Author Topic: brooks break in  (Read 1141 times)

ElyDave

  • Royal and Ancient Polar Bear Society member 263583
brooks break in
« on: January 08, 2020, 08:36:46 pm »
I put a new Brooks B17 narrow imperial on the road bike.

Three sessions so far on the turbo, all between an hour and an hour and a quarter. The first two the saddle felt just hard and stiff, but no real issues. I was feeling that I was having to artificially stretch backwards, so moved it forward a bit. Yesterday an hour of a power intervals session and I felt like there was more weight on my sit bones, but when I finished my nether region felt quite sore, almost bruised. Today I notice there is actually a small patch of raw skin where you really don't want it!  :-X

I think the latter matches the cut-out. Any tips on set up for one of these and for breaking it in without damaging myself to the point of not riding?
“Procrastination is the thief of time, collar him.” –Charles Dickens

Re: brooks break in
« Reply #1 on: January 08, 2020, 08:48:39 pm »
You have applied Proofide to the saddle before use, haven’t you?

A

ElyDave

  • Royal and Ancient Polar Bear Society member 263583
Re: brooks break in
« Reply #2 on: January 08, 2020, 08:56:07 pm »
The instructions in the box said apply the sachet to the underside, only a small amount to the top. Is that incorrect from Brooks?
“Procrastination is the thief of time, collar him.” –Charles Dickens

Re: brooks break in
« Reply #3 on: January 08, 2020, 09:04:38 pm »
I've never had an imperial, but let that heal then gentler rides while you get used to each other?
(The only saddle with a cut out i had was distinctly uncomfortable, like something without teeth chewing me.  :sick: )

Re: brooks break in
« Reply #4 on: January 08, 2020, 09:07:14 pm »
I would say you’ve done the right thing. I think conventional wisdom suggests a break in period of several hundred miles of actual riding, so it’s early days for you still. Persist, it’s probably worth it 👍

A

Re: brooks break in
« Reply #5 on: January 08, 2020, 09:08:35 pm »
Proofide: Very little, and not very often. Only apply to the underside if you have no mudguards.

I would say a number of half hour or one hour rides at most before it stops being slippery on top. Then some longer rides. Should fit like a glove after 500-1000 km
Quote from: tiermat
that's not science, it's semantics.

PaulF

  • "World's Scariest Barman"
  • It's only impossible if you stop to think about it
Re: brooks break in
« Reply #6 on: January 08, 2020, 09:44:33 pm »
You don’t break a Brooks in; it breaks you in.

;D

Re: brooks break in
« Reply #7 on: January 09, 2020, 12:32:42 am »
"Love, (of Brooks saddles) is a burning thing

And it makes a fiery ring.....


….and it burns burns burns....


…. The Ring of Fire...."

or so I'd imagine Johnny Cash might have sung had he been a keen cyclist.

cheers

Re: brooks break in
« Reply #8 on: January 09, 2020, 01:46:24 am »
Should fit like a glove after 500-1000 km

I hope so, I have two on the go just now, a Team Pro (Special) with 790km so far and a B17 Imperial (clearly not PC as on the Brooks site they now call them "Carved") with 866kms. Waiting for the magic 1000 to tick over so I can do my first 400, 600,....I have given them quite a lot of Proofide and neither have detectably changed much since new so far. The B17 was ok from the get go for the sit bones but a bit firm in the mid to front section still, the Team Pro has always been HARD and still so but both have had 100s done on them and no serious damage to the rider, but 200 might be a bridge too far ?

PS, The B17 cutout was suspected of some abrasion inducement early on so I rounded off the edges of the cutout with fine sand paper and a leather belt and haven't had that problem since.

Re: brooks break in
« Reply #9 on: January 09, 2020, 07:43:06 am »
There's nothing magic about 1000 km, it will depend a lot on the conditions. Damp and warm will break it in faster. I had my first brooks for a week of commuting before doing a rainy 600 and it was great after that.

....I have given them quite a lot of Proofide ...

Don't do that. It's a sure way to reduce the life of a good saddle. They are supposed to be hard, the comfort is from the "give" under load.
Quote from: tiermat
that's not science, it's semantics.

