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Brooks water cure/break in?

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Brooks water cure/break in?

Old 07-16-05, 02:23 PM
  #1  
VeganRider
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I didnt read this here so I will try to condense it: Put a very wet wash cloth on a new Brooks saddle near the rear most section where most of your weight will be, and leave it that way for a couple hours. Then knead the area where your sit bones will rest. Then go ride it for an hour or two. Repeat this process for the next few rides. Then when the saddle fits your anatomy stop and rub the surface with #000 steel wool till it starts to turn white, and put on leather dye. Then repeat a couple times leaving the last coat on overnight. Then rub in paste saddle soap. Then treat the underside with non hardening snow seal and a blow dryer to spread it. They claim the saddle is formed to begin with by using water and that oils and proofide will continue to migrate through the saddle causing the horn to become flaired out and causing chaffing. What do ya think? I have a new B17 narrow waiting for me.

Last edited by VeganRider; 07-16-05 at 03:27 PM.
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Old 07-16-05, 02:31 PM
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You're kidding right?

B17=Leather

Unless of course, you're regretting your user name
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Old 07-16-05, 02:32 PM
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a vegan riding a brooks? anyway, i think you'll ruin a very expensive saddle doing what you describe.
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Old 07-16-05, 02:58 PM
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Originally Posted by Surferbruce
a vegan riding a brooks? anyway, i think you'll ruin a very expensive saddle doing what you describe.
"anyway" is right, this is about a saddle; I notice so many on the road cycling forum trying to pick fly $hit outta the pepper that it really gets old. If Brooks offered a saddle that was not leather and had the same benefits I would get the non leather one, but I can't. I just don't eat any animal products, none. So please excuse me for my imperfection. This dosen't surprise.

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Old 07-16-05, 03:24 PM
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I followed the manufacturer's instructions to simply treat it with Proofide and ride it.
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Old 07-16-05, 03:28 PM
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i'm just getting a kick out of the contradiction, but hey i think they are what make life so interesting. i'm all for doing it your own perfectly imperfect way.
hopefully someone with some vast brooks saddle experience will chime in but i think doing much of anything to break in a brooks other than riding a lot of miles is probably gonna be bad for it. one thing about leather is once it's stretched out it's not going back.
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Old 07-16-05, 03:35 PM
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- i had a Brooks on my bike when i rode in SF in the 70s... the saddle will take some time to break in... when i got my saddle, i used 'SnoSeal' (a beeswax waterproofing compound) on the underside of the saddle and little on top (i rode in sun/rain and never otherwise protected the saddle)...

- road time is your friend when you break in your Brooks saddle, but the end result is worth it... i don't think there's a need for any drastic break-in methods though...
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Old 07-16-05, 03:38 PM
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The idea of moistening the saddle is dumb. Books saddles do not need breaking in. It is your bottom that breaks in on any saddle. I don't know where that idea got started. It has been around for over 50 years that I know of. Another thing that was popular fifty years ago was to cover the saddle whith a plastic bag till it was "broken in". For Pete's sake just get on you saddle and ride no mater what kind it is.
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Old 07-16-05, 03:48 PM
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Originally Posted by linux_author
- i had a Brooks on my bike when i rode in SF in the 70s... the saddle will take some time to break in... when i got my saddle, i used 'SnoSeal' (a beeswax waterproofing compound) on the underside of the saddle and little on top (i rode in sun/rain and never otherwise protected the saddle)...

