Is The Brooks Champion Flyer Leather Saddle Ideal for Adventure Cycling?

The Brooks Chamption Flyer Saddle is a leather, steel sprung saddle from Brooks. It is meant for touring and trekking use.

Features

  • Length: 275mm
  • Width: 175mm
  • Height:87mm
  • Weight: 860g

The Flyer and its ladies model Flyer S are classically sprung saddles for long distance trekking and touring. It is directly descending from the B66 Champion, first featured in the 1927 catalogue. Sharing the same leather tops of the B17 models, they combine the comfort of these popular models with the extra suspension granted by two rear springs. Both are available with tubular steel rivets or with hand hammered copper rivets under the names of Flyer Special and Flyer S Special. MADE IN ENGLAND

I used this saddle throughout my cycle across Europe, cycle to India and across Mongolia. I also used it for mountain biking trips in the Caucasus. Total distance of use around 16,000km. 

The smooth but solid piece of leather stretched over the iron frame looked less than comfortable. At first I found the saddle did prove to be uncomfortable but after a couple of months breaking in, it shaped to my backside.

Eloquently put by Sheldon Brown:-

A leather saddle, like a good pair of shoes or a baseball glove, softens with use, and molds itself to fit a particular person's shape. What ever part of your rear end pushes hardest on the saddle causes the corresponding part of the saddle to soften and stretch to relieve the uneven pressure, until the saddle accomodates perfectly to your own particular tush.

It was a very comfortable perch for the duration of my trip. It offers an incomparable level of comfort and natural feeling.

I did experience a problem with my saddle. The component which provides support to the front of the saddle bent outwards. I didn't notice this for a while, but then I realised that one side of the saddle was higher than the other. I had to use some pliers to fix this, which felt rather sacrilegious. 

The other issue that arose with my saddle was that over time one side of the leather sagged more than the other. Cue jokes about the shape of my backside.

  • Tightening the leather tensioning bolt did temporarily improve the shape. 

However Sheldon Brown states:-

Most leather saddles have a tension-adjusting nut located under the nose of the saddle. Fortunately, this nut usually requires a special wrench, so most people leave it alone. In almost every case that I know of where someone has tried to adjust the tension with this nut, the saddle has been ruined. My advice is to leave it alone.

Sheldon recommends the following advice for solving the problem of a mis-shaped saddle:-

If a leather saddle gradually becomes too soft and too wide after many thousands of miles, it is sometimes useful to punch a few holes in the bottoms of the side flaps and lace them together under the saddle frame. This allows the width and firmness of the saddle to be adjusted to the rider's taste. Some older models came with a row of holes along the lower edge of the side flaps, for this very purpose.
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