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I'm new to leather saddles and I'm working on breaking mine in. I'm using a Brooks B17 Narrow. I use clip on fenders with my bike when the weather is bad. However, sometimes I get caught in the rain, or hit puddles on otherwise dry days. I know that I need to apply proofide to the top of the saddle to protect and condition it, but I'm not sure what to do about the underside.

What strategies are recommended for protecting the underside of your leather saddle?

Would applying proofide to the bottom be appropriate to help protect it? Other suggestions?

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up vote 9 down vote accepted

Brooks recommends applying a layer of proofide to the bottom of the saddle. However, you should not wipe this layer off after it sets. Just leave it on, and it will protect the underside.

Personally, I also recommend fenders for a bike that you plan to use frequently in the rain. This will also drastically reduce the amount of water that splashes up into the underside of your saddle. However, only a "permanent" full-size fender will really provide this protection — removable ones don't protect the seat tube, and the spray from water hitting that is the primary source of the water that gets under the saddle.

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Great answer. Pretty much covers it. You meant Proofide, though, I think? – zenbike Apr 20 '12 at 15:31
I did. OS X autocorrect foils me again. – Stephen Touset Apr 20 '12 at 15:33
I beat my full-fendered bike with Brooks in rain, and have no problems with splashes on the underside (only from the upper side when it is ACTUALLY raining, but then plastic bags are the way to go). Also, full-fenders unbelievably increase the lifetime of the drivetrain in the rain, and even in dry weather (since not so much dirt is thrown by the front wheel in the drivetrain - if a mudflap is used! :o) – heltonbiker Apr 20 '12 at 16:51

For the bottom and shaved edges I use beeswax. Beeswax prevents absorption of moisture, air and dirt but sits on the surface of the leather.

Proofhide, while providing some waterproofing, penetrates the leather causing it to expand and stretch. Brooks recommends it only be used on the finished side.

I live in Hilo, HI, the rainiest city in the US. This, along with full-coverage fenders and the occasional shower cap cover, works best for me and my three bikes with Brooks saddles.

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