Author Topic: Breaking in Brooks B17 Imperial  (Read 3386 times)

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Offline ajocius

Breaking in Brooks B17 Imperial
« on: January 01, 2022, 03:39:45 pm »
I have bought Brooks B17 Imperial for my Fuji touring bike and would like to break in before taking it on a trip. Have read recommendations to reach 1000 km to make it fully fit. Right now it is winter in Norway, so I do cycle home using my road bike on Tacx trainer. Would it make sense for me to put B17 on my road bike and try to break in inside? Or is it bad idea since touring bike has likely different geometry?

Offline HobbesOnTour

Re: Breaking in Brooks B17 Imperial
« Reply #1 on: January 01, 2022, 06:21:10 pm »
I'm not an expert but I've broken in three Brook's leather saddles.
The first was the most difficult about an hour at a time.
The second (sprung) was easier and the third was done in a 400km weekend.
People's experiences vary. I'd suggest using the Proofide (wax) very, very sparingly.

Personally, I'd wait to break it in on the bike I'm going to use it on.

Offline John Nettles

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Re: Breaking in Brooks B17 Imperial
« Reply #2 on: January 01, 2022, 07:16:06 pm »
Welcome to the ACA Forums!

I have broken in a few Brooks.  I cheat and use a lot of Neat's Foot Oil.  I don't know what the equivalent is in Norway.
Basically, I invert the saddle, pour some in so it is evenly thickly coated and let it soak in overnight.  Then I roll the saddle over a rounded bed post or something similar I can roll the saddle on and get some weight behind it.  Roll the saddle for about 15-30 minutes.  Reapply another thinner coat of Neat's Foot Oil and let it soak in again.  Then go ride.  It is usually fairly broken in within a few rides and completely broken in with 500 miles.  The only major drawback is you very well may get a stain (that can usually wash out) on you shorts. I always initially ride in really old shorts I could trash if it permanently stained it.

Once the leather seat is completely broken in, for me it is like two small hands holding me up.  No chafing, no pressure points, etc.

All that said, I too would wait to put it on the bike I plan to use it with since the position may be slightly different and then it gets broken in with the wrong position.

Tailwinds, John
« Last Edit: January 01, 2022, 07:18:08 pm by John Nettles »

Offline John Nelson

Re: Breaking in Brooks B17 Imperial
« Reply #3 on: January 01, 2022, 07:20:42 pm »
If it were me, I’d put it on the trainer. I don’t see why not.

Some people are comfortable on a Brooks saddle from the first mile. Some people never get comfortable. And everywhere in between. I don’t think you can put a definite number on how many kilometers it will take you.


Offline ray b

Re: Breaking in Brooks B17 Imperial
« Reply #4 on: January 01, 2022, 10:59:12 pm »
Would it make sense for me to put B17 on my road bike and try to break in inside?
Ja!
“A good man always knows his limitations.”

Offline staehpj1

Re: Breaking in Brooks B17 Imperial
« Reply #5 on: January 02, 2022, 06:22:47 am »
Welcome to the ACA Forums!

I have broken in a few Brooks.  I cheat and use a lot of Neat's Foot Oil.  I don't know what the equivalent is in Norway.
Basically, I invert the saddle, pour some in so it is evenly thickly coated and let it soak in overnight.  Then I roll the saddle over a rounded bed post or something similar I can roll the saddle on and get some weight behind it.  Roll the saddle for about 15-30 minutes.  Reapply another thinner coat of Neat's Foot Oil and let it soak in again.  Then go ride.  It is usually fairly broken in within a few rides and completely broken in with 500 miles.  The only major drawback is you very well may get a stain (that can usually wash out) on you shorts. I always initially ride in really old shorts I could trash if it permanently stained it.

Once the leather seat is completely broken in, for me it is like two small hands holding me up.  No chafing, no pressure points, etc.

All that said, I too would wait to put it on the bike I plan to use it with since the position may be slightly different and then it gets broken in with the wrong position.

Tailwinds, John
Some caution against that as the ruination of the saddle.  Some would say it was a good short cut.  I suspect it would be for me it would be a ruination, but that is likely because I am not a Brooks lover and hated my one and only b17 once it was really broken in.  If it turns out to be the latter there is no going back.   For me the brooks was just okay when new and went downhill from there.  When mine was well broken in I found it decidedly uncomfortable.  I tinkered with a slight tightening and all sorts of tilt adjustments, but it just wasn't for me.  It was kind of weird since I am not at all fussy about saddles and could happily ride coast to coast on any of the saddles that came with my bikes after a few hundred miles of break in (the break in is to break me in to the saddle not the other way around).  I do have a preferred saddle, but it is a synthetic (WTB Volt Pro).
« Last Edit: January 02, 2022, 06:25:22 am by staehpj1 »

Offline John Nettles

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Re: Breaking in Brooks B17 Imperial
« Reply #6 on: January 02, 2022, 02:00:23 pm »
Some caution against that as the ruination of the saddle. 
Didn't quite get the meaning of the post.  All my saddles have lasted 15+ years so yes, it may shorten its lifespan some but I still feel I got plenty of life and miles out of them.

Offline staehpj1

Re: Breaking in Brooks B17 Imperial
« Reply #7 on: January 02, 2022, 05:26:01 pm »
Some caution against that as the ruination of the saddle. 
Didn't quite get the meaning of the post.  All my saddles have lasted 15+ years so yes, it may shorten its lifespan some but I still feel I got plenty of life and miles out of them.
It might be a fine shortcut, but if you go too far you can't go back.  Also I wouldn't want the saddle generally softened.  For me, I wasn't unhappy with the saddle by the time the dimples showed up, but one rider's well broken in saddle is another's sagged out hammock.

