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  1. #1
    Senior Member BigBlueToe's Avatar
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    Brooks - B17 vs. Champion Flyer?

    I've been reading a lot about Brooks saddles. I'm considering getting one. A question I haven't seen addressed is what is the difference between the sprung and unsprung models. I'm especially looking at the B17 (which seems to be a big favorite) and the Champion Flyer, which has springs. The Champion Flyer is advertised as having the same shape as the B17, but with two springs in back.

    What are the advantages/disadvantages of both?

    I'm about 200 lbs. My average ride is about 30 miles, but when I've been riding a lot I up that to 50 or 60. When I tour I average 50-70 miles a day, depending on terrain (mostly). I always wear padded bike shorts.

    A Vetta Gel came on my old Nashbar Touring bike in 1993. I've never had a bit of butt soreness on that thing, ever. I've ridden centuries, 4-week tours, 2-week tours with a century in the middle. My butt has never hurt me. Unfortunately, it's almost worn out. The cover is torn and coming off in three places. I need something new.

    I had a Brooks on my Raleigh Gran Prix, which I bought in 1972. Sheldon Brown says the cheap 10-speeds of the sixties often had cheap leather seats. This must have been one, because after 30 miles on that thing my butt was killing me. By 40 miles it was numb. I rode a century on that once and couldn't feel my butt for the last 60 miles. It took 3 or 4 days to recover (and I was in my 20's!) That scared me away from Brooks. Now, however, after reading everyone's (well, almost everyone's) glowing accounts, I'm considering one. If a Brooks is as good as its adherents say, that's the saddle for me. But I've also read accounts from people who are still "trying to break theirs in". It sounds like they were convinced by all the hoopla, and they're trying to make believe that the uncomfortableness will go away eventually. I'm willing to do the break-in thing, but I'm also worried that it will never be comfortable enough for me to ride as far as I want, day after day, with never a sore butt bone.

    Will the springs help with this?

  2. #2
    cyclopath vik's Avatar
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    I have a champion flyer on my LHT and I like the mild suspension it provides when I ride all day.
    safe riding - Vik
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  3. #3
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    The sprung saddles are nice if you ride any distance, especially over varied terrain. They weigh more, since the springs add steel to the saddle underframe. The Champion Flyer is a nice choice for the type of riding you describe. I could recommend that if you aren't obscessive about the extra few ounces.

  4. #4
    totally louche Bekologist's Avatar
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    i ride both sprung and unsprung brooks, and think the B-17 rides like a full size japanese luxury sedan, and the champion Flyer rides like a Cadillac.

    both are very plush, and comfy. On a broken in Brooks B-17, I am always thinking my rear tire is going flat. On the Champion Flyer, It's like sitting on a cushion.

    For touring and no worries about the weight, go Flyer. the B-17s are also plenty comfortable. I've done 120 miles in a day on one and never even thought about my posterior. AND I've got pins in my hip from a bike accident.
    "Evidence, anecdote and methodology all support planning for roadway bike traffic."

  5. #5
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    saddles

    I have both saddles and I like the sprung Champion Flyer best for longer rides as it helps eliminate road buzz and irons out small bumps. When you are tired and riding heavy in the saddle it can make a hard ride survivable. The slight added weight is worth it! Being comfortable is way more important anytime than weight, especially when you consider your total body and bike weight, its a very small percentage increase for the benefit.
    I weigh 260 and my Flyer broke in after 50 miles, my B17 had thicker leather and it took almost 500. Lots of shorter, under ten mile rides, will make it easier on your nackside although all of my saddles weren't that bad, even when new, for up to about 30-40 miles but that's my normal limit anyway!
    Last edited by charles vail; 01-26-07 at 12:05 AM.

  6. #6
    Senior Member xilios's Avatar
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    I have the Champion Flyer and my wife has the Champion Flyer "S", we only got these as there is no need to get anything else. Having springs would definetly be the way to go. To be honest I've never riden on the B17 but I just can't picture how it would be more comfortable without springs.
    They worked out perfect for us.
    cheers

  7. #7
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    I had a similar predicament before, being torn between the Flyer and the B-17. I have two bikes, an MTB and a road bike, and I was in the market for a saddle for my MTB.

    I eventually bought the Flyer for my MTB. It was so good that I decided on getting the B-17 for my roadie. Now, I have the best of both worlds. (I must admit, though, that I find the Flyer more comfortable. Maybe because I am more upright on my mountain bike.)

    You're 200 lbs, and you're averaging 30 miles. And you go 50-70 when touring? If that's the case, and you don't mind the extra pound or two, then get the Flyer.

