Re: [CR] Saddle soaking: No kidding?

Example: Framebuilders:Masi

Date: Thu, 28 May 2009 06:44:47 -0700
From: Jerome & Elizabeth Moos <>
To: <>, Tom Sanders <>
Subject: Re: [CR] Saddle soaking: No kidding?

Well, I was skeptical too, which is why I tried it first on the original B17 on the Schwinn Superior I bought from you just about 2 years ago now. I don't have before photos, but you may recall that the saddle was in pretty rough shape, while the rest of the bike was almost like new. Not so much from use as just from drying out and cracking.

This in't magic, although it may seem such to those of us who have become conditioned to throwaway synthetic materials. Leather is organic and as such needs the proper moisture to perform well. But when it becomes too dry it has the ability, within bounds, to absorb mositure and thereby regain condition to a great extent. Tony and probably a lot of the guys in UK and France have understood this for a long time, but not too many Americans seem to have thought much about it. Those used to using or making leather goods probably won't be surprised though.

I think the reason Tony Colegrave, Mike Barry and others warn against treating the underside of a saddle is that to maintain condition saddles must absorb mositure, and treating the underside with oils blocks this. Froofhide may moisten the saddle initially but it will eventually cause it to dry out by blocking mositure. In a wet climate like England, a saddle may often absorb enough moisture to remain in balance, as long as the underside isn't blocked with oils. But in a desert climate like here in West Texas, it may be necessary to soak a saddle in water periodically to restore the proper moisture level

Once you try this, it isn't that mysterious. I think we all know that leather (or wood) when soaked in water, will absorb water and swell. What you really have to try to appreciate is that when the leather swells with moisture, little surface cracks close up. Maybe they don't disappear completely, but they become much less noticeable to sight or touch. And on only slightly sagged saddles, the swelling will often push them back into close to their original shape. If not, then once the saddle is thoroughly wet, it becomes pliable and you can shape it with you fingers. That's what I did on the Ti-railed Mod 90 with the center ridge - pushed the sides up with my thumbs and pushed the center down a bit. It's pretty easy to shape the leather when it is completely wet, and it will hold the shape as it dries. And for spread sides, you can hold push the sides back in while wet and clamp them to hold them in place as the leather dries.

One obviously isn't going to restore a saddle to NOS this way, but you can close up cracks, smooth the surface to a great, if not perfect extent, and mold the saddle back to near original shape. Which, if you are actually going to ride it, is all you really need. Personally I think a saddle with obviously a lot of use, logos worn down a lot, but still with a good shape, smooth surface and shiny copper rivets is in some ways cooler than an NOS one. Sort of the saddle version of patina, I guess. Like a good steel frame from the 50,s or 60's, it reminds us these are products made to be used for a lifetime, or at least for decades, not thrown away after a couple of seasons.


Jerry Moos

--- On Thu, 5/28/09, Tom Sanders wrote:

> From: Tom Sanders <>

\r?\n> Subject: [CR] Saddle soaking: No kidding?

\r?\n> To:

\r?\n> Date: Thursday, May 28, 2009, 6:44 AM

\r?\n> I almost checked the calendar to see

\r?\n> if it was April first when I read the

\r?\n> recent post about saddle soaking.  I guess if Tony C.

\r?\n> likes it, it must be

\r?\n> good, but it really took me by surprise.  Would any of

\r?\n> you who are planning

\r?\n> to try this please take some close up photos of the surface

\r?\n> and shape ,

\r?\n> etc., before and after , and share them with the rest of

\r?\n> us?


\r?\n> I am still a skeptic, I'm afraid.  I am reminded of

\r?\n> the old Charles Atlas

\r?\n> claims that "In just seven days I can make you a man" 

\r?\n> Hell, the only time

\r?\n> I've seen anything like that happen was in the Rocky Horror

\r?\n> Picture Show.

\r?\n> Some things just seem too good to be true.  Are you

\r?\n> doing anything special

\r?\n> to re-shape the saddles afterward?


\r?\n> Tom Sanders


\r?\n> Lansing, MI USA