Brooks saddle break in

Discussion in 'Cycling Equipment' started by Neaudl, Jan 22, 2003.

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  1. Neaudl

    Neaudl Guest

    How long does it take to break in a Brooks saddle to your own shape? How long should one try it
    before giving up?

    L. D. Lide
     
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  2. Just Zis Guy

    Just Zis Guy Guest

    On 28 Dec 2002 21:51:54 GMT, [email protected] (NeauDL) wrote:

    >How long does it take to break in a Brooks saddle to your own shape? How long should one try it
    >before giving up?

    Depends on what you do with it. If you treat it with Proofide (both sides) and ride, ride, ride it
    will be comfortable within a couple of hundred miles, and very comfortable in under 500. That's
    comfy in two weeks and fully broken in in about a month for me, but since they last almost forever
    I've not had to put it to the test lately (only on my second in over 20 years, and the first one got
    wet in a bike shed with an unexpectedly leaky roof). If you use oil (Neat's foot or whatever) it
    will take shape sooner, but it may stretch into an odd shape, and if it does any warrantly may
    (will, probably) be void.

    You should give up if it's not comfortable after "a few hundred" miles
    - but before then you should check the fit of the bike. I know several women but very few men
    who have been failed by a Brooks saddle.

    HTH,

    Guy
    ===
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  3. NeauDL <[email protected]> wrote:

    > How long does it take to break in a Brooks saddle to your own shape? How long should one try it
    > before giving up?

    It depends... A Brooks B17 e.g. has thin hide and changes shape rather quickly (few hundred km). A
    Brooks Team Professional has thick hide and keeps its shape for several thousand km. These are my
    experiences from saddles treated with Proofide like Brooks recommends. When all that is said, I find
    a Brooks perfectly comfortable right out of the box. It's hard as a brick, but the shape is finde. I
    always wear padded shorts while riding longer distances, and without them, I probably would find a
    new Brooks somewhat hard. Are you uncomfortable? Try adjusting the saddle to a better position.
    Perhaps that's all it takes. It is also possible, that a Brooks doesn't suit you. In that case, you
    should try another saddle.
    --
    Henrik Münster Esbjerg Danmark
     
  4. Mgs

    Mgs Guest

    I tried a Brooks professional during the beginning of the season last year. I stuck it out for about
    700 miles.

    I tried everything, the Proofhide, beating it with a hammer, and even Sheldon Brown's soaking tip as
    a last attempt to make it comfortable.

    Nothing worked for my rear end.

    I went back to my Selle Italia prolink which was comfortable out of the box, and remains a pleasure
    to ride. I used it this summer during a rather lengthy trip where I did four consecutive centuries.

    I wonder why I suffered with the Brooks.

    Probably to find the religion that others have with this saddle.

    Unfortunately, I never saw the light.
     
  5. Just Zis Guy

    Just Zis Guy Guest

    On Sun, 29 Dec 2002 10:10:12 -0500, Tony Rentschler <[email protected]> wrote:

    >By the way, the Brooks B.17s are the only saddle I have found to be comfortable for rides of 30
    >miles or more. Even after rides of 60 miles, I just don't notice the saddle at all.

    This is the strength of the Brooks saddle, I think - on short rides all sorts of saddles can be
    fine, but for longer rides (and bear in mind that for me a "short" ride is 40 miles, 2 hours in the
    saddle) the B17 just has that indefinable extra something.

    >So, I opted for comfort.

    In the end, so did I - I now ride a bent to work :)

    Guy
    ===
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  6. Just Zis Guy

    Just Zis Guy Guest

    On Sun, 29 Dec 2002 15:51:55 GMT, "MGS" <[email protected]> wrote:

    >I wonder why I suffered with the Brooks. Probably to find the religion that others have with
    >this saddle.

    I think it's a bit like the Mac: it's not for everybody, but those it does suit, it suits perfectly.
    That tends to make for an almost religious zeal (in both cases) - not least because we are
    constantly told that we are either Luddites or loonies :-D

    Guy
    ===
    ** WARNING ** This posting may contain traces of irony. http://www.chapmancentral.com (BT ADSL and
    dynamic DNS permitting)
    NOTE: BT Openworld have now blocked port 25 (without notice), so old mail addresses may no longer
    work. Apologies.
     
