Chromag Trailmaster LTD Saddle - Oiled Leather is Better
GEAR REVIEW/EDITORIAL

Chromag Trailmaster LTD Saddle - Oiled Leather is Better

Words Andrew Major
Photos Andrew Major
Date Apr 11, 2017

Chromag Trailmaster LTD

Back in  2013 I first spotted Chromag's Trailmaster LTD saddle and I had to have one. I'd been going through saddles at an epic rate, riding regularly in our wet winters and the idea of a ti-railed saddle that would last a few seasons on my hardtail was too good to pass up, at any cost. 

And oh my. It looked so good. Oiled and embossed, it was far and away the sexiest saddle I'd ever seen. It's still a decent looking perch and the extensive patina reminds me of some biblical winter rides and awesome, or awkward, off-the-bike moments. 

Chromag Trailmaster LTD NSMB AndrewM

This Trailmaster LTD has been on multiple hardtails, a full suspension Yeti, and spent many hours on a commuter before I had an epiphany and switched to the Chromag Moon and WTB's Deva on my personal bikes. It still does regular duty on test bikes that arrive with saddles my sit-bones don't fancy.

The heavy-stock leather simply outlasts other saddles including Chromag's very popular Durable Top (DT) models. I'm sure I could have oiled it as with a leather Brooks but frankly I'm curious to see how long it can keep going in the raw.

Chromag Trailmaster LTD NSMB AndrewM

The same Trailmaster LTD after years of wear. The long flatish top and comfortable nose is a great choice on bikes with slackish seat angles like the Trek Stache.  

Leather is Better

Light mahogany, burnt sienna, ochre or dark chocolate; there's nothing quite like a long-lasting and sweet looking oiled leather saddle. And that's especially true if the saddle isn't one that has to break in my gooch for a couple hundred hours before I can walk properly after a ride. 

Some saddles you break in. Some saddles break you in.

My Chromag Trailmaster LTD

The oiled & embossed leather Chromag Trailmaster LTD. It is a gorgeous, comfortable and incredibly long lasting saddle. If only one of my current perineal preferences had a similar treatment. 

It all sounds so good an yet, more recently I have forsaken my Trailmaster LTD. As comfy as it is I prefer something narrower and less padded for long days in the saddle. Choice is chief and perfect would be a combination of one of my current favourite saddles and an oiled leather cover. 

WTB Deva Saddle

A WTB Deva with a solid Ti rails and a heavy-stock oiled leather cover? Yes please.

The Chromag Moon is my Perineal Favourite

Is it a big stretch to ask Chromag to apply their LTD treatment to one of my favourite pedaling platforms their Mood | Moon saddle? I'm sure it comes down to numbers but who doesn't love getting in the Mood?

There's some fit science when it comes to saddles, especially for road use, but a lot of the choice in width, shape or padding firmness comes down to personal preference. I'm an advocate for having my favorite covering stretched over a Chromag Mood or a WTB Deva but that's not the point.

Be it an SDG, Selle Italia,  WTB, Chromag, Terry, Deity, Fizik or Fabric wouldn't you love the oiled leather treatment on your preferred perch?

X-Fusion Manic NSMB AndrewM

Fall on my Honzo, Winter on the Wozo and Spring on the Stache. The oiled leather cover just keeps kickin'. 

The Price

A Trailmaster LTD sells for around $120 (USD) which is at the premium end of mountain bike saddles without touching what roadies will unload for a pedestal. But it's within range for a performance saddle. To put that in perspective it's a $40 (USD) premium for forever-wearing leather cover. Sadly, it's no longer available with ti rails. The current chromoly-railed model weighs 320 grams and measures 284 x 140mm.

It may not be realistic to take my favourite saddles, up the price by 50% and then imagine sweet, sweet leather versions. But that's what I'm doing. And I think there is a strong argument for manufacturers and riders to get on the oiled heavy-stock leather program. 

Check out the Chromag Trailmaster LTD here...

Comments

whatyouthink
+2
whatyouthink  - April 12, 2017, 7:24 a.m.

yup greatest saddle i have ever owned. like pedaling from a couch

Reply

morgman
+2
Morgan Taylor  - April 12, 2017, 7:38 a.m.