FWIW, I am pretty sure that it voids any Brooks warranty.  As far as what it might do to the saddle...  Quoting from sheldon Brown page:
Quote
"A reader's opinion about saddle care...
I've been riding leather saddles since the early 1970s and heard about the neat's-foot oil trick about 40 years ago.  I’ve done it on a couple of saddles and have purchased used saddles that have had this treatment.  I no longer recommend it, as I think it has too much potential to ruin saddles, especially when one gets caught in the rain on long rides.  The problem is that neat's-foot oil can work too well, giving the saddle the flexibility of a glove or purse.  While this is initially quite comfortable, the saddle can stretch way too much where pressure is applied, especially if ridden when soaked.  Using Proofide or Dubbin on the top of the saddle, and a beeswax-based treatment on the bottom of the saddle does take longer to break the saddle in, but it tends to stop at the perfect combination of flexibility and support, whereas saturating the saddle seems to break down the fibers that give the saddle its stiffness.  Since Proofide has become so expensive, I’ve switched to Pappy’s Dubbin and Bee Dry to maintain my leather saddles. [Sno-Seal is another beeswax-based treatment -- John Allen]

Certainly, everyone’s experience will be slightly different, and rider weight, distance, amount of wet weather riding, and even the inherent uniqueness of each leather saddle will likely yield different results, but I now suggest that people take the longer, but more predictable approach to breaking in leather saddles, so they don’t end up with what some derisively and crudely describe as an “ass hatchet.”

Steve Barner
"

Offline John Nettles

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Re: Breaking in Brooks B17 Imperial
« Reply #8 on: January 02, 2022, 07:16:59 pm »
Huh.  Well, all I know it has worked wonderfully for me on 3 saddles each lasting 15+ years.  I did/do have to tighten the saddle tightening bolt about 1/8 to 1/4 turn each year though.  And I always use a saddle cover when it rains and the bottom rarely gets wet so maybe that has helped.

But as you imply, a leather saddle is not best for everyone.

Offline John Nelson

Re: Breaking in Brooks B17 Imperial
« Reply #9 on: January 02, 2022, 07:36:27 pm »
I acknowledge and accept that it worked well for you, but I’m in the camp of just following the manufacturer’s instructions. I don’t think you really want the saddle to be soft. You just want it to match your butt, but be generally hard. Almost all top-quality saddles are pretty hard.

Offline John Nettles

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Re: Breaking in Brooks B17 Imperial
« Reply #10 on: January 02, 2022, 07:52:39 pm »
I acknowledge and accept that it worked well for you, but I’m in the camp of just following the manufacturer’s instructions. I don’t think you really want the saddle to be soft. You just want it to match your butt, but be generally hard. Almost all top-quality saddles are pretty hard.
Oh, maybe I didn't make myself clear.  The saddle is hard, not rock hard, but definitely hard.  All I did was just speed up the process of breaking it in a little so it fits my anatomy.  And back in the 70s, you didn't get instructions, just word of mouth from fellow cyclists or what the bike shop told you and I think a rare article in Bicycling or Bike World.  Once the first one worked for me, I never changed.

Offline HikeBikeCook

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Re: Breaking in Brooks B17 Imperial
« Reply #11 on: January 03, 2022, 07:44:59 am »
I have had a Brooks B17 for almost 50 years. It is no longer my primary saddle since I started looking for a saddle with the cut out center 20 years ago. I now ride a Brooks C17.
I keep the B17 softened with Brooks Proofide https://www.brooksengland.com/en_us/proofide.html now, but have used all kinds of stuff on it over the years from a bit of Neatsfoot Oil https://www.amazon.com/Fiebings-100-Pure-Neatsfoot-Oil/dp/B0000B3ASR to Snoseal https://www.amazon.com/Atsko-Sno-Seal-Original-Beeswax-Waterproofing-Net-overall/dp/B00CQJDQ90. Some folks say to apply this stuff and then place it in a warm oven - very low temp - for a few hours to help the stuff soak in. Some people claimed that these products could rot stitching but my saddle has none.

If it were me I would use the Brooks Proofide and follow their instruction on a new saddle. I would also put it on the trainer now since the shape of your butt is not going to change and even if you are in a slightly different position you will be in many positions through out the day touring, so it is at least a start.

Also, check out your bike fit if you went to a Brooks from a different brand. They are notorious for having rails that do not allow you to get the saddle back far enough and often require a set-back seat post to obtain a proper fit.
Surly Disc Trucker, Lightspeed Classic, Scott Scale, Klein Mantra Comp. First touring bike Peugeot U08 - 1966

Offline Pat Lamb

Re: Breaking in Brooks B17 Imperial
« Reply #12 on: January 03, 2022, 09:15:34 am »
Another vote for "ride it on the trainer" here.

My bikes are set up so my position is similar on all three.  However, on the rare occasion I've moved a saddle from one bike to another, it takes a few rides (maybe 50-150 miles) before I don't notice "this feels a little different."  But the big change happens in the first 500 miles or so, to get dimples on the saddle.

FWIW, I've broken in 5 B-17's and one Team Pro, and I've never done anything more than apply Proofhide to the top and bottom of the saddle and go ride.

Offline driftlessregion

Re: Breaking in Brooks B17 Imperial
« Reply #13 on: January 07, 2022, 02:45:05 pm »
Here's yet another view. I like mine right out of the box without a break-in period. That's for the  B17. Th Pro is a different animal entirely.

Offline David W Pratt

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Re: Breaking in Brooks B17 Imperial
« Reply #14 on: February 04, 2022, 03:54:55 pm »
Is it the saddle you break in, or your rear end?