Spa Nidd Saddle - How to (rapidly) break in.

For discussions about bikes and equipment.
krull
Posts: 6
Joined: 8 Sep 2019, 10:32pm

Spa Nidd Saddle - How to (rapidly) break in.

Postby krull » 29 Jun 2020, 11:41pm

I have bought Brooks B17's in the past and pretty much just ridden them from the start without too much trouble.

I put a Spa Nidd on a latest bike build and it felt like an instrument of torture.

However, after a bit of investigation, this is how I have rapidly broken it in.....

Unlike the B17, the Nidd has a plastic liner/former bonded to the underside of the leather. It is not at all obvious, it is textured to resemble suede leather. But it is plainly there to keep the saddle's shape, which is a bit of a contradiction for a leather seat.

This is how I sorted mine:
-Remove the laces that hold the bottom of the sides together.
-Put in a bucket of hot water and leave immersed for 24hrs
-Using a heat gun, get the underside near the rear very hot, to soften the plastic liner
-By comparing to an old B17, I pressed hard down to form indentations where your own sit bones are
-Do this twice - one for each side. Each time keeping it pressed down until the plastic liner cools and hardens, helping with the bucket of water it was immersed in.
-Keep wet , until you get on the bike soon afterwards, and then ride it all day until the leather dries
-Re-fit laces if you need to narrow it down a bit.

The first time I used the saddle, my backside killed after 10 miles.
After the above, the first rides were 2 x 40 mile consecutive touring days and no discomfort.

Hope this helps

Brucey
Posts: 39328
Joined: 4 Jan 2012, 6:25pm

Re: Spa Nidd Saddle - How to (rapidly) break in.

Postby Brucey » 30 Jun 2020, 12:01am

I am told that British Army soldiers would (as standard practice) 'p*** in their new boots' to help them break in. Wet leather saddles break in about x10 faster than dry leather ones.

I wonder how much improvement with a spa saddle is due to the reshaping of the underside spray guard and how much is just that you are (presumably) riding on damp leather?

cheers
-------------------------------------------------------------------------------
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~Brucey~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

User avatar
Trigger
Posts: 1441
Joined: 6 Aug 2010, 11:54am
Location: Derby/Notts

Re: Spa Nidd Saddle - How to (rapidly) break in.

Postby Trigger » 30 Jun 2020, 9:43am

I'd have just sold it and bought something that fit me.

pwa
Posts: 12366
Joined: 2 Oct 2011, 8:55pm

Re: Spa Nidd Saddle - How to (rapidly) break in.

Postby pwa » 30 Jun 2020, 9:59am

Trigger wrote:I'd have just sold it and bought something that fit me.

But when you buy that sort of saddle you do so knowing that it will not be at its best straight out of the box and it should be good somewhere down the line. Plastic and foam is the way to go if you want it to be as good as it will get immediately.

I currently have a leather saddle that has improved over a few thousand miles, having started out too hard, then moving on to tolerable, and now quite comfy most of the time, and I still manipulate it from time to time. The dimples are established so now the emphasis is on flattening the forward ridge to stop it digging in on long rides, which works well. It is all a bit of a faff but having spent hundreds on all sorts of wonderful saddles with big claims made for them over the years, I have only ever got a tolerable result from leather on long rides. Other bottoms don't agree, but that's how it is with mine.

User avatar
Trigger
Posts: 1441
Joined: 6 Aug 2010, 11:54am
Location: Derby/Notts

Re: Spa Nidd Saddle - How to (rapidly) break in.

Postby Trigger » 30 Jun 2020, 3:04pm

pwa wrote:
Trigger wrote:I'd have just sold it and bought something that fit me.

But when you buy that sort of saddle you do so knowing that it will not be at its best straight out of the box and it should be good somewhere down the line. Plastic and foam is the way to go if you want it to be as good as it will get immediately.

I currently have a leather saddle that has improved over a few thousand miles, having started out too hard, then moving on to tolerable, and now quite comfy most of the time, and I still manipulate it from time to time. The dimples are established so now the emphasis is on flattening the forward ridge to stop it digging in on long rides, which works well. It is all a bit of a faff but having spent hundreds on all sorts of wonderful saddles with big claims made for them over the years, I have only ever got a tolerable result from leather on long rides. Other bottoms don't agree, but that's how it is with mine.


What, melting the plastic core with a heatgun is reasonable? The leather Brooks saddles I've had never felt any different from start to finish, maybe it can take a little while for your backside to get used to a new shaped saddle but dunking it in a bucket of water and then blasting it with a heatgun seems a bit OTT.

For me there are two types of saddle and I can tell them from the first few seconds of getting on. Either it feels in the ball park and once you're used to it then it will be ok, or it feels completely wrong straight away in which case don't even bother, just get another different type.

User avatar
kylecycler
Posts: 694
Joined: 12 Aug 2013, 4:09pm
Location: Kyle, Ayrshire

Re: Spa Nidd Saddle - How to (rapidly) break in.

