All seatposts are not created equal. That is pretty self evident, right? Maybe so, but 15 years ago consumers certainly could not choose between the variety of seatpost designs that are available today. Several new designs (the Kore I beam series and the Race Face Deus pictured here are just a couple of examples) have moved pretty far away from the notched curved washer head design that almost all old seatposts employed for adjusting saddle tilt. I like several of the new designs on the market that allow the fore/aft saddle position and the tilt to be adjusted independently. It drives me crazy when adjusting one messes up the other.
If you are wondering why I am thinking about seatposts, it is because I swapped saddles on a couple of my bikes last night. Easy job right? Yeah, but let me back up a little. I have seven bikes with seven different seatposts. They range from expensive carbon fiber posts to really cheap generic aluminum and cromoly ones. Some are obviously better than others, but when set up properly, they all do basically the same job. The problem is getting them set up properly. With my aero carbon Giant seatpost, it is easy to set the saddle tilt exactly the way I want it. I get out a long straight edge, adjust the saddle level, turn the thumbwheel and tighten a single bolt. It works great. Contrast that with the cheap aluminum post that I was trying to adjust last night on my fixed gear beater bike. I tightened the bolt to the point where I could still move the saddle, leveled the saddle off, and proceeded to completely tighten the bolt. As expected, the nose of the saddle moved up a tiny bit as the bolt became tight and the two sets of grooves settled together. I loosened the bolt and tipped the saddle one notch below where I wanted it and tried again. Still not right. Due to the combination of the frame’s seat tube angle and the large notches on the cheap seatpost, I simply could not adjust the seat level exactly like I wanted to. I was stuck with the nose a little high, or a little low. Yes, the movement was slight and the increments between positions were very small, but I want to be able to adjust my saddle EXACTLY how I like it. Is infinite adjustability too much to ask?
Of course, I can’t really complain; it is my own fault for using the cheapest seatpost I could find (it is a beater bike after all). Okay, fine, I did complain, but that is not really the point of this post. I just want to point out the importance of design in the development of a relatively simple part like a seatpost. Like bottom brackets or headsets, seatposts have traditionally been a part that people haven’t given much though. Frames, wheels, derailleurs, and cranksets may be more exciting, but all of the individual parts play an important role in how a bike functions. It is great to see more innovation going into the development of all of the components that make up a bicycle these days.