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Brooks or leather saddles

Old 07-18-02, 03:05 AM
  #1  
Terence
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Brooks or leather saddles

I owned an Ideale leather sadle on a past touring bike and loved it. Unfortunatly the bike was stolen after 13 years of owner ship and one time of not locking it (aaahh!!!). That is o.k. because I purchased a Trek 520 in 2000 and it is the ultimate. Anyhow, back to the original subject.

Leather saddles are the best. The arguement with them is that they take so long to break in. Well, I just purchased a Brooks B-17, and the owner of the shop that I purchased the 520 from gave me a hot tip. It is that the saddle will be almost automatically broken in if it is soaked in neatsfoot oil for one week, totally submerged, then, let it hang for another week and viola! Man! what a ride. I took it out and rode 60 miles,fully loaded in one day, and had no soreness! Magic! The Ideale saddle which I mentioned earlier( the company is now defunct {French}) took me at least three weeks to get broken in.

I encourage everyone to switch. leather saddles break in to ones personal anatomy and become indispensible.
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Old 07-18-02, 06:37 PM
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Neatsfoot Oil?
The good folks at rivendell advise against using too much of any leather conditioner on brooks saddles - you can break down the leather and make it too soft.
I too, had an Ideale for years until one of the rails broke- i replaced it with a Brooks and have never been happier with a saddle. I haven't treated it with anything yet, just ridden it a lot.
I would be extremely cautious about ruining my investment in my brooks saddle by using too much neatsfoot oil!
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Old 07-18-02, 06:48 PM
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I have always used a good saddle soap, such as Brooks ProofHide. I have 30-year-old Brooks saddles, one with over 40k miles of my own riding, on two of my three road bikes. When riding in the rain, protect the bottom of your saddle, either with mudguards or a plastic bag.
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Old 07-19-02, 01:12 PM
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Originally posted by skookum
Neatsfoot Oil?
The good folks at rivendell advise against using too much of any leather conditioner on brooks saddles - you can break down the leather and make it too soft.
I too, had an Ideale for years until one of the rails broke- i replaced it with a Brooks and have never been happier with a saddle. I haven't treated it with anything yet, just ridden it a lot.
I would be extremely cautious about ruining my investment in my brooks saddle by using too much neatsfoot oil!
The folks at Revendell are correct. Too much oil is NOT good for leather and once you saturate the leather with too much oil, it doesn't repair itself.

Don't soak your saddle with oil.

Look, some people think I am nuts, but I worked with leather for many years and can assure you that my advise is sound;

Good leather saddles like Brooks saddles are tanned with a process called vegetable tanning. It produces the stiff yet silky leather that can be wetted and tooled. It is formed to fit the saddle hardware by wetting with water and then molding.

If you want a shortcut to fitting a leather saddle to your body, do what the saddle maker does. Get the saddle wet - really wet. Dunk it in water for a couple minutes. Then, go for a long ride - a couple of hours. The leather will mold to your bone structure.

If it is not perfect the next day, repeat the process.

When it is perfect, THEN preserve it with a non-solvent based leather protector. My choice is "Sno-Seal" which is a mix of neatsfoot oil and bees wax. Put it on and put the saddle in the sun so that the mix heats up, melts, and is absorbed into the leather.

Trust me folks, I wouldn't lead you astray when it comes to the sacred leather saddle. I love 'em too much.
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Old 07-19-02, 05:43 PM
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Terence
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Hey there all,

I really appreciate all the replies which I recieved to my very first posting on this site.! I have been looking for an interactive venue where I can banter around ideas and such.

As far as the possibility of me possibly ruining my saddle, well we'll just have to wait and see. The person which I mentioned as advising me, has never steered me wrong, an literally sems consumate in his knowledge of bicycles. I would like to keep adding to this thread periodically to let you all know if there is any breakdown in the leather.

Thanks again.

Terence
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Old 07-19-02, 11:49 PM
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A Brooks leather saddle came standard on my 1965 Schwinn Continental. I called it the ass-hatchet.
All my bike seats before it were padded and sprung. It was a killer until I broke it in. But I didn't know anything about breaking in. I thought I had just gotten tougher. Ah, memories.

Tom
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Old 07-20-02, 10:39 PM
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For those of us who have already potentially damaged our Brooks leather saddles with neatsfoot oil.....it's like oiling a fine piece of furniture. Once it is oiled, it's oiled forever.

I read....and am going to try...warming the saddle while it is dipped in neatsfoot.....in the past it has softened the saddle a little. This time,however, I am taking the advise of the 'water' method man in this thread......I am riding the warmed, oiled saddle immediately and looking to promote a better fit.

If I ruin the saddle.....I'll get another and try the 'water' method. Am kicking myself....long before I was a rider, I was a leathersmith....and never thought about shaping with water. Am feeling a little 'duh' right now.

Peter
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Old 08-09-02, 08:58 AM
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Terence

I wish all these people who tell others to use oil on their brooks saddle would read the directions first !
Oil breaks down the saddle and besides who wants oil leaching into their riding shorts.

Proofhide is used on a brooks saddle.

