Brooks leather saddles didn't gain the reputation they have today based purely on good looks. Although they are indeed a sight for sore eyes, it's the comfort and durability that really shine once mounted on a bike.
Sure, they may leave a slight dent in the wallet at $145 for a B17, but it's an investment that will last you a lifetime when properly cared for.
On the other hand, if neglected, a Brooks saddle might end up looking like this:
So for all the cyclists who've made that initial investment, or are heavily considering it, we're adding this latest blog post in our “oversimplified” series in an attempt to shed some very important and easy to digest knowledge on getting the most out of your Brooks saddle.
Let’s get started...
Tools of the Trade:
First things first. Using just these three items, you will be able to break-in, maintain, and most importantly enjoy the notoriously comfortable ride provided by a genuine Brooks saddle of England.
- Any old cloth - a paper towel would even work.
- Brooks Proofide - available here.
- A Brooks spanner tool - included with all Brooks leather saddles.
Straight Out of the Box:
Straight out of the box, your saddle will be ready to roll as it comes pre-polished and tightened directly from the production line. They assured us of this during our factory tour, which you can read more on here.
Having said that, there are a few things you can do to help speed up the break-in process, and maintain your saddle – ensuring it will last you a lifetime. This is where our pro-tips come in.
For a Faster Break-in:
Apply Brooks brand Proofide to the top (shiny) side of your saddle. Just use a modest amount (a dab will do ya) and massage it into the saddle using a small rag.
Lightly coat the entire surface of the saddle
Let it sit for about 10 mins
Polish it off with a clean rag to remove excess
Next we'll use that very same technique to apply Proofide to the underside, yes the underside, of your saddle. This is going to help with two things:
Softening up the entire leather hide, thus enabling your buns to break the leather in a bit quicker during your first few weeks in the saddle.
Making the vulnerable raw underside of the hide a bit more weather resistant than it would be straight off the factory floor.
Re-application is a must. Just like protecting your skin from the sun with application and reapplication of sunblock, you’ll need to protect your saddle from everyday life with the occasional coating of Proofide.
After a few months, you’ll notice the sheen from your first lather of Proofide is wearing off the top of your saddle. The leather will appear a bit rough and scuffs might start showing up. Just as you would with your favorite pair of leather shoes, go ahead and re-apply a thin layer of Proofide and polish the saddle up.
Pro-tip: Don't overdo it with your Proofide. Using too much is essentially going to leave your saddle wet, which could lead to major problems down the line. We'll discuss why in our next tip…
Keep it dry! As we just said, dampness will do your saddle no favors as far as durability goes. Overexposure to water (or dampness of any kind) can displace natural oils in the leather, which leads to drying and cracking over time. This will result in a nasty looking saddle that's no fun to ride. We know life happens and it rains, but you can protect your saddle in two very simple ways:
1. You already did some weatherproofing by applying the Proofide.
2. Grab a rain jacket for your saddle. Available here.
Lastly, keep your saddle tight. You’ll notice that as you break your saddle in, the leather hide may start to loosen up and sag like a hammock across the steel frame. This is both bad for your efficiency as a rider, and for the saddle in general. It also looks pretty ridiculous, so try to periodically tighten up when you notice this happening.
Use your Brooks spanner tool to mount the nut just inside the nose of the saddle frame.
Give this a quarter of a turn at a time until your saddle is sitting taut and proud.
Enjoy the Ride:
I know what you're thinking. "That's it?" and yes, that really is it. Using this knowledge wisely, you should have a saddle that will last you a literal lifetime, and possibly even someone else’s after that (so long as you provide them with the link to this blog post.)