Postby kylecycler » 30 Jun 2020, 3:48pm

Using the heat gun is certainly an interesting idea - I think it's the plastic liner that prevents the Spa (Gyes) saddles from 'breaking in', even though it also prevents them from being damaged by the rain or sagging. I've always meant to try one but never have because of that.

The new generation of Selle Italia leather saddles are different again - a composite liner sandwiched between layers of leather - like a lamination, but I wouldn't know how well or otherwise that means they break in or deform to the rider's contours:

All are made with three layers of fabric: a bottom leather layer, then a mesh in the middle, and an upper leather layer to finish. Selle Italia says that, once pressed together, these three materials can better resist deformation and last longer than a single sheet of leather.

https://www.bikeradar.com/news/selle-it ... addle-yet/

I've read a theory that just leather on its own tends not to be thick or tough enough since BSE - 'mad cow disease' - as cows have to slaughtered younger these days but I think that might just be a myth. Anyway, there never was BSE in Australia, where Gyes/Spa saddles' leather is sourced.

@ krull: Could you have heated the saddle up on the bike and ridden it while the liner was still hot, or would it have burned your bum?! I guess it might have cooled down too quick, though.

bgnukem
Posts: 351
Joined: 20 Dec 2010, 5:21pm

Re: Spa Nidd Saddle - How to (rapidly) break in.

Postby bgnukem » 30 Jun 2020, 4:19pm

I bought mine from another cyclist who'd given up trying to break it in.

After over a year of commuting, and applying boot wax (usually a big no-no for saddles) I did the same and sold it on eBay.

Conversely, prior to that I'd had a couple of Brooks saddles which stretched out of shape pretty quickly, and also ended up on eBay.

The first Brooks B17 I had was great and stayed comfy for around 15 years, but since then I've given up on them.

pwa
Posts: 12366
Joined: 2 Oct 2011, 8:55pm

Re: Spa Nidd Saddle - How to (rapidly) break in.

Postby pwa » 30 Jun 2020, 4:29pm

Trigger wrote:For me there are two types of saddle and I can tell them from the first few seconds of getting on. Either it feels in the ball park and once you're used to it then it will be ok, or it feels completely wrong straight away in which case don't even bother, just get another different type.

My Berthoud saddle was very uncomfortable on the first few rides and only really felt okay after a few hundred miles. But since the sit bone areas have become shallow depressions it has felt good. If I had gone off first impressions, or even the first half a dozen rides, it would have been passed on to a friend to try.

I have never taken a heat gun to it, but I have gently pummelled three small areas on it to speed up the settling in period. I think that is reasonable. And it is a saddle that now gets a lot of use, unlike half a dozen other more modern saddles bought at great expense and now stuck on a shelf gathering dust.

mercalia
Posts: 13500
Joined: 22 Sep 2013, 10:03pm
Location: london South

Re: Spa Nidd Saddle - How to (rapidly) break in.

Postby mercalia » 30 Jun 2020, 5:11pm

my soln - lend to some one who weighs 20 stone? :lol:

Jamesh
Posts: 1263
Joined: 2 Jan 2017, 5:56pm

Re: Spa Nidd Saddle - How to (rapidly) break in.

Postby Jamesh » 30 Jun 2020, 5:17pm

I might try a hot wet towel on mine with some dubbin pasted on for good measure.

It did occur to me that on my lejog perhaps I should treat the saddle to chamois cream as well to to myself!

Cheers James

fatboy
Posts: 3415
Joined: 5 Jan 2007, 1:32pm
Location: North Hertfordshire

Re: Spa Nidd Saddle - How to (rapidly) break in.

Postby fatboy » 30 Jun 2020, 8:19pm

I gave up, it was like sitting on a rock and I really persisted (when they did get comfy I found that the front metal bit had broken). I now use Madison Flux and Passport Navigator saddles, much happier!
"Marriage is a wonderful invention; but then again so is the bicycle puncture repair kit." - Billy Connolly

mercalia
Posts: 13500
Joined: 22 Sep 2013, 10:03pm
Location: london South

Re: Spa Nidd Saddle - How to (rapidly) break in.

Postby mercalia » 30 Jun 2020, 9:13pm

The stuff for Brooks saddles if used generously will do the job

bgnukem
Posts: 351
Joined: 20 Dec 2010, 5:21pm

Re: Spa Nidd Saddle - How to (rapidly) break in.

Postby bgnukem » 1 Jul 2020, 1:08pm

I thought Brooks Proofide was intended only to waterproof the leather without actually softening it? I've used it myself in the past but didn't seem to help the break-in process, unlike (say) boot waxes such as Grangers G-wax or Nikwax.

Mr.Benton
Posts: 110
Joined: 13 Jul 2009, 1:38pm
Location: North Yorkshire and soon to be Worcestershire

Re: Spa Nidd Saddle - How to (rapidly) break in.

Postby Mr.Benton » 2 Jul 2020, 3:45pm

I went on a 3 month tour of South America, the saddle was comfortable by the end of the trip!