Breaking in Brooks Saddle

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iandusud
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Joined: 26 Mar 2018, 1:35pm

Breaking in Brooks Saddle

Postby iandusud » 9 Feb 2020, 2:48pm

When my wife and I got our tandem a couple of years ago I bought a pair of B17 Imperial saddles (S for my wife). I found mine very comfortable from the off and it's only got better. My wife however wasn't so happy and after various adjustments we tried other saddles but none have been good. She is now back to the B17 Imperial S, which seems to be the best of the bunch. However I wonder if there is anything I can do to break it in a bit quicker. We generally get out once a week and spend around two and half hours cycling. I have read of people soaking their saddles but this is honey coloured saddle and I fear that soaking will stain the leather. Any thoughts?

Cheers, Ian

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horizon
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Re: Breaking in Brooks Saddle

Postby horizon » 9 Feb 2020, 2:54pm

Yes, I would put the saddle on her everyday bike and swap it back for your rides. AIUI you are re-forming the saddle, not softening it or breaking it in - that's the last thing you want.

Another trick is to take a gel saddle cover with you and use it from half way through the ride and then less and less. Little and often is the best policy.
The experience of travel is something that you have to pay for but can never buy. Ho Ri Zon Chinese philosopher

iandusud
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Re: Breaking in Brooks Saddle

Postby iandusud » 9 Feb 2020, 3:18pm

I have thought about putting it on daily ride but it's a bit of faff to swap it around every week - twice! However not out of the question. As for a gel cover I tend to think that will only make matters worse. The softer saddle options have been the worst.

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horizon
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Re: Breaking in Brooks Saddle

Postby horizon » 9 Feb 2020, 3:29pm

iandusud wrote:I have thought about putting it on daily ride but it's a bit of faff to swap it around every week - twice! However not out of the question. As for a gel cover I tend to think that will only make matters worse. The softer saddle options have been the worst.


I don't know your wife's mileage etc but I would recommend putting the Brooks on her daily bike (if she rides daily) and her regular saddle on the tandem and then swap over when she's ready. If she already has a comfy saddle, then there is a solution there.

The gel saddle should take the edge of the Brooks until she's re-formed it - it's not a long term suggestion.

So much depends on the rider: how much mileage, how often, have they used a leather saddle in the past, have they cycled much in the past. So it can be a longer process for some than others. The worst I think is to ride too far in one day - you should never take it to the point of pain. The good thing about a daily bike is that it is often a short commute say (and every day), rather than an infrequent 60 mile excursion.
The experience of travel is something that you have to pay for but can never buy. Ho Ri Zon Chinese philosopher

iandusud
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Re: Breaking in Brooks Saddle

Postby iandusud » 9 Feb 2020, 4:52pm

Not a bad idea but the saddle only her daily ride is knackered so no good for the tandem< I was planning on replacing with the second best saddle she's used on the tandem. Her daily commute is only 15 mins each way, so any saddle will do, even the knackered one!

Nigel
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Re: Breaking in Brooks Saddle

Postby Nigel » 9 Feb 2020, 5:08pm

iandusud wrote:When my wife and I got our tandem a couple of years ago I bought a pair of B17 Imperial saddles (S for my wife). I found mine very comfortable from the off and it's only got better. My wife however wasn't so happy and after various adjustments we tried other saddles but none have been good. She is now back to the B17 Imperial S, which seems to be the best of the bunch. However I wonder if there is anything I can do to break it in a bit quicker. We generally get out once a week and spend around two and half hours cycling. I have read of people soaking their saddles but this is honey coloured saddle and I fear that soaking will stain the leather. Any thoughts?


Does your wife sit on the back of the tandem ? If so, chances are she gets a rougher more bum-pounding ride than the pilot of the tandem. The pilot isn't sitting almost directly over the rear wheel, so thumped from every small road irregularity, and the pilot can see the irregularities so adjust for them.

So, assuming the Brooks is the right shape (*) for her behind, what else can be done to smooth the ride ? Is there any suspension at the rear ? Have you considered a decent suspension seat post for the rear ? etc..