The first Trailmaster I had was a standard black one. The padded nose worked quite well for me for steep climbs, and it was good at reducing bruising around my knees and inner thighs. When I built my Rootdown I got a Trailmaster LTD. The fit of the LTD was different – it was less compliant, and as a result felt slightly fatter at the nose. I never really enjoyed it like as much as that first Trailmaster, and ended up passing it on. 

Two things though: saddle fit is very personal, and if it works for you, it works; and I have historically ridden in padded shorts, but am now mostly riding Brooks saddles in merino boxers. So maybe the Trailmaster would work for me again. And, conveniently, the friend I gave my original black one to has just offered to give it back.

Reply

AndrewMajor
+1
Andrew Major  - April 12, 2017, 7:52 a.m.

That's interesting - I've never owned a regular Trailmaster but can't imagine wanting the LTD any stiffer. Not so for the Moon|Mood though. I wonder if perfection would become too stiff with the oiled leather treatment.

Which model of Brooks? What do you do for maintenance?

And most interestingly - which Merino boxers? I've tried IceBreaker and SmartWool but found both disintegrate with mountain bike use (saddle contact points wear - yes with shorts overtop). I've switched to Saxx for non-chamois rides... their performance stuff wicks surprisingly well but I'd still prefer merino if I could find some that last.

Reply

morgman
+1
Morgan Taylor  - April 12, 2017, 10:47 a.m.

It's not that the regular Trailmaster was stiffer; in fact it was the opposite. It's that the more supple cover allowed the regular Trailmaster to disappear under me more. Think regular Trailmaster as a single ply tire and LTD as an EXO casing. The LTD ended up feeling wider and stiffer, but not stiffer in the way that a traditional "firm" saddle is stiff. Again, saddles are personal, and I wanted to note that the LTD is, possibly surprisingly, a different saddle fit-wise than the regular one.

I've been riding the Brooks Cambium C17. Rubber and cotton, no need for maintenance. This is the second-widest Cambium model and works well for bar heights that are about level with the saddle. I rode one for 5000 km of touring last summer, mostly wearing padded shorts, but have mostly stopped wearing them now.

As for boxers I have been wearing the Arcteryx Satoro AR for a good few months now. Bought a second pair after the first worked out well. They are a heavier weight and really stay in place well, which I can't say for others I've tried. Prior to that I had a pair of Icebreaker ones that bunched up and were actually really thin, didn't work as well. My go-to in past years (and on that tour) has been anti-microbial boxer briefs from Calvin Klein, which I still have four pairs of. So that with the Arcteryx ones has me covered for weeks of underwear, hah!

Reply

AndrewMajor
0
Andrew Major  - April 13, 2017, 6:38 a.m.

Thanks Morgan - tire sidewall explanation is great | it makes perfect sense. I'd need to try my LTD vs. a new Trailmaster but I wonder if it hasn't broken in some since new.

Interesting re. Cadmium. I'll grab a quick sit sometime as I've never tried that one.

Reply

trumpstinyhands
0
trumpstinyhands  - April 12, 2017, 8:32 a.m.

Piles of carbon that can't be recycled, and now the push for piles of dead cows, increased methane, deforestation and mass extinction. Yay for the green cycling industry ;)

Reply

AndrewMajor
0
Andrew Major  - April 12, 2017, 8:45 a.m.

Tell me about how synthetic saddle covers are made? It's always so simple right? 

In reality, like extracting raw materials to make plastic vs. fuelling a global fleet of container ships with petrol, having a conversation about raising cattle for rawhide is a different conversation, for me, than McDonald's Hamburgers just based on scale alone.

Reply

trumpstinyhands
+1
trumpstinyhands  - April 12, 2017, 9:08 p.m.

Yeah I know. I was partially trolling, but I can't advocate killing animals just for my precious bum. I recycle as much as possible, donate stuff that I don't need to OCB and generally try not to buy too much random crap that is a drain on resources, but no-one is perfect.

Reply

AndrewMajor
0
Andrew Major  - April 13, 2017, 6:35 a.m.

Yeah, I get it. If these comments had an edit option I would have immediately upcycled that one into something more positive. C'est la vie.

I'm definitely focussed on products that last a long time and are serviceable so we're on the same page there.

Reply

tashi
+2
tashi  - April 12, 2017, 8:51 a.m.

If you want it to last as long as possible than I'd say you should treat the leather once in a while.  Yours looks very dry, and that leads to cracking.

You don't need to be a fussy about what product as with a Brooks as the leather isn't supporting your weight.  I prefer a Viberg product, but for this I think sno-seal will work for protection, and almost any leather treatment (Boot grease etc.) will be good to hydrate.

