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Is this leather conditioner OK for a Brooks saddle?

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Is this leather conditioner OK for a Brooks saddle?

Old 06-28-08, 12:18 PM
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Seanywonton
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Is this leather conditioner OK for a Brooks saddle?

Hey all,

I just got my new Brooks saddle and I am going to condition it as per Sheldon Brown. The closest thing I could find to any of the leather oils he recommended is called Louisville Slugger Soft Glove Softener.

Is this stuff OK to use? It is an oil-based softener.

Thanks
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Old 06-28-08, 12:23 PM
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I would say use at your own risk. Any oil based leather softener has the potential to over soften (due to breaking down) the leather and cause it to collapse. The term I heard was that it could turn your new saddle into an ass-hatchet.

I was going to do it this way myself but after doing some research I decided it was just a little risky. Use Proofide or something similar, and just ride a lot. Good luck.
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Old 06-28-08, 12:41 PM
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OK,thanks.

Has anyone used the Sheldon Brown method of using a leather oil, and if so, is this product on par with things like Neatsfoot and Lexol?
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Old 06-28-08, 01:23 PM
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I wouldn't use any type of oil on the saddle as it may over-soften and if it's organic, as is neatsfoot, it can cause mould to flourish. A light coating applied underneath the saddle of something similar to "Hydrophane", which is a conditioner used by Saddlers, will provide waterproofing without clogging up the pores of the leather. Again, not too much as over-softening can occur.
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Old 06-28-08, 02:08 PM
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Glove softener will soften the leather enough to conform to your hand AND create the pocket for the ball.
This would be most undesireable for a bicycle saddle.
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Old 06-28-08, 03:07 PM
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What about any other of the products discussed here: http://www.sheldonbrown.com/leather.html#bikeboom

"The easiest and fastest method to break in a new saddle is with a liquid leather dressing, such as neatsfoot oil, Lexol, seal oil (a French favorite) or baseball glove oil.. These products are available from shoe stores and sporting-goods stores. There are probably lots of other liquid oils that would work as well-RAAM pioneer Lon Haldeman uses SAE 30 motor oil, but his saddles tend to wear out after only 300,000 miles or so (according to Cyclist Magazine). Paste or wax type leather dressings, such as Brooks Proofide, Sno-Seal, and saddle soap will work, but it takes much, much longer to break in a saddle that way." - Sheldon Brown
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Old 06-28-08, 03:47 PM
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Not to appear argumentative, which I am not, but 300,000 miles 1 saddle how many bikes? How long did this feat take?
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Old 06-28-08, 03:48 PM
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I've treated my Brooks in neatsfoot and it's now a little too soft. If you want to get the saddle broken as quickly as possible, it's a good way to do it. If I was doing it again, I would just used Proofide. There really is no reason for not using it.
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Old 06-28-08, 04:17 PM
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Use Proofide, Obenaufs (my favorite), or Lexol-LF.
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Old 06-28-08, 04:47 PM
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Proofide or SnoSeal. Don't use a leather conditioner, especially anything with oils.
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Old 06-28-08, 05:24 PM
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Sheldon Brown's website is great. Except for his breaking in of Brooks saddles. Don't do it.

Follow the Brooks procedure using proofide.

You are potentially ruining a great saddle using other methods.

Lesson learned the hard way.
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Old 06-28-08, 05:27 PM
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Originally Posted by rodrigaj View Post
Sheldon Brown's website is great. Except for his breaking in of Brooks saddles. Don't do it.

Follow the Brooks procedure using proofide.

You are potentially ruining a great saddle using other methods.

Lesson learned the hard way.
i agree.
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Old 06-28-08, 06:34 PM
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OK thanks guys. Good to hear a concensus...
I think I will stick with the proofide. I want this sucker to last a long long time.
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Old 06-28-08, 09:32 PM
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Originally Posted by rodrigaj View Post
Sheldon Brown's website is great. Except for his breaking in of Brooks saddles. Don't do it.

Follow the Brooks procedure using proofide.

You are potentially ruining a great saddle using other methods.

Lesson learned the hard way.
Agree also. Brooks will in fact void their warranty if any other method is used other then theirs. Brooks has been making saddles for over 100 years...maybe they know what their talking about?
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Old 06-29-08, 10:22 AM
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I used a moderate amount of Neatsfoot oil one time on the underside of my NOS Ideale 90. Worked perfect. After many miles of riding I don't notice the saddle and it didn't get too soft. Maybe the best thing to do with Sheldon's method is to just use a small amount of the product.
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Old 06-29-08, 10:25 AM
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Originally Posted by Seanywonton View Post
Hey all,

I just got my new Brooks saddle and I am going to condition it as per Sheldon Brown. The closest thing I could find to any of the leather oils he recommended is called Louisville Slugger Soft Glove Softener.

