September 12, 2010

Breaking in is hard to do

By Elisa | 7 Comments »

I was given a lovely black Brooks saddle for my Birthday this year and was so excited.  I have been wanting one of these since I started riding seriously 2 years ago.  Finally it was mine!

I had heard that these were the most comfortable seats in the world, so you can imagine my surprise when it hurt like hell to ride.  I was in despair….how on earth to continue riding while breaking it in?  I mean, it hurt (saddle sore type of hurting here folks). My job dictates that I cannot wear chamois shorts most of the time while riding, as I am riding to meetings all over town and carry a bag that is already full with binders and laptop.  I was freaking out. I read all over the internet about what to do, oiled it as I should and frankly, was despairing.

Then the lovely gift giver asked if I had tensioned the seat.  Um, what?  It turns out you can adjust the tension of the seat with an adorable little tool Brooks includes with the saddle.  I read up on how to do it and gave it a shot.  Voila!  Happy ass!!

Looking at the saddle, I realized it was tensioned much too tightly as it was raised in the center and dimpling along the sides.  One little 90 degree turn and things are looking and feeling great for me.

This was one of those lessons I feel like I am always learning; the gear you get to make things more comfortable often takes some tweaking and studying of its own. Each bike and rider are a bit different and one size fits all, especially with saddles, is just not possible. Lesson learned (hopefully!)

What have you learned about your bike or riding this week?

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  1. On September 12th, 2010 meligrosa said:

    oh brooks, I was so scared to use mine when I first got it for the first time awhile back (for my steel road bike) I found that having the S series which is women specific, was a tad interesting as I was used to riding with the wrong saddle, a man version of a crappy one – nonetheless.
    the first time I rode it, was for about 30mi. and my butt didnt even flinched. felt pretty OK, but now 2+yrs later after it does feel like butter, Im a huge fan!!

    the frenchie had a super old saddle, original from the 60s and it finally gave up. the brooks touring one also an ‘s’ series is shipping +on its way. i cant wait :D

    +congrats on your new brooks, they are quite wonderful!

  2. On September 12th, 2010 Matt said:

    It may seem counter-intuitive, but wetting the leather and massaging it lightly in those areas where your bones sit is the best way to expedite the breaking in process, In fact, just doing that once can take all the discomfort out of your ride. Just be sure to let the leather dry out a bit before riding. When leather is sopping wet, it stretches easily. I did this to my B-17 when I first got it, never had to break it in, and it’s been in perfect condition for three years.
    One thing you never want to do is waterproof the saddle. Doing that can cause the leather to dry out and become brittle, and no amount of oil will save it. It’s the fastest way to crack the surface too. Leather actually likes moisture because it keeps it strong and supple. That’s why Proofide is so good as a conditioner — it regulates moisture levels, letting just the right amount of water into the fibers without letting too much escape. They call it “shower proofing” rather than waterproofing.
    As it breaks in, it may stretch out and you may want to tighten it up a bit, especially since you’ve already loosened it. Just be sure not to over do it!
    Be good to it and it will last as long as you do.

  3. On September 12th, 2010 Steve A said:

    Going forward, you only need to remember one word: “Leatherique.”

  4. On September 13th, 2010 wle said:

    that would drive me nuts
    having to worry about rain, adjusting
    though i did have a brooks briefly, came on a used bike that i sold

    it seemed fine with no adjustment

    i sold the brooks separately from the bike later

    b/c i have good saddles that fit already – just regular plain racing type skinny plastic and vinyl ones, and i don;t want to be worried about rain, special treatments, magic waxes and oils, having to massage my saddle (!)


  5. On September 13th, 2010 mamavee said:

    I love my brooks. love it. Straight from day one. Glad to know what that tool is for though. I did decide to keep it in my saddle bag just in case- although I had no clue what to do with it. ha ha. the rain factor freaked me out the first time it got sprinkled on and there were raised bumps. But the wet bumps went away when it dried so it was ok. It hasn’t gotten drenched though.

  6. On September 13th, 2010 Liz(zle) said:

    most of my commutes entail conveniently placed bike trails, but i’ve been dogsitting the past few days near downtown denver. i (re)learned that i *love* urban commuting. is it weird that i don’t mind the traffic?

  7. On September 13th, 2010 Matt said:

    You really don’t have to worry about rain. If it’s going to pour while my bike is locked up outside, I just put a plastic bag over the saddle to keep it from getting soaked but like I said, leather likes water. It will suffer no damage and will only stretch out if you ride it when it’s sopping wet like a soaked sponge. Really, I’m more concerned about protecting it from a harsh sun. As long as it’s properly conditioned (once every couple months or so), the leather won’t get too wet or too dry under normal conditions, rain or shine.

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