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Old 06-28-11, 12:53 PM   #1
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overtensioned leather saddle

I am the guy who did one or both of the following:

used too much conditioner on my saddle during break-in (it's broken)
used too much tension and stretched the leather

It's too late I am out of adjustment and it just seems to keep stretching. I had it right then I started to clearly feel the bracket. Another turn fixed that for a while then I had to repeat. My tension screw is about maxed and I am don't want to go any further.

Can it be saved?
Can I realease all the tension and give it a break, hope for the best?
Release tension and leave in the sun?
Wash with soap and water?

Its getting worse and I am ready to take a chance on something, any suggestions?

Craig
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Old 06-28-11, 12:55 PM   #2
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Old 06-28-11, 01:39 PM   #3
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Sounds like it's ruined. You can try tying the skirts together, that will help a little, but probably not enough.

Here's an idea for a last-ditch effort before you trash it:
1. Take tension off leather (back bolt all the way off).
2. Soak saddle in water overnight.
3. Set saddle outdoors in sun light to dry, all day long. (set it on a table where dogs/critters can't get it).
4. Repeat steps 2. and 3. many times. Observe change in leather tension, if any. Report findings back here to Touring forum.
5. After this exercise fails, go buy a decent non-tensioned-leather saddle that won't sag so much, so fast, and provide some perineum support.
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Old 06-28-11, 02:40 PM   #4
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If it is a Brooks saddle you have ruined it.When you get a new Brooks saddle treat it one time only a good coat of proofide under the saddle and a good coat on top let it dry polish off top only.Let your weight and time do the rest for you.You will not need to tension it for years down the road.Ask Brooks this very same ? and they will tell you what I have.Look at it as learning lesson its a hard way but it happens.Good luck with a new Brooks saddle.
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Old 06-28-11, 03:04 PM   #5
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RIP...sorry to hear this sad tale
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Old 06-28-11, 05:51 PM   #6
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Alright, time for me to learn from the mistakes of others I guess. I have had my Brooks B-17 for a couple of weeks now and I quite like it. I have not messed with the tension of done anything to "treat" it. Are these things a necessity for Brooks? If so, please advise on when, how, etc. please. Thanks all!
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Old 06-28-11, 06:32 PM   #7
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Sounds like your saddle is a candidate for lacing. If you're not familiar with this procedure, I'm suggesting you punch holes in the skirts and lace the sides together.
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Old 06-28-11, 07:25 PM   #8
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from what I understand lacing is to help with "flare", but given that you say that the tension bolt is at or near its maximum, you might as well try it, perhaps also with some more tensioning....who knows.

pics?
what "conditioner"
how much "conditioner"
how long have you had it
etc etc

hope last ditch effort/s can make it rideable, if not, well lesson learned.
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Old 06-28-11, 07:38 PM   #9
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Alright, time for me to learn from the mistakes of others I guess. I have had my Brooks B-17 for a couple of weeks now and I quite like it. I have not messed with the tension of done anything to "treat" it. Are these things a necessity for Brooks? If so, please advise on when, how, etc. please. Thanks all!
I condition mine with Proofide. Slather a generous amount on the underside, and a fair bit on the topside. Set in a warm (not hot) place. Recoat the underside, wipe the topside off and ride, repeat once a year. As far as the tension goes, you are supposed to only need to give the tension bolt an 1/8th turn or so once a year at most. YMMV. I have had saddles that required more than that and others that didn't need any at all. Including a few that needed some tension added right out of the box.

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Old 06-28-11, 07:59 PM   #10
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I condition mine with Proofide. Slather a generous amount on the underside, and a fair bit on the topside. Set in a warm (not hot) place. Recoat the underside, wipe the topside off and ride, repeat once a year. As far as the tension goes, you are supposed to only need to give the tension bolt an 1/8th turn or so once a year at most. YMMV
+1 on this, except on top I've only put a thin layer (plus 25cent piece size small small amounts on the "sitbone" areas when I was getting tired of sore sitbones after 5 or 6 rides of an hour length)
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Old 06-28-11, 08:20 PM   #11
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How long have you been riding the saddle? Brooks saddles have a definite lifespan and if you've been riding it for years, it's time to retire the saddle and get a new one. I've had mine for three years and have used up about a third of the tension bolt. The Velo Orange saddles have an anti-stretch coating under the leather. You might try one of those.
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Old 06-28-11, 09:36 PM   #12
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Alright, time for me to learn from the mistakes of others I guess. I have had my Brooks B-17 for a couple of weeks now and I quite like it. I have not messed with the tension of done anything to "treat" it. Are these things a necessity for Brooks? If so, please advise on when, how, etc. please. Thanks all!
Read my post #4 enjoy...
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Old 06-28-11, 09:56 PM   #13
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The saddle in question is a murphy. It was bought before ragbrai last year so less than a year of actual use. It has been caught in a few downpours but has always been treated which may be the problem. Well
I am at the nothing to lose stage so if anybody has has anything they want tested let me know.

