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Brooks saddle deep scratch repair possible?

Old 03-16-22, 08:20 PM
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Polaris OBark
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Brooks saddle deep scratch repair possible?

This happened to my wife's bike saddle today, I think while it was parked somewhere that coworkers had access to. It is anyone's guess what happened, but the main thing is whether there is a way to repair this? The saddle obviously still works fine, but it is painful to look at. I've seen so many impressive restorations in this sub-forum, I thought it would be the best source for advice.


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Old 03-16-22, 08:50 PM
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Yikes! That's a d*mn shame, and disconcerting that it happened at work. I'd consider that more than a deep scratch, more like a deep gash. I'm not sure what could have caused it, but it must have taken a lot of force/weight/effort. Kind of odd that the "scratch" is as jagged as it is. Doesn't look like an impact. Curious that the tear by the rivet looks a bit different. I wouldn't trust that saddle and I'm doubtful it can be repaired without replacing the entire leather (which fellow forum member @rhm can do). I also wouldn't trust my co-workers. Is your wife well-liked at work? Does she supervise any disgruntled employees?
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Old 03-16-22, 08:55 PM
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I'd replace the whole saddle top, or else replace the saddle entirely. That looks like someone took a box cutter or similar to the top. It looks like multiple slashes. What the hell kind of co-workers does she have? That's bad.
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Old 03-16-22, 08:56 PM
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Just dying the crack brown or black would help a lot. If not, it should look better over time as she rides.
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Old 03-16-22, 08:58 PM
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Thanks (assuming you are referring to the one on the saddle). ;-)
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Old 03-16-22, 08:59 PM
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Originally Posted by SirMike1983 View Post
I'd replace the whole saddle top, or else replace the saddle entirely. That looks like someone took a box cutter or similar to the top. It looks like multiple slashes. What the hell kind of co-workers does she have? That's bad.
Unfortunately, that was my thought, too.

A university biomolecular engineering dept.
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Old 03-16-22, 09:03 PM
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Originally Posted by gaucho777 View Post
Yikes! That's a d*mn shame, and disconcerting that it happened at work. I'd consider that more than a deep scratch, more like a deep gash. I'm not sure what could have caused it, but it must have taken a lot of force/weight/effort. Kind of odd that the "scratch" is as jagged as it is. Doesn't look like an impact. Curious that the tear by the rivet looks a bit different. I wouldn't trust that saddle and I'm doubtful it can be repaired without replacing the entire leather (which fellow forum member @rhm can do). I also wouldn't trust my co-workers. Is your wife well-liked at work? Does she supervise any disgruntled employees?
I think that other crack by the rivet might be a pre-existing condition. It doesn't look as fresh. The camera I think makes it look worse, but I agree, it is disturbing. The main thing is it is always a pain in the arse to break in a new saddle, so if this can be restored, I think it is more cosmetic damage than a hazard. I will however take a much closer look.
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Old 03-16-22, 09:04 PM
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The only innocent explanation I can think of is that it fell over and hit some protruding nail or something, but I still have trouble seeing how it could generate that pattern. It seems like kind of a demented thing to do for a rational person, however nasty.
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Old 03-16-22, 09:27 PM
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I'd work some Proofide into the scratch and keep an eye on it. I always covered my saddle with a plastic bag when I parked it at work. Protected it from the elements and made it less obvious to would-be vandals.
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Old 03-16-22, 09:31 PM
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This was inside, in an office-space that others had access to.
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Old 03-16-22, 09:38 PM
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I just looked at Amazon and they had a new one for $116. So I'm going to get her the new one (even though she says no) and tell her several people suggested it might be unsafe (I am more worried about her colleagues). I doubt it would fail instantly, but if she is comfortable on the new one, I would feel better keeping this one as a backup or putting it on a beater bike, and try to polish/hide the gouges as much as possible.

I know it is irrational, but I just feel a sick feeling in my stomach every time I look at that (even if there is no nefarious origin).
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Old 03-16-22, 10:55 PM
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Try your local cobbler. I would suggest the oldest shop near you. Old cobblers still fix all things leather using their vast years of experience. Can't beat a broken in saddle.
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Old 03-16-22, 11:30 PM
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Rats!!! Hate it when I see stuff like this. I am sure she will appreciate a new saddle but that does not mean this one is done for. You could very well get plenty of years out of it by just sanding down the rough edges to smooth it out and re-oiling it. I have seen guys ridding some pretty torn/worn Brooks saddles without difficulty or danger...
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Old 03-17-22, 05:08 AM
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Looks really bad. Spring is just around the corner. Why not buy a nice saddle from someone. E-Bay has lots of good saddles that are new or almost new for a fair price. Why not check them out?
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Old 03-17-22, 05:50 AM
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Originally Posted by gaucho777 View Post
...replacing the entire leather (which fellow forum member @rhm can do).
This is a great option Rudi's work is great.
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Old 03-17-22, 07:16 AM
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In my opinion, the harder question is whether you're risking the new saddle by going back to the same site with the bike and the new leather saddle. You don't want to buy her one only to have the same thing happen. It's possible that it fell and was an accident, but that pattern of cuts looks like an intentional slashing. Normally replacing the saddle might be the best option, but if people are doing this kind of stuff, you may want to run a beater saddle for awhile until whatever beef people have passes.
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Old 03-17-22, 07:54 AM
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Well that's a bummer! But i don't think it's more than cosmetic damage. And, fwiw, it doesn't look intentional to me... but what do i know.

I don't think it's likely to cause the saddle to fail anytime soon. Leather is really tough, this saddle looks pretty new, and those scratches are not in a location that gets a lot of abuse. When saddles fail, it's usually because the leather tears at a rivet.

