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  1. #1
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    Touring Saddle Input - Brooks B17 or Brooks Flyer

    Will be doing some touring on my Specialized Sirrus this spring and summer. I need to replace the body geometry saddle with something else. I have looked at the Brooks B17 or the Flyer. Would appreciate hearing from anyone that can give me some advice, maybe having experience with both. I am 5'9" 195.

    Any and all input is greatly appreciated.

    Kylakemike

  2. #2
    coprolite fietsbob's Avatar
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    One has the springs, but the Unsprung ones get the fancy stuff. Cu hand beaten rivets
    Select, undyed grass finished cowhide.. tapered skirt edges.. Titanium Rails ..


    I own a 30 year old Brooks Pro.. that is what Ive used.. treated it Once,
    described Below , in #9.. & put a plastic bag over it when riding in the rain all day..
    and at night , when camping..
    Last edited by fietsbob; 01-25-13 at 02:35 PM.

  3. #3
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    Looking through the forums this past week, specifically touring, many riders prefer a Brooks saddle. I do not mind the weight or the price and love the old school look and craftsmanship. I am leaning towards the B17 at this point. I am curious to the added benefit, aside from the obvious, of a sprung saddle.

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    I am about 400 miles into a brooks flyer and so far so good. it's not quite broken in so time will tell but I do notice that the springs very clearly make a difference. I am just waiting for that lap of luxury feel from the leather that so many have described...

    If you google b17 vs brooks flyer a bunch of threads will come up that discuss the difference between the two. Some in those threads say that the springs only help on the big bumps and hypothesize that they would only benefit heavier riders but I haven't found this to be true (nor did others in those threads). Not only do the springs help with bigger bumps but they also dampen road vibration. I believe the springs make the flyer 10 ounces heavier than the b-17...
    Last edited by mm718; 01-24-13 at 01:05 PM.

  5. #5
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    I have one of each, both with lots of miles. I keep thinking that I'll put the B17 (one with skivved skirts, copper rails and hand-hammered copper rivets -- purty) with the Champion Flyer on my tourer. It's a bit lighter, but I find it at least as comfortable. I haven't bothered to make the swap, and probably never will. I'm mostly just curious to see how it all feels. Both are superbly comfortable. They take around 500 miles to break in, and getting them adjusted correctly can be a bit fiddly, but they are completely worth the trouble.

    What I've noticed over the years is this: I'm unaware of the Flyer's springs UNTIL I'm staring off into space and I hit a big hole or patch of broken asphalt. Then, I think it takes the edge off of the bumps, but the difference is subtle, so it may be between my ears. Since I have not done the switch, I have another subjective impression that I have not tested. After a long ride with the flyer, I feel less fatigued, even though that bike (tourer) is heavier than the B17 bike (fixie). When I do hit a big hole in the pavement -- I like to look at birds, which is usually the cause of my folly -- I believe the springs in the Flyer ease the shock to the rest of the bicycle, but again, I may be imagining things.

  6. #6
    "part timer" SuperLJ's Avatar
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    I've used both, and if I were you I would stick with the B17. If you were planning to tour on really rough trails/paths the Flyer might be worth a try, otherwise no. Besides the added weight, the springs on the Flyer I had squeaked too, which I found mildly irritating.
    '75 Raleigh GS * '78 Bertin C-35 * '82 Trek 614 * '95 Mercian * '98 Fisher HKEK * Y2K Rivendell * '02 Heron Tour

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    I truly appreciate the input. As a general Brooks discussion (apologize for any redundancy), how often should one treat a saddle? Is it dependent on age, amount of riding or a combination of both?

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    Senior Member Jim Kukula's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by fietsbob View Post
    but the Unsprung ones get the fancy stuff.
    I am riding a Flyer Special, with hammered copper rivets and the tapered skirt edges. I have a Flyer Select waiting in storage for when the Special gives up the ghost!