Ride safe and oily I guess......Dudley
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Old 08-10-02, 09:40 PM
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Bikinguy:

You are absolutely correct. Next Brooks ( on order now ) will see no oil. Current oily version is doing quite well...gets more comfortable every ride. I know it will probably reduce the life of the saddle, hence the order for the new one.........as for the oily shorts problem - I always thought that is why they made them black.

I, too, will be advising Sheldon Brown and his oily ilk to buy stock in Proofhide....

Peter
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Old 08-12-02, 01:38 PM
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I have deleted my original reply because I realized it may have been misunderstood as taking issue with prior replies. It was not. It was aimed at the sometimes questionable advice we sometimes get from LBS personnel and acquaintances, however well-intentioned.
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Old 08-15-02, 11:53 PM
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I had a leather saddle, which was hard as a rock. I tried for a long time time to "break it in," and it broke me.

I was about to throw it away, when I decided to put it into a bottle of neatsfoot oil inside a plastic bag. I hung it in a tree for a week (and had to retreive it from the garbage, as my Mom had thrown it away).

Well, I took it out, put it on the bike, and rode it. Wow, what a difference; it fit, and broke in beautifully. It did finally rot and tear, but that was about 15 years later. It gave me great service, and I think I contributed by trying to tighten the saddle with the adjusting nut.

Anyway, if the saddle is already in oil, simply start using it. Absorb the oil out of it, by rubbing and by wearing older shorts, and simply continue to use it. Factory recommendations aside, I don't think you'll have problems with it. The break-in period without oil could be 500+ miles (not smiles either). With water, it may be shorter, but probably not as short as the oil.

If oil is so bad, they why is it regularly used on boots? My smokejumping boots nearly killed me before I started using oil on them, and they would have been ruined in fires without it. I even resorted to steak grease for my boots when they dried out too much on a fire in Alaska. One of the Afagaskin Indians I was working with said, "That's great for the boots, but what are you going to do about the bears..." But then, that's not a bicycling story.

John

PS--I still have the boots, vintage 1972 Whites.
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Old 08-18-02, 12:13 AM
  #12  
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I forgot to mention a second leather saddle that I currently have. In the 1980's I found it in a LBS, where I bought it for almost nothing. It was hard as a rock, and I broke it in by soaking it for a few days in oil, then putting it onto my Schwinn Airdyne and riding it on the exercise bicycle for about a month (~500 miles).

I still have that saddle, and don't know the brand (it's not a Brooks). It's pretty narrow, and has a metal piece in the center of it to keep it's narrow shape.

My son borrowed it for a few years, then gave it back to me when he discovered the modern saddles. I now have it on my Schwinn LeTour, and it's still in great shape.

John
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Old 09-01-02, 08:58 PM
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OK....I've done it. Have got a new Brooks B-17 and am breaking it in per Brooks instructions. A little Proofide.....and little riding....and it is getting to look more and more like my ass (in reverse, of course) every day.

Today I rode first long ride - 100 miles - on the saddle with very little discomfort. Another few rides and it will be the custom leather saddle we have heard so much about.

And...no oil....I have noticed that this Brooks (B-17) is made of thinner leather that the previous 'Pro' model and arrived already more malleable. It may only last 10 - 15 years instead of the 20+ for the 'thicker' models....but for the quick break in, I'll make do with 10 -15 years of comfort and then start again.

Peter
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Old 09-01-02, 09:20 PM
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Terence

I wish all these people who tell others to use oil on their brooks saddle would read the directions first !
Oil breaks down the saddle and besides who wants oil leaching into their riding shorts.

Proofhide is used on a brooks saddle.

Ride safe and oily I guess......Dudley
In our house, a popular food item is Kraft macaroni & cheese. Some folks would say you should make it according to the directions on the box, but we don't.

The Official Directions say to boil the water, cook the pasta, then add the cheese packet and...Kraft Parkay margarine.

Well, when it comes to this last step, that's where we recklessly break the rules. We don't buy Kraft Parkay margarine. Instead, we use Land o' Lakes butter.

Some may not believe me, but it actually comes out fine, even though we are not following the manufacturer's directions!

Sheldon "Sells Tons Of Proofide, But Still Uses Neatsfoot Oil On His Own Saddles" Brown
Code:
+--------------------------------------------------+
|   If you find yourself standing to accelerate,   |
|   on level ground, it is a sign that your gear   |
|   is too high, or that your saddle is too low.   |
|    See: https://sheldonbrown.com/standing.html    |
+--------------------------------------------------+
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Old 09-02-02, 08:40 AM
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Well, I am with Sheldon about using Land-O-Lakes butter instead of margerine. So, I join Sheldon and his band of macaroni and cheese outlaws - breaking the rules with reckless abandonment.
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Old 09-02-02, 06:35 PM
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Sheldon and Mike.......

Are you guys nuts? SHELDON makes the rules.....SHELDON is the reason my first Brooks hit the neatsfoot....

Sorry, Sheldon.....you've been a rebel so long you have taken over big chunks of 'bike info land' on the internet. When a rebel is right enough of the time and keeps at it......he/she becomes the....sorry....authority.

Peter
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Old 09-11-02, 05:52 PM
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My brooks leather saddle was great over 1000 miles touring. Took a while to mould but was very comfortable.
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