- road time is your friend when you break in your Brooks saddle, but the end result is worth it... i don't think there's a need for any drastic break-in methods though...
Oh I too agree it sounds drastic, I have a natural brown Team Pro on a titanium bike and I cut the sides to be more like a race style saddle and it looks very sharp; I just did the proofide and rode it alot. I didn't know if there was a different way that the new one could benefit from this other type of break in. I didn't read it here.
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Old 07-16-05, 04:09 PM
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Originally Posted by VeganRider
I didnt read this here so I will try to condense it: Put a very wet wash cloth on a new Brooks saddle near the rear most section where most of your weight will be, and leave it that way for a couple hours. Then knead the area where your sit bones will rest. Then go ride it for an hour or two. Repeat this process for the next few rides. Then when the saddle fits your anatomy stop and rub the surface with #000 steel wool till it starts to turn white, and put on leather dye. Then repeat a couple times leaving the last coat on overnight. Then rub in paste saddle soap. Then treat the underside with non hardening snow seal and a blow dryer to spread it. They claim the saddle is formed to begin with by using water and that oils and proofide will continue to migrate through the saddle causing the horn to become flaired out and causing chaffing. What do ya think? I have a new B17 narrow waiting for me.
Thats hardly the way to treat such a fine saddle. I broke in all my Brooks saddles simply by riding them. It's really the most enjoyable way.
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Old 07-16-05, 04:51 PM
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I'd be interested in pics of the saddle, personally ...
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Old 07-16-05, 04:59 PM
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Originally Posted by VeganRider
Oh I too agree it sounds drastic, I have a natural brown Team Pro on a titanium bike and I cut the sides to be more like a race style saddle and it looks very sharp; I just did the proofide and rode it alot. I didn't know if there was a different way that the new one could benefit from this other type of break in. I didn't read it here.
Titanium is cruel. Do you wear leather shoes?
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Old 07-16-05, 05:23 PM
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I just bought my first brooks so I am no expert. But a lot of folks on these threads talk about various means to break them in. They also compare the break in methods to baseball gloves or shoes - now THOSE I DO know about.

The fact is that a saddle can't just be brought to a perfectly broken-in point, at which it will stay. If Brooks owners talk about their saddles lasting a long time I'll bet it is partially due to the construction, but mostly to the thickness and durability of the leather. If you douse it, oil it, etc, you are just taking shortcuts, and thereby shortening its life. The proofhide is merely to treat the outer surface of the leather, which has been tanned already. That will protect it from the elements and repel some moisture.

People do all kinds of crazy stuff to baseball gloves to 'break them in' - soak them in oil, fold them in half, stuff them between mattresses, bake them in microwaves, etc. But if you look at major leaguers' gloves, they traditionally use very little or no oil, and spend a long slow time breaking in a new mitt by playing catch with them, throwing a ball into the pocket and using them in practice; In other words, just USING the glove for what it was intended.

Typically They would use one glove in games for a few years while breaking in a new one in Batting practice; by the time the game glove got too flimsy (and that is from use - the leather fibers wear out and the inner padding, etc weaken), the new mitt is sufficently molded to the player's hand and style of play (ie, where they like to 'feel ' the ball on their hand, how far in they stick their fingers, etc.) and could now replace the game glove. Then another brand new stiff model would begin getting broken in in practice.

The same should essentially be true of saddles; no oils etc, just get on and RIDE the thing till it likes your butt (and vice-versa).....and don't sit on anyone else's Brooks. Can you imagine wearing someone else's fine leather shoes that had been broken in to their feet?


Good quality leather has excellent 'memory' , meaning it will conform to the shape of the wearer.
Pro baseball players would also be very possessive about their gloves, preferring no one else put their hands in because it would rearrange the impressions in the leather. This wasn't a monetary concern (though players of old were obviously not as wealthy as today's pros) as much as worry over losing a glove customized to their needs, something which takes time, effort and a lot of love.....I think that comes thorugh in listening to Brooks owners. I loved breaking in my gloves the right way (I ruined a lot of gloves when I was younger, following all kinds of 'expert' advice on shortcuts) and I am looking forward to lots of happy miles with my new Brooks.



The "sweet spot" is where leather breaks in just right - but it will keep right on breaking down, so anything you do to hasten the process initially is only weakening the leather fibers. In my opinion you may succeed in reaching the sweet spot (then again maybe not if you stretch or damage the leather badly), but it will not last as long if the leather has been compromised by water or oils.

If you do nothing else, follow this advice - NO NEATSFOOT OIL!

I would think the best advice to follow is not stuff you read on threads or websites (and I've seen some doozies on taming a new brooks), but rather what the manufacturer says. That is what I plan to do.

I'll be sure to post my results.....in about twenty years

Last edited by pgoat; 07-16-05 at 05:36 PM.
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Old 07-16-05, 05:36 PM
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Originally Posted by Zen Existence
I'd be interested in pics of the saddle, personally ...
There is a guy on this site goes by the name "Fixer", he has posted pictures of the those he did and even how he went about it, that's how I got the nerve to cut mine. I used a dremel tool on mine. It's easier than it sounds and turned out perfect.
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Old 07-16-05, 07:13 PM
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Originally Posted by Robert Gardner
Brooks saddles do not need breaking in. It is your bottom that breaks in on any saddle.
Opinions seem to be very divided about this. I bought a Brooks B-17 roughly 800 miles ago, after reading endless raves about them. I am on my bike daily, commuting and errands, 25-40 miles, and on the weekends I usually do one or two longer rides of 40-60 miles, and if my bottom was going to do any breaking in to this saddle, I'd think it would be done by now.