Guinea pig
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Old 06-28-11, 11:07 PM   #14
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isnt that a Swallow? (dont follow what you mean by murphy)

in any case, saddle soap etc are made to 'soften' leather...which is what you dont want to do with a saddle where the leather is hung over rails. A horse saddle sits on a solid thing, a brooks saddle sits on nothing, so softening it just means it is going to sag where you dont want it to sag, and stretch and turn into a hammock.
you want the thing to shape to your "sitbones" , hence the dimples, but the rest you dont want sagging and thus putting pressure on your soft bits.

add in perhaps riding it when it was quite wet--this has always been my fear and having to get used to alwyas having a plastic bag with you or cover.

good luck

you could contact Brooks and ask how much it would cost to "re-cover" it, it might be much to expensive to ship it, have them do it etc...who knows.
At this point, wouldnt you prefer to have a less "fussy" seat that you dont have to worry about? There are lots of good seats out there.

Last edited by djb; 06-28-11 at 11:14 PM.
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Old 06-29-11, 07:02 AM   #15
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The saddle in question is a murphy. It was bought before ragbrai last year so less than a year of actual use. It has been caught in a few downpours but has always been treated which may be the problem. Well I am at the nothing to lose stage so if anybody has has anything they want tested let me know.
See post #3. Nevermind the skirt tying suggestion, since your saddle has no skirt and is already "tied".

The leather used in those saddles is known for being extra stretchy, resulting in premature sag and short saddle longevity. Even Brooks is known for having some bad leather now and then. Perhaps your treatments exacerbated the problem.

Also, those racy style saddles are even more prone to sag, since there's less material available to bear the load.

Finally, if you're a bicyclist who prefers firm perineum support, you may never be 100% satisfied with any tensioned leather saddle. Most all tensioned leather saddles eventually sag if ridden long enough, no matter how they're treated. I'm personally not comfortable with a "hammock" saddle, although many others seem to love it and ride their tensioned leather saddle till the leather is resting on the rails/seatpost clamp.

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Old 06-29-11, 03:07 PM   #16
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Loosen tension bolt.Get a big pot of water,bring to a boil,drop seat in for about 2 min.Get a heat gun,not a hair drier,and shrink the seat until it's as tight as you want.If it's not tight enough,add a few drops of liquid dish detergent,NOT SOAP.Repeat.

Let dry in the sun.Seat will now be as hard as a rock and ready for a new break in period.Depending on how it was tanned,will decide on how long it will last.

Shrinking leather work pretty much the same as felting wool.The same type of things are happening.Hot water expands the fibers and lets them slip past each other.Detergent lets them slip more.

You can't keep going like on wool,turn your sweater into a thick one for your kid,but it will shrink alot!

You can tan leather many different ways,vegetables and tree bark(tannic acid),urine(ammonia),brains,ect.

Being that Brooks is a commercial venture,I'm guessing they use tannin(the best)(they may use urine,2nd best),so the hot water trick should work.

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Old 06-29-11, 03:56 PM   #17
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heck, while you're at it, you can cook some lobsters!
Wow, that is a pretty interesting idea. A certain part of it does make sense even to my "modern city-boy" ness, as one does read of "boiled leather jerkin" that was used in the middle ages for a tough protective vest....I may have the term wrong, but boiled leather that is very hard was certainly done.

Interesting.

