old 06-30-10, 05:47 AM   #24
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I'm not sure about this, but I think that Brooks riders who are suffering from any kind of pereneum pain are simply not getting their weight on their sit bones. Your body weight should never be on your pereneum (chode, taint, call it what you like) on any saddle. A cut out in a saddle should (in my theory) be unnecessary if your weight is properly distributed via a correctly angled and oriented saddle. Remember, before you flame me: this is just my theory.
For non-upright riding positions I think some people have more of a tendency to sit on their taint, especially if they are having to reach too far to their bars. Trying to correct this via saddle position usually results in the saddle being tilted too far forward, causing the rider to be constantly sliding forward and having too much weight supported by their arms. Rather than sitting on the taint, one should try to roll their hips more forward and have the weight supported by the sit bones. Assuming saddle fore/aft is already correct in relation to the pedals, one might need a shorter stem, different stem angle or even a different frame with a shorter top tube to reduce the distance to the bars to allow them to properly straddle the saddle.

My own taint issues with my team pro come from chaffing, usually when it's very humid and I am riding hard, but not wearing cycling bibs or shorts. I can ride all day without cycling specific bibs/shorts (with chamois) on a B17...not so much on a team pro.
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Old 06-30-10, 06:31 AM   #25
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I'm not sure about this, but I think that Brooks riders who are suffering from any kind of pereneum pain are simply not getting their weight on their sit bones. Your body weight should never be on your pereneum (chode, taint, call it what you like) on any saddle. A cut out in a saddle should (in my theory) be unnecessary if your weight is properly distributed via a correctly angled and oriented saddle. Remember, before you flame me: this is just my theory.
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