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  1. #1
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    Brooks Saddle: Is Proofide necessary?

    Yes, I know I need a leather conditioner to protect and help break in my new B17. But, do I have to use Proofide or is there something else as good or better. I have heard of neetsfoot oil be used. I really want to protect my investment, so I am looking for the best product. Also, any tips for breaking it in? I know this thing is hard as a rock now, but having seen and ridden other tensioned leather saddles that are older than me, I know they become very comfy. Thanks.

  2. #2
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    Quote Originally Posted by bikerboy
    Yes, I know I need a leather conditioner to protect and help break in my new B17. But, do I have to use Proofide or is there something else as good or better. I have heard of neetsfoot oil be used. I really want to protect my investment, so I am looking for the best product. Also, any tips for breaking it in? I know this thing is hard as a rock now, but having seen and ridden other tensioned leather saddles that are older than me, I know they become very comfy. Thanks.
    Proofide is just a conditioner for the leather to increase the life of the saddle. It's not necessarily going to speed up the break-in process. The only thing that will speed up the break in process is riding the saddle. The more your ride, the faster it will break in.

    As for alternates to Proofide, I would imagine any product for conditioning leather would suffice, but Proofide is pretty cheap - $6.25 for a tin that will last at least a year. http://www.permaco.com/en-us/dept_30.html

  3. #3
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    The messenger.

    Shoot me, but I and others break in Brooks saddles like a cowboy breaks in new boots. Immerse the seat (mounted to the post and out of the bike) in a large enough container of warm water for awhile. Mount and ride for an hour or longer. Apply a good helping of proofhide once in a while thereafter. A tin of proofhide lasts my fleet longer than a year.

    This method doesn't do anything other than make breaking in a Brooks saddle a one day affair, instead of a month or more of trying.
    A bike by any other name is still a bike.

  4. #4
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bigwheel
    Shoot me, but I and others break in Brooks saddles like a cowboy breaks in new boots. Immerse the seat (mounted to the post and out of the bike) in a large enough container of warm water for awhile. Mount and ride for an hour or longer. Apply a good helping of proofhide once in a while thereafter. A tin of proofhide lasts my fleet longer than a year.

    This method doesn't do anything other than make breaking in a Brooks saddle a one day affair, instead of a month or more of trying.
    How long do you soak the saddle in the warm water?

  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by bikerboy
    How long do you soak the saddle in the warm water?
    Until it is a little bit soft to the touch, like about 5 minutes or so in warm, as in hot tapwater, not boiling hot water. If you didn't do it enough you will feel it right away in the form of resistance/hardness in the saddle. Soak some more until when you sit on it it feels soft(er).
    A bike by any other name is still a bike.

  6. #6
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    Cool, thanks for the tip.

  7. #7
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    There are several ways to "break in" a Brooks saddle.... BUT .... there is only ONE that is recommended by the makers of the saddles.

    That is, to apply a coating of Proofide to the top and bottom of the saddle when new, and then ride it.

    Other coats can be applied during the break-in period if required, but only to the top of the leather.

    Brooks DO NOT recommend any other way.

    These guys have been making the saddles for over 100 years. They ought to know what is best for the leather by now, don't you think?

    if you really want to protect your investment, then follow the makers instructions.

    R.

  8. #8
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    I doubt that Justin recommends that someone puts their new boots on and stands in the watering trough for awhile either....but that has been done now for over 100 years.

    So what happens to a Brooks saddle when it is ridden in the rain or worse yet left out in it? Like none have ever experienced that phenomenom? Being from England and all that. Sorry old chap I can't ride today because I don't want to get my Brooks saddle wet.....Oops there's a water crossing, have to shoulder the olde bike because I don't want to get my Brooks wet

    Leather has the ability to recover from being wet, the benefit that it gets from being wet is it becomes more pliable and after it drys, which it will do naturally in a dry environment, it retains somewhat its shape that it was moulded to when pliable. The key to breaking in a Brooks is getting your sit bone pockets established and wetting and riding the saddle accelerates that process.

    Look at it this way, do you think that Brooks moulds their saddles into shape from dry leather to begin with or by impregnating it with Proofhide? I doubt it. Or else why would they tell the end user to apply Proofhide to it right away if it was already impregnated with it? I bet you that somewhere in the process water is involved and not cold water either.
    A bike by any other name is still a bike.

  9. #9
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    I agree that leather can recover from being wet if given the time to dry out.

    However, what I am saying is that if the makers of the Brooks saddles recommend that Proofide is the only thing that you should put on your new saddle to waterproof the leather and to help it 'break in', does it not then make sense to follow their recommendations in order to achieve the best end result as far as the longevity of the product goes?

