Seatposts

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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.

Photos from the Kore website and Cycling News

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5 Comments

  1. Edu&Nano February 7, 2007 at 3:24 am -  Reply

    Stem and Seatpost are the big forgotten items on the bicycle design, well so James If you have to set your cheap seatpost on the exact position, try placing the calibrated steel sheet (0.1-0,2 mm or so) between the grooves, on the side of the tilting point you need. You should place this on one extrem on the groove area to avoid slipping between seatpost and saddle, just a bit is enough, a tighten the bolt a bit more than usual.

    Easiest solution is make this with a old can of beer or soda, cutting a small piece. I know is a botched job, but it´s a past-midnight solution-I-want-to-go-to-bed for a beater bike.

    Edu

  2. James February 7, 2007 at 12:27 pm -  Reply

    Good tip Edu. I have used aluminum can shims on bikes a few times, but never in the seatpost. I’ll give it a try.

  3. Edu&Nano February 8, 2007 at 6:51 am -  Reply

    Remember very small piece, if not it slips, it works as a wedge.

    I have another cool application for can shims, for protect the chainstay, with your favourite drink out side. Warhol touch for your ride!.

    Edu

  4. jorgensen February 8, 2007 at 9:58 pm -  Reply

    The first time I set up a Campagnolo record (two bolt, yes, dating myself) I could not understand why, great adjustment, a torture to access, heavy. I won a 3ttt seat post in a race in 1974, two separate bolts, one to tilt, one to secure fore and aft, and light, but almost impossible to find another.

    Today, I am a bit puzzled by the stem headset, fork constructions out today. Trek for example suggests 5mm spacing between the headset and the stem to avoid point loading and breakage…One has to get the info from a tech guy here. Hello?

    Typical stems are easier to change in length often today, compared to yesteryear where complete “treading” through the bars was required, but where did the common sense go?

  5. Anonymous February 28, 2007 at 9:43 am -  Reply

    James, if you want to try something simple & well designed, try the Brompton Pentaclip (serch for the word for pics) for your saddles: combined with a simple aluminum seat post – the kind with nothing at the top – you get a lightweight post with infinite & easy adjustment. the part that changes with each bike – the post – only costs about $4. for a road bike the combo is ca. 250g.

    and for high tech & well designed, look at Syntace’s carbon P6. it’s won every test it’s been in. weight sub 200g for a road bike.

    thanks for a lovely blog.

    Alex

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