  8. #8
    Senior Member gregw's Avatar
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    I have the Flyer and weigh about the same as you. I think the springs really help for people our size. The springs are a one size fits all affair and I think they would be less effective for a very light rider. Oh, by the way, I seemed to have skipped the break-in period, my saddle was great from day one. I did use my own break-in method (There are many out there) which I think helped. I saturated just the sit-bone areas with Proofhide from the underside of the saddle, using a heat ***. This softened those areas but did not effect the shape and leather suspension quality of the saddle. For what it's worth, another home grown method.

  9. #9
    Senior Member jcbryan's Avatar
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    So that's where that feeling comes from! I never really thought about it, at 220 lbs!

    Bekologist said: "On a broken in Brooks B-17, I am always thinking my rear tire is going flat."

  10. #10
    Senior Member brianmcg123's Avatar
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    I have a Champion Flyer and love it also. It doesn't feel like you are sitting on springs but I know its there when I hit some large bumps or rough road.

    During regular riding there is no bounciness that you might think you feel, which is a plus.
    Everyone's a roadie, they just might not know it yet.

  11. #11
    hello roadfix's Avatar
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    I weigh 160 and I noticed the springs on my Conquest become active only when I hit a sharp jolt. Other than that the saddle rides just like my other non-sprung Brooks about 95% of the time on paved roads.
    The Conquest is sold as a mountain bike saddle....(it's basically a sprung Professional). Of course, the springs will become more active if ridden off-road.
    .cinelli.olympic.surly.long.haul.trucker.kona.ku.surly.steamroller.
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  12. #12
    jcm
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    As a Brooks afficianado, I would say that if you liked the Vette Gel, try to get another one. Go with what you know. If you are determined to try a Brooks, then I agree with the others about the Flyer.

    I can sense the gagging and retching about to take place, but, the springs on a B66/67/Flyer are not soft. They measure .093" and are really only noticeable on the harder knocks. I replaced the springs on one of my 67's with those off a... swallow that bile... Huffy saddle. A very good move. The other 67 springs have been replaced with those off a very old B73. Those measure .084" (no longer available) and are very plush while giving no "rocking" at all. Both replacements really smooth out the road, while the leather takes care of the sweat and ride comfort issues.

    BTW: I ride very long day trips out to 100 miles, so I'm not just a fair weather rider.

  13. #13
    totally louche Bekologist's Avatar
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    Brooks.....
    Attached Images Attached Images
    "Evidence, anecdote and methodology all support planning for roadway bike traffic."

  14. #14
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    Bekologist, I know that this is OT, but what saddle bag is that you've got on the first (leftmost) bike in the second picture?

  15. #15
    totally louche Bekologist's Avatar
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    climbers' chalkbag. works great as a stuff bag for snacks, keys, wrappers after eating said snacks.

    I've got them on several bikes, even holds bananas ready to deploy without crushing....
    "Evidence, anecdote and methodology all support planning for roadway bike traffic."

  16. #16
    jcm
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bekologist
    climbers' chalkbag. works great as a stuff bag for snacks, keys, wrappers after eating said snacks.

    I've got them on several bikes, even holds bananas ready to deploy without crushing....
    Nah. I seen them things before. Hangin' off a horses nose full o' oats.

  17. #17
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    I have a B-67 on my touring bike and a Flyer on my flat bar road bike. I did a 40 mile ride yesterday, and I weigh 200+ a little. When it was new, I did a 50 mile ride right out of the box on the Flyer, stopping several times to adjust the fit. No pain that day, nor any other. I like them both, but the 67 took maybe 100 miles or so to feel really broken in. Its a little wider and a little more comfy.
    Most economic fallacies derive from the tendency to assume that there is a fixed pie, that one party can gain only at the expense of another.....Milton Friedman

  18. #18
    totally louche Bekologist's Avatar
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    Oh, sorry, leftmost bike in second picture... its a Jannd Tire bag, or tubular bag, something like that.

    I Like it, got a second one recently... All Jannd bags are well put togther, this one is better than most...fits well under a Brooks, either sprung or unsprung.
    Last edited by Bekologist; 01-27-07 at 10:47 PM.
    "Evidence, anecdote and methodology all support planning for roadway bike traffic."

  19. #19
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    Still OT, Bekologist. Are you referring to this?

    I ask because I'm still looking for a saddle bag that would fit snugly under a Brooks Flyer, between the springs.
    Attached Images Attached Images

  20. #20
    totally louche Bekologist's Avatar
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    Thas' IT! fits well under Brooks saddles..
    "Evidence, anecdote and methodology all support planning for roadway bike traffic."

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