    Yeah, the big advantage of the Flyer is taking the sting out of surprise pot holes and such like. I have a theory that the springs should also save on rims, too. That bit of suspension means less shock to the whole system.

    I don't think there are titanium Flyers. Yeah, the Flyer is heavier. If you are carrying stuff, the bit of added weight is really in the noise. If you want to go fast though, it's probably not the right saddle! Yeah, the more upright your posture, the more weight is on the saddle, the more benefit to springs.

    It's really a speed versus comfort trade-off.

  9. #9
    coprolite fietsbob's Avatar
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    how often should one treat a saddle?
    The Should, is subject to debate ..

    There is the apply just a little bit of Proofide regularly, crowd .

    making it up as I went along, way before the computer made a peer group,

    I used the home oven, brought the whole saddle up to be just hot enough
    to melt the waxes in the stuff,
    and put a generous dollop, on the upside down leather , which absorbed it like a Sponge...

  10. #10
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    multimodal commuter rhm's Avatar
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    Proofide will tend to soften the leather.

    Heat will tend to harden it.

    Water will soften it temporarily but shrink and harden it in the long run.

    My advice is avoid all of the above. If water can't be avoided (and it usually can't be) a little proofide can counter its deleterious effects after the fact.

    If you like your saddle the way it is now, don't do anything to it. If you don't like it, you can change it by careful application of proofide, heat, and water. But really, when i say only when necessary, i mean only when necessary.

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    "part timer" SuperLJ's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jim Kukula View Post
    I have a theory that the springs should also save on rims, too. That bit of suspension means less shock to the whole system.
    I never thought of that! Makes total sense to me.
    '75 Raleigh GS * '78 Bertin C-35 * '82 Trek 614 * '95 Mercian * '98 Fisher HKEK * Y2K Rivendell * '02 Heron Tour

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    In my experience, at 160lbs, I can't even begin to take advantage of the "springs" in the Brooks lineup. They are incredibly stiff, and maybe dissipate some vibration but I don't see them acting as shock absorbers. I'd go B17.
    commuter turned bike mechanic turned commuter (also a Velocity USA employee, but this is my personal account)

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    "part timer" SuperLJ's Avatar
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    Even if you could afford one, I would warn you away from a titanium B17. I bought one when they first came out (and was only a $40 or so upcharge) and while it lasted many thousands of miles, one of the rails eventually broke. I had it welded back together twice (by what I would consider an expert) and it broke again both times. Should have had many more miles left in it. I weigh almost exactly what you do (195) and I think I was just too heavy for it.

    I would also suggest you deal with Wallingford bike: http://www.wallbike.com/brand/brooks You can probably find what you're looking for cheaper elsewhere, but if you were to have any problems, their customer service is first class.
    Last edited by SuperLJ; 01-25-13 at 07:11 AM.
    '75 Raleigh GS * '78 Bertin C-35 * '82 Trek 614 * '95 Mercian * '98 Fisher HKEK * Y2K Rivendell * '02 Heron Tour

  14. #14
    Senior Member BigBlueToe's Avatar
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    I have the Champion Flyer on my tourer and B-17 on my road bike. I've taken the Flyer on several tours and ride the B-17 when I'm home. I can't say that I notice much benefit from the springs. The B-17 actually feels more comfortable, but that might be due to the fact that I don't ride it back-to-back for days on end like I do on tour. I'd go with the B-17 to avoid the extra weight of the springs, but either one should be fine.

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    Excellent point re: speed. Not something I had thought about. Thanks for your input.

    Quote Originally Posted by Jim Kukula View Post
    I am riding a Flyer Special, with hammered copper rivets and the tapered skirt edges. I have a Flyer Select waiting in storage for when the Special gives up the ghost!

    Yeah, the big advantage of the Flyer is taking the sting out of surprise pot holes and such like. I have a theory that the springs should also save on rims, too. That bit of suspension means less shock to the whole system.