One would wonder though how weird the leather might be afterwards, either in shape or characteristics to really being "ready for a new break in period"-- I, in any case, am quite curious to hear what happens if the fellow actually tries this. You would also think that all the oils or whatever would be boiled out of it, so perhaps it may need some Proofide so it wont be like a rock....

this might be an interesting experiment Mr Gaseous cloud, will he dare do it? (I might be concerned what it might do around the rivets)
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Old 06-30-11, 02:30 AM   #18
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Thanks to Booger1 for some very interesting reading. I am fascinated to know where he got the information from (seems very much from personal experience, hope so). And I hope, too, the OP can be bothered to have a go at rehabilltating his saddle and to report back on it here.
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Old 06-30-11, 11:41 AM   #19
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If it's not tight enough,add a few drops of liquid dish detergent,NOT SOAP.Repeat.
Very interesting solution and it makes sense to me. I might add that instead of detergent you could try glycerin. That is what is recommended (and I've used it) for soaking wicker caning in before stretching it over a seat, etc. When it dries it shrinks and is tight as a drum.
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Old 06-30-11, 12:59 PM   #20
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Alright, time for me to learn from the mistakes of others I guess. I have had my Brooks B-17 for a couple of weeks now and I quite like it. I have not messed with the tension of done anything to "treat" it. Are these things a necessity for Brooks? If so, please advise on when, how, etc. please. Thanks all!
Get some Proofide, and slather some on. Repeat as you see fit (normally, every 3-12 months, depending on how much you ride, how much you sweat, how much it gets rained on, etc.).

IME, you may need to tighten it, but not any time soon. Give it 2,000 to 5,000 miles, and it may be needed. Or maybe not yet. If you feel the saddle is sagging so much that your bones are way down, and there's a ridge putting pressure down the middle, it's time to tighten. Put the special Brooks wrench on, and tighten just until you feel some back pressure; it may be 1/8 turn to a couple of turns. Repeat as needed, which is probably slightly less than the initial interval, but not much.
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Old 06-30-11, 03:42 PM   #21
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Try making a leather dash cover for a 50's Buick with a wraparound dash,with no seams.You'll know everything there is to know about working with leather when your finished.

You'll have to loosen the tension bolt enough so that when it shrinks,there's still very little/no tension on it.You have to tension the seat back up to check it.If you shrink it with tension on it,you'll pull it of off the rivets.

My B-17 is old,sees nothing but Kiwi clear shoe polish(basically bees wax) when I remember,still fine.

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Old 07-03-11, 01:05 PM   #22
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UPDATE!

Friday: Submerge seat in steaming water until bubbles cease, put in oven at 200 for 20 min, check go to 210 for another 20. Fully dry, measured the same leather still feels soft and pliable

Saturday: Submerge in water and leave to bake in the sun like sun tea (water looked like tea after 6 hours), leave in sun to dry overnight
Sunday: preheat oven to 310 put in for 45 minutes and leave in while on bike ride as oven cools. Came home and I will now have to stretch the seat to get the tensioner bolt in at the minimum length. So all I can say is that I successfully shrunk my seat, will it just stretch right back out I'll let you know but I had nothing to loose and I'm an optimist. Enjoy the 4th everyone

Craig
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Old 07-03-11, 05:41 PM   #23
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well whatever happens, this is a neat story, and will be fascinating to hear how it is for riding, how it looks etc. Would be interesting to see a photo of it post extreme-waterboarding and tea-partying (boy, didnt think Id be putting American political references in this thread, believe me!)
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Old 07-10-11, 11:48 AM   #24
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Get some Proofide, and slather some on. Repeat as you see fit (normally, every 3-12 months, depending on how much you ride, how much you sweat, how much it gets rained on, etc.).

IME, you may need to tighten it, but not any time soon. Give it 2,000 to 5,000 miles, and it may be needed. Or maybe not yet. If you feel the saddle is sagging so much that your bones are way down, and there's a ridge putting pressure down the middle, it's time to tighten. Put the special Brooks wrench on, and tighten just until you feel some back pressure; it may be 1/8 turn to a couple of turns. Repeat as needed, which is probably slightly less than the initial interval, but not much.
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???
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Old 07-10-11, 06:58 PM   #25
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Okay, thanks but nevermind. Me and my butt are too impatient to keep trying to break this in. After researching some other opinions on this site, I figured maybe Brooks isn't for me, so I returned it at REI today and exchanged for this Lookin MOD Saddle.



I got the 30 degree insteady of the 60 because my positioning is still a bit more angled than upright.

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