The idea of having to "break in" disappeared from walking boots something over 30 years ago (thanks in part to Mr Brasher's range), and ought to have gone from bike saddles by now. Its really not necessary if the item is the right shape in the first place. It the item *is* the right shape in the first place, then it will be decently comfortable from the first use.


(* not everyone has the same arrangement of bones, muscles and fat, so getting a saddle of the right shape isn't a "one size fits all" job. Not everyone will find a Brooks is the right shape for them. Some bike shops have tools to assist in measuring backsides for saddle fit.
).


- Nigel

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horizon
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Re: Breaking in Brooks Saddle

Postby horizon » 9 Feb 2020, 5:25pm

Nigel wrote:
Does your wife sit on the back of the tandem ? If so, chances are she gets a rougher more bum-pounding ride than the pilot of the tandem. The pilot isn't sitting almost directly over the rear wheel, so thumped from every small road irregularity, and the pilot can see the irregularities so adjust for them.

So, assuming the Brooks is the right shape (*) for her behind, what else can be done to smooth the ride ? Is there any suspension at the rear ? Have you considered a decent suspension seat post for the rear ? etc..

- Nigel


+1 (although when I looked at that for Mrs H, there wasn't enough clearance). Another idea would be a sprung saddle.


The idea of having to "break in" disappeared from walking boots something over 30 years ago (thanks in part to Mr Brasher's range), and ought to have gone from bike saddles by now. Its really not necessary if the item is the right shape in the first place. It the item *is* the right shape in the first place, then it will be decently comfortable from the first use.

(* not everyone has the same arrangement of bones, muscles and fat, so getting a saddle of the right shape isn't a "one size fits all" job. Not everyone will find a Brooks is the right shape for them. Some bike shops have tools to assist in measuring backsides for saddle fit.



That's true (so it might be worth trying other saddles), but a leather saddle forms to the shape of the user over time. That's why leather saddles are so good: they remain hard and supportive but supremely comfortable because they are exactly the right shape.
The experience of travel is something that you have to pay for but can never buy. Ho Ri Zon Chinese philosopher

rmurphy195
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Re: Breaking in Brooks Saddle

Postby rmurphy195 » 9 Feb 2020, 6:30pm

You could use Proofode on the top and bottom surfaces - do it a few times, keep the saddle in the warm, and see how it goes. Always polish-off the top surface with a dry rag, just as you would when polishing your shoes.

NB my B17's are harder in cold weather!

If this does not work you can do what Brookes say you should not with thier modern saddles, use Neatsfoot oil. Turn the saddle upside down, and paint it on the underside, sparingly and above all evenly. better still, do so without turning it upside down if you can so the oil doesn't seep through the ventilation slots thus leaving a darker area around these. Again, let it soak in in the warm overnight, or for a couple of days if you can. The honey coloured saddle will go darker, hence the evenness of the oil and trying to avoid it going through the vent holes.

Give it a go for a few weeks, if it doesn't work, repeat.
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iandusud
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Re: Breaking in Brooks Saddle

Postby iandusud » 9 Feb 2020, 7:20pm

Thank you the various replies. She is on the rear of the tandem with a suspension seat post. The Brooks is the best saddle for her of the various good ladies saddles she has used. I should add that I do a 3-4 hour ride on my solo every weekend, as well as much longer rides from time to time, so have a rear end that is "saddle hardened". My wife does 2 x 15 minute journeys 4 days per week, so she is not so used to longer spells in the saddle. We're fairly convinced that the Brooks is the right saddle for her but it is still quite hard, hence my initial question.

Cheers, Ian

Nigel
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Re: Breaking in Brooks Saddle

Postby Nigel » 9 Feb 2020, 7:50pm

iandusud wrote:Thank you the various replies. She is on the rear of the tandem with a suspension seat post. The Brooks is the best saddle for her of the various good ladies saddles she has used. I should add that I do a 3-4 hour ride on my solo every weekend, as well as much longer rides from time to time, so have a rear end that is "saddle hardened". My wife does 2 x 15 minute journeys 4 days per week, so she is not so used to longer spells in the saddle. We're fairly convinced that the Brooks is the right saddle for her but it is still quite hard, hence my initial question.