    I don't think there are titanium Flyers. Yeah, the Flyer is heavier. If you are carrying stuff, the bit of added weight is really in the noise. If you want to go fast though, it's probably not the right saddle! Yeah, the more upright your posture, the more weight is on the saddle, the more benefit to springs.

    It's really a speed versus comfort trade-off.

  16. #16
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    Point taken. Thanks.

    Quote Originally Posted by rhm View Post
    Proofide will tend to soften the leather.

    Heat will tend to harden it.

    Water will soften it temporarily but shrink and harden it in the long run.

    My advice is avoid all of the above. If water can't be avoided (and it usually can't be) a little proofide can counter its deleterious effects after the fact.

    If you like your saddle the way it is now, don't do anything to it. If you don't like it, you can change it by careful application of proofide, heat, and water. But really, when i say only when necessary, i mean only when necessary.

  17. #17
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    Excellent points. I would rather pay a bit more for excellent service when needed.

    Quote Originally Posted by SuperLJ View Post
    Even if you could afford one, I would warn you away from a titanium B17. I bought one when they first came out (and was only a $40 or so upcharge) and while it lasted many thousands of miles, one of the rails eventually broke. I had it welded back together twice (by what I would consider an expert) and it broke again both times. Should have had many more miles left in it. I weigh almost exactly what you do (195) and I think I was just too heavy for it.

    I would also suggest you deal with Wallingford bike: http://www.wallbike.com/brand/brooks You can probably find what you're looking for cheaper elsewhere, but if you were to have any problems, their customer service is first class.

  18. #18
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    Well good luck. I'm riding a Fizik racing saddle (touring bike) which is fairly comfy up to about 50 miles so I bought a B17 Select which has the weird problem of the skirt and/or nose rubbing on my right thigh. Saddle appears symmetrical (maybe my legs aren't?) but I never had the problem with numerous cheap or nice plastic saddles. Long time ago I bought a Brooks Pro from a shop who failed to mention that it was used. Had an uncomfortable sway & couldn't fit the Campy wrench onto the tension nut w/o fear of damaging the nose part.

    Many swear by their Brooks (the hardness never bothered me) but getting a nice fit seems to be more hit or miss vs plastic saddles which usually have more of a triangular shape vs Brooks' T-shape. So both Brooks I've owned were uncomfortable even on short rides (not a break-in issue) but I've never had a plastic saddle that uncomfortable.

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    I've recently switched over from a B17 Imperial to a Flyer so have no experience of the regular B17. However, I immediately saw the advantages of the Flyer over the Imperial as being generally more comfortable and also less tiring. I ride a Disc Trucker with the bars a couple of centimeters above the seat level and mostly ride on paths and trails. I've found that apart from the absorption of small shocks - which, accumulated, created soreness over about 20 miles, the Flyer also meant I was needing to lift out of the saddle a lot less. This has resulted in getting a few more miles out of my legs and being in better shape the next day. I weigh 175 lbs. So far the Flyer only has just over 100 miles on it but they were far more enjoyable miles that the ones on the Imperial. For some reason (perhaps related to riding position) I also experience less numbness from the Flyer than the Imperial. I hope that's of use to you.

  20. #20
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    Quote Originally Posted by kylakemike View Post
    I truly appreciate the input. As a general Brooks discussion (apologize for any redundancy), how often should one treat a saddle? Is it dependent on age, amount of riding or a combination of both?
    Proofide twice a year, or whenever it gets soaked (after it dries). A waterproof saddle cover like Aardvark is a good investment for parking outside, or rides when rain or sweat is pouring down your backside.

    Keep the wrench with you on tour, and when the saddle gets uncomfortable, tighten until you feel tension. Again IME, that's about 1,500-3,000 miles, depending on age of the saddle, weight of rider, and how wet it got.

  21. #21
    Senior Member DVC45's Avatar
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    Terry Liberator.
    Buy it, install it, ride on it. Nothing more to it.

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