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Bicycle Travel => Gear Talk => Topic started by: MTNGator on August 28, 2009, 07:48:10 pm

 
Title: Brooks saddle break in period
Post by: MTNGator on August 28, 2009, 07:48:10 pm
Hello All - How long until my Team Professional becomes the most comfortable touring saddle ever??? It has 550 miles on it already and still hurts in the sit bone area after 18-29 miles each ride. Thanks, Ed
Title: Re: Brooks saddle break in period
Post by: whittierider on August 28, 2009, 07:58:43 pm
I know a lot of people really like Brooks saddles, and the leather does indeed form itself over time to your particular rear; but I rode one thousands of miles and it never got comfortable.  Finally it cracked and I had it re-leathered, and then it was even worse.  If your rear is not in shape though, nothing will be comfy.   The saddle I'm on now is the narrowest, hardest, lightest, and almost the cheapest of any I've ever used, and is also perhaps the most comfortable for century and longer rides.
Title: Re: Brooks saddle break in period
Post by: danacf on August 29, 2009, 02:56:54 pm
The Brooks Pro I bought in the spring started feeling real nice at about 550 miles.  How much proofhide have you applied to it?  I have broken in several Brooks saddles over the past few years using the following methodology:  First check the tension.  I thought my Brooks Pro was over tentioned right out of the box.  There was about 6-7 mm of threads showing, so I backed it off a few turns.  You can always re-tighten after it starts to break in.  Then apply a liberal amount of proofhide on both the underside and topside and let it sit about two days.  The first application is like putting primer on bare wood - it soaks right in.  Then I give it a second coat and let it sit a day or two.  You won't need nearly as much the second time.  Then start riding it.  After about a month I'll put a light coating on top in the sit bone area.  The proofhide takes a lot of stiffness and dryness out of the leather.  I also try to help it along by working the nose area with the heel of my hand and the sit bone area with my thumbs and even my elbow.  It's kind of like breaking in a baseball glove by pounding your fist in the pocket and the objective is the same, that is, to end up with an item that is flexible but retains its shape.
 
Title: Re: Brooks saddle break in period
Post by: KDC1956 on August 29, 2009, 08:07:22 pm
Good old saddle soap will help a lot too.Saddle soap will let it get soft quick.
Or it did help out on my brooks b17 saddle.
Title: Re: Brooks saddle break in period
Post by: FredHiltz on August 30, 2009, 09:34:19 am
Adding to this good advice, try doing most of the softening right under the perch-bone depressions. The rest of the saddle needs little or no re-shaping, and there is no sense in letting it stretch.

Fred
Title: Re: Brooks saddle break in period
Post by: MTNGator on August 30, 2009, 12:55:03 pm
Thanks all for the responses - I have used liberal amounts of Proofhide (and nothing else) since I started using the saddle. I will try the other hints suggested and give it a go for a few hundred more miles. Ed
Title: Re: Brooks saddle break in period
Post by: paddleboy17 on August 31, 2009, 04:15:24 pm
Thanks all for the responses - I have used liberal amounts of Proofhide (and nothing else) since I started using the saddle. I will try the other hints suggested and give it a go for a few hundred more miles. Ed

A Team Pro has really hard leather.  I used to have one, and it took all summer to break in.  I also have a two B-17 Standards and a Conquest (shorter and narrower than a Flyer).    They had softer leather and broke in in about 8 hours of riding.

I just got a B-17 Imperial.  It has a hard leather, and reminds me of the Team Pro.  It is not that the hard leather is uncomfortable, it is just that your rump slides around a bit because it has not created any pelvic dips.  The B-17 Imperial is supposed to be a B-17 Standard with a prostrate friendly cut out, but I am not finding it to be quite that.  I only have 5 or 6 hours of riding on the Imperial.

So I guess you might want to know why do I have so many saddles?  I started to have prostrate issues, had to retire the Team Pro and the Conquest.  One of the B-17 Standards was purchased via Tom Milton, who used to resell B-17s with a cut out of his own design.  Now he has a saddle of his own design.  I just retired my orriginal B-17 Standard as I now need cutouts on all of my saddles, and this is being replace by the B-17 Imperial.

You have not said why you have a Team Pro or what you want to do with.  Why did you pick this particular Brooks saddle?

A Brooks saddle will eventually deform to match your "back side".  This is what makes it comfortable.  I have met people who never can survive the Brooks saddle break in process.  Tom Milton's saddle uses a different technology.  The two halves of the split saddle hammock so to speak.  I don't like it myself, but I have two friends that prefer it.
Title: Re: Brooks saddle break in period
Post by: MTNGator on August 31, 2009, 06:36:10 pm
The Team Pro (in green) was standard equipment on my fairway green, 2005 Cannondale T2000.

