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Breaking in Brooks B17 Imperial

Old 01-01-22, 02:23 PM
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ajocius
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Breaking in Brooks B17 Imperial

I have bought Brooks B17 Imperial for my Fuji touring bike and would like to break in before taking it on a trip. Have read recommendations to reach 1000 km to make it fully fit. Right now it is winter in Norway, so I do cycle home using my road bike on Tacx trainer. Would it make sense for me to put B17 on my road bike and try to break in inside? Or is it bad idea since touring bike has likely different geometry?
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Old 01-01-22, 02:51 PM
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1000 km is excessive, especially for an Imperial model, IMO. A Brooks saddle should be pretty comfortable once you get the height/fore-aft/tilt right, which can take a couple miles to dial in. Is this your first Brooks saddle?
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Old 01-01-22, 02:55 PM
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Yes, it is my first Brooks saddle. My main question is if I can do brake in at home on road bike, when I intend to use it on a touring bike later?
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Old 01-01-22, 03:16 PM
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Originally Posted by ajocius View Post
Yes, it is my first Brooks saddle. My main question is if I can do brake in at home on road bike, when I intend to use it on a touring bike later?
Absolutely! Unless you have a drastically different position in each bike, your sit bones should land in around the same place.
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Old 01-01-22, 04:06 PM
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Put it on your trainer.

Some people love them the first time they use them. I usually like to get about 500 miles (~~ 750 km) before I like a new leather saddle. Some people never like them and give up.
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Old 01-01-22, 11:10 PM
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Use your Brooks on the trainer, that is how I started breaking in my Imperial, and it fits well. I rotate the saddle between 3 bikes, and it does not affect my position on the saddle. I may have to adjust the seat fore and aft a little to get correct knee position, but I'm talking about 2-5 mm. You will probably need a seatpost with 25-30 mm of setback to get a proper fit. Check the fit with your current seatpost, and start adjustment from there. My B17 is being used on the trainer right now. Depending on how your reach is set up you may also need a new stem. It is worth the trouble.
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Old 01-02-22, 07:21 AM
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Another vote for using it while on the trainer. The only Imperial that I ever owned, which is currently on my touring bike, seemingly took much less time to "break in" vs. the many standard B17 that I have owned. You'll be ready to roll in no time.
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Old 01-02-22, 09:41 AM
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Another thing is it's not only the saddle which needs to be broken in. Your butt also has to be broken in for use on this saddle. You need to know if that is possible before your tour.
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Old 01-03-22, 07:55 AM
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Originally Posted by ajocius View Post
Yes, it is my first Brooks saddle. My main question is if I can do brake in at home on road bike, when I intend to use it on a touring bike later?
absolutely, the most important thing is that you put time riding on it, and it will take time to form to your sitbones. Also good because you'll get a better idea of the slight position changes to make for it to feel right.
You will probably find that 30, 45 min rides or an hour are the most you'll want to ride on it, partly because a new leather seat takes time to break in, but also because trainer riding is harder on the bum anyway because we are so static and seated all the time.
Also, I found that a bit of sweating was good for softening the leather and helping it take to your shape.
Be patient and try out small position changes, seat forward and back , and angle.
Basically just listen to your body and adjust and readjust.
Oh, I always wear my padded bike shorts, more comfortable.

find some good tv shows you watch, that's my indoor trainer requirement.
I've stopped indoor training now that I bike commute all the time in winter, am about to head out and its chilly today, -18c this morning.
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Old 01-03-22, 08:31 AM
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my trainer might object to this
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Old 01-03-22, 10:24 AM
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Originally Posted by Carbonfiberboy View Post
Another thing is it's not only the saddle which needs to be broken in. Your butt also has to be broken in for use on this saddle. You need to know if that is possible before your tour.
Absolutely! If anything, “breaking in a Brooks” is more about the rider than what the saddle does. I have Brooks saddles with nearly 20,000 miles on them that look the same as they did when they came out of the box. The one on the left is newish with only about 200 miles on it. The one on the right has roughly 15 years and 20,000 miles on it. Note that it has no dimples. You could hardly tell it was ridden except for a broken frame (since fixed)



For me, I’ve never had a “break in” period on any Brooks. They are comfortable out of the box. But I find that with any good stiff saddle, plastic or leather.
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Old 01-03-22, 11:29 AM
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Originally Posted by cyccommute View Post
Absolutely! If anything, “breaking in a Brooks” is more about the rider than what the saddle does. I have Brooks saddles with nearly 20,000 miles on them that look the same as they did when they came out of the box. The one on the left is newish with only about 200 miles on it. The one on the right has roughly 15 years and 20,000 miles on it. Note that it has no dimples. You could hardly tell it was ridden except for a broken frame (since fixed)



For me, I’ve never had a “break in” period on any Brooks. They are comfortable out of the box. But I find that with any good stiff saddle, plastic or leather.
If mine had held up like that I might not have hated it. It wasn't terrible when new. It only sucked when the dimples started to form and got worse from there. I didn't think it was all that special in the beginning, but it was okay and may have grown on me. Heck, I might still be using it these 50 or so years later rather than remembering how bad it sucked when it got soft and saggy with big dimples if it had held up like yours.