If you work some gum tragacanth into that scratch and burnish it thoroughly (back of a spoon should do it) it won't be so alarming. If the leather ever starts to tear at one of those scratches, you will see visible changes before it gives out completely, which, as i say, i don't expect will happen, certainly not in the next twenty years.

I understand that people like nice possessions and take pride in them and that cosmetic damage hurts us at a sensitive spot. People take it personally (not to mention irrationally). I was living in Munich in 1984 when there was a wicked hailstorm that left a lot of new cars pockmarked with hundreds of little dents. There were also a few broken windshields, but in most cases there was no structural damage at all. Fortunately there wasn't a debate about whose fault those was. Nonetheless within a year all those cars had disappeared, sold off to people who needed reliable transportation and didn't care about the cosmetics. People who didn't live in Munich, that is.
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Old 03-17-22, 11:07 PM
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Originally Posted by zandoval View Post

You could very well get plenty of years out of it by just sanding down the rough edges to smooth it out and re-oiling it. I have seen guys ridding some pretty torn/worn Brooks saddles without difficulty or danger...
Completely agree with this point. OP, purchase the replacement for now, sure, but save the damaged one and try the approach above. Lots of ways to go about it (perhaps shaving it with a tool similar to that which cuts the little section along Brooks saddle skirts), or even sanding. The saddle you see below had a horribly checked center portion which I rescued by slowly carving away the bad stuff with an X-Acto blade placed on end. Took a couple days of patience, but I got a wonderful, clean suede look when I was done which I replicated with rough sandpaper over the remainder of the saddle's surface. Have a look:



While ugly, the cut on your wife's saddle doesn't look terminally deep. I'm sure with a little effort, then a re-dye, it can be returned to something approaching 90% original looking.

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Old 03-17-22, 11:31 PM
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Originally Posted by Colorado Kid View Post
Why not buy a nice saddle from someone. E-Bay has lots of good saddles.
I agree with your eBay suggestion. There's a new Brown B17S for $90 shipped. But it sounds like he already bought one from Amazon.

Now the question is ... how much for the old one?
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Old 03-18-22, 05:23 AM
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+1 on trying to save your original saddle: I used the process RHM & DD describe above to save the original Brooks saddle on my 1966 Schwinn Super Sport. See Pics from the 2016 C&V Clunker Challenge, post #114 here, C&V Clunker Challenge 100 .
The leather was softened some in the process + the lower sides were splayed out, so I laced it. Now approaching its 66th birthday in July, it is very comfortable and shows no sign of failure. the deep score mark remains, but has softened edges and is now just a cosmetic issue. Here is best pic I have in this computer:

Saved Brooks July 3, 2016


Saddle is currently 3,000 miles away, but I will try to post some current pics with a higher resolution camera. Don

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Old 03-18-22, 11:35 AM
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Originally Posted by Polaris OBark View Post
I just looked at Amazon and they had a new one for $116. So I'm going to get her the new one (even though she says no) and tell her several people suggested it might be unsafe (I am more worried about her colleagues). I doubt it would fail instantly, but if she is comfortable on the new one, I would feel better keeping this one as a backup or putting it on a beater bike, and try to polish/hide the gouges as much as possible.

I know it is irrational, but I just feel a sick feeling in my stomach every time I look at that (even if there is no nefarious origin).
you have to go with feel sometimes, not logic....... and look at rhm post about how to minimize appearance, (he is the expert) and the old saddle will be perfect for a beater
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Old 03-18-22, 11:55 AM
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Originally Posted by SurferRosa View Post
I agree with your eBay suggestion. There's a new Brown B17S for $90 shipped. But it sounds like he already bought one from Amazon.

Now the question is ... how much for the old one?
Let me make sure she is ok with the switch before I commit to anything.

(She might prefer broken in to the new one.)

The Amazon one arrives today. At least with Prime, if she makes me send it back, they will take it.
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Old 03-18-22, 11:59 AM
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Originally Posted by SirMike1983 View Post
In my opinion, the harder question is whether you're risking the new saddle by going back to the same site with the bike and the new leather saddle. You don't want to buy her one only to have the same thing happen. It's possible that it fell and was an accident, but that pattern of cuts looks like an intentional slashing. Normally replacing the saddle might be the best option, but if people are doing this kind of stuff, you may want to run a beater saddle for awhile until whatever beef people have passes.
You are right. I am hoping there is a simple innocent explanation (eg: at home, it is parked in a rack where a mountain bike also is parked, which has brakes and shifters at exactly the matching height. Normally it is two spaces away, but anything is possible. The main argument against this is neither noticed it until the day I posted, and I took the bike out of the rack that morning, and I know nothing like that happened then).

In any case, I am going to have her lock it in my office.
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Old 03-18-22, 12:34 PM
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I get that part of it is close to the rivets and there could be stress risers, but given that cutting out the center of a brooks saddle (like the imperial or selle anitomica or whatever), doesn't make it unsafe makes me think it'd still be rideable. Sanding the edges and maybe staining it but leaving it scratched might make it less likely to be attacked again if it really was vandalism.
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Old 03-18-22, 01:18 PM
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I am not convinced this was deliberate. IMO deliberate slashes would be more in straight line. Think about what it looks like when someone's car is keyed. It almost looks like someone set something sharp on it and it moved around a bit. Maybe a piece of lab equipment that has unprotected metal edges on the bottom? Along the lines of your brake lever comment, I could also see a chainring doing this. Maybe someone was lifting a bike up and over your wife's bike?

All that said, if your wife has a coworker in mind that she is concerned about then that is definitely something to pay attention to and take precautions/action.
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