  7. Tim McNamara

    Tim McNamara Guest

    In article <[email protected]>,
    "Just zis Guy, you know?" <[email protected]> wrote:

    > On Sat, 28 Dec 2002 23:34:44 GMT, [email protected] wrote:
    >
    > >Spare yourself the trouble. Brooks saddles are a religion for those who believe saddles should be
    > >leather. My last Brooks Professional lies cracked and worn out, hard as a rock, after thousands
    > >of miles of Proofide and all weather riding. When a large crack developed between the rear frame
    > >years ago I switched to Cinelli and then Avocet plastic shell saddles that are comfortable from
    > >the start.
    >
    > This can happen. I also know people who have tried many different varieties of plastic shell
    > saddle before eventually stumbling on the Brooks, and never gone back. No two arses are the same
    > shape, after all. I ride with a touring club and most of us are on Brooks B17 - and those that
    > aren't often have other leather saddles. This is not done out of religious conviction, but because
    > they are comfortable over the long haul.

    Ummm, with a little research you might find that Jobst is rather familiar with "the long haul."
    Check out his 1959 (the year I was born) Tour of the Alps report, in particular- a long-gone day
    when one could drop in on Mr. Cinelli and solve the melting glue problem with wooden rims.

    http://www-math.science.unitn.it/Bike/Countries/Europe/Tour_Reports/Tou r_of_the_Alps/

    http://www.bicyclinglife.com/Recreation/SierraSpring.htm

    http://www.bicyclinglife.com/Recreation/SierraSpring2000.htm

    Guy, your spelling and language suggests that you are a UK rider- the land where Brooks saddles are
    the norm rather than the exceptions they are here in the U.S. There really is a rather religious
    attitude towards Brooks saddles here. I find them fine and have Pros and B.17s on several of my
    bikes, but I also find the WTB SST saddle fine, as well as my Ritchey WCS turbo shaped saddle (good
    for 100 miles easily) and my Avocet Air O2 40M (what marketing flack came up with *that*?). I rode
    the latter this summer when I toured the Alps and had no discomfort whatsoever despite 10 hour days
    in the saddle.
     
  8. x

    x Guest

    RE/
    >How long does it take to break in a Brooks saddle to your own shape? How long should one try it
    >before giving up?

    Before giving up, check to see if it's fore-aft position is right for you.

    My experience was that with my long legs and big feet my body would find KOPS on it's own but my
    butt would then be way back on the rivets of the B-17 instead of where it belonged a couple
    inches forward.

    A super-swept-back seatpost (Titec HellBent) solved the problem for me. I'd still pay big bucks for
    a "B-17W" that would be an inch or 3/4" wider where my sit bones rest, but I'm getting along pretty
    well on the regular B-17 now that I've got the right position.

    The dents that my ichial tuberosities make are spaced 4.5" center-to-center.
    -----------------------
    Pete Cresswell
     
  9. x

    x Guest

    RE/
    > No two arses are the same shape,

    One thing I notice about the B-17 (and which probably applies to most leather saddles) is that it's
    effective width is a good half inch more than plastic saddles.

    Reason: plastic saddles have a reinforced area all along the outside edge and if your ichial
    tuberiosities are wide enough that they bear on that area it's a problem. OTOH, the entire width of
    a Brooks B-17 is usable.

    So people like me with marginal measurements see the B-17 as comfortable - but, IMHO, it's not all
    because of the conformity of leather, but in large part just because the thing is wide enough and
    plastic saddles that are wide enough are all in the "comfort" range - i.e. with way, way, way too
    much padding...so the B-17 is the only game in town..
    -----------------------
    Pete Cresswell
     
  10. On Mon, 13 Jan 2003 01:45:36 GMT, (Pete Cresswell) <[email protected]> wrote:
    > RE/
    > >How long does it take to break in a Brooks saddle to your own shape? How long should one try it
    > >before giving up?
    >
    > Before giving up, check to see if it's fore-aft position is right for you.
    >
    > My experience was that with my long legs and big feet my body would find KOPS on it's own but my
    > butt would then be way back on the rivets of the B-17 instead of where it belonged a couple inches
    > forward.

    Same here. So much so that I'm thinking of having a frame built with a 71-degree seattube angle.

