Breaking in a Brooks Saddle.

Most of you read my post about my new Brooks B17 Saddle that I purchased for my Swobo Sanchez. One thing that I didn’t care for is the breaking in period, 3-6 months seems too long for me. It also may take me longer since the Swobo Sanchez is not my only ride, I have to constantly switch rides since I’m a bike tester. I was reading Sheldon Brown’s method of breaking in a leather saddle, the fast way:

The easiest and fastest method to break in a new saddle is with a liquid leather dressing, such as neatsfoot oil, Lexol, seal oil (a French favorite) or baseball glove oil.

You can just pour the oil on and rub it in by hand, or for a more drastic approach, you can actually soak the saddle. The easiest way to soak a saddle is to turn it upside-down on a sheet of aluminum foil, then form the foil up around the saddle for a snug fit. Pour in a whole 4 ounce can of Neatsfoot oil or whatever oil you prefer, and let the saddle soak for 30 minutes to an hour. Pour the remaining oil back into the can, and wipe the excess oil off with a rag or paper towel.

Does anyone else have any other methods to speed up the breaking in process?


  1. RL Policar July 16, 2007 9:25 am 

    I’m sure its different with regular foam saddles, but I used to take a bat or a pipe and beat the seat until it was softer.

  2. Logan July 16, 2007 9:42 am 

    I’ve read bad things about the oil approach. I second beating the hell out of it with a mallet or something.

  3. Ghost Rider July 16, 2007 10:33 am 

    Who knows…maybe it will be comfortable the minute you ride on it, and it will just get better the longer it’s on your bike?

    I would say “don’t rush it” — if Brooks are as good as everyone claims (I’ve never ridden on one — too much rain in my forecast), it is worth being patient!

  4. Val July 16, 2007 3:43 pm 

    I have in the past used small amounts of Neatsfoot Oil to speed up the breakin period, but in most cases it is not necessary. The 3-6 month figure is mostly just a way for Brooks to cover their butt (and yours, as well!), and persuade you to be a bit patient. Try it for a few rides to start, and if it is truly too hard, apply a bit of Neatsfoot to the underside of the saddle in the areas where you actually make contact with it. Try to avoid getting any on the skirts at the sides, or on the nose, as this will allow the skirts to flare out and the nose to stretch too much. Neatsfoot Oil (or any of the other compounds mentioned) soften the leather quickly, but by the same token, they allow it to begin breaking down more quickly. If all you use is Proofide, a Brooks ridden every day should last 30 years or more. If you soak it in Neatsfoot (as mentioned above), it will sag prematurely, the sides may flare, and it will probably only last 5-10 years (if that). Using just a little Neatsfoot will strike a balance between these situations, but make sure you need it, first. Also, with the right conditioner (I prefer Obenauf’s Leather Protectant – mostly beeswax for water resistance, and very little softening of the leather) and the occasional judicious application of a seat cover (plastic bag), I can ride nothing but Brooks in the Seattle area. I’ve been told that we have some rain here; I think I remember some.

  5. mike July 17, 2007 7:35 pm 

    ride lots. then ride some more.

    mine were all reasonably comfy out of the box.
    i’ve used a b17, swift, and my favorite, the ti swallow.

  6. Mike Myers July 27, 2007 10:55 am 

    I have two B17s. The best thing you can do is Proofide both sides of it and leave it someplace hot(I put mine in the car on a summer day) then just ride it. They’re pretty comfortable right away, if a bit slippery. Don’t do anything rash. A Brooks can last 30000+ miles if properly taken care of.

  7. Muddywater November 3, 2012 9:40 am 

    I have used the neatsfoot oil approach followed by a soak in water overnight. PUt the saddle on ride it wet for 20 miles or so and it will be much softer and start to conform to your sit bones. I and others have used this approach for years with success and no sagging or leather deterioration issues.

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