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Breaking in Brooks

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Breaking in Brooks

Old 11-27-20, 09:38 PM
  #1  
jefnvk
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Breaking in Brooks

So when I was setting up my trainer for the winter, I remembered that I had some Brooks I bought a while back before my move last summer and never did anything with. I want to get at least one of them ready for use this off season.

Two questions:
1) Is there any issue with breaking them in on a trainer?
2) DO they need to be broken in on the bike they are intended to be ridden on? Ie do minor seating variations make a difference when breaking them in, where they might end up great on the bike they were first used on but not fit right on a bike they are later moved to?

Thanks!
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Old 11-27-20, 09:47 PM
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Best way I know is to go for a long ride in the rain. I don't know that that will happen on the trainer. They are all individuals due to variations in the leather structure. A few of the B-17s I've had were good out of the box. Team pro and B-17 narrows I have been harder to begin with. Every bike I own gets a Brooks saddle.
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Old 11-27-20, 09:52 PM
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Originally Posted by jefnvk View Post
Is there any issue with breaking them in on a trainer?
No. The saddle doesn't know or care whether the bike is moving forward or not.

Originally Posted by jefnvk View Post
DO they need to be broken in on the bike they are intended to be ridden on?
No. They easily accommodate position changes. I've moved several Brooks saddles from one bike to another. One that I'm currently riding was on my dad's bike in the mid-80s.
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Old 11-27-20, 10:25 PM
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Riding your new saddle in the rain will destroy it.

Hey, I have an idea...follow the instructions that Brooks provided and not someone on the internet. Sure it will take longer to break in the saddle by following the directions but you won't risk damaging the leather and ruining the saddle. I have a feeling that since Brooks has been making leather saddles for over 100 years I bet they know how best to care for them.

The only thing I do outside the instructions is I apply Kiwi Neutral wax to my saddle about once every 3 months, but this was only after I followed the break-in procedure that Brooks outlined to do.
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Old 11-28-20, 12:01 AM
  #5  
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Or, also, and Iím sorry to those Brooks fans who would say otherwise, just sell Ďem and donít worry about it. These saddles are not worth the trouble, IMHO.

You can just sell them for much more than buying multiple other more modern saddles would cost.
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Old 11-28-20, 01:00 AM
  #6  
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Originally Posted by Charliekeet View Post
Or, also, and I’m sorry to those Brooks fans who would say otherwise, just sell ‘em and don’t worry about it. These saddles are not worth the trouble, IMHO.

You can just sell them for much more than buying multiple other more modern saddles would cost.
I don't get statements like this. How much trouble can it be to put the saddle on the bike, adjust it's position, rub on a thin coating of Proofide (it's usually provided), and ride it for 6 mo before you should Proofide it again? Just don't let it get soaked. Do you want your bike's bearings to get wet and gritty? If not, then protect the whole bike from the rain.

I definitely agree with Rekmeyata - no person or company has more experience with the Brooks saddle design than Brooks themselves. The easy way to go is just do what Brooks said works best. If you just don't like the saddle or its not going to match up for you, just do what you would have to do if it was a Specialized or Fizik or whatever: take it off and get something else. Sell it, trade it, donate it, or trash it. It's your saddle.

Last edited by Road Fan; 11-28-20 at 01:04 AM.
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Old 11-28-20, 02:31 PM
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When you ride on the saddle, the upper part, in contact with your lower part, will get sweaty and moist. I have spritzed the bottoms of new Brooks saddles with water to give that part of the leather a drink. Just moistened it, not drenched. I think the idea is to let the saddle slowly conform to your shape, or vice versa.
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Old 11-28-20, 03:23 PM
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Way too much (unnecessary) voodoo surrounding riding a Brooks saddle. Secret slathering oils and care/feeding techniques. It isn't that mysterious.

Some folks need 500 miles of break in. Others, myself included several times over, buy them and ride them..they're comfortable from day one.

Buy one, mount it and ride it. Follow Brook's maintenance suggestions. Completely ignore extended internet forum discussions on the saddle. If it isn't comfortable right away, then give it some time, certainly more than a synthetic saddle.

A short-circuit option..buy a mildly used/like new one..there's plenty available.

Just like any other saddle..if it isn't comfortable, buy something else. I've tried a dozen or more saddles..Brooks makes me forget about my butt entirely..which is the goal. No other saddle has been able to do that.. long term. Brooks for the win.
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Old 11-28-20, 03:37 PM
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Originally Posted by fishboat View Post
Way too much (unnecessary) voodoo surrounding riding a Brooks saddle. Secret slathering oils and care/feeding techniques. It isn't that mysterious.