    > A super-swept-back seatpost (Titec HellBent) solved the problem for me. I'd still pay big bucks
    > for a "B-17W" that would be an inch or 3/4" wider where my sit bones rest, but I'm getting along
    > pretty well on the regular B-17 now that I've got the right position.

    Another good post is the CLB that wallbike.com sells. Don't know how it compares to the Titec, but
    it looks a little bit more traditional (if that matters to folks). Only drawback is that the aero
    section requires at least 100mm of exposed post (top of seat lug/clamp to middle of rails).

    I *think* that there are some wider Brooks available sans springs. I'll check the wallbike.com site
    to see what's what.

    --
    Reasonable Facsimile is [email protected]
     
  11. Drew Knox

    Drew Knox Guest

    (Pete Cresswell) wrote in message ...
    >RE/
    >>How long does it take to break in a Brooks saddle to your own shape? How
    long should one try it before giving up?

    Pete, here is article that Bill and I penned some years ago on how to speed up the breakin period of
    leather saddles. HTH

    Put Saddle Sores Behind You By Bill Boston and Drew Knox

    The first thing to do is go out and buy a brand new Brooks Pro saddle! And when the salesman asks if
    you want Proofhide, tell him wear to rub it. I recommend Brooks Pro because you want a leather
    saddle that is not extensively pre-treated. My personal preference runs towards the looks and
    leather of the Team Pro with the large rivets.

    Put the saddle on the bike in the proper position. The nose should be about flat or parallel to the
    ground. After it is set up, put a damp washcloth on the rear part of the saddle about an hour before
    you go for a ride. Make sure that it is about 2 to 3 inches in front of the rear-most part of the
    saddle in the area where most of your weight will rest. The cloth should be damp but not so soaking
    wet that it drenches your bike. Then, just before you ride, take your thumbs and knead the area
    where your ischial will hit in order to start softening the leather. Ride an hour or two, with the
    washcloth OFF. (Don’t laugh, I saw a guy riding down the road leaving a dripping trail, thinking,
    “Damn, this thing’s comfortable already!”)

    Repeat this procedure of dampening and riding for five or six rides until the saddle has noticeable
    indentations and has taken on a curve that looks like a three- or four- year old, well-ridden
    saddle. All you are trying to do is mold the leather, which is something you can’t do with a plastic
    saddle unless you have a mighty hot set of buns.

    When your seat fits your anatomy, stop! Now that your saddle fits, you don’t want it to absorb any
    more water because it will continue to change shape. Here’s how you seal it: First, expose the pores
    on the top of the saddle by rubbing the leather with a triple-ought steel wool until the top turns
    white. If you want a custom-colored saddle, now is the time. Select any leather dye - not shoe
    polish - which comes in a variety of colors. The idea is to fill up the pores with the new dye,
    which will last longer than the original and keep the water out. Lightly scrub with the steel wool
    between coats, and then allow the last coat to dry before buffing with a shoe brush and a cloth. Let
    the saddle dry overnight, then rub in paste saddle soap and brush off the excess. Remember to not
    wear light colored clothes as the excess dye will wear off for a while. It will stop wearing off
    faster than the dye that came on the saddle.

    Let me take a moment to make an urgent appeal: do not oil your saddle. Oil will allow the saddle to
    continue to change its shape. Eventually the horn of the saddle, which should be very hard, will
    soften and spread and chafe. The leather is formed by wetting and shaping it over a form. The
    tanning agents, which stiffen the leather, are broken down and softened by the oil. Wetting the
    rear of the saddle with water allows that area to be remolded while the front part of the saddle
    remains stiff. You can’t do that with oil because you can’t stop the migration of oil through the
    porous leather.

    Now, to finish sealing your saddle coat the underside with a non-softening snow-seal. Paste it
    on underneath the saddle and use a hair dryer to warm and spread it. Also bee’s wax or paraffin
    will work.

    Finally, take precautions to keep rain off your saddle by using a shower cap, baggie, or cheap
    plastic cover when not riding. Your fanny will do fine as a rain protector while you are riding.
    You will find that your riding shorts will act as a very efficient buffer, polishing your seat
    to a smooth, high luster. You will also have an extremely comfortable saddle that will give
    years of service.

