Monday, March 29, 2010

Leather saddle break-in procedure

This was left as a comment on another post by an anonymous contributor. I felt I should share it with you here. from what I know of taking care of leather it's seems to make sense. I haven't tried it myself but I plan on getting a new Brooks this summer and I will definitely try this out.

Any of you have tried this method? Let us know and comment.

"Unapproved Brooks leather saddle break-in procedure:

1) Select the saddle that seems to fit you in the store. Don't bother to get an "Aged" version, because they do not last as long as the regular versions.


Step 1) is important, because if you do this to anyone else's saddle, you will ruin it for them.


2) Take it home and Proofide the bottom thoroughly, and put a thin coat on the top surfaces.

3) LOOSEN THE SADDLE TENSIONING BOLT. Go ahead, loosen it all the way if you want.

4) The day you are going to break it in, put a moist washcloth on the back half of the saddle and leave it there for an hour or so.

5) Put on your cycling shorts that match or are darker than the saddle color, because a little of the saddle color may bleed onto your pants.

6) Remove the damp cloth, and ride for about five miles. By now it should feel bouncy like a firm mattress.

7) Ride for about another five miles. You should notice a distinct "hammocking" of the saddle, and it will be hard to sit all the way back on it.

8) Let the saddle thoroughly dry out.

9) Lightly Proofide the top of the saddle, or use regular wax-based shoe polish.

(This step merely exists to shine up the leather and limit the amount of water the leather absorbs, so just use plain-old shoe polish wax if the saddle already feels OK, or use Proofide if it still seems a mite stiff.)

10) Tighten the saddle tensioning bolt. (I had to use an adjustable spanner, as the supplied wrench slipped once I pulled the leather back into the stretched position.)

That's it! Ride and enjoy!

--Alan, another satisfied Brooks customer.

p.s. I was able to mostly break in a new B17 saddle in about 20 miles, and it's truly a joy to use now. "

Again, many thanks to our anonymous reader for the tip.

Until next time, ride safe and Godspeed.

Gerry :)

Saturday, March 20, 2010


One of the most popular posts on my blog is the one about rust removal on Chrome. Naked metal left by itself to the elements will react with ambient air and oxidize, the by-product of which is ugly rust. Chrome plating bare metal parts protects them but sometimes the elements and time are strong enough to go through that barrier and still cause rusting. There's also a question about the quality of the plating. Not all plating jobs are equal. There's a big difference between a plating job on a cheap Chinese bike and a triple plating show Chrome job on a Custom Harley.

Back to our main topic. Chrome parts on a bicycle look awesome but the opposite can be said about the parts being slowly eaten away by the evil result from the natural chemical reaction of oxidation. In the previous post I showed you how to get rid of it by using steel wool, some Chrome polish and a polishing cloth. Many of you left comments on how good this worked and then we had a bizarre suggestion about using regular Aluminum kitchen foil with water!

I can confirm, as many of you already have, that it works remarkably well to remove rust from Chrome bicycle parts. I myself use Chrome polish and even WD40 instead of water with the foil and the results speak for themselves. It removes the rust a lot faster than steel wool.

Simply cover the part in water, WD40 or metal polish and rub with a bunched up piece of foil and voilĂ ! Chrome looks amazingly good.( See the image above of one of my CCM Marauder fenders.) This will not reverse serious pitting or flaked off plating, some parts are sometimes just too far gone.

So try it yourself and be amazed like thousands of our readers. Until next time, ride safe and Godspeed.

Gerry :)

p.s. Don't forget my free ebook on basic bike maintenance for newbies. Download from here.

Sunday, March 14, 2010


Most bike repairs can be done with regular tools that you can find at the hardware store. Some however are very specialized and specific to certain tasks. For example the chain breaker tool or the pedal crank puller are pretty specific items that any starting mechanic should get.

Tools are not cheap and one source that might get you a bargain are the omni present flea markets and garage sales. Used tools, of any kind, are sometimes of better quality than the newer items and the price is often very decent.

The examples in the picture above are mostly meant for carrying in a saddle bag but I would be confident in using that 50's era tool that is at the bottom of the pic. That tool has everything I need to take apart an old style three piece bottom bracket and cotter pin cranks. The others I grabbed because I collect old bike stuff and I found that the tire spoon part could be practical. I got the whole lot for $6. Yes $2 a piece! Buying all the tools separately to take apart that bottom bracket new would cost over $60 easy.

Keep an eye open for old and used tools at flea markets and garage sales. Look up online for images of bike tools so you know what you are looking for. Chances are the person selling it doesn't know what they have and the price should be more than decent. That is one of the best way to get your hands on cheap bicycle tools.

Good hunting.

Until next time, ride safe and Godspeed.

Gerry :)

Monday, March 08, 2010

CCM Marauder restoration

Snow is melting away and the sun was present all weekend with temperatures above zero. All that is needed to go for a ride. I went in the shed and the only bike not tied up in a knot with all the others was my CCM Marauder.

The ride was nice but the bike is truly falling apart at the seams. Even if it doesn't show up in my pictures, a recent clean up of my shop afforded me some space to start a new project. I have found most of the missing parts for this bike and I was planning to rebuild it, so now is a good time as any to begin the restoration process.

I originally bought the bike for $10 but with the different parts that I got for it, the spend-o-meter now sits at $90. I plan to salvage what I can and use what I already have to avoid any more expenses.

If you want details on how I took this thing apart, just follow one of my older blog here: bikeoverhaul.blogspot.com The information there covers the tear down of the exact same type of bike.

What I do want to share with you are a few tips that can make things easier, especially for when the time comes to rebuild the thing.

Tip number one is to set aside a box that you can dedicate to your build for the loose items big or small. Sounds too obvious, but it can save you a lot of cursing in a near or distant future when you are looking for that elusive, impossible to replace, little thingy part that you absolutely need.

Tip number two is to leave whatever you take apart in some relative state of sub assembly until you are ready to work on that specific part. Example: All the bearings and cones left on the fork or brake calipers with all the attached nuts and bolts.

Tip number three is take a picture! You're about to take something apart for the first time in your entire life? Take a picture of it with all the parts exposed in a few angles and Bingo! You got yourself documentation to save your life when that little gizmo goes "Pop" somewhere in your shop. Most everybody has a camera these days, you just have to discipline yourself to use it.

All these tips will help you even if you are just doing a simple repair job, not just a full restoration. When you come back to your bike after a long work week or a couple of months down the road, all the parts and information will be there, ready to continue from where you left off.

I'll keep you posted on the build.

Until next time, ride safe and Godspeed.

Gerry :)