Webshots is bailing out, if you find any of my posts with corrupt picture files and want to see them corrected please let me know. :(
ISO: A late 1980's Giant Iguana MTB frameset (or complete bike) 23" Red with yellow graphics.
"Cycling should be a way of life, not a hobby.
RIDE, YOU FOOL, RIDE!"_Nicodemus
"Steel: nearly a thousand years of metallurgical development
Aluminum: barely a hundred
Which one would you rather have under your butt at 30mph?"_krazygluon
the slippery feeling does decrease a bit with use, but for me, it is one of the pluses of a Brooks, no binding or sticking (or a lot lot less when all sweaty)
For anyone else considering this I thought I'd post my experience.
I had a sagging Swallow which was running out of tension adjustment - it had stretched that much! I bought it secondhand so I've no idea of it's history but it was very (too) pliant.
I boiled it for 2 minutes and it did indeed thicken and shrink. However I stupidly removed the tension bolt and getting that back in place was a real pig of a job. So my advice would be to loosen it right off but don't remove.
Several applications of clear shoe-polish later the saddle looks great, is the perfect shape, and is rock hard - like a new Team Professional. I'll now start breaking it in, adding proofhide as necessary.
Interesting, I wonder if it will be too hard over time, I suspect the boiling process must affect the flexibility permanently of the leather. I guess only time will tell how it is, proofided applying included. Have you ever had a Brooks before, ie are you familiar with one that works for you?
I'd be curious to hear how it turns out over the next x months and x number of kms ridden on it.
I did a warm saddle upside down in 120F oven and it absorbed a Tbs* of Proofide , like a sponge , (a Pro Model)
then the waxes re solidified at normal room temperatures didnt need much after that .. but a plastic bag on it in the rain ..
underside remains waxy ..
* a good % of the tin..
Of the 3, the Swallow, when not sagging is the most comfortable, followed by the Swift. The Team Pro was great on a touring style bike with less handlebar drop but I'm less keen on it now.
Regarding it's hardness, I'm sure Proofhide or oil will soften the leather if need be, but I'm going to be very conservative with any application as the whole point of the exercise was to toughen it up.
I shall report back with updates...
Thanks, then at least you have long term experience with them. Cuz you mentioned oil, Brooks themselves caution about never using oils as they overly soften thel eather all over and cause the sags. This summer I met a young guy training for a touring trip and his b17 that he claimed he bought a few mths earlier was sagging like a banana and was splayed out twice as much as my b17's.
Don't know what he did to it , claimed he put nothing on it, but did say it had gotten wet "a few times" so perhaps he had ridden it after being totally soaked in rain for days...idunno but it was the most saggy splayed out "new" seat I'd seen. Poor guy didn't know better.
You could selectively put small amounts of proofide just where your sit bones go, a really small amount to be safe.
In any case get back with how it goes.
Applying too much Proofide to the underside of the saddle will cause over-softening. Before Brooks was taken over by Selle this was never given as advice. Back then it was small quantities applied only to the top surface, which of course has been "pressure rolled" and the Proofide could not penetrate this and at best could only provide a temporary waterproofing effect.
The advice about applying Proofide to the bottom came about because Selle realised that mudguards (Fenders) were not popular with American cyclists and so wanted to make the underside less vulnerable to wet and spray. The USA was targeted as their largest market and Brooks saddles sold as a retro niche product with a huge hike in price.
That said, a saddle that doesn't take an eternity to break in is not bad also. I do wonder if the first one I bought was of thinner leather, and or I maybe put a bit too much proofide on the underside, its not saggy by any means but it seems more flexible than my other b17 with copper rivets and the leather seems thicker by a bit.
They specifically state the pros have thicker leather so this to me supports my theory of newer saddles maybe havingess thickeather than before, or a different quality, grain direction or whatever.
Bottom line if I were to get another, I'd put less proofide on the underside.
Im still curious to see how it fares, especially as this fellow has a fair amount of experience with leather seats, so will be an informed reviewer of how it feels, splitting or not.
Personally, I wouldn't use Proofide on the underside but rather a coating of leather conditioner such as "Hydrophane" and would pay particular attention to the area around the rivets. Not too much though, as again this would over-soften the leather.
After using these saddles for over forty years I've come to the conclusion that, the thickness of the leather being equal, breaking-in time depends upon the amount of covering over the "sit-bones". I say this after watching an eight-stone female work her way through countless saddles while I struggle to break one in. Now I don't bother as I soak the leather while new, then create the required depressions with my thumb before allowing the saddle to dry to its previous hardness.
But really, what do I know. There is a lot of information on the internet about how to make leather armor, involving boiling water; and G. R. R. Martin's Game of Thrones books often mention armor of boiled leather. Maybe he knows something I don't know (other than when the next book is coming out, that is. Or not. You will know soon enough!
your technique of putting your own depressions in with your thumb coincides with stories I have read of people using a golf ball. Your soaking of it kind of goes along with other stories of riding on a damp facecloth to soften the leather. I'd be more inclined to only want to stretch out the depressions in the specific area, a la technique you describe, but in any case, I'd be very careful about anything that overly softens the main body of the saddle as its clear you dont want that part to sag etc.
Im a light fellow, and was surprised by how the break in period wasnt too bad for my first Brooks, the one that is more flexible than the other, so again, in hindsight, I may have put a bit too much proofide on it, but I ride it often and it is still very comfortable so its not a real issue--Im thinking more in terms of long long term life it might be better to be very sparing with proofide.
And I do like your idea of essentially forming the two depressions gently purposely while leaving the rest of the body of leather alone, I may go along those lines if I ever get another one.
no doubt about it, a leather saddle does require some intuition and observation about getting it into good riding shape and keeping it in good shape. I guess because I have the interest this aspect of it is not a problem for me, and outweighed by the riding comfort compared to previous bike seats I've had, but can understand completely that its not for everyone.
I always maintain that its only a bike seat, whatever seat that works for you is fine.