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Vintage Ideale Saddle Help

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Vintage Ideale Saddle Help

Old 08-28-20, 08:50 PM
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Vintage Ideale Saddle Help

This saddle just landed in my lap. really cool, but hard as a rock. Shape is good, not flared out or cracked. How to start it being softer/restored?

Ideale 90, Rebour
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Old 08-28-20, 09:01 PM
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Some people would just tell you to Proofide it.

I personally prefer neatsfoot oil to restore. Fiebing's is my preferred brand. The critical part (to me) is, especially after getting dry, you're not keeping your leather saddle in a place where humidity is above 65%-70% because it will mold. If mold is a concern, like you live on the east coast USA or a place where humidity is naturally high, or store your bike in a basement or other typically damp place, I have another suggestion.

I had some good experience with Bee Natural products. They sell (or sold) a saddle oil markets 'with fungicides', I have a bottle of it, and I've used it. When compared to other animal-based oil-for-leather products it seemed to legitimately control mold as long as mold had never gotten rooted in that saddle before. The underline is important. Once mold takes root in leather, I've never, ever, in my lifetime found a way to get past it. Once you apply oil (i.e. FOOD) to a saddle which had mold rooted or spored, mold will start growing again when the humidity is favorable.

Oh, and those Ideale 90s are comfortable for my old wrinkly ass but I've heard others complain about them. I have one on my Gitane TdF which is actually quite dry right now too. I should probably oil it in the near future
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Old 08-28-20, 09:36 PM
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Originally Posted by francophile
Some people would just tell you to Proofide it.

I personally prefer neatsfoot oil to restore. Fiebing's is my preferred brand. The critical part (to me) is, especially after getting dry, you're not keeping your leather saddle in a place where humidity is above 65%-70% because it will mold. If mold is a concern, like you live on the east coast USA or a place where humidity is naturally high, or store your bike in a basement or other typically damp place, I have another suggestion.

I had some good experience with Bee Natural products. They sell (or sold) a saddle oil markets 'with fungicides', I have a bottle of it, and I've used it. When compared to other animal-based oil-for-leather products it seemed to legitimately control mold as long as mold had never gotten rooted in that saddle before. The underline is important. Once mold takes root in leather, I've never, ever, in my lifetime found a way to get past it. Once you apply oil (i.e. FOOD) to a saddle which had mold rooted or spored, mold will start growing again when the humidity is favorable.

Oh, and those Ideale 90s are comfortable for my old wrinkly ass but I've heard others complain about them. I have one on my Gitane TdF which is actually quite dry right now too. I should probably oil it in the near future
I used neatsfoot on my Brooks break in. I just painted it on the back side, wiped off excess, rode. Saddle soap to clean it first?
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Old 08-29-20, 12:16 AM
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If it was meant to be soft, they would have made it that way.

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Old 08-29-20, 02:43 AM
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Originally Posted by Lascauxcaveman
If it was meant to be soft, they would have made it that way.

Grasshopper.
Ahem! Well, this looks to be a complete ass hatchet in current form. Going to clean and go from there. Really thick leather on this critter.
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Old 08-29-20, 07:17 AM
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That saddle looks to be in excellent condition!

​​​​The words "special competition" refer to a specific leather treatment they used at Ideale. It appears to succeed the "professionale" treatment that they used until maybe the mid-60's. (In contrast, "Type Record" had no special treatment). i don't remember if I've seen advertising copy for "special competition" saddles, but the professional saddles were claimed to be 'impermeable" and "indeformable."

Anyway, the point is, this is treated leather, and we don't know the details of the treatment. But as was mentioned, they were made to be hard.

In my experience, you cannot soften the leather. You can reshape it to some degree (water will soften it temporarily, but after it dries it will be just as hard as before, if not harder). Neatsfoot oil won't do any harm, but don't expect miracles.
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Old 08-29-20, 08:03 AM
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I've got a type record 80 in similar excellent condition.

It is the same way, seems like a total hatchet.

"Fortunately" I don't have any bikes slow enough to fit this on so I'll probably just sell it along with the rest of the can of proofide.

I feel like a bit the proofide mixing with whatever sweats through your shorts (chamois butter, bag balm, ball sweat) would actually help it quite a bit.
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Old 08-29-20, 11:06 AM
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Originally Posted by rhm
That saddle looks to be in excellent condition!

​​​​The words "special competition" refer to a specific leather treatment they used at Ideale. It appears to succeed the "professionale" treatment that they used until maybe the mid-60's. (In contrast, "Type Record" had no special treatment). i don't remember if I've seen advertising copy for "special competition" saddles, but the professional saddles were claimed to be 'impermeable" and "indeformable."

