There are four main materials used for making seatposts: steel alloy, aluminium alloy, titanium alloy and carbon fibre composite. Each will give a different ride quality, and until lately if it was comfort you were after, with long life, then titanium was the way to go.
The problem with titanium in a seatpost is that it's inherently lacking in damping, so although you might get a springy seatpost that feels comfortable, that springiness isn’t controlled to any great extent. An uncontrolled springy seatpost gives a mushy feeling to your ride, and you can get a ‘bounce’ going on from time to time, which feels odd to say the least.
The folk at Canyon have realised that you can design a post to flex in the direction you want. To give comfort you want it to bend backwards and return in a controlled manner (damped) so it doesn’t launch you up in the air after the bumps, but you don’t want it to be bendy sideways. Canyon’s solution is to use basalt fibres.
These are made from crushed basalt (rock) which is then melted down and extruded into very fine fibres before being made into a seatpost (yes, essentially, the VCLS post is made from bits of molten rock). The benefit is that, compared with titanium, basalt fibre has better elasticity, and the resin used in construction also gives a higher level of hysteresis – a material’s self-damping properties.
The result is a seatpost that has a remarkable level of controlled comfort in the direction you want and stiffness where you don’t want it to be comfortable – hence the name VCLS: Vertical Comfort, Lateral Stiffness. Currently available only in 27.2mm diameter, it features a very easy to set up twin-bolt head design that offers plenty of support for lightweight carbon-railed saddles. It’s 330mm long, and tipped our scales at just 241g.
This article was originally published in Cycling Plus magazine.