Author Topic: So - what really is the correct way to apply Proofride to a new Brooks saddle?  (Read 2610 times)

I've recently acquired a "honey" Brooks B17 for my new racing green Brompton, and I have a pot of Proofride left over from when I had a Brooks Imperial, as well as the little sachet that came with the B17, yet reading here and elsewhere (and Brooks' own instructions) there seem to be countless contradictory ways to apply Proofride (or half a dozen other substances, which I don't want to use) to a new Brooks saddle, so I'm left with not quite knowing what to do.

From my experience with the Brooks Imperial I had on my Hewitt tourer (before it got stolen off my bike after about 3 years of use), I think I applied too much Proofride to it -it got way too soft quite quickly and sagged. For that saddle I applied a liberal quantity of Proofride to it on both the underside (which I didn't wipe off) and the top (which I did, after it had soaked in a few hours). After that I applied a little Proofride to the top about every six months, when the leather started to look a bit dry in places.

On my Hewitt, I replaced the Brooks Imperial with a Gilles Berthoud Aspin, which I only applied a little of the GB saddle grease to (quite liberally on the bottom and a little on the top) initially, and only about once a year (a little, just to the top) since, and that seems to be holding up a little better, but even that is now starting to get a bit soft.

I've seen others, though, with Brooks B17 saddles that seem to have conformed well to their sit bones, but which still seem to have remained quite firm - which as far as I can tell, is meant to generally be the desired outcome? Do these people use *any* Proofride, or just very sparingly?

Brooks own instructions seem to imply you just need to apply a very little Proofride to the top, and then to wipe this off. It only mentions putting any on the underside if it's thought needed for waterproofing (I do have mudguards, but do live in England, so...).

So - what is the generally recommended way to apply Proofride to a new Brooks? Just the top? Just the bottom? How much and how long to leave it on for (if buffing off)?I'm assuming from experience that you shouldn't use very much. I don't mind having to do a few hundred miles on the saddle before it starts to break in properly.
Old enough to know better, but young enough to do it anyway

LittleWheelsandBig

  • Whimsy Rider
Not too much or often, only on the top.

Imperials die quickly compared to standard Brooks no matter what you do. The organic-tanned leather options last about three times as long as the standards in my experience.
Wheel meet again, don't know where, don't know when...

Ben T

  • What you saying, then?
Spread it on with your bare hands, not a cloth.

 (this may be received wisdom).

I once had an organic tanned swallow of the type of leather that's supposed to be tougher "for high mileage cyclists". Lasted one ride. It was a wet ride, but it was fucked at the end.
Unless you put on overalls, boots, and a helmet with a high tech pre fitted lamp - and you dig coal - nope, you don't know me.

My two Pros, bought in the mid-eighties, had a liberal application of Proofide top and bottom before use.  But that tin lasted until about a year ago, when I bought my second. 

However, I believe the leather of those old Brookses is far superior to their current offerings.  So, for a new one, I'd suggest enough to waterproof it and no more.

BTW I always used to put a saddle cover on my Brooks Imperial (and now on my GB Aspin) if riding in heavy rain for any length of time. I doesn't feel as nice, but neither does a wrecked saddle.
Old enough to know better, but young enough to do it anyway

Do it on a warm day! (or with stuff at warm room temperature)Fingers and not too much or often as has been said, probably about once a year.

I also used to proofide the underside of my commuter, although that one only lasted about 17 years before the rails broke. TBH, didn't really notice that much difference and with mudguards it probably wasn't even necessary.

I've been experimenting with selective application to the under side of the front of the saddle to soften the area in contact with the perineum :o The upper surface only gets a light application all over every 6 months or so.

There are many variables at stake here including the riders weight, position and sweatiness, I also suspect that the thickness of the leather varies between the same model of saddles too. 
Most of the stuff I say is true because I saw it in a dream and I don't have the presence of mind to make up lies when I'm asleep.   Bryan Andreas

IME, a medium application to the underside of the saddle on purchase, and a light application to the top on purchase, then once a decade whether it needs it or not. Plus a wee bit to any part of the top that starts to look dry.

