Apr 22, 2010

Brooks B-72 Restoration

The ancient Raleigh 3-speed I picked up last weekend came equipped with what is probably an original Brooks B-72 leather saddle. The saddle is perfect for this bike - it's classy, old-looking, period-correct and British. What's more, a new B-72 would set you back about $140 or so, so this one was definitely worth trying to salvage.

The underside of the saddle was dusty dry and the top had some surface cracking, but it appeared to be in good shape otherwise.

I applied some left-over Proofhide (the Brooks-recommended saddle treatment) to the underside to re-hydrate the poor thing and then did some internet work to see what was recommended for the top. A little searching led me to conclude that pure carnauba wax was probably my best option (although Brooks doesn't recommend using anything other than Proofhide on their saddles, I have applied Proofhide to the top of a Brooks saddle in the past and observed that very little (if any) of the Proofhide penetrated into the leather).

When I began this project, I didn't know WTF carnauba wax was, but it's easier to find than I thought - it's a car wax and also used as cork grease for woodwind instruments. For saddles, however, you need pure carnauba wax (i.e. no cleaners, which are common in the car waxes). The photo at right is the saddle, post-wax application but before I warmed it and buffed it up.

After warming the saddle to let the wax soak in a bit, I buffed it with a cotton rag and gave it a look. The leather feels much better than before I waxed it. The color is very similar to what was before I gave it the treatment, which I like. The worn areas still look worn, but the cracks are healed over somewhat and the saddle is shinier over-all. In fact, the saddle is so shiny that the "after" photo had a lot of glare and I had to dial-down the exposure to see what was going on.

So, there you have it. One unscientifically documented Brooks saddle treatment with carnauba wax.

On a side note, if you live in the upper Midwest and want to do this yourself, hit me up because I probably have enough wax left over to treat every Brooks saddle ever sold in North America.


  1. I'm curious, I have an old Raleigh 3-speed with I assume the original brooks saddle, how much is the bike worth in fair shape?

  2. It's probably not worth much. Unless the bike something really special and would appeal to a collector, most people are not interested in 3-speeds. I see these sell for around $125 on Craig's List. Mine cost considerably less than that.

  3. When did you get this? YIKES?

  4. I bought it from Suspected two weeks ago. It's a fixer-upper, but it was priced to move and will be fun to buzz around on with Molly. Besides, I had an empty hook since you picked up that Cannondale...