    NOTE: This article first appeared in DOUBLETALK, the newsletter of the Tandem Club of America.
    These ideas are not those of Wheelsmith, its employees or the Brooks saddle company. We
    cannot guarantee any results you may have following Bill Boston’s instructions. Proceed at
    your own risk. However, many of us have successfully used these procedures, including John
    Howard who referred the article to us in the mid ’70’s. To some extent these procedures
    further convince many of us to stick to modern, low maintenance saddles!
     
  12. x

    x Guest

    RE/
    >Same here. So much so that I'm thinking of having a frame built with a 71-degree seattube angle.

    Ping me in a couple of weeks.

    I've been waiting about six months for a local custom frame builder to make me a hard tail that puts
    my butt where it belongs without a setback post.

    I SB riding it by next week.

    I'm not real hopeful based on the feeling that *anything* custom is problematic in that there
    haven't been umpteen prototypes to get the bugs out.

    My expectation is that it'll lose the very light front end and probably feel somewhat less
    maneuverable because of it's longer wheelbase. Beyond that, I'm just hoping it won't be *too*
    bad.... All I want it for is "sort-of" road riding...i.e. mainly paved or hardpack surfaces, but
    with the ability to go where needed when needed to avoid motorized traffic and take to the
    grass/shoulder when necessary.
    -----------------------
    Pete Cresswell
     
  13. (Pete Cresswell) <[email protected]> wrote:
    >Guy:
    >>No two arses are the same shape,
    >One thing I notice about the B-17 (and which probably applies to most leather saddles) is that it's
    >effective width is a good half inch more than plastic saddles. Reason: plastic saddles have a
    >reinforced area all along the outside edge

    And the B-17's outside edge is further away, anyway. However, ISTR that Guy (like me) rides
    a B-17N...
    --
    David Damerell <[email protected]> Kill the tomato!
     
  14. Bfd

    Bfd Guest

    "(Pete Cresswell)" <[email protected]> wrote in message news:<[email protected]>...
    > RE/
    > > No two arses are the same shape,
    >
    > One thing I notice about the B-17 (and which probably applies to most leather saddles) is that
    > it's effective width is a good half inch more than plastic saddles.
    >
    > Reason: plastic saddles have a reinforced area all along the outside edge and if your ichial
    > tuberiosities are wide enough that they bear on that area it's a problem. OTOH, the entire width
    > of a Brooks B-17 is usable.
    >
    > So people like me with marginal measurements see the B-17 as comfortable - but, IMHO, it's not all
    > because of the conformity of leather, but in large part just because the thing is wide enough and
    > plastic saddles that are wide enough are all in the "comfort" range - i.e. with way, way, way too
    > much padding...so the B-17 is the only game in town..
    > -----------------------
    Have you looked into an Avocet saddle? Avocet sells its O2 Air40 saddle in a variety of widths,
    including one marketed as a "women's saddle" (that can be ridden by men), which has a width of 7.0
    inches wide, compared to 5.6 inches wide for its racing version and 6.3 inches for its "men's"
    version. According to Sheldon Brown's excellent site, the Brook B17 saddles has a width of only
    170mm or 6.69 inches or a bit LESS than the Avocet. Further, Avocet saddles have a nice narrow nose
    and are not overly padded. For more see here: http://www.avocet.com/saddlefeatures/o2sadfea.html
     
  15. x

    x Guest

    RE/
    >Have you looked into an Avocet saddle? Avocet sells its O2 Air40 saddle in a variety of widths,
    >including one marketed as a "women's saddle" (that can be ridden by men), which has a width of 7.0
    >inches wide, compared to 5.6 inches wide for its racing version and 6.3 inches for its "men's"
    >version. According to Sheldon Brown's excellent site, the Brook B17 saddles has a width of only
    >170mm or 6.69 inches

    No, but I am going to ASAP.

    Avocet's web site is kind of frustrating: can't find a halfway-descriptive picture.

    But my saddle collection can always use a new member and I guess I'll have to give the women's 02
    Air40 a try.

    My guess would be that it's effective width will turn out to be slightly less than the Brooks'
    because the Avocet would need a re-inforced area around the edge of the saddle which won't be
    sit-bone-friendly, reducing the saddles usable width by somewhere between a half inch and an inch.