My first Brooks I bought in 1985.  It was granite hard and very scary.

I took it off the bike and covered it, top and bottom, with proofide.  Then I put near my open fire to warm.  As the proofide disappeared it I put on more.

In those days I tended to ride wearing jeans - only hard core cyclists wore proper gear back then.  Altho' the saddle was still rock-like I discovered that the saddle had turned the seat of my blue jeans black.

In due course I got used to the hard saddle and took to riding in black jeans.  Unfortunately the saddle was nicked when it was 19 years old and still in its prime (along with the bike).

Having a few Brooks saddles now I think quality control is a bit patchy and getting a really good 'un is luck of the draw.

Sic transit and all that..

IME, a medium application to the underside of the saddle on purchase, and a light application to the top on purchase, then once a decade whether it needs it or not. Plus a wee bit to any part of the top that starts to look dry.

This is my approach save for that I probably smear the top once every five years.  I cannot be precise on this as it's almost at a whim.   

Best applied IMO when the saddle is not going to be used for a week and I just leave it there, buffing it when I'm about to use it.

I once left one smeared for about a month.   It buffed up a treat.    8)

As expected, there doesn't seem to be a unified opinion on the correct application <sigh>
Old enough to know better, but young enough to do it anyway

LEE

  • "Shut Up Jens" - Legs.
All my Bikes have Brooks saddles.  I don't have a regime for applying Proofide but, if I try to put a figure on it, maybe once every two or three years...or four.

Applying too much, too frequently, is far worse than never doing it.  I find them comfy straight from the box so I'm not looking for them to collapse into a hammock, like some I see.

Even my older ones have only the slightest indents.

Rain doesn't have any negative effects on a Brooks saddle, long-term "damp" ruins them. As long as your bike is stored in dry, ventilated, conditions once it's been out in the rain them it will be fine.  Damp sheds are the worst thing.

This saddle I saw in France is in need of Proofide now.
Some people say I'm self-obsessed but that's enough about them.

As expected, there doesn't seem to be a unified opinion on the correct application <sigh>

But there are almost endless factors to be taken into consideration including how the bike is stored, does the bike have guards, how often is the bike ridden, what conditions the bike is ridden in, how heavy is the rider, does the owner tweak the tension bolt at all, do they have the saddle nose up, down or level, how far back on the rails is the saddle mounted, does the rider adopt an upright, hunched over or 'somewhere in between' riding position, etc. etc., etc.

Occasionally I will have Gardeners Question Time on in the background.   Three experts with invariably three different answers to a question.      :D

Regarding lack of mudguards, a friend acquired an old Carlton.  It came with what I am told is a Brooks B15.  It had a second, thinner leather skin underneath.

Sitting here with my original tin of Proofide* I note that it is still over half full.   I bought the tin with my first B17 Champion Special in 2004 and have used it on three B17's.   

I also have an unopened tin with tape around the edge sealing it.  The tape has gone brown with age.   I recall receiving this with one of the B17's Champion Specials when I bought the saddle from somebody on the forum quite a few years ago.   It's age therefore is unknown to me.   

*  Proofide is what it says on the tin though I have always referred to and heard it referred to as Proofride or Proofhide.  Now I know better.    :)

As expected, there doesn't seem to be a unified opinion on the correct application <sigh>

But there are almost endless factors to be taken into consideration including how the bike is stored, does the bike have guards, how often is the bike ridden, what conditions the bike is ridden in, how heavy is the rider, does the owner tweak the tension bolt at all, do they have the saddle nose up, down or level, how far back on the rails is the saddle mounted, does the rider adopt an upright, hunched over or 'somewhere in between' riding position, etc. etc., etc.