For many miles I thought I had it, and my backside, "on the same page" - unfortunately cancer kept me off my bike from October 2006 until mid-2008. I trying to get back where I was before diagnosis/treatment/recovery from treatment. including felling okay on a great looking British saddle.

Ed
Title: Re: Brooks saddle break in period
Post by: paddleboy17 on September 01, 2009, 06:10:34 am
As I remember, a Team Pro has somewhat flat top.  It would be a good saddle for a more aggressive riding position, like that found on a critereum bike.  I had my Team Pro on a Paramount Series 3, and I would still be happily riding with it had I not developed a prostrate  issue.  The saddle had broken in, which to me meant dent that lined up with my pelvis.  What about your Team Pro do you find uncomfortable?

I think the suggestions about using Proofhide (a leather dressing) to condition the leather, and the spanner wrench to detention the saddle, are good suggestions.  Both are available from Wallingford Bike, www.wallbike.com (http://www.wallbike.com).

If the Team Pro does not pan out for you, a Brooks B-17 might be a better leather saddle for you.  The B-17 is wider and a little more rounded, and works well with the more relaxed riding position of a touring bike.  Wallingford should be able to get one for you in green.
Title: Re: Brooks saddle break in period
Post by: biker_james on September 01, 2009, 07:42:25 am
I have a Brooks Team Pro that I put on my Cannondale T800, and love it. I used Mink Oil when I first got it. I bought it second hand, but really unused, and didn't have any Proofide at the time. I think the mink oil (meant for boots) softened it up more than proofide does. My wife also has gotten a Brooks Team Pro, and has only put proofide on it. It has not softened or reshaped nearly as much as mine has, although she still finds it very comfortable. Since the initial breakin, I am only usibng proofide, not the mink oil, as I'm not looking for any more softening of the leather.
Title: Re: Brooks saddle break in period
Post by: MTNGator on September 01, 2009, 10:35:51 am
I am used to narrow saddles - my favorite (that got away from me) was a Selle Prolink Gelflow (older style) that was sold with another bike I had. Should have kept that saddle. Anyway, at that time the Brooks felt like it was starting to work for me - I could usually get 20-25 mile in before the sit-bone area started to get sore (not so bad that I got saddle sores but the area was sensitive for a day or so). I don't think I had over 100 miles on the Brooks at that point.

Like I said in an earlier post, I'm going to try to work with what I have for a bit longer - the mink oil, saddle soap, working the sit-bone area with my hands to soften it up all are great suggestions. I have a Brooks spanner and I checked the tension yesterday - the bolt is backed all the way out so nothing I can do there - and I have used a good deal of Proofide on the saddle over the years. It probably comes down to spending more time on it and that is exactly what I plan on doing.

Thanks again for all of the replies. By the way, I am already a customer of Wallingford Bike and I know what great touring-related stuff they carry so I appreciate the referral!

Title: Re: Brooks saddle break in period
Post by: driftlessregion on September 04, 2009, 10:36:55 pm
Brooks Pros can take a thousand or more miles to break in but then last for decades if you take care of it. B-17's often feel good within minutes.
Title: Re: Brooks saddle break in period
Post by: tonythomson on September 06, 2009, 03:08:16 pm
Hi guys does anyone know where to buy a fleece saddle cover - I have used one years ago and really helped in the hot (dry) weather to keep me comfortable.  Can't track anyone who makes them down.  Just got a new Brooks so need a bit of comfort to start with!
Title: Re: Brooks saddle break in period
Post by: FredHiltz on September 07, 2009, 06:57:05 am
Hi guys does anyone know where to buy a fleece saddle cover ...

Amazon stocks a couple of models made by Derriair.

Fred
Title: Re: Brooks saddle break in period
Post by: MTNGator on September 23, 2009, 03:39:06 pm
I picked up some 100% Neatsfoot oil from Velo Orange and applied it sparingly to the underside/rear of the saddle, just in the sit-bone area. The leather took the oil in fairly quickly and the resulting softness was noticeable (I don't plan on using any more oil - don't want to overdo it). The first ride out since this treatment went very well so I think this just might be what I was looking for from the beginning.

