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Repair Highlight

  • Feb 20 2016

    Leather Saddle Care

    leather saddle care   Last month, we covered a variety of ways to protect a leather saddle from rain. Through the course of researching for that article, we came across many other articles and forum posts on leather saddles. The overall landscape of information out there is disheartening. There is a lot of confusion, fear, and mystical speculation around the subject. Apparently us children of post-industrial economics have trouble thinking about natural materials, and tend to relegate them to the same bin as things like weather prediction, the Tarot, and alchemical processes. But it’s really not that complicated. Yes, you can ruin a leather saddle. You can also ruin anything else if you start poking at it without any guidance. So we’ve harvested a small heap of saddle wisdom for you to get you started.

    There are a handful of manufacturers making leather saddles in 2015, some surviving since the dawn of cycling, others started on Kickstarter in the past few years. The pattern is somewhat similar to that of preserved foods, anything made of waxed canvas, hipster hatchets, and wool athletic clothing. The hype of plastic is burnt out, and we are realizing that sometimes the most technically advantageous material happens to already grow on the back of some living creature, or a tree. Our favorite manufacturer is Brooks, who have been making their saddles for a very long time indeed and, thanks to their wide distribution and eternal status, produce a multitude of shapes, sizes, and colors (and special editions, and unique editions, etc, etc…). But how to pick?! Well, we can’t help you decide which shade of brown will suit your frame color best*, nor can we tell you which saddle will fit you! Only your own body can guide you, and it usually turns out, if we may borrow the old wizarding adage, that “the wand chooses the wizard.” Stop by your LBS with the hugest selection of Brooks saddles (big hint if you live in Minnesota) and test out some saddles. Start with something appropriate for your general riding style: narrower for leaned-in drop bar riders, wider for the laid-back cruiser. Put it on a chair and take a seat, and try a few! Brooks saddles are gendered (“S” for women’s fit). It’s a little old fashioned, don’t feel weird if you feel better on the “other” type, many do! We’ll help you out if you are confused, disparaged, or lost.

    confused?

    So you've found a saddle. Now we are going to give your brand new $200 leather-and-steel throne a shove down its path of decay. But we are going to control it, hold its hand, massage it, give it compliments and play it Mozart. You could just throw it on the seat post and start chugging, feeding the leather off your own oily skin and sweat. This works for some, and I salute them. They ride enough and weigh enough to use their calloused Sitz bones as shoe hammers, carving themselves a dwelling into the stone-hard surface of Brooks leather. This is what Brooks recommends, by the way. But Brooks leather is tough, and bone dry. It is shaped with heat and baked at high temperatures until the fibers set, similar to the process used to make medieval leather armor. A new Brooks saddle is a tabula rasa, waiting for your personal "touch". It requires input to selectively soften the areas that need softening, thus:

    1. Acquire some Brooks Proofide.
    2. Load a good helping onto the middle-rear section of the seat. Think of the saddle in two parts: the nose, and the seat. You are aiming for the front portion of the seat area, where your Sitz bones land. Get some on the raw underside of the saddle in the same area. Spread a very light coat on the rest of the top surface.
    3. Let the Proofide soak into the leather for a bit, until dry. It soaks in surprisingly fast. Like we said, these saddles are bone dry.
    4. Polish off the excess with a clean polishing rag. This will unseat any dye left on the surface of the saddle that would otherwise end up on your shorts.
    5. Ride hard, ride often.
    6. The saddle should start to deform, and should be very comfortable in 100 - 200 miles.
    Here's what it looked like when we treated one of our store demonstrator saddles:
    After the initial break-in period, an occasional treatment with Proofide will keep the leather supple and reasonably protected from water damage, but it will not be waterproof†. Proofide is made of waxes and oils, which don't mix with water, but if enough Proofide were used to waterproof the saddle, it would become too soft and would stretch beyond usefulness. Don't do it! And a final word: should you be tempted by that nice little chrome tensioning tool stamped with the Brooks logo, don't touch it! You will have plenty of experience with your saddle before it is necessary. Now go ride your magic carpet of velo-human friendship!     * - actually we can! Stop by and we’ll give you our refined and well-informed opinion. † - see our previous post, "Seat Thoughts: Saddle Covers".
  • Jul 15 2014