Cheers, Ian


OK, next is the suspension post is correct for her weight and riding position (more upright = more weight on saddle), and correctly setup. The better makes (eg. Thudbuster and USE) are adjustable and document how to adjust. Some of the cheap ones I've seen appear to be total rubbish.

Thereafter, question is whether the Brooks is the "right" one, or just the "least bad of those tried". An option might be a gel cover to put on/off at different times during a ride to change the pressure. Also look at what clothing is worn, and if it is "cycle" stuff with pads for backside, the type and size of pad - they vary massively in size, shape, resilience, recovery when compressed, etc.. And, what is getting uncomfortable ? The pressure points can be in lots of different places, knowing which and where can help to focus on a solution (this heads off into the case for/against saddles with cut-outs, such as the old Terry Liberator saddle, and other changes )

Riding technique is an issue, can she "stand up" sufficiently to take the weight off her backside for a period of 30-40 seconds every 15-20 minutes ? That may help. Some riders do this naturally because of their riding technique, others tend to always carry their weight on the bottom.

Clearly familiarity with riding is a factor, someone who does the odd 15min journey isn't developing longer ride resilience.

I am unconvinced about changing a modern tan-coloured Brooks with oils. I understood the current Brooks tan types to already be "soft" as they left the factory, so the issue isn't about changing its shape, its about the saddle not remaining comfortable for someone who is perched on it for an extended time.

You could sell the tandem and buy a recumbent trike tandem instead.... They're really comfortable :-)


- Nigel

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horizon
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Re: Breaking in Brooks Saddle

Postby horizon » 9 Feb 2020, 8:01pm

iandusud wrote: We're fairly convinced that the Brooks is the right saddle for her
Cheers, Ian

Good.

but it is still quite hard,


Even better. You want it to stay that way for ever (unfortunately it won't). What needs to happen is that the saddle deforms slightly to exactly mirror your wife's anatomy. Then it will be 100% comfortable. This is achieved by her riding on the saddle (there is obvously no other way). At first this can be painful, so the pain and bruising is reduced (in fact it should be eliminated if possible) by (a) limiting the length of the ride (b) riding frequently and then allowing for recovery and (c) using a gel saddle cover for part of the ride. As you say, you have done more riding so your saddle's adaption to you can be quicker as you don't have to adapt to the saddle quite so much.

My wife does 2 x 15 minute journeys 4 days per week, so she is not so used to longer spells in the saddle.


This is ideal for getting used to a Brooks - keep it going for a few weeks and then get her to do a longer and longer ride on that saddle - even on the same bike.
The experience of travel is something that you have to pay for but can never buy. Ho Ri Zon Chinese philosopher

iandusud
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Joined: 26 Mar 2018, 1:35pm

Re: Breaking in Brooks Saddle

Postby iandusud » 9 Feb 2020, 8:15pm

Nigel wrote:
iandusud wrote:Thank you the various replies. She is on the rear of the tandem with a suspension seat post. The Brooks is the best saddle for her of the various good ladies saddles she has used. I should add that I do a 3-4 hour ride on my solo every weekend, as well as much longer rides from time to time, so have a rear end that is "saddle hardened". My wife does 2 x 15 minute journeys 4 days per week, so she is not so used to longer spells in the saddle. We're fairly convinced that the Brooks is the right saddle for her but it is still quite hard, hence my initial question.

Cheers, Ian


OK, next is the suspension post is correct for her weight and riding position (more upright = more weight on saddle), and correctly setup. The better makes (eg. Thudbuster and USE) are adjustable and document how to adjust. Some of the cheap ones I've seen appear to be total rubbish.

Thereafter, question is whether the Brooks is the "right" one, or just the "least bad of those tried". An option might be a gel cover to put on/off at different times during a ride to change the pressure. Also look at what clothing is worn, and if it is "cycle" stuff with pads for backside, the type and size of pad - they vary massively in size, shape, resilience, recovery when compressed, etc.. And, what is getting uncomfortable ? The pressure points can be in lots of different places, knowing which and where can help to focus on a solution (this heads off into the case for/against saddles with cut-outs, such as the old Terry Liberator saddle, and other changes )

Riding technique is an issue, can she "stand up" sufficiently to take the weight off her backside for a period of 30-40 seconds every 15-20 minutes ? That may help. Some riders do this naturally because of their riding technique, others tend to always carry their weight on the bottom.