Again, thanks to all who contributed to this discussion.
Title: Re: Brooks saddle break in period
Post by: Tourista829 on October 17, 2009, 02:05:16 am
I have a Brooks Professional. It took me 500-750 miles before it felt good. I like to get out of the saddle as much as I can and change my riding position. If you are riding in a more upright position, the Brooks will distributes your weight, so you are not constantly on your sit bone. I spoke to Alex Dowd, of Villin Cycleworks in Gainesville, Fl., and he recommended the Selle Italia gel flow saddles. He rides them and swears by them for long distance touring.
Title: Re: Brooks saddle break in period
Post by: hmoore71 on October 19, 2009, 12:01:54 am
I have an old Team Pro (20 years) but I think the real question is not how it long it takes to break in the saddle but how long for your butt and the saddle to come to know each other. I have found the Team Pro to be my favorite saddle and I don't believe it is much softer today then the day I bought it.

Once I have gotten use to the Team Pro then switching to say my Brooks Colt (20+ years) or one of the two Brooks Conquests the ride is pretty much the same.

I am convinced that not every Brooks saddle fits everyone the same. Lot of people swear by the B-17 and I have tried a couple and they don't work for me. And while the Conquest is suppose to be similar to a sprung Team Pro  I don't have a real good relationship with them either. Both the Team Pro and the Colt resonate with my sit bones.

If the saddle doesn't fit at the get go "breaking" it in is just changing the saddle dynamics and molding it in to a different form. I believe you want a leather saddle to be harder rather than softer when it fits right. Otherwise you lose the natural spring and damping inherent with a leather saddle. Just my opinion.

BTW I picked up the idea to use Obenauf's Saddle Goop from Rivendell and for a $20.00 bucks direct purchase got the equivalent to a large number of Brooks Proofhide cans.
Title: Re: Brooks saddle break in period
Post by: diesel9er on October 19, 2009, 04:27:06 pm
I recently purchased a Selle An-Atomica saddle made in Wisconsin and found it instantly comfortable. Maybe I just have good sit bones! They do retro-fits on Brooks Saddles (I'd never do it) where they give the old male anatomy a break. They look like Brooks, cost more, but feel great. I did carefully follow the set up instructions from which I learned more than I ever wanted to know about setting up a saddle. Who knew it could be so difficult! After tweeking with it for a week or so, I have one sweet saddle. Couldn't be happier.
http://www.selleanatomica.com/
Title: Re: Brooks saddle break in period
Post by: paddleboy17 on October 19, 2009, 09:47:17 pm
I recently purchased a Selle An-Atomica saddle made in Wisconsin and found it instantly comfortable. Maybe I just have good sit bones! They do retro-fits on Brooks Saddles (I'd never do it) where they give the old male anatomy a break. They look like Brooks, cost more, but feel great. I did carefully follow the set up instructions from which I learned more than I ever wanted to know about setting up a saddle. Who knew it could be so difficult! After tweeking with it for a week or so, I have one sweet saddle. Couldn't be happier.
http://www.selleanatomica.com/

No experience was not your experience.  I just could not get comfortable on one of Wisconsin made saddles.  My touring partner could not get comfortable on a Brooks saddle.  I have one of Tom Milton's (Mr. Sell An-Atomica's) retrofitted Brooks B-17's and like it.  I also have a Brook B-17 Imperial and like it.  I will probably add lacing to the Tom Milton B-17 as it has gotten soft enough that I see some structural issues on the horizon.  I strongly disagree with the poster that said "I believe you want a leather saddle to be harder rather than softer when it fits right."  By the way, the cut out on the modified B-17 is different than the cut out on their proprietary Wisconsin made saddle.

As for the comparison between the Brooks Team Pro and Brooks Conquest.  I have had both.  The Conquest has a longer nose (I think the width is about the same).  The leather on the Team Pro is much harder and takes much longer to break in. 
Title: Re: Brooks saddle break in period
Post by: Westinghouse on October 20, 2009, 08:50:12 pm
I read an article somewhere about how to artificially break in a Brooks saddle in a couple of weeks. The process required oil, a heat lamp, rubbing, and a baseball bat. I think weight is applied also. It simulates body warmth and useage. I guess it works. It does not require actual use of the saddle on the bike.
Title: Re: Brooks saddle break in period
Post by: hmoore71 on October 20, 2009, 08:53:34 pm
<<I strongly disagree with the poster that said "I believe you want a leather saddle to be harder rather than softer when it fits right."

Any particular reason to disagree? I would like to hear why you strongly disagree with me. Maybe you can explain why Brooks makes the saddle that thick and hard?  Also why is it one of their oldest and best selling saddle?