Some folks need 500 miles of break in. Others, myself included several times over, buy them and ride them..they're comfortable from day one.

Buy one, mount it and ride it. Follow Brook's maintenance suggestions. Completely ignore extended internet forum discussions on the saddle. If it isn't comfortable right away, then give it some time, certainly more than a synthetic saddle.

A short-circuit option..buy a mildly used/like new one..there's plenty available.

Just like any other saddle..if it isn't comfortable, buy something else. I've tried a dozen or more saddles..Brooks makes me forget about my butt entirely..which is the goal. No other saddle has been able to do that.. long term. Brooks for the win.
Mods, can this just be the auto-response every time this comes up? This is the correct answer and always will be regarding Brooks saddles. Seriously.
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Old 11-28-20, 06:26 PM
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Originally Posted by jefnvk View Post
2) DO they need to be broken in on the bike they are intended to be ridden on?
Thanks!
No just the same butt!
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Old 11-28-20, 07:06 PM
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Anybody else find it ironic that a British company launches the very successful and well-known Brooks saddle company, whose saddles should not be ridden in the rain?

Do cowboys and their saddled horses have the same restrictions?
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Old 11-28-20, 07:11 PM
  #12  
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Originally Posted by Road Fan View Post
I don't get statements like this. How much trouble can it be to put the saddle on the bike, adjust it's position, rub on a thin coating of Proofide (it's usually provided), and ride it for 6 mo before you should Proofide it again? Just don't let it get soaked. Do you want your bike's bearings to get wet and gritty? If not, then protect the whole bike from the rain.

{snip}
Listen, I hear ya, except that youíre making my point, cause it still sounds like a consideration I wouldnít want, especially for a more expensive option.

Its not that Iím a cheapskate, not only into the latest, modern tech, not that I canít acclimate to other styles or applications.

Itís like anything else- some components appeal to people, and others just donít. What I hear when people talk about break-in, mileage, wax, oils, maintenance, tightening, rain/no water, etc etc is just a bunch of reasons to steer clear of these headaches & ride one of the many other excellent saddle types out there.
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Old 11-28-20, 07:47 PM
  #13  
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I'm on my 3rd Brooks B17, follow the instructions that Brooks provides and everything will be fine ( all 3 of mine were good out of the box )
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Old 11-28-20, 08:19 PM
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Thanks all, the question has been answered for me, the scope of which was merely whether there were any issues with it on a trainer or being broken in on the bike with a slightly different seating position which is going on the trainer.

Originally Posted by TomM View Post
No just the same butt!
Dratz, there goes the plan of making the wife break it in for me
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Old 11-29-20, 08:51 AM
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Originally Posted by rekmeyata View Post
Riding your new saddle in the rain will destroy it.

Hey, I have an idea...follow the instructions that Brooks provided and not someone on the internet. Sure it will take longer to break in the saddle by following the directions but you won't risk damaging the leather and ruining the saddle. I have a feeling that since Brooks has been making leather saddles for over 100 years I bet they know how best to care for them.

The only thing I do outside the instructions is I apply Kiwi Neutral wax to my saddle about once every 3 months, but this was only after I followed the break-in procedure that Brooks outlined to do.
Could not have said it better myself!
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Old 11-29-20, 09:32 AM
  #16  
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Originally Posted by Sy Reene View Post
Anybody else find it ironic that a British company launches the very successful and well-known Brooks saddle company, whose saddles should not be ridden in the rain?

Do cowboys and their saddled horses have the same restrictions?
It is also ironic that its sister company makes 3D printed carbon saddles.
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Old 11-29-20, 11:44 AM
  #17  
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Originally Posted by Charliekeet View Post
Or, also, and Iím sorry to those Brooks fans who would say otherwise, just sell Ďem and donít worry about it. These saddles are not worth the trouble, IMHO.

You can just sell them for much more than buying multiple other more modern saddles would cost.
What trouble? Install saddle, ride. Once in a while apply Proofide. I do it maybe once a year when I remember it. The horror of such trouble.
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Old 11-29-20, 11:47 AM
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Originally Posted by Sy Reene View Post
Anybody else find it ironic that a British company launches the very successful and well-known Brooks saddle company, whose saddles should not be ridden in the rain?

