3000+ miles on the Brooks Flyer
Well, I can safely say that the last 3000+ miles by bicycle have been the most comfortable I have ever experienced. Sometimes you just have to believe in the hype. Brooks have been making saddles since 1882, so you’d imagine they had got the hang of it by now and I can concur with millions of other cyclists when I say they certainly have. The cycling industry is swamped with thousands of gel saddles, claiming to be the pinnacle of comfort, but the reality is that Brooks’ traditional moulded leather design is all you’ll ever need.
A couple of years ago I was also guilty of using a “comfort” gel saddle and thus regularly suffered discomfort on longer rides. I decided it was time for a change and began looking into the best saddle for bicycle touring. When researching any bicycle related purchase I usually look to forums for genuine unbiased reviews from real cyclists, I’ve found this method highly effective. That said, buying my Brooks Flyer was arguably the easiest purchase I’ve ever made and required minimal research. I was simply amazed by Brooks’ saddles clear dominance within the bicycle touring community, people absolutely love them and almost every forum I visited was inundated with gleaming reviews. There was varying opinions on the model to go for, but it appeared that the majority of touring enthusiasts opted for either the Flyer or the B17 (The Flyer is effectively a B17 with springs). The terrains I ride on are constantly changing, thus I decided to opt for the extra cushioning provided by the sprung Flyer, but after 3000+ miles was it the right decision?
Yes, it has been quite simply incredible. I have used this saddle to tour around France, completed LEJOG using it, ridden numerous long distance rides in the UK and plan to use it to cycle the length of Italy in June. I had read on forums that Brooks saddles take around 100+ miles to break in and this is certainly the case. Once out of the box the Brooks saddle feels very solid, in fact it’s actually hard to believe that it could ever become comfortable. I clearly remember riding on it the first time and thinking how the hell can so many people be wrong, it was an incredibly firm and pretty painful ride. However, I trusted in the endless roaring reviews and thus persevered over the next few weeks. There are numerous estimates on how many miles you’ll need to ride before the Brooks saddle begins to soften, but the general consensus appears to be 100-150. Yet, I felt that it had softened sufficiently after just seventy. I would imagine the process is hugely dependent on the weight of the cyclist, their riding style and the terrain they’re predominantly cycling on. The important thing is that with time your Brooks saddle will become your best friend. I decided the best way to break in my saddle was to take it on tour, as a result the saddle had softened significantly after just three days of riding in France. LEJOG is my longest ride to date and despite hitting almost one hundred and thirty miles on a few days I finished at Lands End with no bum pain at all. What’s even more amazing is it just keeps getting better! I’m happy that I opted for the Flyer as although I’m sure the B17 is more than adequate for touring, I personally like the added cushioning provided by the springs, particularly on bad roads or when I leave the tarmac altogether.
In conclusion I simply cannot recommend the Brooks Flyer enough. The saddle is durable, dries quickly, causes little to no chaffing and is incredibly comfortable. A comfy saddle really is crucial when bicycle touring, don’t opt for the gel alternatives and instead commit to a saddle that properly supports your “Sit bones” and lasts forever. Buy a Brooks, you won’t regret it.
(I've just fitted a Brooks Flyer to my Surly ECR, see pictures below!)