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I have a pair of leather bike shoes, which I mostly use in summer.

Is it a good idea to waterproof them using the available silicone based sprays, or can it damage the shoes?

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  • Are bicycle overshoes not a practical option?
    – Nobilis
    Sep 18 '17 at 11:08
  • @Nobilis, I find them impractical when you cycle through a summer shower and you don't want to wear them all day long.
    – L.Dutch
    Sep 18 '17 at 11:47
  • Overshoes are good for cold and wet days. If its just a minor summer shower then apply Rule #5 and enjoy a respite from temperatures.
    – Criggie
    Sep 19 '17 at 2:30
  • Summer is pretty dry normally around the world - what makes you wet? If its going through puddles then you can raise your feet off the pedals to keep them dry, or ride through the puddle slower, with your toes angled up.
    – Criggie
    Sep 19 '17 at 2:31
  • Does the manufacturer of the shoes have any recommendations?
    – Batman
    Sep 19 '17 at 2:47
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I wouldn't use silicone spray to waterproof leather, I'd use a leather boot proofer like Nikwax (the original product, not the brand). The spray is unlikely to damage the shoes but isn't very effective on smooth leather. Shoes that aren't designed to be waterproof often don't get perfectly waterproof even with treatment - stitching may leak and you'll certainly get water in around the tongue.

Whatever you use, be sure not to get it on the soles, as it makes them slippery.

I've found waterproof shoes to be a bit of a pain on the bike - water runs down my legs and fills the shoes. Shoe covers help with this but then you don't need waterproof shoes. In hot weather free-draining shoes can also be more comfortable.

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I wear a lot of leather boots and shoes. There's nothing that works better for real leather than proper leather nugget.

Kiwi shoe nugget ideally, it has carnauba wax to nourish the leather. Proper application method is to clean the shoe of dirt and mud, let it dry, apply nugget and work into leather using a brush paying attention to folds, joints and wear areas like toes. Avoid getting the nugget in mesh or ventilation panels, it will go through onto your feet/socks.

Then leave shoe to stand in the warm sun while you do the other foot. Depending on how dry the leather was you may need a second application now. Lastly is buffing, which is to rub the outside of the leather to remove excess nugget, and to generate some heat to help seal the outside. This also stops nugget bleeding out and marking other things.

Nugget is normally black, but you can get coloured nuggets. White and clear nugget exists too.

Silicon / silicone spray is a lazy way to achieve similar results, but it doesn't feed the leather and your shoes will not last as long.

Nugget also has a nice odor (well I think its nice)

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  • FYI "Kiwi nugget" has no direct connection with New Zealand. Originally an Australian brand, its now owned by one of the global megacorps.
    – Criggie
    Sep 19 '17 at 2:28
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    At least in the US (and I've heard the same on British TV), we call this shoe polish.
    – Batman
    Sep 19 '17 at 2:46
  • @Batman yes - the risk is shoe polish is literally a top coat for shine, but lacks the nutrients to feed the leather. Liquid polish would be the same - nugget is for the leather, polish is for the look. You can use both, with nugget first.
    – Criggie
    Sep 19 '17 at 9:08
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    @Batman conditioning leather and using polish are different things. A conditioner is typically a combination of mostly fat, and optionally some wax, and a solvent, or an emulsifier and water. It is intended to get soaked up by the leather. Polish is supposed to stay on the outside and may add colour. An excellent conditioner is for example simple coconut fat.
    – gschenk
    Sep 19 '17 at 12:30

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