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Can I turn a Brooks Flyer saddle into a Brooks B17 (... with reasonable effort ... whatever that means)? Has anyone ever tried?

Brooks Flyer: https://www.brooksengland.com/en_us/flyer.html

Brooks B17: https://www.brooksengland.com/en_us/b17.html

For this, I would need to replace the frame assembly of the Flyer saddle with the frame assembly of the B17 saddle. The frame assembly can be purchased separately. As far as I know, both saddles have the same dimension.

enter image description here

Anyway, I am afraid I will have to detach the leather of the saddle. This would require the removal of the rivets which come without a threads. Has anyone ever tried and can report on their experience?

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    Great question - I can't answer it, but to clarify, a rivet cannot have threads else it becomes a bolt+nut. By definition, a rivet is "set" which deforms the metal. So rivet removal is always destructive. You will need a new rivet, or some kind of suitably sized bolt as replacement.
    – Criggie
    Sep 9 at 12:24
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    Thanks for the clarification. There is a YouTube video of a guy who disassembles and reassembles his brooks saddle: youtube.com/watch?v=NZtRrxsxxao He simply inserts new rivets (I've never worked with rivets). However, if the size of the saddles is the same and the only difference are the springs, I should be able to replace the frame.
    – Stücke
    Sep 9 at 12:31
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    ... still quite some work probably.
    – Stücke
    Sep 9 at 12:31
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    but ... why? Anyhow, a Brooks saddle is "just" a metal piece with some leather, if you remove all the craftmanship and the experience they have. Since you are asking, I guess your expertise with leather is 0, I do not know your craftmanship level, I would expect a poor job, with the outcome of the leather disintegrating in some months because the rivets/bolts/whatever will be either too strong, or too weak, or too large, or too narrow... I am not judging you as a person, only the endeavour you are embarking onto. Good luck!
    – EarlGrey
    Sep 9 at 13:30
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I’ve just done it.

Reasons were:

  • I wanted more saddle setback but this also means lowering the saddle a bit and my seatpost won't go any lower; the B17 should be about 1 cm lower from the rails to the top of the leather.
  • The leather is well broken in and a new B17 wouldn't be
  • As I've got fitter I'm not sure whether I need the springs
  • Half the price of a new saddle

Flyer saddle converted to B17, showing copper rivets

How it went: The leather is indeed the same size and shape. The nose parts are also the same. I left the nose rivets alone bc they are harder to access – you'd have to make a kind of sideways anvil for the side ones – and it's not functionally relevant whether they are the smaller steel ones or the bigger copper ones.

For the rivets you need some kind of rivet setting tool; I used a DIN No. 4, which is 7 mm diameter; it's not optimal though bc its head is too deeply concave. I partly used a flat-headed punch to spread the inside end of the rivet.

Once you have the inside/bottom/shaft end of the rivet spread and gripping the frame, you still have quite a lot of hammering to do in order to bed the large flat head of the rivet into the leather on the outside/top. For this you want the rivet setter upside down attached to your bench. See

I set mine into a block of wood that I held in the vice.

As a DIYer you probably want to hook up the nose assembly before doing the back rivets. I didn’t, and then had to create a saddle-stretching jig to get it back together. Which is another story, I guess. If you watch the video of the factory, they also hook up the nose last, but they have a big ol' machine that does the stretching.

The result: yes it does take up 1 cm less height than the Flyer.

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    Please report back on if you are successful; as it is this doesn't really answer the question since it's asking for people with actual experience.
    – DavidW
    Sep 14 at 19:41
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    Well done! Where exactly is the 1cm? Oct 12 at 18:04
  • I just measured from the floor to the top of the saddle using a spirit level and a try square, with it on the bike, without moving the seatpost. You can see the difference in where the rails are relative to the leather in the side views on the brooks website.
    – Ben
    Oct 12 at 19:03
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From the picture above, plus those you've linked, you'd definitely have to remove the rivets, and rivet the leather to the new frame. This doesn't look easy, especially as the flyer doesn't give good access to the back of the rivets.

Looking very closely at the pictures on their website, I'm not sure the leather is made identically anyway. The taper and shape of the nose look subtly different, and I'm not absolutely sure the innermost rear rivets are in the same place. Yes, they're both stamped the same on the inside, in the photos on the website, but so are some definitely different saddles (e.g. B17 carved)

You'd be better off selling your flyer 2nd hand, or putting that on another bike, and getting a new one.

However Brooks themselves, and authorised dealers in other countries, can refurbish saddles, e.g. replacing broken rails. If your flyer is already moulded to you and that's why you want to transplant the leather, it might be worth getting in touch. As usual Sheldon Brown has more detail including contacts. That page also has some DIY notes, but Sheldon and his friends would DIY practically anything.

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    Thank you for your answer! I just received a response from Brooks England customer support regarding the size of the leather of the B17 and Flyer: "Yes, the leather is identical in size and shape". Maybe I'll give it a go. If yes, I let you guys know how it turned out.
    – Stücke
    Sep 10 at 12:05

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