    Just roughly eyballing two of my unused saddles, I see on the Bella Gella an overall width of 180mm
    but an effective/usable width of about 140mm. Likewise on a Terry that measures 170mm, the usable
    (i.e. compliant) width looks to be around 120mm.
    -----------------------
    Pete Cresswell
     
  16. Bfd

    Bfd Guest

    "(Pete Cresswell)" <[email protected]> wrote in message news:<[email protected]>...
    > Avocet's web site is kind of frustrating: can't find a halfway-descriptive picture.
    >
    > But my saddle collection can always use a new member and I guess I'll have to give the women's 02
    > Air40 a try.
    >
    > My guess would be that it's effective width will turn out to be slightly less than the Brooks'
    > because the Avocet would need a re-inforced area around the edge of the saddle which won't be
    > sit-bone-friendly, reducing the saddles usable width by somewhere between a half inch and an inch.
    >
    I agree that Avocet should post some better pictures of their saddles, however, here are a few
    websites of a couple of different "women's" saddle sold by Avocet: Avocet O240 http://www.coloradoc-
    yclist.com/common/products/viewfullimage_v2.cfm?CGRFNBR=529&File=/images/products/full/avokbccba03.-
    jpg&Description=AVOCET%20O2%20Air%2040%20Women%27s%20Saddle%2DSteel or here: http://www.excelsports-
    .com/new.asp?page=8&description=O2+Air+Titanium+Womens+Saddle&vendorCode=AVOCET&major=1&minor=18
    also: Avocet Gelflex: http://www.lickbike.com/i0981100.htm
     
  17. Tim McNamara

    Tim McNamara Guest

    In article <[email protected]>, "(Pete Cresswell)" <[email protected]> wrote:

    > My guess would be that it's effective width will turn out to be slightly less than the Brooks'
    > because the Avocet would need a re-inforced area around the edge of the saddle which won't be
    > sit-bone-friendly, reducing the saddles usable width by somewhere between a half inch and an inch.

    Not my experience with the Men's version.

    The Brooks saddle has a metal "skeleton" under the back curve of the saddle which, if the leather is
    too soft, is all too perceptible and substantially reduces the flexible portion of the saddle. The
    stiffer the leather, IME, the less this is an issue. Oversoftening Brooks saddles creates a number
    of problems and this is one of them.

    The Avocet seems to be useable right out to the edge- although I find that with the width comes some
    risk of chafing at the outer edge of the chamois. I found it quite good for rides up to 10-12 hours.
     
  18. Baka Dasai

    Baka Dasai Guest

    On Mon, 13 Jan 2003 14:02:07 -0500, drew knox said (and I quote):

    > Your fanny will do fine as a rain protector while you are riding.

    But at traffic lights your saddle will get soaked.
    --
    Baka Dasai Bingo!
     
  19. Baka Dasai wrote:
    > On Mon, 13 Jan 2003 14:02:07 -0500, drew knox said (and I quote):
    >
    >
    >>Your fanny will do fine as a rain protector while you are riding.
    >
    >
    > But at traffic lights your saddle will get soaked.

    Not if you use a rain cape.

    Sheldon "Rolling Tent" Brown +------------------------------------------------+
    | The whole aim of politics is to keep the | populace alarmed and hence clamorous to be | led to
    | safety by menacing it with an endless | series of hobgoblins, all of them imaginary. |
    | - H.L. Mencken |
    +------------------------------------------------+ Harris Cyclery, West Newton, Massachusetts Phone
    617-244-9772 FAX 617-244-1041 http://harriscyclery.com Hard-to-find parts shipped Worldwide
    http://captainbike.com http://sheldonbrown.com
     
  20. Sheldon Brown <[email protected]> wrote:
    >Baka Dasai wrote:
    >>But at traffic lights your saddle will get soaked.

    The idea that a Brooks cannot tolerate any water at all is absurd; on a hot day, it is subjected to
    quite a lot of warm, salty water.

    >Not if you use a rain cape.

    Although it is unfortunate that so few battery lights now mount on the fork crown or forks. I have
    been forced to fit a zipper into the front of my cape to accommodate a SpaceGrip that rises from my
    handlebars and has my headlights mounted on it.
    --
    David Damerell <[email protected]> Kill the tomato!
     
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