Is this stuff OK to use? It is an oil-based softener.

Thanks
No! Do not use any oils on a Brooks! Try a little Proofhide or if you for some reason can't find any a little Sno*Seal. Neither of those will soften the leather like an oil will.
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Old 06-29-08, 11:27 AM
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DO NOT USE OIL!!! Geez how difficult is this to understand? A saddle is a hammock not a baseball glove or a pair of shoes. If oil is applyied to a saddle it will eventually sag; and yes, you can tighten the seat but it will keep sagging and keep sagging untill you can no longer adjust it to restore it's tension.
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Old 06-30-08, 08:15 AM
  #18  
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Sometime in the 90s or so, my dad used neatsfoot oil on his 60s Swallow saddle. It completely disintegrated. 30 years of awesome saddle that had seen multiple rides between Ohio and New Jersey, with a beautiful patina of loving wear, gone overnight.

It might have been too much oil or something, yeah. But no way would I do that again.
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Old 07-01-08, 08:40 PM
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I did the tin foil wrap and oil soak on my Champion after waiting 2000 miles for it to 'break in'. The only effect I can see it that it darkened it. It was honey with a nice patina developing from use and Proofhide, now it's dark brown. It's been another 800 miles and I still don't have any indentions at my sit bones. The saddle does flex a bit more than it used to. I wouldn't do it again if only for appearance. But it didn't ruin it.
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Old 07-01-08, 08:55 PM
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Iíve used neat foot oil on three of my leather saddles and they have not spontaneously combusted, disintegrated into dust or sagged to the seatpost.
 
Old 07-01-08, 08:59 PM
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Originally Posted by gregstandt View Post
I did the tin foil wrap and oil soak on my Champion after waiting 2000 miles for it to 'break in'. The only effect I can see it that it darkened it. It was honey with a nice patina developing from use and Proofhide, now it's dark brown. It's been another 800 miles and I still don't have any indentions at my sit bones. The saddle does flex a bit more than it used to. I wouldn't do it again if only for appearance. But it didn't ruin it.
I would consider indentations at my sit bones to indicate an over-softened saddle. If my sit bones are down in indentations, then there is a ridge in between them, that's in contact with my underside and causing pressure away from the sit bones. Is this what we want from a saddle? Not what I want!
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Old 07-01-08, 10:35 PM
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Originally Posted by Gordon P View Post
Iíve used neat foot oil on three of my leather saddles and they have not spontaneously combusted, disintegrated into dust or sagged to the seatpost.

I've done it too. No problems at all. I'm not sure why people get so enraged every time someone mentions it, but it has not caused the sky to fall or the saddle to melt. Maybe others have had different experiences with their seat. I just let mine soak in neatsfoot oil for about 20 minutes, then wipe dry and ride. No problems.
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Old 07-01-08, 10:57 PM
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Originally Posted by Road Fan View Post
I would consider indentations at my sit bones to indicate an over-softened saddle. If my sit bones are down in indentations, then there is a ridge in between them, that's in contact with my underside and causing pressure away from the sit bones. Is this what we want from a saddle? Not what I want!
You will likely get the indentations whether you use a leather softener or not. A leather softener will only speed up the process. Just riding while sweating will eventually cause this.

I would think some amount of indentation would actually make the saddle more comfortable....as your sit bones sink in, the contact area increases, taking some pressure off. Of course, as you indicate, if the indentions get too deep, this can cause perineal pressure.

But it's not a problem if you do this...
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Old 07-02-08, 11:06 AM
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I'm NOT weighing in on one side or the other of the debate, just reporting personal experience. I've got about 500 miles on my new B-17 Special. I've only used Proofide so far and don't currently feel the need to do anything else.

I may be just lucky, but the saddle has never been "uncomfortable" though when I think about it I think it is "hard." Then, an hour or so later, when I think about it again, I still think it is "hard" but it never really hurts. It IS getting more comfortable, something I was taking note of just yesterday, and though no indentations for sit bones have appeared it is flexing more and that is noticable.

I have twice applied thick layers of Proofide to the underside of the saddle which I have made no attempt to wipe off. I suspect this will do more for softening the leather than application to the top surface. For the first month I applied a coat to the top at least weekly.

If you are finding the saddle to be uncomfortable you might try loosening the tension bolt 1/8 to 1/4 turn. This should allow a bit more flex in the new leather while it is going through its natural break-in. Careful when re-tightening, I hear over tightening can also kill a Brooks early.
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Old 07-02-08, 12:27 PM
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Yeah, the proofhide was all I needed on my B17. I'm about 750 miles in and have some nice ass-molding going on. Needed the nose up a little for the first 100 miles or so, as I felt I was sliding off, but otherwise okay. I'm honestly baffled by the Sheldon / neatsfoot endorsement, given the horror stories I've heard.
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