Anyway, the point is, this is treated leather, and we don't know the details of the treatment. But as was mentioned, they were made to be hard.

In my experience, you cannot soften the leather. You can reshape it to some degree (water will soften it temporarily, but after it dries it will be just as hard as before, if not harder). Neatsfoot oil won't do any harm, but don't expect miracles.
Yes, googled and found that too. I think I will do a simple clean up and put it on a bike I don't use often and start tooling around on it a bit. Why were they intented to be harder?
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Old 08-29-20, 11:08 AM
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Originally Posted by rosefarts
I've got a type record 80 in similar excellent condition.

It is the same way, seems like a total hatchet.

"Fortunately" I don't have any bikes slow enough to fit this on so I'll probably just sell it along with the rest of the can of proofide.

I feel like a bit the proofide mixing with whatever sweats through your shorts (chamois butter, bag balm, ball sweat) would actually help it quite a bit.
Leather is unique from cow to processing to saddle. Never know what exact final product will be. Then add 40 years on this one
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Old 08-29-20, 11:24 AM
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Originally Posted by etherhuffer
Yes, googled and found that too. I think I will do a simple clean up and put it on a bike I don't use often and start tooling around on it a bit. Why were they intented to be harder?
Designed for long distances, serious, trained riders, long races. Like the Brooks Pro, Swallow, and the B17. They were not saddles for in-town utility bikes.
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Old 08-29-20, 11:38 AM
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Originally Posted by etherhuffer
Why were they intented to be harder?
Well, to be fair, your saddle is probably harder now than it was when it was new. The makers didn't mean for it to be quite as hard as it is now.

Whatever it is that they did to the leather, they did it so that the leather would not get waterlogged, stretch like crazy, lose its shape, and become terribly uncomfortable. A leather saddle should be nice and hard... though maybe not quite as hard as yours has become during the last 40-50 years.

My advice would be: do just what you said, put it on a bike you ride hard and fast, not one you sit upright on and pootle around on. This saddle can hold your weight, but it's more comfortable if your weight is well distributed on the handlebars and pedals. If you don't get to like it pretty spon, try to reshape the leather a little to suit your shape. The way you do that is get it a little wet and let that moisture permeate the leather for an hour or two before you ride. This will temporarily soften the leather. Then, before it dries, go for a ride. You should see the leather start to develop dents where your sit bones press on it. Once you see some change, stop, let it dry (for at least a few days) and try it again. I believe a little bit of such treatment will make the saddle a little easier to deal with.
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Old 08-29-20, 01:15 PM
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Thanks! Going to go slow and see what I get. Just realized this is sitting on an SR Royal 2 bolt post!
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Old 08-29-20, 01:20 PM
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Originally Posted by rhm
That saddle looks to be in excellent condition!

​​​​The words "special competition" refer to a specific leather treatment they used at Ideale. It appears to succeed the "professionale" treatment that they used until maybe the mid-60's. (In contrast, "Type Record" had no special treatment). i don't remember if I've seen advertising copy for "special competition" saddles, but the professional saddles were claimed to be 'impermeable" and "indeformable."

Anyway, the point is, this is treated leather, and we don't know the details of the treatment. But as was mentioned, they were made to be hard.

