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  1. #1
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    Brooks - To spring or not to spring?

    Deciding on saddle for all-around transportation bike that will also be ridden long miles and camping/touring. I’m leaning towards a Champion Flyer, but some have told me that they’re too ‘springy’ and that I should go with a B17 instead. Owner comments?

    Also, is there any functional benefit to the hammered rivets & skived leather edges on the Special models?

    BTW, I weight 190 and the bike will be an LHT with 700x40 tires.

  2. #2
    Senior Member Speedo's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Slice2 View Post
    Deciding on saddle for all-around transportation bike that will also be ridden long miles and camping/touring. I’m leaning towards a Champion Flyer, but some have told me that they’re too ‘springy’ and that I should go with a B17 instead. Owner comments?
    I ride a Champion Special which I'm happy with. I've never ridden a Champion Flyer or other Brooks sprung saddle.

    I would think that this comes down to riding position, a very upright position might benefit from a sprung saddle, or other saddle shock absorption. While for a more aero position there would be no benefit to the springs.

    Quote Originally Posted by Slice2 View Post
    Also, is there any functional benefit to the hammered rivets & skived leather edges on the Special models?
    Absolutely, the big rivets look cool. What other function would you want?

    My wife insists that back in the day, the unskived edges of her standard B17 bothered the inside of her thighs. She doesn't ride a Brooks now, and I didn't know her then, so I can't make an independent comment.

    Speedo

  3. #3
    Training Wheel Graduate twodeadpoets's Avatar
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    For my tourer I went from sprung (champion flyer special) to unsprung (B17 Ti champion flyer special). I'm just over 200# and love the setup. I loved my sprung and it helped me get acustom to a leather saddle but for me the unsprung is the way to go. I put the sprung on my xtracycle grocery getter.
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    Recovering mentalist Randochap's Avatar
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    Just get a B-17. No functional difference between copper and steel rivets (I have a 31 y/o Pro w/ steel rivets) but hammered copper is beautiful.
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  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by twodeadpoets View Post
    For my tourer I went from sprung (champion flyer special) to unsprung (B17 Ti champion flyer special). I'm just over 200# and love the setup. I loved my sprung and it helped me get acustom to a leather saddle but for me the unsprung is the way to go. I put the sprung on my xtracycle grocery getter.
    I'm curious what you specifically liked/disliked? Did you notice any reduction in comfort over rough road with the B17?

    And is there some additional comfort to the skived edge of the Specials? (less chafing maybe?)

  6. #6
    Training Wheel Graduate twodeadpoets's Avatar
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    The big "like" about the B-17 is the weight reduction and looks (I'm into aesthetics), while once broken-in there is no real comparative difference (for me) on asphalt between the two. However, there is on rougher bumpier roads. This is where the sprung does come in a little more handy. Riding on the road to my house I usually tend to float above the saddle while pedaling to avoid being thrown about on the saddle but almost the same can be said about the sprung. I think the only way to really appreciate the shock absorbing quality of a sprung Brooks saddle on gravelly roads, one would need one of their 1 ton models.

    Personally I don't notice any difference between skived edges and non skived edges but the looks. Though someone lighter might notice a difference.

    I hoped any of this is of use to you.

    Cheers and good luck.
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  7. #7
    Fred E Fenders fthomas's Avatar
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    Spring - it is so much more comfortable!
    F Thomas

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  8. #8
    Senior Member xilios's Avatar
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    We use sprung saddles, I just can't see how it would be more comfortable without them.
    Last edited by xilios; 01-26-09 at 03:47 AM.

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    I have a Brooks Flyer and really like it a lot for long rides. I'm 235 pounds and do not find it too springy.

  10. #10
    rhm
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    Quote Originally Posted by xilios View Post
    We use sprung saddles, I just can't see how it would be more comfortable without them.
    The sprung saddle can cause a bouncing that is linked to your pedaling. It's a kind of washboarding effect, and more pronounced at higher cadences. I find it uncomfortable, and I suspect it is inefficient too.

    You can minimize the bouncing by pedaling with a very uniform stroke, i.e. pedaling all the way around the circle rather than just on the downstroke, provided your feet are firmly attached to the pedals with clips/cleats/&c, which also remedies the efficiency problem. I, personally, find that kind of pedaling very tiring; I've even given up on clips/cleats/etc despite pedaling with a quite high cadence. So I don't like the springs.