    Tools I brought on my Brompton Adventure (#BUSC 2014)

    BUSC 2014

    I'm currently sitting on an airplane headed to Washington DC for the Brompton US Championship 2014. I'm not certain what I did to be fortunate enough to be going, but it must have been something amazing because BUSC is a Brompton lovers dream come true! We often are asked what tools are needed on Brompton folding bike adventures so I thought I'd lay out my own choices for all to see.

    brompton tools

    The Tools -Park IB-3 Multitool: a fully equipped multitool (14 tools) with a chain tool and a 8mm allen wrench -PDW San Wrencho: an elegantly practical tool you'll need to remove the Brompton's bolted-on wheels as well as removing the tires -Rema Patch Kit: along with a couple TB-2 Emergency Tire Boots (sharp road debris is a global phenomena... it's best to be prepared) -Schwalbe AV4 Tube: this inner tube will fit any tire that you are using - T9 chain lube: this lube is good on both the chain and cables, just 1 ounce of T9 goes a long way -shop rag w/rubber band, this is a nice item that all the tools can be wrapped up in. Mine happens to be a very sweet Tiny Bike Shop rag -15mm wrench: I will use this to tighten my clipless pedals at Sunday's race (this will be left with the clipless pedals as it won't be needed on the road) -Topeak Road Morph Pump: The biggest hazard with hand pumps is wrestling to get to full air pressure and ripping the inner tube near the valve. The Road Morph solves this by having the head of the pump on a rubber hose so that as you wrestle with the pump, the valve is not getting pulled and tweaked. Also an air gauge is built-in (bonus!)

    If I wasn't headed to DC to be at BUSC 2014 hosted by BicycleSpace (the BUSC clubhouse du jour) I'd likely want one more inner tube and a spare tire, but in this case I know I'll be in good hands if I should find myself in need : ) Hopefully, I'll only need the pump to fully inflate the tires (I like to play it safe by letting a bit of air out of the tires before flying) and the wrenches to swap pedals on Sunday, but having the toolkit along is easy enough and has me prepared. buscmix2 ADDENDUM: I'm back from the adventure and the tools I used on my own bike: -Air pump (I flew with the tires at about 60psi and then I aired my Schwalbe Kojaks to 110 psi with the Topeak Road Morph) -4mm allen wrench on my Park IB-3 Multitool to readjust my Ergon grips/barends -8mm allen wrench to remove the folding pedal, 15mm pedal wrench to remove and install the other 3 pedals (because I was using clipless pedals on race day) On Saturday's Brompton Urban Challenge I was in a group of seven (all on Bromptons) and we suffered two flat tires in the group (neither on my own bike). Both were from tubes that had gotten ripped near the valve (likely ripped from being rough on the valve when adding air to the tires). This made me all the more sure that the Topeak Road Morph is the best pump option to bring. I fixed both flats using the PDW San Wrencho, a spare inner tube, and the Road Morph hand pump. We were back on the road in about 10 minutes each time. Had our team won the Challenge I think I'd have been viewed as the Hero of the Day, but our team was less competitive and more about fun. In our minds we won... If you have any questions feel free to contact me
  • Feb 18 2011

    Suitcase Eddy Mercxx! Ridable, Flyable Art

    Curt Goodrich of Curt Goodrich Bicycles pulled out an amazing job on a gorgeous road bike this winter. The job was to instal S & S couplers on a vintage Eddy Mercxx 7-11 Team Edition Bike. That part is the easy stuff. Then the customer wanted the bike painted in full-on original Eddy Merxx 7-11 Team Edition paint scheme with the decal kit (sourced in Switzerland). This is a Team Edition bike that would have been the team bike in 1989 and 1990. I knew that Curt was meticulous in all his work, but this was an entirely new level. After years and years of building some of the most respected steel bike frames in the world he is a master when i comes to building bikes. We all know that and marvel at the achievement. Painting is something that Curt brought in-house just a few years ago. This bike proves to me that he has mastered the art of painting a bike frame. Curt Goodrich is a super hard working guy that is making some amazing things happen with bicycles. Perennial Cycle is fortunate to have such a great business relationship with Curt.
  • Oct 26 2010

    Bending a Pair of Vision Handlebars

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