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  1. #26
    Senior Member wahoonc's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Wheelmonkey View Post
    Follow up question. I put some Proofide on last week, per the recommendations of these posts I put a good amount on the bottom and a thinner coat on the top. I let it sit in a warm garage overnight and rode it the next day. That ride was fantastic! One thing I noticed is that it seemed to give the saddle some texture to it, so it wasn't so slippery. Beforehand it seemed I was slipping on it a bit, which I don't think was a good thing. The application of Proofide really decreased this and I felt much much more comfortable! But here's the question: That slippery feeling came back after a couple rides and the saddle seemed to return to its initial feel. It's still probably the most comfortable saddle I've owned (I rode 120 miles yesterday and am only a little sore). I don't know if the "breaking in" process has anything to do with weight (I'm only about 142 lbs.), but it's taking a while. Do I just need to keep riding on it? Should I reapply Proofide again even though it's only been about a week since the last application? I've seen pics on here of others' Brooks and they are broken in & contoured. Mine still looks like it does when I bought it (at least I think it does). Thoughts???
    Brooks (and most other leather saddles) are going to have a slippery feel to them. I only Proofide mine once a year, maybe twice on the bikes that spend a lot of time out in the weather. I do use saddle covers of some sort when the bikes are parked outside.

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  2. #27
    djb
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    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)

  3. #28
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    overtensioned leather saddle

    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.

  4. #29
    djb
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    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.
    Cheers

  5. #30
    coprolite fietsbob's Avatar
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    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..

  6. #31
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    Quote Originally Posted by djb View Post
    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.
    Cheers
    I've got 3 Brooks saddles, a Team Pro (the cheaper version of the Team Professional with steel rivets), a titanium Swift and this Swallow. I bought the first new and went through the whole break-in process. The others were second hand. I've been riding the Swallow to work for 6 months (28 miles/day) and have steadily had to increase the tension due to sagging so something had to be done.

    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...

  7. #32
    djb
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    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.

  8. #33
    Senior Member onbike 1939's Avatar
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    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.

  9. #34
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    Quote Originally Posted by djb View Post
    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.
    That will probably be my first line of attack, but I'll ride it for a couple of weeks first to see if anything happens with a bit of sweat

  10. #35
    rhm
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    Quote Originally Posted by SimonInd View Post
    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.

    I predict the saddle will crack right in half within the next month or so. I suppose you will think me snarky for suggesting this, but I actually speak from experience.

    When you're done with the saddle, please let me know, I can put new leather on the frame.

  11. #36
    djb
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    Quote Originally Posted by onbike 1939 View Post
    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.
    Very interesting, on all points. From my understanding, the quality and or thickness of the leather is not the same as before, especially with the standard b17. The presoftened version is obviously aimed at more casual riders who they don't to turn off with an uncomfortable breaking in period yet have the "look" as you say. I suspect too that economics plays a part, using slightly thinner leather must be easier to source, and they chose to keep the business alive by going after the popularity of the look.
    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.

  12. #37
    djb
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    Quote Originally Posted by rhm View Post
    I predict the saddle will crack right in half within the next month or so. I suppose you will think me snarky for suggesting this, but I actually speak from experience.

    When you're done with the saddle, please let me know, I can put new leather on the frame.
    Time will tell, you seem to have a lot more experience working with leather than the rest of us, so it will be interesting to see what happens. My uninformed instincts say to me that boiling and shrinking must have some structural damage going on. If it was that easy, old leather saddles would be brought back to life all the time and it would be a common practice.
    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.

  13. #38
    Senior Member onbike 1939's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by djb View Post
    Very interesting, on all points. From my understanding, the quality and or thickness of the leather is not the same as before, especially with the standard b17. The presoftened version is obviously aimed at more casual riders who they don't to turn off with an uncomfortable breaking in period yet have the "look" as you say. I suspect too that economics plays a part, using slightly thinner leather must be easier to source, and they chose to keep the business alive by going after the popularity of the look.
    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.
    In truth the thickness of the leather was very variable and I've found huge differences in thickness in the same model of saddle. I bought two Team Pros at the same time and found that one had double the thickness of the other (I wondered for a couple of years why one wouldn't break in).
    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.

  14. #39
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    Quote Originally Posted by rhm View Post
    I predict the saddle will crack right in half within the next month or so. I suppose you will think me snarky for suggesting this, but I actually speak from experience.

    When you're done with the saddle, please let me know, I can put new leather on the frame.
    Unfortunately it probably won't be economically viable to ship it to you (I'm in the UK). Is there anything that can be done to reduce the risk of it cracking? Or is it now irreversibly brittle?

  15. #40
    rhm
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    Quote Originally Posted by SimonInd View Post
    Unfortunately it probably won't be economically viable to ship it to you (I'm in the UK). Is there anything that can be done to reduce the risk of it cracking? Or is it now irreversibly brittle?
    Not that I know of. Think of the leather as a piece of meat; if you've overcooked it, you can't uncook it again. I don't know exactly what happens in the process. As you've see, the leather does get a lot harder, but it looses its ability to stretch.

    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!

  16. #41
    djb
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    Quote Originally Posted by onbike 1939 View Post
    In truth the thickness of the leather was very variable and I've found huge differences in thickness in the same model of saddle. I bought two Team Pros at the same time and found that one had double the thickness of the other (I wondered for a couple of years why one wouldn't break in).
    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.
    the varying thickness comment makes sense, and I figure there will always be differences as the product is not punched out of a machine made out of plastic and controlled to x thickness, there will always be differences.

    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.

    cheers

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