I'll save you some trouble. For a number of people it works wonderfully well right out of the box. No breaking in needed. For a lot of other people it is the most horrible saddle they could have bought and no amount of breaking in is going to make it into a B-17 that they should have bought in the first place.  Maybe that is why Wallbike has the return policy it has.

<<As for the comparison between the Brooks Team Pro and Brooks Conquest.  I have had both.  The Conquest has a longer nose (I think the width is about the same).  The leather on the Team Pro is much harder and takes much longer to break in.

I have two Conquest and they measure exactly the same as the Team Pro and the leather seems to be the same. I can't say anyof them are "broken" in. I keep them waxed and out of the rain.

Of course I'm not a Brooks saddle expert by any means having only but have ridden a few thousand miles on them and an Ideale and a Belt now and then.
Title: Re: Brooks saddle break in period
Post by: jrswenberger on October 20, 2009, 11:53:58 pm
I read an article somewhere about how to artificially break in a Brooks saddle in a couple of weeks. The process required oil, a heat lamp, rubbing, and a baseball bat. I think weight is applied also. It simulates body warmth and useage. I guess it works. It does not require actual use of the saddle on the bike.

I'd be interested in hearing how this is supposed to work, unless your butt is shaped like a baseball bat.  :-\  The purpose behind saddle break-in is to mold the saddle to match your specific anatomical structures. Heating and oiling the leather alone only soften the leather. It takes specific pressure from your anatomy to make that mold.

As a general rule, the goal for any bike fit issue is to match the bike to the body, as best you can. Trying to change your body to match an improperly fitted bike or components may work in the short term, but will likely lead to discomfort and possible injuries down the road...so to speak. This is typically an issue of saving a few bucks now versus getting things right the first time.

Jay
Title: Re: Brooks saddle break in period
Post by: paddleboy17 on October 21, 2009, 01:58:52 pm
Regarding I strongly disagree with the poster that said "I believe you want a leather saddle to be harder rather than softer when it fits right."

Lets start by talking about how the Wisconsin made Selle An-Atomica saddle work.  It has a fairly soft leather.  To prevent stretching, the manufacturer laminates some other material on the underside.  The saddle basically functions as a hammock for your left and right butt cheek.  I don't care for this saddle because the shape is wrong.  The technology is very interesting.  And as I said, I have a friend who won't ride anything else.

With a Brooks saddle, a different technology is used.  You start with essentially a rigid mass.  Now that rigid mass comes in different shapes (B-17s, Team Pros, Swallows, etc.).  Two things will happen over time.  The saddle will stretch, and it will soften.  I don't know if the saddle stretches because it softens, or soften because it stretches.  The beauty of the Brook style leather saddle, is that there are all these small regions where the leather will stretch and soften to conform to the shape of the rider.  For example, my pelvis is not symmetric.   And ever since I turned 40, I can longer maintain a dense sheath of muscle that used to insulate my pelvis from the saddle.  So if you look at any Brook saddle that I have ridden, you will find two dents that define where my pelvic bone were supported by the saddle.  And one of those dents will be bigger and deeper than the other dent.  This is the part I referred to when I expressed my belief that a broken in saddle will be softened. 

From front to back, the saddle will stretch (and soften).  This is why there is a tension mechanism.  Perhaps this is what you are referring to with "I believe you want a leather saddle to be harder rather than softer when it fits right."

Regarding the properties of Team Pros and Conquest saddles.  I slightly mispoke, it is the Team Pro that was longer (I feel the older I get, the more dyslexic I am).  I bought my Team Pro in 2002, and the Conquest in 2004.   It sounds like your saddles were older than that.  Running changes get made to manufactured goods all the time, so perhaps we are both right.  As I recall My Team Pro and 1st B-17 were the same length, but the Team Pro was an inch narrower.  The Conquest was the same width as the Team Pro, but an inch shorter.  When I started getting prostrate issues, I had to convert over to cut out saddles.  There was a grad student at UofM that collected old steel bikes and wanted leather saddles to put on them.  I sold him my Team Pro, so I can't go out and reinspect it for dimensions.  Brooks replaced the Conquest with the Flyer, so I can't the dimensions off Brooks or Wallingford.  This part of our discussion is starting to feel silly and stupid, as we arguing over a saddle that is not made anymore.