    Another factor is how adept you are at unloading the saddle when you go over bumps -- that is, using the suspension built into your legs rather than in the bike. I do this instinctively, so again, for me, the springs have no particular benefit. If I needed another saddle right now, I'd get an unsprung one.

    Bottom line: whether you will like the springs will depend largely on your riding style. Saddle choice is a very individual thing.

    Edit: by the way, I weigh 165 or so.

  11. #11
    Senior Member neilfein's Avatar
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    For long miles, go for unsprung. You'll be quite happy.

    You can't go wrong with a B-17 on a touring bike.

    Edit: I tour on a Novara Randonee, 700x32, with a B-17.
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  12. #12
    jcm
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    I'm sorry, but I have to say this:

    The sprung Brooks saddles use a wire gauge of about .194" on the Flyer, 66, 67 and 73 models. Brothers and sisters - that's thick. Brooks springs are very stiff and are usually "felt" only on some fairly rough surfaces. They used to use .182" on the 73 because it had a third coil in front. They have since apparently standardized. That one did bounce a bit.

    Lightweight riders are being launched by the leather, the tires, and cadence - not the springs. Test this by going back to your synthetic for ride or two. The suspension in the leather is amazing compared to any synthetic saddle. Heavy riders will derive the most benefit from springs as they are most likely to have an effect on them at all. The pogo-stick is something I have never experienced on any sprung Brooks, except when I installed Huffy - yes Huffy springs on one of my B-67's.

    Their is little or no difference in ride quality between the 17 and the Flyer, as they are the same saddle top.

  13. #13
    Senior Member xilios's Avatar
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    [QUOTE=rhm;8249240]
    You can minimize the bouncing by pedaling with a very uniform stroke, i.e. pedaling all the way around the circle rather than just on the downstroke, provided your feet are firmly attached to the pedals with clips/cleats/&c, which also remedies the efficiency problem. I, personally, find that kind of pedaling very tiring; I've even given up on clips/cleats/etc despite pedaling with a quite high cadence. So I don't like the springs.

    Another factor is how adept you are at unloading the saddle when you go over bumps -- that is, using the suspension built into your legs rather than in the bike. I do this instinctively, so again, for me, the springs have no particular benefit. If I needed another saddle right now, I'd get an unsprung one.
    QUOTE]

    One only bounces when they ride with a high cadence on a low gear.
    I always stand when going over a pothole etc. but when I mis one I'm glad for the springs

  14. #14
    You gonna eat that? Doohickie's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Randochap View Post
    Just get a B-17. No functional difference between copper and steel rivets (I have a 31 y/o Pro w/ steel rivets) but hammered copper is beautiful.
    +1 all that. My 42-year-old B-72 has the steel rivets, no problem. Also, the B-72 is sprung and, in my opinion too much so. If I were to get another one, it would be a B-17.
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  15. #15
    rhm
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    Quote Originally Posted by xilios View Post
    One only bounces when they ride with a high cadence on a low gear.
    ...
    Correct; I ride with a high cadence on a low gear, and would not recommend the sprung seat to anyone who rides that way.

    By the way, you might edit your post, there's a "[/" missing from in front of the word "quote]", which is why my quote came out garbled. Cheers!

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    I have 2x B17 and 1x Flyer, and the Flyer is gathering dust in the shed. The springs are so stiff that, for me, there's no discernable comfort benefit, but there's a whole lot of extra weight.

  17. #17
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    Thanks for all the great responses everyone!

    I'm still leaning towards the Flyer, probably the Special. Weight is not an issue on this bike - it's all about comfort & function. And when the bike is loaded with groceries or camping gear, I may not be standing as much over the rough stuff. I'm a smooth rider with a quiet upper body so that won't contribute to any saddle bouncing.

    I might offer to take a lightly-used one off somebody's hands, but I'd want my saddle to smell like new leather, not some stranger's arse.

  18. #18
    Recovering mentalist Randochap's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by rhm View Post
    You can minimize the bouncing by pedaling with a very uniform stroke, i.e. pedaling all the way around the circle rather than just on the downstroke, provided your feet are firmly attached to the pedals with clips/cleats/&c, which also remedies the efficiency problem. I, personally, find that kind of pedaling very tiring; I've even given up on clips/cleats/etc despite pedaling with a quite high cadence. So I don't like the springs.
    I'm not sure what you are arguing here. If you are arguing for efficiency, "giving up on" clips or clipless systems is not the way to achieve cycling efficiency (despite what someone with the initials "G.P." might tell you).

