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Adjusting a Brooks Champion Flyer Saddle

When I bought my Brooks Champion Flyer saddle, I read everything I could about how to break it in properly. Some cyclists swear by leather Brooks saddles, others say that nothing they could do would make it feel like anything but an “ass hatchet”

Some sites recommended break-in procedures that used to be prohibited by the Geneva Convention: water torture by soaking the saddle in water to soften the leather; dipping in molten wax; motor oil baths and the like.

I opted for a more conservative approach. I put a heavy coating of Proofide, the BrooBrooks Champion Flyer with Proofide treatmentks recommended treatment, on the underside of the saddle to protect it from water thrown up from underneath. Then, for several days, I would lovingly caress the top of the saddle with Proofide, figuring that more has to be better, right?

The upside was that I had a very soft, comfortable saddle that quickly molded itself to my backside. Unfortunately, soft can sometimes mean sagging. The leather stretched, causing the skirt or sides of the saddle to splay out when I sat on it, chafing my thighs and wearing out my shorts.

That’s not a good thing.

Brooks Champion Flyer Saddle that has stretchedAs a last resort, and with much trepidation, I ordered a Brooks Saddle Tension Wrench from Harris Cyclery.

I say “with much trepidation,” because Sheldon Brown warned, “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.” He suggested punching holes in the skirt and using lacing to pull it in.

When the wrench came in, I moved the adjusting bolt about a quarter of an inch and watched the leather tighten up.

Adjusting nut on Brooks Champion Flyer

Over the next few years, I’ve probably moved it a total of about 3/8 of an inch and I apply fresh Proofide about twice a year or just before I think I’m going to be riding in the rain.

After getting tired of cheap shower caps shredding, I ordered a Carridice Brooks saddle cover from Peter White Cycles I keep it wadded up under the saddle all the time in case I run into rain.

Aardvark is my new Brooks raincoat

Update: I’ve changed to a waterproof Aardvark cover to keep my Brooks saddle dry.

A few months ago, I noticed that the bolt had starting backing off and the saddle was “rocking” left and right. I made the bolt snug and put a drop of Loctite on it to keep it from loosening. It seems to be working fine, now.

I’m one of the users who found the Brooks to be a comfortable saddle out of the box and it’s only gotten more comfortable every ride. If you don’t care about the extra weight, the springs on the Champion Flyer do a good job of smoothing out the road buzz.

8 comments to Adjusting a Brooks Champion Flyer Saddle

  • I was wondering if you have trouble with the springs on your Brooks saddle squeaking like CRAZY?? I have to tighten my saddle…am hoping that this will solve that problem, as well as the sagging, too.

    • Julie,

      There are some noises on my bike that drive me crazy, but the squeaks from the Champion Flyer isn’t on that list. It DOES squeak, but it doesn’t bother me.

      Maybe it’s just unidentified noises that drive me crazy. I was on a ride once where there was a new clicking noise somewhere in the front of the bike. I pushed, pulled, bounced and tightened everything on the bike without finding it. I finally discovered that it was a lens filter rattling around in a plastic case that was slightly too large for it.

    • Julie,

      I had one of those mystery noises on a ride last weekend. It was kind of a high-pitched “tink, tink, tink.”

      I felt around all over the bike and couldn’t find any of the likely suspects. After a couple of miles, I couldn’t take it any more.

      I got off the bike, bounced, wobbled and twisted it until I found the culprit: I had my video camera mounted on the second stem and had neglected to close the cover on the battery compartment. Every time I hit a bump, it would make a noise. Because it was on the bottom, I couldn’t see it and I never thought to feel for it.

  • Found your post while looking for info on tightening brooks saddles. I have one from ’78 that’s ripping my shorts up. I’ve tightened it a TINY bit, but I’m afraid to do much more thanks to Sheldon. Any issues with yours since you’ve been tightening it?

    • No problems. I find that I take about a quarter turn or so once a year. My kid and I went for a ride last weekend. He’s a go-fast rider who is always mocking how heavy my Surly Long Haul Trucker is. When we stopped, he suggested we trade bikes. The first thing I said was, “Your bike is squirrelly and twitchy. You can have it back.”

      He said to me, “I can’t ride your bike. It just wants to go in a straight line.”

      Then, he added, “But your Brooks saddle really is comfortable.”

      I had to agree. After sitting on his saddle, even briefly, sliding onto the brooks was like cupping a baseball in a well-oiled mitt.

  • PJTramdack

    Interesting thread. I believe– reading the account above, that the generous treating of the saddle with Proofhide was overkill. I did the same thing and have the same result. I am probably going to apply the laces before starting out this season but I am just looking around for a more elegant solution. I now prefer Obenauf’s Heavy Duty LP which is a lot like Proofhide but I think you use less. Buy direct from Obenauf for the best deal.

    I bought a Surly LHT last year and I think it is great, but a bit on the twitchy side as a matter of fact. I have a high-mounted handlebar bag and I think I am going to lower the front-end weight a bit.

    • Interesting that you would call it “twitchy.” My two sons are go-fast riders. We swapped bikes during a ride recently, and I thought their bikes were “twitchy.” They, on the other hand, thought my LHT was “dangerous” because they said it wanted to steer straight ahead.

      This may be why I don’t feel like my handlebar bag feels high: I put a second stem on my bike.

  • [...] words about how my Brooks Champion Flyer saddle is sooooo comfortable. In fact, I wrote once that I almost killed my saddle by making it TOO soft. Trust me, when you haven’t been riding a lot of miles, I don’t [...]

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