Thursday, March 19, 2009

Huffy/Raleigh Rebuild Series #4

Saddle up!

Used Brooks B72, vintage unknown, also found cheap on eBay. A huge improvement over the thing that was on there. Brace yourself, the next in the series in going to skip a couple of steps all at once, given the nature of needing to attach fenders and wheels in the same go. It is a bicycle!


  1. The project is looking good! As for the used Brooks saddle, did you have to do anything to cheer it up?

  2. Oh yeah, I'll do a before/after comparison post on the saddle. I did multiple layers of saddle soap and several very light coats of neatsfoot oil. The difference is really remarkable. Hang tight, I'll do a post on it soon.

  3. Neatsfoot actually isn't very good for leather saddles; you may want to get some proofhide or the stuff sold at Rivendell.

  4. Right, so I just did some quick research on the neatsfoot oil issue, and it seems there are two camps: those who say NEVER! and those who have used it religiously for years and never had any of the terrible problems supposed to arise from its use. I'm in the latter.

    I have used *light* coats of neatsfoot oil to follow saddle soapings on every kind of horse tack for years, and now use it in the same way on my leather bicycle saddles. The problem with neatsfoot oil is supposed to be that the oil is organic (Google it for the tasty story of how it's made) and thus does any number of the following: clogs the pores of the leather, makes it too soft, goes rancid and eats away the leather, causes mould in the leather, etc. I've never had an of these problems, which really are all the same problem--disintegration.

    For working leather that gets exposed to weather, daily use, drying and wetting, etc., neatsfoot oil replenishes natural oils and keeps the leather from getting brittle and cracking--so it's fine in moderation for a saddle that is going to get used hard. If you're going for preservation (i.e., you don't mean to use it), however, neatsfoot oil is not the best bet, as it will have plenty of time to just sit there and do all the nasty things you've heard about.

    Sheldon Brown thinks neatsfoot oil is just fine, but the majority opinion at BikeForums is that this is the one piece of bad advice Sheldon gives. Now you've had my two cents, so take it all with a grain of salt.

  5. That's probably where the problem has been- saddles that get "preserved" to only be used sporadically, whenever the owner isn't using their other bikes and the weather is just perfect for a vintage bike ride.