Occasionally I will have Gardeners Question Time on in the background.   Three experts with invariably three different answers to a question.      :D

The bike in question (a Brompton) will be stored indoors in the house, it has mudguards, will probably not be regularly ridden in the rain (it's not going to be my commuter bike), I'm 70Kg, I tend to leave the tension bolt on leather saddles alone unless absolutely necessary, saddle nose usually slightly up or level, saddle fairly back on the rails, riding position fairly upright (it'a Brompton with M-bars!).

Does that help? :-)

So, if anything can be drawn from the general consensus, it seems to be apply quite sparingly and not too often (no more than once every six months, perhaps longer it not being heavily used). There seems to be less consensus about whether to apply to just the top, or to the bottom as well...

Assuming I'm going to at least apply some Proofide to the top of the saddle, how long should I leave it to soak in before buffing off and using the saddle? Is longer better, or is it best to remove the excess after not too long?
Old enough to know better, but young enough to do it anyway

They're certainly not made the way they were.  I have a newish Swallow which looks as if it's been riveted by a Morlock and only has one thick layer of leather whereas the 1950s model has two thinner layers.  All marketing and no substance these days, I fear.  It always happens when something becomes a luxury hipster brand.
Never tell me the odds.

fboab

  • It's a fecking serious business, riding a bike
I've never used proofide on either a new or a used saddle.

I did use saddle covers when transporting leather saddles (on a bike) on the roof of a vehicle in rain.

I've only ever destroyed one Brooks saddle, and that was one of those super-sprung things on the back of the green tandem- and it collapsed with broken springs under the lovely Livvy who weighed about 40kg at the time.
I've done maybe 40-50,000km on B17S over about the last 6 years- some on a honey, some on a black. I only started using Brooks in late 2011. They were on bikes with mudguards. I weigh about double the lovely Livvy and I rode a lot in the rain.

My current solo bikes have plastic saddles, I only still have Brooks on the tandem.
TSS is not Total Sex Score, Chris!


Does that help? :-)

Yes, very much. Don't apply any to the new saddle. You then need to apply some just before it starts to crack, and no earlier. Granted this may be a bit tricky, so for reference the one on my Brompton, ridden 5/7 days but only for 5-10 km at a time, is ten years old and has been proofided three, maybe four, times.

Quote
So, if anything can be drawn from the general consensus, it seems to be apply quite sparingly and not too often (no more than once every six months, perhaps longer it not being heavily used). There seems to be less consensus about whether to apply to just the top, or to the bottom as well...
Even my heavily used saddle (10-12,000 km a year) gets treated less than annually. On the underside is only for people without mudguards.

Quote
Assuming I'm going to at least apply some Proofide to the top of the saddle, how long should I leave it to soak in before buffing off and using the saddle? Is longer better, or is it best to remove the excess after not too long?

No, you're not going to apply any as the saddle is new. It's already been treated and is ready for use. For the second part of the question, I have no idea. I'm not entirely convinced by the soaking in idea - same with shoes - as whatever soaks in is probably the same volatile chemicals that evaporate fairly quickly, but I have no facts to back that up with.
Quote from: tiermat
that's not science, it's semantics.

I've soaked honey saddles in neatsfoot oil, which is definitely against Brooks' advice.  They regain their original colour...eventually.
Never tell me the odds.

Charlotte

  • Dissolute libertine
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Cudzoziemiec

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Twenty replies and no one has used the word "widdershins".  :o
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you forgot to mention the essential chanting

Wowbagger

  • Dez's butler
    • Musings of a Gentleman Cyclist
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That's the time to apply the Proofide, not the desired method
Quote
Naked  :D

Now you're talking!
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vorsprung

  • Opposites Attract
    • Audaxing
So - what is the generally recommended way to apply Proofride to a new Brooks? Just the top? Just the bottom?

like fboab says you don't have to too at all
I agree with IanH, minimal to top and bottom to help with water proofing
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