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/ Leather bicycle saddles

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Epic Ebdon on 11 May 2018

I'm thinking about getting myself a bike with a beautiful looking Brooks saddle in brown leather with copper rivets. The idea appeals because it looks great on the bike, but also I like the idea of something that should (eventually!) become super comfortable. However, the bike will mostly be used for daily commuting (3-5km at a time) with occasional other use, and I've heard that there can be problems with leather saddles staining trousers. If I was going for a jolly ride to a beer garden, then it wouldn't concern me too much (assuming it washes out...), but if I'm commuting in work clothes, I don't want to look like I've messed myself. Having not owned a leather saddle before, I have no idea how bad this problem really is though, so would appreciate hearing from anyone with experience of leather saddles. How bad is the problem? Can you do anything to mitigate it? Is it only an issue when it's wet/the saddle has been newly treated? Does it stop with time?

Many thanks in advance!

Rigid Raider - on 11 May 2018
In reply to Epic Ebdon:

Here's the Bobby: leather saddles an be excruciatingly uncomfortable at first or can fit you like a glove from day one but they really rely on stretching to fit your sit bones to become long-term comfortable. As with leather walking boots they will stretch faster if they get wet so you are supposed to keep them treated with proofing to prevent wetting. Brooks saddles have a nut under the nose, which lengthens the frame to take up sag in the leather, which is effectively a cradle spanning the nose and tail supports. 

They have their aficionados, mostly amongst the touring fraternity. I also fancied one so I bought a Brooks Swift. It looked gorgeous but I was so shocked at the weight and the crudeness of construction - it looked as if it had been beaten together in a medieval chastity belt factory - that I sent it straight back. I simply did not want something as heavy and old-fashioned on my lovely lightweight modern bike, especially as I sometimes ride in wet conditions.  

As for staining, I can't comment but for commuting I really think you'd do better with a synthetic saddle. Have a look at a Charge Spoon in brown vinyl, they look almost as good but are weatherproof and light and extremely comfortable and cheap too.  Here: https://lfgss.microco.sm/api/v1/files/1bfa3dacecb29a809840c01dc3874d16597dac0b.jpg

 

Post edited at 12:47
nniff - on 11 May 2018
In reply to Epic Ebdon:

Not had a problem with mine - Nikwax on the upper side, which polishes up nicely, and saddle soap underneath.  I ride it regularly around the large establishments at which I work and have never noticed any sort of staining.  The Nikwax also prevents the saddle from getting wet, which might both lead to your trousers sticking to the saddle and encourage staining if such a thing can actually occur.  The other positive is that a nice highly polished saddle is less likely to wear trousers out

cb294 - on 11 May 2018
In reply to Epic Ebdon:

I had a brown Brooks B17 saddle on my commuter bike for years. No problem with staining, except maybe a little bit when wet, as long as you remember to apply any leather fat from the underside of the saddle, and just gently wax the top surface! 

I eventually gave up, though, due to excessive stretching of the saddle (to the extent that the bolt would bend after a few km). Should be less of a problem with the Brooks Colt and similar models that have a hard understructure, but I instead went back to my trusted Selle Rolls.

CB

lee birtwistle - on 11 May 2018
In reply to Epic Ebdon:

I have the black B17 with copper rivets on my tourer. 

Very nice and had no issues when wet - you can also put a cover on it if it laggs it down

Epic Ebdon on 11 May 2018
In reply to all:

Thanks all, it sounds like it might be worth a punt. If I don't get on with it for commuting, I can always move it to my trekking bike, which would be nice as well. I'm not too concerned about it in the rain, as if it's really bucketing down, I'd probably use waterproof trousers over work clothes anyway, which would alleviate any concerns about staining. Other than that, the bike would be kept in the dry, so that shouldn't be an issue either. 

Dave the Rave on 11 May 2018
In reply to Epic Ebdon:

I put a new leather saddle on my bike many years ago. I’d met this lass 25miles away up in the Peaks village of Edale and decided to cycle up to meet her in order to show off my physical prowess. It was a tough ride and I’d booked into the hostel to wash my tackle. My knackers were sore by the time I turned up at the Nags Head and after a meal and a few pints we had a wander. She was FAF but could I feck raise it! Never cycle to an impressionable date with a leather saddle!

 

ThunderCat - on 11 May 2018
In reply to Epic Ebdon:

Totally off topic, but how do you cope with commuting in work clothes? 

I sweat like a racehorse even on fairly cool days.  But then again it's a 13 mile ride from my house to the office...and I'm not that fit.  I'm usually drenched by the time I get in.

We're lucky enough here to have several decent showers at work, so I'll normally try and dump off a load of clean t-shirts / underwear and a couple of pairs of jeans once a fortnight, so I'll always be showered and 'daisy fresh' when I start work.

But there was an older chap who used to work here would cycle in a couple of miles in shirt and pants, and start work straight away.  I asked him once and he said 'meh, only live around the corner, don't even get out of breath never mind break a sweat'.  Thing is, he did sweat, and he actually smelled quite funky most days.  We think he was a bit nose blind.

 

 

Epic Ebdon on 11 May 2018
In reply to ThunderCat:

Not off topic at all! The truth is, I don't know yet -  I haven't started the job yet. I think it might take some optimisation on my part. It's about 1.5 miles from home to the station, then 12 minutes on the train, then another 2.5 miles on the other end. Worth riding a bike rather than walking for the time savings, but I'm hoping it is short enough that I won't get too gross if I take things steady on the bike. If it were much longer then I'd probably plan on showering at work, but I don't think it will come to that - maybe I'll take a change of clothes for when I get there, but I don't know yet.

Obviously, if I can manage to ride in my work clothes, that would save an awful lot of hassle. I do quite a bit of cycling, but I don't usually have to be presentable afterwards, which is good because I get sweaty quickly. If I was doing 13 miles each way then I don't think I'd be able to get around showering at work! That's about what it would be if I went straight from home and missed out the train.

ThunderCat - on 11 May 2018
In reply to Epic Ebdon:

It's actually quite a nice way to start the day I find.  Wakes you up, and you're buzzing from the shower when you get to your desk.

Always fun when you realise you've forgotten your towel and have to use napkins from the canteen to dry yourself....

 

 

Epic Ebdon on 11 May 2018
In reply to ThunderCat:

Yum! I can imagine it might be good on the right day - at my old job I would occasionally do the 40km ride in, but with a shower of course! The problem is, I don't know whether the new place has showers or not yet, but even if it does, it might be a bit much to do the full distance every day.


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