Do cowboys and their saddled horses have the same restrictions?
Who says it shouldn't be ridden in the rain? BY the way, the comparison between a horse saddle and a Brooks is not a good one. A horse saddle has material under it so the leather is not supporting the rider.
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Old 11-29-20, 01:05 PM
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Originally Posted by phughes View Post
Who says it shouldn't be ridden in the rain? BY the way, the comparison between a horse saddle and a Brooks is not a good one. A horse saddle has material under it so the leather is not supporting the rider.
Ok. Post #4 above mentioned the thing about rain. But maybe it's just new saddles? Old ones are ok? fwiw, the Brooks site says that a soaked saddle shouldn't be ridden for long as it will deform your saddle, hence the rain covers they sell.

Curious though, why wouldn't the underside of these saddles have some sort of laminated or polyurethanish type coating (ie. just a thin barrier for keeping out water that wouldn't impact the leather's moldability or flexibility)?
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Old 11-29-20, 04:58 PM
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Originally Posted by Sy Reene View Post
Ok. Post #4 above mentioned the thing about rain. But maybe it's just new saddles? Old ones are ok? fwiw, the Brooks site says that a soaked saddle shouldn't be ridden for long as it will deform your saddle, hence the rain covers they sell.

Curious though, why wouldn't the underside of these saddles have some sort of laminated or polyurethanish type coating (ie. just a thin barrier for keeping out water that wouldn't impact the leather's moldability or flexibility)?
Usually the bottom of the saddle isn't too much of an issue, since most touring bikes have fenders. I throw a shower cap on it if it is really going to rain hard. If it is a light rain, and I am riding, I don't always worry about it. It takes all of two seconds to put the shower cap on the seat though. Mine has been thoroughly soaked though, when it was parked outside while commuting. It rains while I was working, and I didn't cover it that day. I road home but didn't sit hard on the saddle. I usually cover it I think it might rain.

I have the Brooks cover, but generally only use it if the bike is on the bike rack for a long trip.

For the care it requires, Proofide once in a while, I do it about once a year, when I think about it, and covering with a shower cap, it gives more back. It is a seat I can ride for 50-70 miles with zero discomfort, then get on again the next day and do it again, and again the next day, and the day after that, and so on.
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Old 11-29-20, 07:19 PM
  #21  
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Originally Posted by fishboat View Post
Way too much (unnecessary) voodoo surrounding riding a Brooks saddle. Secret slathering oils and care/feeding techniques. It isn't that mysterious.

Some folks need 500 miles of break in. Others, myself included several times over, buy them and ride them..they're comfortable from day one.

Buy one, mount it and ride it. Follow Brook's maintenance suggestions. Completely ignore extended internet forum discussions on the saddle. If it isn't comfortable right away, then give it some time, certainly more than a synthetic saddle.

A short-circuit option..buy a mildly used/like new one..there's plenty available.

Just like any other saddle..if it isn't comfortable, buy something else. I've tried a dozen or more saddles..Brooks makes me forget about my butt entirely..which is the goal. No other saddle has been able to do that.. long term. Brooks for the win.
Nobody in this thread is advising secret slathering oils, just Brooks Proofide. Most of the time a new saddle comes with a small tin or a much smaller packet (like a Mcdonalds' ketchup packet) of it. There are reasonably clear instructions printed BY Brooks! If a person who buys a new Brooks goes out and crowd-sources info on how to care for it, you have no clue about its veracity. Seems silly when you can just go on the Brooks site and see what they recommend.

One fact is there are not a lot of experts in care and restoration of leather goods, not when you're focused on developing your own care and repairtechniques, in which you want to choose from the available techniques for a process suitable for heavy use leather versus a nice, elegant, soft leather dress wallet or a case for vintage fountain pens. Bike saddle leather supports a lot of tension and is exposed to the outdoors environment. Horse saddles are similar, but not under considerable tension since they are not based on a hammock principle. But Brooks have been working with durability of their design for 100+ years. Why even look farther, unless you LIKE arcane mystical formulas?