    I have no problems at all with those owners who want to 'shortcut' the breaking-in period by soaking their saddle in warm water to soften the leather enough to make it more pliable, but if this were the best way to achieve the break in, do you not think that Brooks would recommend it to their customers???

    I'm on my third Brooks saddle, and have just ordered a fourth. Each one of these were broken in by the recommended Brooks method.

    However, if you or anyone else wants to use a different method to break in your Brooks, that is entirely up to you or the individual owner.

    I'll stick to what the makers of the saddle recommend.


    R.

  10. #10
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    For more years than I care to remember I've broken in baseball gloves with the water method and I've never seen Rawlings, Spalding, Wison or any of the other glove manfacturers endorse it. Maybe it has to do with the fact that they all sell glove oil ?
    Proofide is a Brooks product isn't it?

  11. #11
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    The "quick and easy method" ...

    What you guys are missing out on here is the all the wonderful tradition and pride which comes in doing it "the right way"... not to mention the pain...although I never experienced much of this when breaking in my saddles.

    Too many things nowdays are like this, people just take the short and easy way out of things, irrespective of whether it is right or not..the "instant gratification gotta have it right now" trend.

    Where is the pride of ownership and the knowledge that you have a product which is hand made by leather craftsmen going back over a century....where does that come in?

    I look at my Brooks and think..yep, I broke that in myself over many miles and now it fits me like a glove. I remember all those miles with pride and joy. I wouldn't ever want to cheat myself out of all that sweat and enjoyment...

    Proofide? .. yes, I guess that Brooks make it and earn a small amount of profit from that sideline. However, when you consider how long a tin lasts, it wouldn't be much profit.

    I guess that the "bottom line" of this discussion comes down to simply this:

    Does soaking your new Brooks leather saddle in warm water and then riding on it whilst still soaking wet hurt the leather and cut down it's effective life to any noticeable extent?

    If not, then this method of breaking in the saddle is a good one.

    On the other hand, if this method does cut down the leathers effective life, and / or makes the leather deteriorate in any way so as to reduce the lifetime or pliability / quality of the product, then we should stick to the makers recommendations.

    What do you think?


    R.

  12. #12
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    I think you need to go here http://www.brookssaddles.com/brooksengland.html and take the factory tour to see the "hand" making process that Brooks uses. I especially like the one of the guy beating on one with a bfh. Some impressive tats on that one dudes arms also.

    One more time. So if any Brooks saddle gets wet at any time the saddles life expectancy is in danger? Not in my experience and I am sure in many others. You dry the saddle out and apply some more proofhide as necessary and the saddles life goes on and on and on. The biggest enemy of a Brooks is to allow it to get too dry as it will start to crack and crackle rendering it worthless.

    Another bad thing you can do to a Brooks saddle is to lend one out on an extended basis on a bike to someone that doesn't know enough to look after one. Which has happened to me twice now. But won't again.
    Last edited by Bigwheel; 05-28-2005 at 06:18 PM.
    A bike by any other name is still a bike.

  13. #13
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    Oh yeah, he's got some nice ink... been there and seen all that..

    .......And your point is?

    [ *edit* oooops...you added some more... ]


    I guess that we shall have to agree to disagree. I tend to be a traditionalist and a romantic, which means that I value the traditional methods of breaking in the saddle with your butt over many miles.

    I agree that there are other methods which may have merit like the water or oil immersion treatment, but these are not for me.

    I prefer that which has been handed down from Brooks, from father to son over the years.



    R.
    Last edited by Rainman; 05-28-2005 at 06:27 PM.

  14. #14
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    I think you make an excellent point. I want this saddle to last a lifetime, which Im sure it will if I do it right. My typical ride lasts only 10-12 miles, so how much pain can I expect? Probably not enough to stop riding the saddle before it is broken in.

  15. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by bikerboy
    I think you make an excellent point. I want this saddle to last a lifetime, which Im sure it will if I do it right. My typical ride lasts only 10-12 miles, so how much pain can I expect? Probably not enough to stop riding the saddle before it is broken in.

    Some people experience very little to no pain at all, especially the heavier riders, as the leather seems to conform faster with more weight on it..

    For others, it depends. The leather itself can vary slightly, and the amount of tension, thickness, grain, treatment, etc..etc all have a bearing on the amount of time it takes to break in.

    Mine usually take about a month but I have had one break in over a couple of weeks once.

    Generally, it depends on the amount of riding / saddle-time you put in. My last B.17 was very comfy right out of the box, but the one before that which I used on a hard tail bike took about 2 months to be really good.

    Whichever method that you decide to use, I doubt that you will ever want to go back to the plastic seats that are now the trend. I love my Brooks..


    R.