Reply

AndrewMajor
+1
Andrew Major  - April 12, 2017, 8:53 a.m.

"Should" : definitely!

I've been planning to pick up product and do it a while. Best place to source grease and sealant?

Reply

pete@nsmb.com
0
Pete Roggeman  - April 12, 2017, 10:47 a.m.

I need to do this, too. I might have some old school mink oil in my shoe polish kit that should be better than nothing.

Reply

metacomet
+1
Metacomet  - April 13, 2017, 6:58 a.m.

This is the best stuff I've ever come across for leather products.  Boots, couches, belts, and my Trailmaster LTD saddle that was on a bike of mine that got stolen :-( RIP

Was never happy with Sno-Seal or other more common waterproofers as they seemed to either dry out and crack or clog up the leather over time.   

These guys make some ridiculously nice boots and shoes with a cool heritage. 

http://www.limmerbootgrease.com

Reply

TheBikeDads.com
+1
TheBikeDads.com  - April 12, 2017, 11:15 a.m.

I love my Trailmaster but it definitely looks worse for wear. I have oiled it one and worked ok. Anybody recommend a successful product that wont make the seat super slippery too?

Reply

FlipFantasia
+1
Todd Hellinga  - April 12, 2017, 1:57 p.m.

I just use some snow seal on mine every month or so, it usually absorbs pretty well and doesn't make the seat slippery in any way

Reply

rasheed
+2
rasheed  - April 12, 2017, 11:27 a.m.

Loving my Moon. It ain't got the LTD treatment, but it's got a leather top and Ti rails.

Reply

AndrewMajor
0
Andrew Major  - April 12, 2017, 1:41 p.m.

I've owned a couple of the Leather-Ti Moon|Mood saddles. Still have one in a Bike that mainly sees dry riding. I found that compared to the DT version they basically melted away in local conditions.

Reply

hbelly13
0
Raymond Epstein  - April 12, 2017, 2:54 p.m.

Yes Chromag, please do this for the Lynx. I like the Trailmaster, but prefer the Lynx for my hardened taint.

Reply

AndrewMajor
0
Andrew Major  - April 13, 2017, 6:29 a.m.

Might as well do the whole line! 

I think it's pretty obvious there is demand for a range of saddles (aside from brand | model) which is awesome as long as some folks it.

Reply

tashi
+1
tashi  - April 12, 2017, 9:19 p.m.

I don't know what the right way to do it is, but my saddle is holding up well and looks lovely  

Sno-seal is nice to protect and do a little treating. the Viberg Heavy-Duty Leather Preservative does a great job of both and is easy to use. No idea where to buy it in Vancouver, I get it from the factory store here. I bet Huberd's would be good too. If it's just conditioner without any wax (Mink oil, Lexol, etc.) I'd use Sno-Seal after conditioning for protection   Sno-Seal, and Lexol are available basically anywhere. 

Almost anything is going to feel a bit funny for about 20 minutes before it buffs up. I generally slather the Viberg stuff on and let my shorts do the buffing. Nice if it can soak in for a while first.

Reply

AndrewMajor
0
Andrew Major  - April 13, 2017, 6:40 a.m.

Thanks for the play-by-play. It's very rare that I've found myself on this end of the "you gotta maintain your shit" conversation so I'll definitely be getting on that!

Reply

Chantal
+1
Chantal  - April 12, 2017, 10:32 p.m.

We have been riding the leather trailmaster for a few years...ours look a lot better, but I usually will treat the saddles after a bad wet day or every few weeks in the summer....still look like new.....yours would likely return closer to its original colour with some simply saddle wax, which is what I use...like wax for horse saddles..I think I bought mine at home hardware ...

Reply

AndrewMajor
0
Andrew Major  - April 13, 2017, 6:43 a.m.

Thanks,

20sec to apply and then you can go ride or is there drying|buffing involved?

Sounds too easy!

Reply

mtnfriend
+1
mtnfriend  - April 15, 2017, 3:20 p.m.

Old avalanche worker trick: heat the saddle up just a bit in the oven and then apply the sno-seal/treatment of your choice.  It will open up the pores in the leather, and then it will absorb right in.  (I've been doing this forever with Kinco gloves and Sno-seal).  The heat let's you skip the awkward sticky/greasy stage.

