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Leather Saddles?

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Leather Saddles?

Old 02-13-10, 08:24 AM
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Leather Saddles?

I am lucky enough to have the OEM Ideal Saddle on my PRN and an even more ancient Brooks on my Raliegh Marathon that was my father in law's saddle from the sixties and has been on all of his bikes since then. I also have a lovely sprung Brooks saddle on my Triumph three speed. I have no other experience with leather saddles. The sprung saddle is supple and soft. The other two are hard and, well, hard. They both feel fine under my but and I remember as a kid I thought that the seat on my dad's Bianchi Campagnolo as a rock (man do I ever wish that I still had THAT bike around.....). So, my questions are:
  • How do I know that the leather is still "serviceable" and not too dry or brittle to use any more?
  • Should I expect that these seats will "break in" to MY but now?
  • Should I be using saddle soap or something on them to soften them up for the readjustment?

Thank you for your guidance.

"I'm built like a marine mammal. I love the cold! "-Cosmoline
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Old 02-13-10, 08:36 AM
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get a new or slightly used B17 and see how that feels. I rode a B5N on a 70's Dawes that I didn't care for then but loved later when it was put back into use, and every B17 I've bought since - in the last ten years or so - was ready to go right out of the box.
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Old 02-13-10, 02:31 PM
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Brooks and Ideale were the two best-regarded leather saddle makers of yore. Both made a wide range of saddles at various price points, but vintage saddles from both still command good prices on the used market. Ideale has long since gone out of business, but Brooks is still making saddles albeit under new (Italian) ownership.

If the leather is intact (not cracked or torn, particularly at the rivets) they should be good to ride. Treatment with a leather dressing (e.g. Brooks' "Proofide") will help refresh and protect the leather. Resist the temptation to over-treat the leather -- one or two light applications a year is plenty.
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