  16. #16
    When did you get here?!?!
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    My saddle thanks me...

    My new, out of the box team pro was installed and used for about 200 miles without prrofide. However, once I put some on, top and bottom, it softened up quite a bit. There are all sorts of other ways to break the saddle in, but I just went, more or less, with the brooks reccommended way.
    I also have a 20+ year old saddle that had lots of cracks. I applied two or three coats and it looks and feels much better now.
    Also, remember that Brooks are made in England. Does it rain in England? oh yeah.
    ~E

  17. #17
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    I weigh 240, so I guess that should help me break this saddle in a little faster. I know this saddle is going to look sweet on my early 80s Cinelli road bike with mustache bars. If this ends up being as comfortable as everybody says, I may have to suck it up and put one of these on my new full suspension bike as well. I guess there's no reason that old world and new school can't harmonize, right?

  18. #18
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    My Brooks

    Quote Originally Posted by bikerboy
    I weigh 240, so I guess that should help me break this saddle in a little faster. I know this saddle is going to look sweet on my early 80s Cinelli road bike with mustache bars. If this ends up being as comfortable as everybody says, I may have to suck it up and put one of these on my new full suspension bike as well. I guess there's no reason that old world and new school can't harmonize, right?
    Hey I've got a Brooks Team-Pro on my FS Ellsworth - to hell with what folks think. And I've got a B17 on my hardtail. Note that the B17 seems to break in easier than the Team-Pro. By the way I've lived in England and Belgium and can confirm that it rains there and that Brooks saddles do not turn to mush in the damp climates. I'd also reiterate something posted here earlier - Brooks has been making saddles for way more than a century now. I figure they know the best way to treat their products and I follow their suggestions, at least conceptually. Who knows how they make money given that their products, both the saddles and the little tin of proofide, last so long

  19. #19
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    Quote Originally Posted by bikerboy
    I weigh 240, so I guess that should help me break this saddle in a little faster. I know this saddle is going to look sweet on my early 80s Cinelli road bike with mustache bars. If this ends up being as comfortable as everybody says, I may have to suck it up and put one of these on my new full suspension bike as well. I guess there's no reason that old world and new school can't harmonize, right?

    No reason at all, actually..
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  20. #20
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    One word for leather treatment

    Lanolin.
    "The man is richest whose pleasures are the cheapest" Henry David Thoreau (obviously a single speeder)

    "...everytime you throw something away your load gets lighter..."

  21. #21
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    Are those On-One Mary bars? How do you like them? What do you like about them?

  22. #22
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    Quote Originally Posted by datako
    Lanolin.
    Proofide ingredients: Tallow, Cod oil, Vegetable oil, Parafin wax, Beeswax, Citronella oil.


    R.

  23. #23
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    Quote Originally Posted by bikerboy
    Are those On-One Mary bars? How do you like them? What do you like about them?
    Yes, they are On One Mary bars which I am currently testing on the VT.

    Read my review here..

    Mary shall rule the world!

    So far, I like Mary a lot.


    R.
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  24. #24
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    quick question aout your seat angle, rainman. i've noticed oodles of folks posting pics of their bike setup, and it always intrigues me when i see a saddle angled down, such as yours. the bike on the homepage of brooks also shows the saddle sloped downward, though much more so. what's the reasoning behind that setup? in my experience, i need the nose angled just slightly up. if it's angled down, even just a bit, i feel like all my weight is sliding toward the front end. i'm not knocking yours or anyone else's setup, i'm just curious.

    the_dude
    "Melancholy is incompatible with bicycling" ~James E. Starrs

  25. #25
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    I started off with my Brooks set level [horizontal] and found that when I was breaking it in there was some pressure on my 'taint' which is not a good thing for men. It can cause your ability to produce children to be impaired..

    SO I tilted it down gradually, a quarter of a degree or so at a time, [Thomson seatpost micro adjustment lets you do this] until it felt comfy and there was no pressure or discomfort and all my weight was on my sit-bones. [ That saddle angle you see in the pic is slightly exaggerated by the sloping ground.]

    [ Usually though, the very downwards tilted front only applies to road racing type bicycle saddles where the rider is down on the bottom part of the curved bars a lot, and is leaning forward a lot more than mountain bikers do in order to decrease wind resistance.]

    Of course, saddle settings are also affected by the height of your bars and how you prefer to ride..etc..etc.. That particular setup in the pics is very comfortable for me.

    I have found that with the On One Mary bars I tend to sit slightly more upright than with the Easton Monkey Lite, but I havn't adjusted the saddle angle because I may go back to the low rise bars if the Mary doesn't suit my riding.

    So far though, the Mary bars and the Brooks are getting along very well together..

    R.

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