Reply

Chantal
+1
Chantal  - April 17, 2017, 12:17 p.m.

Depends how much you like your favourite shorts :0....I like to apply and just like with waxing skis remove anything that's not soaked in right away...so that I don't need to wait forever for it to dry in ......

Reply

Chantal
+1
Chantal  - April 12, 2017, 10:33 p.m.

Only takes 20 sec to apply..saddle  should be dry when you put it on for max effect

Reply

Endur-Bro
0
Endur-Bro  - April 13, 2017, 8:06 p.m.

Dear Chromag,

Please release a Mood (Moon) LTD saddle.  I have a Moon DT on my DH and have been very pleased with it over the past few seasons.  I'm looking for a new saddle for my enduro bike and was sad to see the Moon Ti is no longer in your catalog.  

Sincerely, 

Moody Cyclists

My pedal bike go to saddle is the WTB Devas as well.  I'm considered a strong look at the Ergon models of saddles for the next one now.  I like the longer nose for more body english whilst pedalling.

Reply

bitewerks
+1
Keeth B.  - April 14, 2017, 10:37 a.m.

I've been thinking of buying the leather saddle. The current white/red Lynx I ride is comfortable & I bought it at a discount but the graphics are all wore away. Plus I like leather & I know it'll last a long time.

For treatment, I'd recommend Obenauf's. Not a lot is needed & it was created for wildland firefighters to protect their leather boots from chemicals, heat, water, etc. so it'll definitely work well on a bike saddle. Also, Viberg's leather treatment is re-branded Obenauf's as is Nicks Boots in Spokane, WA.

I'd like to see a leather saddle with the rough side out. It would eventually wear smooth & would probably look good once it was 'broken in'...

Reply

tashi
+1
tashi  - April 14, 2017, 10:44 a.m.

I haven't recovered one with the split side out, but I did do a Flite in swede - the fuzzy swede stuff wore off fast and it was smooth after only a couple of rides.

I'm also curious about split side out - I could see it slowly buffing into a nice, rich texture and colours or turning into a total mess.

Good detective work on the Viberg preservative BTW, I love that stuff and it's not exactly easy for everyone to find where as Obenauf's shouldn't be hard to find.

Reply

AndrewMajor
0
Andrew Major  - April 19, 2017, 1:31 p.m.

Did you find an online tutorial re. recovering or just buy leather and go at it? 

I have an old Moon in a box with a torn top that's otherwise fine that I'd love to try and recover.

Reply

AndrewMajor
0
Andrew Major  - April 19, 2017, 1:27 p.m.

Great info; thanks!

Reply

bitewerks
+1
Keeth B.  - April 14, 2017, 11:20 a.m.

Rough-out boots end up looking smooth over time so a saddle would probably be the same plus the rough side of leather is harder to damage with cut's, etc. May not tear or get as scuffed up as much in  a crash. Seems like there would be more traction, as well. No more sliding around in wet conditions.

I like Viberg Boots but have not ordered a pair yet. I wear Wesco; would love to have the Viberg 148 boots!

Reply

tashi
+1
tashi  - April 18, 2017, 11:10 a.m.

I've worn 151's for the last few years and love 'em for heavy duty work.  You feel indestructible.  For slamming around in the hole doing form work they're unbeatable.  The clerk at the time recommended Sno-Seal as the only treatment and that was inadequate conditioning for my use/sweat levels, I should have been using the Viberg product form the get-go.  Horrendous break-in period, and pretty darn heavy and warm.  Very expensive but if you use proper treatment from the start you would come out ahead, and you spend your time in awesome boots instead of some shit-piece Dakotas.   I generally wear Blundstones once I'm framing off a deck and for roof framing for the improved comfort and agility.

Reply

AndrewMajor
0
Andrew Major  - April 19, 2017, 1:33 p.m.

Thanks to everyone who contributed re. treating leather. Tonnes of great information - I'm going to service my saddle as penance for years of mis-use.

Reply

Mic
0
Mic  - Sept. 21, 2017, 1:48 p.m.

Replying to a rather old article....

I run the 'ordinary' Trailmaster on my Stylus and on the rear edges the leather is starting to tear. Have used the saddle for almost 5 seasons, I think, regularly oiled and cleaned. But think that the perforation and/or thickness of the leather only lasts that long. 

Does anyone have an idea how long a Trailmaster LTD might hold if taken care of properly?

Reply

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