In my experience, you cannot soften the leather. You can reshape it to some degree (water will soften it temporarily, but after it dries it will be just as hard as before, if not harder). Neatsfoot oil won't do any harm, but don't expect miracles.
It does look like it has a "crud" layer on the top surface.
No?
The "special" treated saddles all seem to attract dirt.
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Old 08-29-20, 01:22 PM
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I had an Ideale no.45 a few years ago that was really, really hard compared to any of the Brooks I've had. It looked great, and I wanted it to work for me, but it just wasn't gonna happen. I tried.
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Old 08-29-20, 01:45 PM
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Originally Posted by repechage
It does look like it has a "crud" layer on the top surface.
No?
The "special" treated saddles all seem to attract dirt.
I just ran a bit of saddle soap on it, and most of the crud came off. Its a dull finish. The top of the Ideale stamp is a bit worn, so this was used in its day. Obenauf's or Proofhide next
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Old 08-29-20, 01:47 PM
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Originally Posted by BFisher
I had an Ideale no.45 a few years ago that was really, really hard compared to any of the Brooks I've had. It looked great, and I wanted it to work for me, but it just wasn't gonna happen. I tried.
I have a Selle Stratos from my vintage Raleigh R300 touring bike. My pecker was numb from Pitt to DC. It was the impetus to get a Brooks. Never looked back.
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Old 08-29-20, 03:33 PM
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I "found" the same saddle on an old Schwinn I was gifted. Frankly I took the bike only for the saddle. I slathered mine in olive oil and it came back from the dead to become a pretty decent saddle. It was never as good as several Brooks B 17's I've owned over the years and I ended up selling it on eBay but it became more comfortable the more I used it. To me all decent leather saddles are hard to the touch and rapping on them with a knuckle sounds like tapping on wood still they seem to conform over time to the shape of your butt.
I'd moisturize it with whatever you feel comfortable with, wear black shorts for awhile and see if it becomes your new best friend. It looks like it's got plenty of useful life left and probably has the ability to reconfigure itself to your anatomy. Personally I'd avoid the water suggestion at all costs. I've never found water to do anything useful to leather and once stretched too far it will never come back. An early "Race Across America" die hard would submerge his Brooks saddle in motor oil. I wouldn't recommend that either but it shows that oil is a safer bet than water. Olive oil works for me and I don't use much except on old dried out ones and only at first. If you do sell it you can put the money towards a new Brooks! My last Brooks was nearly brand new and cost half the cost. It was sold by someone that tried it a couple of times and gave up on it. I strapped it on and never even noticed I had a saddle even after spending weeks riding 70 miles or more every day. Every one is different and you'll never know till you try.
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Old 08-29-20, 03:40 PM
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Originally Posted by etherhuffer
Thanks! Going to go slow and see what I get. Just realized this is sitting on an SR Royal 2 bolt post!

I saw that too... that's a nice post.


Originally Posted by BFisher
I had an Ideale no.45 a few years ago that was really, really hard compared to any of the Brooks I've had. It looked great, and I wanted it to work for me, but it just wasn't gonna happen. I tried.
I am not surprised! I have a couple 45's that wound up in my hands because they were considered unrideable. But I haven't recovered them, because the leather is pretty much fine. They sure are hard, though! The Ideale no. 45 was another saddle with the "Speciale Competition" treatment. That one and the no. 70 both had speciale competition leather on the same frame as the 80. I don't know the difference between the three, if there was any.

Originally Posted by repechage
It does look like it has a "crud" layer on the top surface.
No?
The "special" treated saddles all seem to attract dirt.
I have heard that model no 90 saddles, when new, came in a plastic bag inside which they were covered with some kind of greasy crud, which the rider had to scrape off before riding. We might see a bit of that around the rivets in the first photo. I don't know whether that's specific to the "speciale competition" or the Daniel Rebour process (some of the 90's have the Daniel Rebour stamp on the top).

Originally Posted by Cycle Tourist
Personally I'd avoid the water suggestion at all costs. I've never found water to do anything useful to leather and once stretched too far it will never come back. An early "Race Across America" die hard would submerge his Brooks saddle in motor oil. I wouldn't recommend that either but it shows that oil is a safer bet than water. Olive oil works for me and I don't use much except on old dried out ones and only at first. If you do sell it you can put the money towards a new Brooks! My last Brooks was nearly brand new and cost half the cost. It was sold by someone that tried it a couple of times and gave up on it. I strapped it on and never even noticed I had a saddle even after spending weeks riding 70 miles or more every day. Every one is different and you'll never know till you try.
Water and oil have different uses. Leather saddles of this kind (the ones with a thick layer of leather riveted to a metal frame; NOT the ones with a thin layer of upholstery leather stretched over foam) are made from veg-tanned leather. Water is used in the tanning process, and water is used for shaping the leather into a saddle. As I write this, I have a new piece of sole bend leather soaking on water so I can form it into a saddle later on tonight and tomorrow. Veg tanned leather becomes soft when wet. When the water dries, the leather gets hard again --and depending on how it was done, it may dry harder than it was before. So yes, you are quite right, water can do serious damage to a saddle. But you're wrong to think it has no place. It is what you use if you want to reshape a saddle.

Oil has different uses. I have heard the guy who soaked his saddle in motor oil (I think it's on Sheldon Brown's website somewhere), but I don't know how much of it is true. But what this guy was trying to do was to fill the pores of the saddle with something that won't soften the leather, the way water will. The idea is to make the leather unable to absorb water-- because water, as I mentioned, will soften the leather. If you're riding RAAM, which is in June, you are going to sweat so much your saddle will get completely saturated even if it's not raining; and if you ride all the way across the country, you can expect some rain as well. If your saddle gets wet on a long ride, and it starts to lose its shape, you are going to hate it. Anyway, that is why you would soak your saddle in motor oil. So is motor oil the best oil for this purpose? I don't know, but I doubt it. I would rather rephrase the question: which oil is the best oil for treating leather? Neatsfoot oil is supposed to be very waterproof and very stable --it will not oxidize. I'm sure that's true of motor oil as well; and mineral oil, for that matter. Olive oil, however, is relatively unstable and it will oxidize. When olive oil oxidizes, it gets rather nasty; and it may become harmful to leather (I don't know, I'm just mentioning the possibility). Another option is a drying oil, such as linseed oil or safflower oil. If you saturate a leather saddle with safflower oil, it will eventually dry; and when it's dry, it will be somewhat more waterproof than before. The oil, once dried, will not soak into your clothes.