I confess to mistreating it by letting it get soaked in the rain. riding it when wet and so on. That was 50 years ago and I was a reckless 20 year old. If I had trouble finding saddle comfort today I might do better with one now, but see no need to since I am very happy with lighter, cheaper, synthetic saddles that I find quite comfy and can be left out in the rain without much penalty.
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Old 01-03-22, 12:02 PM
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Originally Posted by staehpj1 View Post
If mine had held up like that I might not have hated it. It wasn't terrible when new. It only sucked when the dimples started to form and got worse from there. I didn't think it was all that special in the beginning, but it was okay and may have grown on me. Heck, I might still be using it these 50 or so years later rather than remembering how bad it sucked when it got soft and saggy with big dimples if it had held up like yours.

I confess to mistreating it by letting it get soaked in the rain. riding it when wet and so on. That was 50 years ago and I was a reckless 20 year old. If I had trouble finding saddle comfort today I might do better with one now, but see no need to since I am very happy with lighter, cheaper, synthetic saddles that I find quite comfy and can be left out in the rain without much penalty.
I suspect that people that like a stiff Brooks when new but detest them when they are softer and have sit bone dimples would probably prefer the rubber Brooks models. I think they are called Cambium (spell?) and start with a C instead of a B. I have tried two of them, they did not work for me, too stiff. But I have met several randonneurs that are quite happy with a C series Brooks, so it is clear that some high mileage riders like them.

I make sure my leather Brooks NEVER gets wet from rain when new. I break it in to about 80 percent of where I want it before I apply Proofide, as the Proofide appears to limit how fast it can change shape to fit your shape. But once the Proofide is added (both top and bottom), it is more water repellant. I still use a waterproof cover in rain and always at night in case of dew, but my several-year-old Brooks saddles are pretty water resistant now after many layers of Proofide were added.

This is the leather Brooks Conquest I usually have used for touring, it originally was the Honey color but it darkens with age.

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Old 01-03-22, 12:05 PM
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Cycco, I'm always amazed by your Brooks, the only thing I can think of is that possibly most of your riding is in a drier climate? I weigh a good deal less than you and mine certainly have more dimpling going on, but I've ridden them in a lot of very hot and humid riding, so lots of sweating going on. That said, mine are still in great shape so should be good for ages.
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Old 01-03-22, 12:07 PM
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Originally Posted by PedalingWalrus View Post
my trainer might object to this
Moody is it?
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Old 01-03-22, 12:19 PM
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Get a spackle bucket, warm water, and mink oil. Details.......


Lon's PACTOUR Blog: Breaking In a Leather Saddle
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Old 01-03-22, 12:21 PM
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Originally Posted by djb View Post
Cycco, I'm always amazed by your Brooks, the only thing I can think of is that possibly most of your riding is in a drier climate? I weigh a good deal less than you and mine certainly have more dimpling going on, but I've ridden them in a lot of very hot and humid riding, so lots of sweating going on. That said, mine are still in great shape so should be good for ages.
Could be the drier climate. But my daughter’s saddles are living in Tucson and they flair out at the sides more than mine do. The heat down there does a number on them and she doesn’t treat them with Proofide as often as I do. I do, however, only treat mine once a year if I remember to do so.

I do ride very light in the saddle…although I did manage to break the frame… and I’ve never tried to soften the saddles.
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Old 01-03-22, 12:32 PM
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Originally Posted by cyccommute View Post
Could be the drier climate. But my daughter’s saddles are living in Tucson and they flair out at the sides more than mine do. The heat down there does a number on them and she doesn’t treat them with Proofide as often as I do. I do, however, only treat mine once a year if I remember to do so.

I do ride very light in the saddle…although I did manage to break the frame… and I’ve never tried to soften the saddles.
ya, I suspect it's a combo of not over softening the leather and riding light. I think riders that do mtbiking and whatnot are more likely to "ride light" as we have a keen feel for weighting front and rear tires in regards to traction . Most of my friends are "plonkers" , ie ride seated and smash/plonk into and over stuff without the slightest concerns or awareness....
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Old 01-03-22, 12:37 PM
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Originally Posted by GhostRider62 View Post
Get a spackle bucket, warm water, and mink oil. Details.......