T42

  • Tea tank
Re: brooks break in
« Reply #10 on: January 09, 2020, 08:26:55 am »
I once broke in a Brooks Flyer (the one that looks anything but airworthy, with bloody great creaky springs at the back) using the water method. The reasoning is that since it is soaked before forming on a block you can partially soak it again and form it on another block, your backside.  It worked very well, and taught me things that my posterior had never suspected, e.g. that despite having the left leg shorter than the right I ride with my left sit-bone closer to the centreline than the right, and thus a bit higher on the saddle.

I've no idea what effect the process had on the life of the saddle, since I sold the bike on a year or so after.

This is the process I followed: http://www.billbostoncycles.com/brooks_pro.htm
I've dusted all those old bottles and set them up straight.

gibbo

  • Riding for fun, cake and beer.
    • Boxford Bike Club
Re: brooks break in
« Reply #11 on: January 09, 2020, 08:39:05 am »
Just a thought, doing turbo miles isn't the same as road miles in my experience. i.e. i'm very static on the bike and don't move much at all when doing turbo which is the complete opposite for road riding so I'm constantly shifting position.

Even now when riding a bike which I've ridden for 20k plus km (not Brooks saddle) on the rollers/ turbo I will get numb balls but am fine when on the road.

Re: brooks break in
« Reply #12 on: January 09, 2020, 09:12:00 am »
Never had to "break in" a Brooks.

Personally I believe they work mostly by forcing you to more quickly adapt to sitting (i.e. putting more weight) on your sit bones. The sooner your body adapts to doing this the sooner you can do silly distances on the saddle and not worry.

Many other saddles have padding on top and the body uses this, and various muscles in the backside, to keep pressure off the sit bones for as long as possible. This is why a saddle that may be comfy for daily commutes can rip you to pieces on a longer ride.

It's also why hundreds of hours on a normal saddle, one hour at a time, does little to condition your sit bones, as your body has been avoiding doing so on those short rides.

With a Brooks you have little choice from the start, the lack of padding means the muscles soon give out and you start conditioning your sit bones much earlier into a ride and, more importantly, on pretty much each and every ride you do - no matter how short it is.

However, it's not all that simple. The less "Brooks shaped" your arse is the longer it will take to for things to become comfortable, this is what some people erroneously describe as "breaking in" the saddle. A badly fitting saddle is going to hurt regardless of whether it is padded or leather. As others have said, it's not the saddle that is being broken in, it's sometimes you.

(The type of saddle is specific to this - either because of design or the different grades of leather used - and it's probably specific to individual saddles too. I had a B17 that I just couldn't ever get on with and eventually sold it, but looking back it's probably because I was doing most of my riding on a "normal" saddle and only using the Brooks fitted bike for infrequent long rides.)

FWIW I had my fixed Audax bike (including the Brooks Swallow that was on it) stolen a few months before PBP in 2011. I got a replacement bike through an insurance claim and collected it, with a brand new Brooks Swallow on it, the week before PBP. I got to ride the bike twice (half an hour each time) before I handed it to someone to take to France for me in their van. Once out in Paris I did 4 trips between StQeY and the hotel (10km each way) before starting PBP. So I ended up riding 1230km in under 4 days on a Brooks saddle that had been ridden for a whole ~60km beforehand and I didn't have a problem at all. The saddle did not need to be broken in, my sit bones were conditioned by plenty of riding on the previous Brooks Swallow before.

Also; Proofide is for replacing the natural oils that are leached out of the saddle by it getting wet. It also offers a small amount of water resistance (which is why it's suggested to apply a small amount prior to first use). Too much Proofide or too frequent applications will just lead to the leather stretching as it becomes too supple - it's a quick way to ruin an expensive saddle.
"Yes please" said Squirrel "biscuits are our favourite things."

T42

  • Tea tank
Re: brooks break in
« Reply #13 on: January 09, 2020, 10:48:28 am »
Corollary: I always had horrid teething troubles with Brooks saddles, but a chum can ride a new Brooks comfortably from scratch.
I've dusted all those old bottles and set them up straight.

PaulF

  • "World's Scariest Barman"
  • It's only impossible if you stop to think about it
Re: brooks break in
« Reply #14 on: January 09, 2020, 10:58:34 am »
Compromise ??? Some Brooks have been comfortable from day 1 (Black B17 but not Tan), Swifts take a little longer

Kim

  • Timelord
Re: brooks break in
« Reply #15 on: January 09, 2020, 12:26:21 pm »
I'm disappointed that this thread isn't about an elaborate heist...
Careful, Kim. Your sarcasm's showing...

