A comfortable saddle has got to be any cyclist’s Holy Grail. Buying a new saddle is almost always like Russian Roulette and the aftermath can be nearly as unpleasant. Over the years, my posterior has been weighed, measured and found lacking, all in the name of getting a saddle that fits and will keep me comfortable when riding. So, it was with some trepidation that I tried the Brooks Flyer S, the women’s version of the company’s suspension saddle Flyer model.
I say trepidation, because the Flyer S seems to take the standard approach to designing a saddle for women, which is to create a saddle of broader dimensions than the men’s version of the same model. The S saddles from Brooks are shorter in the nose, but broader at the back than their male orientated counterparts. Like many women, I’m sure, I personally don’t like riding on broad saddles, and find them uncomfortable. When measured, my sit bones are actually narrower than my husbands, meaning I should be taking a narrower saddle than him, not wider! But, and this is a big but, having tried the Flyer S, it is still the second most comfortable saddle I’ve ever ridden on, even allowing for its relatively generous hindquarter proportions.
The smooth leather of a Brooks takes some getting used to, but there’s a reason that these traditionally crafted saddles are still the perch of choice for long-distance cyclists the world over. The Flyer is one of Brooks’ Trekking and Touring range of saddles, and as such is designed specifically with the needs of long distance touring in mind. As with all Brooks touring saddles, there’s minimal friction, and the leather moulds to its own custom fit over time. The more miles you give it, the more comfortable it gets, but even straight from the box it’s a revelation. There’s no denying the quality of the construction, and the attention to detail. The Flyer just oozes quality and solid reliability, and there’s the distinct impression that it will still be going long after you’ve hung up your panniers. At £65 it costs about the same as many high tech modern saddles, yet will almost certainly outlast them by many years.
The Flyer is no lightweight though, at 795g it is almost twice the weight of most the company’s non-suspension saddles. The weight penalty of the Flyer S over the similarly styled non-suspension B17 S is considerable, but if your route regularly takes in potholes and imperfections in the road, the Flyer’s suspension springs are surprisingly effective, ironing out the worst of the jarring, and giving a noticeably smoother ride, without any marked loss of power. Even the smallest bump is flattened out. For those who find uneven surfaces make for a physically miserable ride, but would love to head off on an adventurous trek or make the most of touring their local trails, the added comfort of the Flyer could possibly justify its extra weight, but it would be a very personal choice.
Whilst the Flyer S as tested was certainly comfortable, I would still have preferred the option of trying a narrower model. Brooks’ men’s saddles come in a variety of widths (152mm upwards), all based on a similar length of around 280mm whereas the S models, at 245mm long are only available in the broader width of 177mm (apart from the Finesse at 170mm).
A well made, hardwearing and confidence inspiring saddle, offering superior levels of long distance comfort. The suspension won't appeal to everyone, especially as it nearly doubles the weight of the saddle, but it does its job very well.
road.cc test report
Make and model: Brooks Flyer S saddle
Size tested: n/a
Tell us what the product is for, and who it's aimed at. What do the manufacturers say about it? How does that compare to your own feelings about it?
Aimed at trekking and touring cyclists.
It's hardwearing, durable, incredibly comfortable and the suspension does work well to even out bumpy terrain. The weight penalty of the suspension might put off some long distance tourers though.
Also great for commuting and general purpose riding, especially in pothole riddled or countryside areas.
Extremely well made, beautifully finished and made from high quality components.
The saddle will still be going strong long after you've expired.
As you use it, the leather moulds to fit your own shape, so as time passes it becomes even more comfortable.
There's no escaping the huge weight penalty of the suspension saddle. The trade-off is between added comfort and added weight.
Test saddle was supremely comfortable, but would have liked the option of a narrower women's version.
Worth every penny.
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
Excellent performance as a touring and trekking saddle. Suspension made bumpy potholey roads and trails far less odious.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
Style, craftsmanship, attention to detail and sheer levels of comfort.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product
Weight and lack of choice of narrower widths.
Did you enjoy using the product? Yes.
Would you consider buying the product? Definitely.
Would you recommend the product to a friend? Definitely.
Anything further to say about the product in conclusion?
Incredibly high quality saddle, offering great levels of comfort to those willing to carry the extra weight.
About the tester
Age: 37 Height: 1.65m Weight: 67kg
I usually ride: My best bike is:
I've been riding for: 10-20 years I ride: Most days I would class myself as: Experienced
I regularly do the following types of riding: commuting, touring, general fitness riding, mtb,
Lara has been riding bikes for longer than she'd care to admit, and writing about them nearly as long. Since 2009 she has been working as part of the road.cc review team whilst championing women's cycling on the side, most notably via two years as editor of the, sadly now defunct, UK's first and only women's cycling mag, erm, Women's Cycling.
Believing fervently that cycling will save the world, she wishes that more people would just ride a bike and be pleasant to each other.
She will ride anything with two wheels, occasionally likes to go fast, definitely likes to go far and is always up for a bit of exploring somewhere new and exciting.