Aug
25
2009

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Terry Liberator X Gel vs. Brooks Champion Flyer S

by Tara

Before riding a touring bicycle, the longest I'd ever spent in the saddle was riding back and forth to work on my beach cruiser. I didn't know what a saddle should feel like. I chose the Terry Liberator X Gel because Cindie from Down the Road had been riding with one for years and it seemed like it should be great because it was designed by women, for women.

After we left, it took me a couple of months to notice just how uncomfortable I really was. I'd never done a tour before—I thought all those "hardcore" cyclists out there had to have a different version of comfortable than I did. At first, there were plenty of other things to occupy my mind—getting used to a fully-loaded bike, discovering muscles I never knew existed, camping every night, etc.

Until we started going over the 25-mile mark, things were okay. After that, slight discomfort would degenerate into very painful, raw skin. It was worse on hot, hilly, days, and better on easy, cooler, flat rides. Usually (hopefully) it would heal overnight, and the annoying process would start over again the next day. When I finally found some chamois cream at a bike shop, it helped some, but I was still having issues.

After a particularly bad string of days with especially raw skin, I was ready to try anything. Tyler always seemed so comfortable on his saddle, and he'd been saying I should get a Brooks ever since I had my first uncomfortable ride. It seemed pretty risky to fork over $100 without even getting to try one out first, so I did some research.

I read a forum on Team Estrogen's website with a thread about Brooks women's saddles; some women loved the men's version, some swore by the women's versions. I didn't know which one to pick, but we didn't have an easy way of shipping one here anyway, so the choice was put on hold for awhile. When we finally did find a shop that sold them, I wasn't forced to make a decision—there was only one and I took it. It was the Brooks Champion Flyer S.

Because the Liberator X Gel is somewhat squishy, with a clinging, textured cover instead of a slick one, I would sink down into the saddle, sticking to it and mashing and grinding my sensitive bits with every pedal stroke. With my Brooks saddle, I sit comfortably, perfectly supported without any friction. The saddle is so slick and smooth that my bike shorts just slide around on it.

Many people, men and women alike, experience an uncomfortable breaking-in process, where the hard leather on a Brooks saddle gradually forms to the shape of your butt. I haven't felt any pain whatsoever, though, and I've read about many women who love theirs instantly. All I feel is relief.

Since I started riding on my new saddle, I've had one day with very slight chafing which was fixed by adjusting the nose of the saddle up ever so slightly. I haven't had any problems since! Everyone's butt and bits are different, so I can only really speak for myself when I say: the Brooks is the clear winner in every respect.

Brooks Saddle
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9 comments

Hi Tara!

Thanks for your thoughts on the saddles. I've read elsewhere that in a trial of 'petite women' (shorter than 5'6" I think), the one saddle they all agreed on was the Terry Liberator - united in *dislike* of it.

I've not really had heaps of trouble on the saddle that came with my bike - but the longest I've ridden on it has been 7 days. If we do end up going for months and months ... I'd like something better!

- Oanh
Posted by nnonews on August 30th, 2009 at 3:35 PM
hey friends. sorry it has been awhile since i've written any notes. i'd have to say that that was the most polite, respectful, and truthful comment on a product i've ever read. i feel for those whom have never been taught/learn to speak(or write) with such elegance. you bring much credit to your parents & family with such a thing.
--keep on keep'n on.
--maestro kurt
Posted by Schtick on August 30th, 2009 at 9:39 PM
thanks for the review! keep on sittin' pretty... -manjula
Posted by m. on September 1st, 2009 at 12:45 AM
Oanh-- hmmm, I'm 5'5" so maybe that's why I hate it...? Anyway, get a brooks! :-)

Maestro-- WOW thank you for that comment :-) We do do a lot of editing, too, but thank you! We miss you guys!

Manjula-- no problem, hope it helps!
Posted by Tara on September 1st, 2009 at 2:03 AM
Thanks for posting your experience on these saddles. i couldn't believe I got a hit on what my question was exactly! I just tested out the Terry yesterday. I still had moments where I "felt the chaf" to put it politely:) Think I am going with a Brooks too! Doing the TransAmerica Trail at the end of June!!!!
Posted by Allison F. on May 7th, 2012 at 2:56 PM
Allison, a trans-America trip sounds great! I'm so glad you found this review to be of use. I don't think you'll regret going with the Brooks. Happy trails!
Posted by Tara on May 12th, 2012 at 5:15 PM
the terry butterfly is my fave seat - super comfy for men and lasses (women's saddle).
I ride a recumbent now, mo betta still. ;)
Posted by jethro on October 9th, 2012 at 6:30 PM
Tara,

I’ve owned a Brooks saddle (by far the worst saddle I’ve ever ridden on) and a Terry saddle (Men’s Liberator). In a lot of cases, the riding position can greatly influence how you get on with a saddle.

I replaced a Selle Italia XO on my road bike with a Topeak saddle, and hated it, so I swapped in a Selle Italia Flite Gel, and loved it.

When I bought a hybrid, I tried the Topeak since it was sitting in the parts box, and while it was better, it wasn’t great. I tried the old Selle Italia, and it was aweful. I was able to borrow a Terry saddle, loved it on the hybrid and bought one.

Later I acquired a mountain bike, and when I tried the Topeak on that bike, it was brilliant.

I did try the Terry on the mtn bike (so-so) and the road bike (so-so), and the Selle Italia on the mtn bike (a disaster).

My conclusion is that the more upright the riding position, the more padded the saddle can be as your sit bones penetrate the padding more easily, which is why the hard Selle Italias work well on a road bike, the squishy Topeak worked well on the mtn bike, and Terry worked well on the hybrid.

Now that I’ve changed from a race frame to a touring frame on the road bike, I’m not getting on as well with the Selle Italia, and was looking at getting another Terry.

Cheers.
Posted by Mark on October 1st, 2013 at 7:06 AM
Thanks for adding your thoughts to the conversation, guys!
Posted by Tara on October 1st, 2013 at 7:32 AM
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