If you don't like the way the saddles look or feel, that's different and totally fine. But don't diss them because you didn't get the real info and you don't accept what the crowd says. I say, go read what Brooks says and get the real info. I have, but you shouldn't just take it from me, either.
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Old 11-30-20, 06:56 PM
  #22  
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I found good old oily ASS sweat the most effective break in.
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Old 12-01-20, 08:40 PM
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It broke my heart when my, then 50 year old, Brooks B17 split in half crosswise in a 10 mile rain storm. It was the natrow rail, Campagnolo embossed, OEM, on my '64 Legnano. Went on Ebay, found a modern B17, nearly new, bolted it on and it was great, out of the box. Break in? You don't need no stinkin' break in, just ride. It is an individual choice. For me the B17 is the most comfortable, followed closely by the all weather C17, and for some reason, the Professional, just a close third. I ride all three, and they work for me, though I don't ride a stationary bike. If these last 50 more years, not going to worry about it, I'll be 120 years old.😉

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Old 12-02-20, 08:41 PM
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Originally Posted by fishboat View Post
Way too much (unnecessary) voodoo surrounding riding a Brooks saddle. Secret slathering oils and care/feeding techniques. It isn't that mysterious.

Some folks need 500 miles of break in. Others, myself included several times over, buy them and ride them..they're comfortable from day one.

Buy one, mount it and ride it. Follow Brook's maintenance suggestions. Completely ignore extended internet forum discussions on the saddle. If it isn't comfortable right away, then give it some time, certainly more than a synthetic saddle.

A short-circuit option..buy a mildly used/like new one..there's plenty available.

Just like any other saddle..if it isn't comfortable, buy something else. I've tried a dozen or more saddles..Brooks makes me forget about my butt entirely..which is the goal. No other saddle has been able to do that.. long term. Brooks for the win.

I agree with everything except "they are comfortable from day one". They are not that comfortable initially but after broken in and conform to your sit bones they are very comfortable.
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Old 12-04-20, 11:20 AM
  #25  
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Alright I'll go next.

​​​​​​My wife and I can't remember exactly when, but around 2006 we bought our 3rd tandem used off Craigslist and it had Brooks saddles on it. That bike was a Trek T 2000 and had low miles on it, and it was one of those "wife didn't like tandem riding" orphans.

This was my first time trying the Brooks, and I think it's the B17. The captain's is narrow and the stoker's much wider.

We regularly put in a lot of miles, needed the road tandem, and so we did ride on those saddles at first.

Neither of us liked them. My wife only rode on it once!

Me, I liked the look, especially on a tandem of matching saddles. But the thing that bothered me a bit was the weight of these things. I didn't weight them, but I could tell by their heft, they were at least double of our usual saddles.

With some reluctance I took them off and they lived in boxes. I even tried to sell them at a couple fo bike swaps for cheap, and no one would buy them, even though they were perfect.

Here I will interject that I don't like the idea of buying a used saddle because the idea of sitting hundreds of miles on a butt wedge that someone else has sat on and sweated their asses off on for hundreds of miles is not aesthetically pleasing to me. However, I have no problem with sitting on public toilets when I need to.

A few years ago I built up a single speed commuter bike and put the Brooks saddle on it. I've been on it for more than 3,000 seated spinning miles on 30-60 minute rides.

It wasn't comfortable right away, and it still isn't as comfortable as my other saddles on other bikes. However, I haven't tried any leather dressing or followed any protocol to break it in.

Yesterday I took the bike out for 30 miles, which might be the longest period of time I've sat on it, and it was just okay. I was pretty much happy the ride was over when I got home.

I've been riding that bike everyday this week in a spinny low gear on flat miles because I'm recovering from a broken ankle, and can't push hard. Because of that, I'm not standing on the pedals almost at all to get some relief.relief.
​​​​​​My conclusion is that for me the Brooks saddle looks better than it feels. I, we, used to ride long distances, more than 100 miles at a go, but not really anymore (we prefer mountain biking). I wouldn't choose a Brooks saddle for long rides like that.

Some of my ultra-distance friends swear by Sella Anatomica leather saddles, the models which are nearly Brooks-like but have a long center cut-out in them. I never tried these.

Here's another thing which you can reject out of hand if it doesn't work for you, and it's that as a 30 year vegetarian plus 4 year vegan person I think it's wrong to ride on an animals hide when I'm riding.

But it's not religion and the saddle already exists and I have loads of leather goods in things I use like car seats and shoes.

Moving into the future I do not choose leather in things I buy. I view Brooks leather saddles as a quaint affectation. They are heavy too.

As for tandem riding, as a team my wife and I are different people now than when we married ( riding away from the wedding on our original Santana tandem ), and we no longer ride our tandem on a regular basis like we used to. We did learn how to be comfortable on the bike together, and a lot of that had to do with our saddles!

We still have a black like new ladies Brooks saddle living in a box in the garage.
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