There are many ways to add comfort and reduce fatigue on a bike – larger volume tyres, more comfortable saddle, better damped frame, more compliant wheels … But although all these offer undoubted benefits, they generally do so at the expense of speed and performance.
If you’re competitive and like a sporty ride, you’re unlikely to want to change to a heavier wheel and tyre setup or a less responsive frame. Besides, these are fundamentally expensive. Surely the ideal solution is to save weight and improve your performance without damaging the ride quality? You need a carbon seatpost.
Zipp’s SL Speed was ridden to comprehensive victories in the Tour of Flanders and Paris-Roubaix this spring, under Tom Boonen, which goes to show its durability. A seatpost is only a small part of the rider plus bike equation, but Boonen’s team told us the potential not only for savings in fatigue but also power increase from a seatpost that reduces vibration can be significant.
Beautifully crafted entirely from carbon fibre with titanium bolts, our 330mm long, 27.2mm diameter sample hardly worried the scales at a scant 189g, despite being rated up to a 300lb (136kg) load. The 20mm of setback combined with a generous clamp makes fitting and adjustment simple for saddles with 7mm diameter metal or 7x9mm composite rails.
From the first minute out on our aluminium-framed bike, the difference in feel from the previous alloy post was incredible. Poorly surfaced roads that usually caused sharp kicks through the spine felt like mere imperfections, and the ride quality was transformed. At no point did we feel detached from the bike and essential road feel, just isolated from jarring vibrations and road buzz, and we definitely arrived home after a favourite route feeling fresher than usual.
The Zipp isn’t cheap, and other carbon seatposts offer similar benefits, but for top quality with proven performance, the SL Speed reigns supreme.
This article was originally published in Cycling Plus magazine, available on Apple Newsstand and Zinio.