Lon's PACTOUR Blog: Breaking In a Leather Saddle
When I wanted to speed up the break in process, I soaked my Brooks saddles in cold water for up to 15 seconds. No more. You do not want to get it saturated, only slightly moist, and when I did use water, I stayed within a few blocks of home so that if it started stretching out too fast, I could get off of it right away. Then I could dry it out, add Proofide, and then start using it.

But if you want to have a flimsy hammock for a saddle, do as the author says.

I was on an ACA trip several years ago. The guy with the upside down LHT in the photo was checking his tires for glass, etc., the night before. Left his bike upside down that night. And thunderstorm in the middle of the night. When I got up, his saddle was soaking in a puddle. But, he had never tried to keep it dry in rain so he probably never noticed what happens after you soak a leather saddle in a puddle for several hours.


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Old 01-03-22, 12:41 PM
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Originally Posted by Tourist in MSN View Post
When I wanted to speed up the break in process, I soaked my Brooks saddles in cold water for up to 15 seconds. No more. You do not want to get it saturated, only slightly moist, and when I did use water, I stayed within a few blocks of home so that if it started stretching out too fast, I could get off of it right away. Then I could dry it out, add Proofide, and then start using it.

But if you want to have a flimsy hammock for a saddle, do as the author says.

I was on an ACA trip several years ago. The guy with the upside down LHT in the photo was checking his tires for glass, etc., the night before. Left his bike upside down that night. And thunderstorm in the middle of the night. When I got up, his saddle was soaking in a puddle. But, he had never tried to keep it dry in rain so he probably never noticed what happens after you soak a leather saddle in a puddle for several hours.


Lon Haldeman is more than just an author.

I've done the breakin and two days later completed a 300k. So, I completely disagree with much of what is written on this thread, especially the notion that there are no dimples on broken in saddle.

Just sharing Lon's blogpost for those with an open mind.
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Old 01-03-22, 03:54 PM
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Originally Posted by cyccommute View Post
Could be the drier climate. But my daughter’s saddles are living in Tucson and they flair out at the sides more than mine do. The heat down there does a number on them and she doesn’t treat them with Proofide as often as I do. I do, however, only treat mine once a year if I remember to do so.

I do ride very light in the saddle…although I did manage to break the frame… and I’ve never tried to soften the saddles.
Does your daughter ride Pros as well?

For how well Pros keep their shape compared to B17s getting saggy and floppy within a few years, they might as well be made by different companies!
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Old 01-03-22, 05:21 PM
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Originally Posted by ThermionicScott View Post
Does your daughter ride Pros as well?

For how well Pros keep their shape compared to B17s getting saggy and floppy within a few years, they might as well be made by different companies!
It certainly does seem that the thicker leather used on the Pros makes a difference, throw in oversoftening and wet riding on a regular B17 and yes they can get overly stretched.
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Old 01-03-22, 05:30 PM
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Originally Posted by GhostRider62 View Post
Get a spackle bucket, warm water, and mink oil. Details.......


Lon's PACTOUR Blog: Breaking In a Leather Saddle
I can't find it on the newer Brooks website, but on the previous version they used to specifically state not to use mink oil on the leather.
I strongly suspect doing stuff like this on a Pro thicker model is one thing, but on the normal models it would oversoften it.
I only mention it as a precaution to the new Brooks saddle guy who asked this question, Brooks has always not recommended using oils.
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Old 01-03-22, 05:47 PM
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Originally Posted by GhostRider62 View Post
Lon Haldeman is more than just an author.

I've done the breakin and two days later completed a 300k. So, I completely disagree with much of what is written on this thread, especially the notion that there are no dimples on broken in saddle.

Just sharing Lon's blogpost for those with an open mind.

A leather saddle does not have to look like a hammock to be comfortable. This is a Brooks Pro that I used for 30 years. It has some very shallow indentations, but it does not look like some leather saddles that I've seen.

I quit using Mink Oil on my work boots because it made the leather too soft. Snow seal is more leathr friendly.

Just out of curiosity, I'd like to see what one of your leather saddles looks like.

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Old 01-03-22, 06:09 PM
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Originally Posted by ThermionicScott View Post
Does your daughter ride Pros as well?

For how well Pros keep their shape compared to B17s getting saggy and floppy within a few years, they might as well be made by different companies!
Yes, her saddles are Pros. One of them stolen off my bike long ago. As to B17s, I have a B17N on one bike and a B17 Special Titanium on another. Neither of those are dimpled either. The B17 Special is on my touring bike and has 7000 to 9000 miles on it. The Narrow has slightly less but was used on my touring bike for a number of years.
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