Re: brooks break in
« Reply #16 on: January 09, 2020, 12:59:49 pm »
must admit I did think someone had smashed their way in and made off with a load of saddles
It is what it is. It's not what it's not, so it must be what it is.

Re: brooks break in
« Reply #17 on: January 09, 2020, 01:12:59 pm »
Compromise ??? Some Brooks have been comfortable from day 1 (Black B17 but not Tan), Swifts take a little longer
mine was comfortable from day one (and I don't use padded shorts), must be about 10,000 mile in now, best saddle ever.  Until I managed ti snap it off (saddle that is) mid ride last september, that made for an interesting 15 mile back home.

ElyDave

  • Royal and Ancient Polar Bear Society member 263583
Re: brooks break in
« Reply #18 on: January 09, 2020, 01:16:26 pm »
Thanks all,

I've had in my mind form the start that it's only turbo sessions so far, which are very different from on the road - I don't shift position much either - but I've not been able to get out yet. 
I think I'm now in the right position from a POV of sitbones.  I may take a look at the cutout, as I think that is where the issue is coming from, I think there may be a slight eversion of the edges which I could sand down a bit
“Procrastination is the thief of time, collar him.” –Charles Dickens

zigzag

  • unfuckwithable
Re: brooks break in
« Reply #19 on: January 09, 2020, 01:27:21 pm »
when i started cycling i've read on the internet that brooks should be a comfy saddle. when i started using one, it was alright, but after couple of years switched back to plastic saddles which work better for my bottom and are much lighter as a bonus.
my brooks saddle "broke in" in one ride (1400km), so much that it had to be sent off for warranty replacement..

Re: brooks break in
« Reply #20 on: January 09, 2020, 01:28:16 pm »
Dave can you not use your recumbent on the turbo?  Then you can forget all this talk of saddles and breaking them in on the turbo.
If you don’t make time for exercise now, sooner or later you’ll need to make time for ill health.

Re: brooks break in
« Reply #21 on: January 09, 2020, 02:13:01 pm »
My B17 Standard remained plank-like for hundreds of kilometres and I couldn't face it staying that way for potentially thousands. So I took a chance and used the aforementioned hot water trick – it worked perfectly and it's now extremely comfortable.

http://www.randorichard.com/saddle-break-in

ElyDave

  • Royal and Ancient Polar Bear Society member 263583
Re: brooks break in
« Reply #22 on: January 09, 2020, 03:00:23 pm »
Dave can you not use your recumbent on the turbo?  Then you can forget all this talk of saddles and breaking them in on the turbo.

It's got to be broken in at some point Phil, as I don't just ride lying down. But yes I can put the recumbent on the turbo if I change the wheel. 
“Procrastination is the thief of time, collar him.” –Charles Dickens

Re: brooks break in
« Reply #23 on: January 09, 2020, 04:37:16 pm »
The problem with brooks for me is not that it doesn't break in fast enough, but that it eventually breaks in too much, and goes past the point of comfort.
I had one which was fine through the longer rides of 2011 and 2012 but by 2013 it was starting to become uncomfortable.
If it eventually reached a point of comfort and stayed that way forever, then the break in process would be worth it, but it doesn't.

So I switched to a type of saddle that simply doesn't change shape, doesn't require changing shape (because it is the right shape in the first place), and that doesn't require rubbing with cream/not rubbing with cream/rubbing with cream but only every x,000 miles/hot towels/cold towels/riding when wet/not riding when wet/water from lourdes/neatsfoot oil/etc etc.
It is what it is. It's not what it's not, so it must be what it is.

Re: brooks break in
« Reply #24 on: January 09, 2020, 10:39:11 pm »
but that it eventually breaks in too much, and goes past the point of comfort.

I know what you mean, I have had 3 Selle Anatomica saddles that stretched from the first ride and every ride until they had no tension bolt left, were about 320mm long and the sides splayed out and this after 3,500 (X TL), 4,500 (X WS) and only 1,200 kms (H2, supposed to be extra stretch resistant!), (only the first ever got wet).

The 2 Brooks ones now in progress have not shown any stretching yet with each approaching 1000kms now so I hope they will last longer and provide some long distance comfort.