Clearly familiarity with riding is a factor, someone who does the odd 15min journey isn't developing longer ride resilience.

I am unconvinced about changing a modern tan-coloured Brooks with oils. I understood the current Brooks tan types to already be "soft" as they left the factory, so the issue isn't about changing its shape, its about the saddle not remaining comfortable for someone who is perched on it for an extended time.

You could sell the tandem and buy a recumbent trike tandem instead.... They're really comfortable :-)


- Nigel


Nigel, the suspension seatpost isn't the best but it is adjustable. She wears proper cycling clothing (padded shorts/tights). Having adjusted the tilt and her reach the discomfort appears to be the sit bones area. Not chafing, just numbness which is relieved by a break. We coast from time to time so that she can take the weight off her bottom, which off course helps. I'm happy that the saddle is right one but it hasn't broken in yet (no indents formed yet). The idea of a recumbent tandem is tempting but I already have 13 bikes in the garage and no room for another (plus there's the cost!!!) Actually we really love our tandem.

Cheers, Ian

iandusud
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Joined: 26 Mar 2018, 1:35pm

Re: Breaking in Brooks Saddle

Postby iandusud » 9 Feb 2020, 8:18pm

horizon wrote:
iandusud wrote: We're fairly convinced that the Brooks is the right saddle for her
Cheers, Ian

Good.

but it is still quite hard,


Even better. You want it to stay that way for ever (unfortunately it won't). What needs to happen is that the saddle deforms slightly to exactly mirror your wife's anatomy. Then it will be 100% comfortable. This is achieved by her riding on the saddle (there is obvously no other way). At first this can be painful, so the pain and bruising is reduced (in fact it should be eliminated if possible) by (a) limiting the length of the ride (b) riding frequently and then allowing for recovery and (c) using a gel saddle cover for part of the ride. As you say, you have done more riding so your saddle's adaption to you can be quicker as you don't have to adapt to the saddle quite so much.

My wife does 2 x 15 minute journeys 4 days per week, so she is not so used to longer spells in the saddle.


This is ideal for getting used to a Brooks - keep it going for a few weeks and then get her to do a longer and longer ride on that saddle - even on the same bike.


I appreciate that we don't want the saddle to soften up, I was just wondering if there are any tips for accelerating the breaking in process (ie adapting to the sit bones). I think I might just go for swapping the saddle over onto her day to day bike between tandem rides and put up with the faff!

Cheers, Ian

mikeymo
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Joined: 27 Sep 2016, 6:23pm

Re: Breaking in Brooks Saddle

Postby mikeymo » 9 Feb 2020, 10:54pm

Might be best not to worry too much about the cosmetics.

I bought a honey Brooks too, to match the frame of the bike I built:

Image

Boy, was I pleased with all this matching tan coloured bling. This Honey Brooks will look awesome I thought. The final touch to my creation. So on one of the warmest days of the year I put lots of Proofide on the underside of the new saddle, like you're supposed to. It came through to the top horribly patchy. Or "stained" as you put it. My baby was ruined!! Anyway, after some riding the saddle has sort of settled down, looks wise. Though quite a bit darker. Not really "honey" any more. And the odd patch.

What it is is very comfortable, and it got that way pretty quickly. Could be the lashings of Proofide, or maybe my rear end is Brooks shaped.

Anyway, you can't see the saddle when you're sitting on it.

EDIT. I've just read what rmurphy195 said about not letting the stuff (whatever you use) come through the ventilation holes. That's what I did. Put so much runny Proofide on that it came right through. Anywhere at all where there was some penetration of the leather, like the vent holes or the rivets, there was this horrible patch spreading out from the hole. And it was a really obvious stain, with a really hard edge. For a few hours I was devastated, boo hoo!! Anyway, over time and with heat either from the sun or me, the patches got bigger but less distinct, and eventually all joined up, so I've just ended up with a darker saddle. There's still a couple of strange rogue patches on the side IIRC, around the embossed "Brooks" logo.