My perspective on leather hardness had to deal with how long it took me to break the saddle in.  I use the formation of pelvic dents as my metric for saddle break in.  It took summer of riding to break my Team Pro in to the point where it was comfortable.  My Conquest broke in after a couple of rides as did my first B-17.  Given that Brooks provides a saddle tension mechanism, the saddles probably never stop breaking in.  I had heard that some saddles, like the B-17 Standard, come with softer leather because Brooks thinks the target market does not have the patience to break the saddle in.  And there is the "Aged" product line that guarantees a softer saddle from the very first ride http://www.brookssaddles.com/en/Shop_SaddleLineCat.aspx?line=Aged (http://www.brookssaddles.com/en/Shop_SaddleLineCat.aspx?line=Aged).  Glad to hear that your Team Pro was comfortable from the first contact with your "behind". 
Title: Re: Brooks saddle break in period
Post by: labreche on October 23, 2009, 07:32:16 am
I had bought a B-17 saddle about three years ago and I have put about 1500 miles and the saddle is still as hard as whenI bought it. In January I bought a Brooks Flyer S Special. I used it everytime I cycled this year which amounted to approx. 2500 miles and it has started to soften and moulded to my contours and I have found it to be very comfortable.
Title: Re: Brooks saddle break in period
Post by: CoveredBridgeCyclery on November 17, 2009, 10:57:33 pm
I'm partial to my B-17 Narrow.  It fit me and was comfortable right out of the box.  I got lucky, I guess.
Title: Re: Brooks saddle break in period
Post by: ezdoesit on November 18, 2009, 08:16:45 am
I guess I am one of the lucky one's I bought a b-67 and right out of the box it was and has been the most comfortable saddle I have ever sat on.:)
Title: Re: Brooks saddle break in period
Post by: tonythomson on November 18, 2009, 08:55:20 am
Does anyone use a sheep skin cover on their Brooks during very hot (talking 90s plus) dry weather?  I used one years ago and found it helped with - well you can work that out. Was very comfortable. 
Title: Re: Brooks saddle break in period
Post by: meyers66 on April 01, 2010, 08:39:31 am
Hi, I use a Brooks Champion Flyer and find it works great in all temps and in high humidity. It is comfortable and broken in with Prooffide. I don’t know the correct angle and tension of the seat however. Any pointers? I’m noticing a dip in the middle of the saddle and the nose is a bit higher than the mid section. I’m thinking I should use the wrench and tighten it. Any suggestions? I don’t want to stretch it out too much and affect the life of the saddle. 6′1″, 213 lbs if that matters. I’ve checked the Sheldon Brown site.
Title: Re: Brooks saddle break in period
Post by: Spokey on April 01, 2010, 06:13:56 pm
I have a couple B17s.  The most recent is about 8 years old.  It is still hard.  I don't think it is particularly more or less comfortable than when I bought it.  It certainly has deformed a bit to my butt but there isn't a big difference between that and my mid-90s B17.  Both have sides that have splayed out a bit.  Others drill holes and lace them but mine don't rub.   I'll consider this when they do.

Regarding leather thickness, I don't know if they specifically look to make some saddles thicker than others, but they used to say that the leather varied from one saddle to another because the cows varied.

I don't know if Brooks still has the same recommendations, but back then they warned about using anything other than Proofide.  They cited something about the ingredients and I think they warned about particular ingredients in other oils.  I went to the site which appears to be somewhat new and there is no longer any care information.  I will post a scan of what I got if I can find it.  I looked recently and so far it has not shown up.  It's a short one page set of instructions.

Adventure Cycling's Proofide Product Page (http://www.adventurecycling.org/store/index.cfm/product/508_66/brooks-proofide-saddle-dressing.cfm) says only use proofide.

Sheldon Brown has an article on leather saddle breakin and treatment (http://sheldonbrown.com/leather.html) on all this.

Personally, I liberally apply Proofide when I first get the saddle.  I repeat once or twice during the first and maybe second season.  After that, I do that late winter and if the whim moves me, one other time.  I buff off the top but leave it as is underneath. 

I try to put my cover on if it rains.  I did forget to bring my bike in last summer and it was out all night in the pouring rain.  The next morning, I removed the saddle and hung it in the basement from a bungee from a joist.  That was mostly so I could hit my head on it every time I went in to that part of the basement.

I chose the basement because I run dehumidifiers down there for my servers and figured it is actually drier down there (I have hot water heat.  If I had hot air, I'd have hung upstairs). 

I just left it there for a week.  It seemed to be dry after 2 or 3 days but I wanted to be sure.  After a week I did a good Proofide treatment and put it back on the bike.   This recovery seems to have worked fine.  I can't tell that it ever spent the night being abused.

On tensioning.  I did buy a brooks spanner when i bought the first saddle.  I have never used it on either saddle and I am 6'4" / 250lb.  At this rate, the saddles will definitely outlive me.