The saddle is comfortable enough for about 20 miles; after that it becomes just as increasingly painful as the old saddle it replaced, and after a long ride my sit bones are sometimes actually sore for a day or two. I have yet to have one of those rides Brooks owners talk about where the seat simply disappears under them and they can ride a hundred miles without even thinking about it.

It may be that I'm one of the people the Brooks just isn't going to work for, and it's too bad, because it's a beautiful saddle and looks lovely on my vintage bike. I haven't given up on it yet, but I'm getting close. I bought it because I wanted to be able to ride longer distances with less discomfort, but I'd like that to be reasonably SOON, not two years from now.
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Old 07-16-05, 08:13 PM
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Originally Posted by primaryreality
I bought it because I wanted to be able to ride longer distances with less discomfort, but I'd like that to be reasonably SOON, not two years from now.
Don't give up hope yet. It takes awhile longer.

Here's what my well-broken-in (3000+ miles) "customized" Pro looks like:

Last edited by Wurm; 07-16-05 at 08:22 PM.
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Old 07-16-05, 08:58 PM
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Originally Posted by Wurm
Don't give up hope yet. It takes awhile longer.


Well, I'm planning on riding a century to celebrate my fiftieth birthday near the end of August, by which time I should have another thousand miles on the Brooks.....if it's not showing signs of improvement by then, I might have to buy myself a new saddle for my birthday. Surely that's a fair trial.

Jeez, it's running 105 degrees here these days; I'd think all the sweat I'm soaking into it would be softening it up some!
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Old 07-16-05, 09:06 PM
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Anyone who wants to see the results of putting any oil on a saddle just needs to come over. I bought it used and it smells like neetsfoot oil. Its also ruined. It sags and is unridable. Tightening the tension has only resulted in the leather tearing at the rivets.

Brooks saddles and oil don't mix well.
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Old 07-16-05, 09:15 PM
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My break-in method for a Brooks B17:
Install saddle. Ride. Smile.
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Old 07-16-05, 10:42 PM
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[QUOTE=Wurm]Don't give up hope yet. It takes awhile longer.

Here's what my well-broken-in (3000+ miles) "customized" Pro looks like:[/QUOTE

Your's looks great, I did the same to my Team Pro, natural honey brown, copper rails with oversized rivets, it sits on a bare ti Litespeed with no decals on the bike, yellow tires; looks very cool and gives the bike a classy look. I will never change it. Being seated on a Brooks is something I just don't think about.
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Old 07-16-05, 11:48 PM
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No matter what anyone tells you, if you use anything other then Proofide on your Brooks...your warranty is VOIDED! Brooks has been making saddles for over 100 years and they know more about their saddles and what to use on it then some yuk here or anywhere else.

I broke in my Swift without using Proofide and it took about 350 miles and another 150 to get really comfortable.

BUT, of course if the warranty doesn't mean a darn thing to you, and you could care less what might happen to your saddle, then do whatever you want to your saddle just don't come crying back here when it fails.
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Old 07-17-05, 05:54 AM
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Ok, I decided NOT to use the method I read about, and will just break it in the same standard way I did with my other one...
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Old 07-17-05, 07:23 AM
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Originally Posted by VeganRider

Your's looks great, I did the same to my Team Pro...
Thanks. Actually, after I trimmed it, I had to take about 5/8" off each side of the frame with a bench grinder, because I wanted the curve cut higher to accomodate my legs/glutes. (Notice how close the edge of the leather is to the first rivets at the back) It was rubbing in that area when it was stock. Since then, I've given it 1/3 of a turn on the tensioning nut, and it's been A-OK.
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Old 07-17-05, 11:34 PM
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Originally Posted by GrodyGeek
Anyone who wants to see the results of putting any oil on a saddle just needs to come over. I bought it used and it smells like neetsfoot oil. Its also ruined. It sags and is unridable. Tightening the tension has only resulted in the leather tearing at the rivets.

Brooks saddles and oil don't mix well.
sorry to hear that about your seat,

part of the problem is a lot of people throw out advice about oils, and some them will either clog the leather's pores or rot it outright. Some people used to tell me to use olive oil on my baseball gloves, for pete's sake...

Then again I used to use three-in-one oil on my chain.....
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