If you want to add more comfort to your bike, and we’re talking about reducing the vibrations through the main contact point, the saddle, then upgrading your seatpost is an easy and relatively inexpensive upgrade. Your derriere will thank you.
We’ve seen the explosion in recent years of endurance road bikes designed to provide smoother rides through the use of modified carbon fibre layups, tube shaping or elastomer inserts. They’ve been very popular with cyclists who value speed and performance, but want a smoother ride, especially given how universally bumpy and rough roads in the UK generally are.
Buying a new frame or bicycle is expensive though. It's actually possible to add more comfort to your current bike, simply by upgrading the seatpost to one that is designed to offer more comfort. So here are four aftermarket seatposts that will fit most bike frames and offer more comfort. Three of these seatposts use the inherent flex available in carbon fibre, and one uses a spring to provide a cushioned ride for your bum.
Specialized's COBL GOBL-R Carbon seatpost looks a bit like a Cobra snake but it’s designed to provide about 7mm of vertical compliance.
The top of the seatpost features the kink with a Zertz elastomer insert sandwiched in the space created. This shape allows the post to flex when you hit a big enough bump in the road. It's based on similar technology found in their Roubaix bike.
It’s constructed from FACT carbon fibre to a 27.2mm diameter with a cylindrical aluminium head for easy saddle adjustment.
The least expensive shock-absorbing seatpost we know of is also pleasingly light at a claimed 185g, so you get a double benefit for a sensible amount of money.
Cannondale's Save post comes stock on most of their carbon Synapse bikes. It's designed for use by riders who want to keep as much of their power transfer, but don't mind losing a little in the name of comfort. Available in either 25.4mm or 27.2mm diameter and featuring an easy-to-adjust 2 blot clamping system, it keeps things nice and simple.
The simplicity also extends to the looks. You'd be hard-pressed to tell that this is a post aimed at comfort.
The Syntace P6 Carbon Hi-Flex seatpost, as the name suggests, is designed to flex. Unlike the Specialized post which takes unusual approaches to providing deflection, the Syntace P6 goes with specific carbon fibre construction with directional orientation of the fibres and specially shaped internal section to provide deflection.
How much? About 20mm, but that doesn’t mean it’ll deflect that much on every bump you ride over, it might regularly flex between 3 and 10mm. Riding speed and rider weight will affect this too. A 27.2mm 400mm post weighs 226g, and is also available in 30.9, 31.6mm diameters and in 300, 400 or 480mm lengths. Syntace offer the P6 Hi Flex with a satisfyingly long 10 year guarantee
Back in the early days of mountain biking, before suspension had properly developed, suspension posts were very popular. The go-to post was manufactured by British firm USE.
This Ultimate Vybe is their latest suspension seatpost, and provides a full 50mm of active tuneable travel. That’s way more the the other three posts above, it might be too much for some applications but we can see if for those that want the maximum amount of comfort. Unlike the other posts, because it’s actual suspension, the spring can be adjusted to be softer or firmer and to suit body weight - the other posts can't be adjusted for lighter or heavier riders. There’s also a preload adjustment at the bottom of the post.
It’s available to fit 27.2, 30.9, 31.6 seat tubes, uses USE's Sumo single-bolt clamp and the post is fully serviceable. The post and head are machined from aluminium. the 27.2mm post weighs a claimed 455g.
If you want less travel, the XCR Sumo provides a bit less travel, just 30mm, and incidentally was used by Vin Cox when he rode around the world.
Other comfort options: Tyre pressure, wider tyres, cushioned saddles and gel bar tape
There are other options for adding a bit more comfort to your ride. A really simple one is to lower the pressure in your tyres. You don’t have to inflate your tyes to the maximum recommended 120psi, try setting them a bit lower. I often ride 90psi when training and once rode a whole in at 65psi! You’ll be surprised at just how much difference that makes. Experiment by dropping just 10psi to start with and see how you get on.
Bigger tyres, provided your frame can take them is another step, but does involve a financial outlay, and you'll need to check your frame and fork can take wider tyres first - many race bikes won't go larger than 25mm. Wider tyres, even going from 23 to 25mm, can make a noticeable difference. The larger cushion of air between you and the road surface dampens much of of the harshness that can contribute to a rough ride, and you can run lower pressures.
Other component changes that can have a measurable difference include fitting a second layer of bar tape or a gel bar tape. This extra padding will provide a bit more vibration absorption and prevent those pesky vibrations from ruining the ride. These are both much cheaper options than buying a new seatpost or tyres, and may be enough for some people. It all depends on your bike, the type or riding you do and the condition of your local roads.
David has worked on the road.cc tech team since July 2012. Previously he was editor of Bikemagic.com and before that staff writer at RCUK. He's a seasoned cyclist of all disciplines, from road to mountain biking, touring to cyclo-cross, he only wishes he had time to ride them all. He's mildly competitive, though he'll never admit it, and is a frequent road racer but is too lazy to do really well. He currently resides in the Cotswolds.