Okay, so far? Now the question at hand is: how can you soften a 40-50 year old saddle that has gotten so hard you can't stand to ride it? spoiler alert: I don't think you can. But I will come back to this question after dinner--- my wife just asked me to make rice. She's making jambalaya. Later!
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Old 08-29-20, 03:51 PM
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Originally Posted by etherhuffer
This saddle just landed in my lap. really cool, but hard as a rock. Shape is good, not flared out or cracked. How to start it being softer/restored
Send it to me. I will break it in for you. My favorite, I think. I have a 90 and a 90 Rebour (pre-softened).
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Old 08-29-20, 04:21 PM
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Originally Posted by etherhuffer
Thanks! Going to go slow and see what I get. Just realized this is sitting on an SR Royal 2 bolt post!
Just as evil as the Campy and GB/Viscount 2 bolt posts of my acquaintance.

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Old 08-29-20, 05:59 PM
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Originally Posted by rhm
Now the question at hand is: how can you soften a 40-50 year old saddle that has gotten so hard you can't stand to ride it? spoiler alert: I don't think you can. But I will come back to this question ...
My understanding of leather is that there are a variety of oils in the leather, and over time these inevitably evaporate. As this happens, the fibers of the leather shrink and contract, and they become brittle. There were once oils that lubricated the fibrous strands of molecules and allowed them to slide against one another without damage, but as these oils dry the fibers cannot slide so well anymore. The result is a harder saddle that can now fail without warning.

i believe a proper application of Proofide (or similar leather treatments) can slow (or even stop?) that drying process, which is why one should use that stuff on a new saddle. But if a saddle has dried out for many years, all those volatile lubricants will be long gone. so now the question is, can we replace them? As far as i know, no. We cannot replace them. But we can't do much harm by trying-- which is why I suggest applying neatsfoot oil. I have several old saddles on which ive been trying this, for several years now, and so far I can't say it's working, but I'm patient.

But water will still soften the leather temporarily, which will allow you to reshape the leather enough to (maybe) get comfortable. this will help redistribute your weight, and thus reduce the pressure on specific points on the saddle as well as the rider's nether regions, to the benefit of both. Much benefit? probably not... but perhaps enough. If all else fails, that's what I would try.
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Old 08-29-20, 06:16 PM
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My experience is that major cleaning watering or just hell no oiling hurt vintage saddles. Leave it alone if you don't like it just sell it for $75 or so it's a nice saddle and get something else you like.
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Old 08-29-20, 06:24 PM
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Originally Posted by repechage
It does look like it has a "crud" layer on the top surface.
No?
The "special" treated saddles all seem to attract dirt.
Not in my experience. I have a few Brooks Selects - hard leather but clean as can be (well, wife's B17 select is broken into a wonder ful suppleness, Brooks Professional with the softening treatment - somewhat cushy and clean as can be, and Ideale 92 Daniel Rebour special treatment a main- now broken in to a very lovely supple support. No mess or crud build up with any of these.
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Old 08-29-20, 07:36 PM
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I picked up an '82 Pug with just this saddle, hard as rock. Just how I like them.
I'd kill for that combo of post and saddle. Trade? Titanium Swift that's a little too plush for me?
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Old 08-29-20, 09:46 PM
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Originally Posted by clubman
I picked up an '82 Pug with just this saddle, hard as rock. Just how I like them.
I'd kill for that combo of post and saddle. Trade? Titanium Swift that's a little too plush for me?
I am going to see how itworks for me but write my name down. I am not married to vintage I cannot use. Not tooting my own horn but I have a minor in chemistry and sold industrial chemicals years ago, The various oils and treatments that people suggest I can sort out. No organic oils that go rancid later. No modern siliconized treatments meant for upholstery. Leather treatments are voodoo unless you know what they are made of or if they have a proven track record. As an analogy, I used to own a Mazda RX7. My mechanic used to race IMSA rotary cars. "If you think you are smarter than a Mazda engineer, think again" Decades of proven use of Proofide and Obenauf's is always a safe choice
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