    You could be the most efficient "round" pedaller on the planet and still be unable to eliminate the tendency to bounce on the sprung saddle, especially pedalling hard uphill.

    I noticeably bounce more on my (unsprung) Brooks saddles than my firmer Selle Italia saddles, due to the sag in the leather "hammock" of the Brooks ... but this is what makes a Brooks so comfy over the long haul.

    Sprung Brooks saddles should be restricted to more commuter-style, upright bikes where hitting a bump is transferred directly up the spine and unweighting is less easy to do. Sprung saddles are a bad choice on performance-oriented bikes.
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  19. #19
    Administrator Allen's Avatar
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    Got a Champ Flyer, it's noticeably more comfortable than my B17 Imperial over rough roads.

  20. #20
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    With my body weight of 160 pounds the springs on my Conquest (sprung Professional/ATB saddle) becomes active only on big, sharp jolts, such as potholes. Otherwise, it rides like an unsprung Professional.
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  21. #21
    jcm
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    "I noticeably bounce more on my (unsprung) Brooks saddles than my firmer Selle Italia saddles, due to the sag in the leather "hammock" of the Brooks ... but this is what makes a Brooks so comfy over the long haul.

    Sprung Brooks saddles should be restricted to more commuter-style, upright bikes where hitting a bump is transferred directly up the spine and unweighting is less easy to do. Sprung saddles are a bad choice on performance-oriented bikes."


    Agreed, but I would add touring as a good application for sprung saddles.

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    I have both a sprung and unsprung Brooks. If my cadence gets over 100-102 on the sprung saddle, I start to notice a bit of bounce. If I go over about 110 on the unsprung saddle I may start to bounce. When my cadence is a more normal 95 or so I don’t notice a difference between the two saddles.
    In terms of comfort I didn’t think there any difference. Then I went for a tour. After about 5 days in the sprung saddle, I realized my butt wasn’t sore. IMO, the difference was subtle unless I was spending many hours on the bike. Since then I spent more attention to the differences between the two saddles and concluded that the sprung saddle was indeed more comfortable for longer rides.
    Hope my experience helps.

  23. #23
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    That settles it - you all have confirmed what I suspected...

    I'm going sprung, baby!

  24. #24
    rhm
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    Quote Originally Posted by Randochap View Post
    I'm not sure what you are arguing here.
    Oh, I don't mean to argue, or at least not to sound argumentative! But I will reply to your remarks in a somewhat mixed up order....
    Quote Originally Posted by Randochap View Post
    Sprung Brooks saddles should be restricted to more commuter-style, upright bikes where hitting a bump is transferred directly up the spine and unweighting is less easy to do. Sprung saddles are a bad choice on performance-oriented bikes.
    I agree. Another way to put the same principle is that your bike (and the way it is set up) should suit your riding style: if you like your handlebar higher than your seat, you will get more benefit from a sprung saddle. If you ride with your handlebar lower than your seat, the springs are more likely to annoy you.

    Quote Originally Posted by Randochap View Post
    ... If you are arguing for efficiency, "giving up on" clips or clipless systems is not the way to achieve cycling efficiency....
    Agreed, again; it's best to set up your touring bike for the way you actually do ride, rather than the way you want to ride or wish you could ride. There's a trade-off between comfort, efficiency, and other aspects of riding; and it turns out that efficiency is not my highest goal. Leaving efficiency and theory aside, my experience (having used clips for the last 30 years or so, and clipless systems for the last 10) is that I rarely take advantage of the benefits clips/cleats offer. Talking about clips/cleats in this thread is not a complete non sequitur because they allow a much more even pedaling style that reduces the tendency to bounce in the saddle. But I find that style of pedaling very tiring, and even though I can do it, I don't. So I'm actually happiest on the bikes that have neither.

    In sum, having determined that my riding style involves a low handlebar and a high cadence, I find a sprung saddle annoying.

  25. #25
    Bicycle Student bokerfest's Avatar
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    I have the Flyer. I am positive that I would have been happy with the unsprung, even though I am happy with my springs.
    JCM is right. It is a thick gauge on the springs which I like because just riding there is no bounce to the normal stroke. The only time I have been happy that I got the sprung instead of the no springs is when I am looking around enjoying the view and then BAM! I run over a pot hole. The springs have saved a lot of pain that would been felt if I did not have the springs. Then the con side of it, the springs cause more weight. I bet you will be happy with either choice and down the road you will be on another similar Brooks thread trying to defend the the product that you bought.

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