I like a comfortable ride very much. So I like to test and use everything that improves comfort of my rides. But at the same time, I like riding fast and having fun on my bike. The first thing suspension seatpost from Cirrus Cycles definitely provides. But how about the second one?
Suspension seatpost is nothing new in the biking world. Thudbuster or Suntour NCX or even the first Cirrus Cycles BodyFloat were on the market before a gravel riding even becomes a thing. First, it was a solution for city riders looking for more comfort, then e-bikes joined the scene (high speed and rigid frames begged for a suspension). And then gravel bikes. My first encounter with suspension seatpost was when I bought an Ergon CF3 Pro carbon flexing seatpost (aka Canyon VCLS 2.0). It surprised me a lot and become a long-time companion on my gravel rides. Then I saw a Kinekt 2.1 (BodyFloat successor). It promises a very comfortable and smooth ride and simply looks good (compared to many others not that nice looking solutions) and thus it caught my attention. Thanks to the Cirrus Cycles I got the chance to test it.
How does it work?
Kinekt 2.1 construction is based on two springs that are neatly put into a sliding mechanism that provides up to 35 mm friction-free vertical travel. The beauty of the system is that you can adjust the suspension to your liking. First, you choose the appropriate springs for your weight (50-100 lbs, 100-150 lbs, 150-200 lbs and above 200 lbs). Then you have the possibility to manually adjust the cushioning rate by tightening the lower spring (you can do it easily just by rotating the screw). So you can have a magic carpet ride or a more sporty and tight one. At least in theory…
Is it good?
Yes, very. Especially subjectively and when riding on forest roots because you really feel that you have only very little air in the rear tire. But the cushioning comes with some drawbacks. Let’s start with the most obvious – bounciness. Kinekt 2.1 uses springs so, of course, it will bounce to some degree. When you put the Kinekt 2.1 on the lightest settings (0 on the scale from 0 to 8) the bounciness is definitely there. You feel it when riding on big bumps or when you want to have a steady pace on the road (when you pedal rhythmically you induce the bounciness and even enhance it with each pedal stroke). But when you tighten the lower spring (moving from 0 to 2) you reduce the bounciness and still enjoy the cushioning (my test showed no real difference in comfort level between the 0 and 2 setups but you have to remember that it all depends on your weight so for you it can be a different situation). When I moved from 2 to 4, the bounciness was almost gone but so was gone the cushioning (Kinket 2.1 becomes much less comfortable than my Ergon CF3 Pro seatpost) so for the rest of the test I stayed on the level 2. It worked best for me. And the vibration readings show that in that setup Kinekt 2.1 in the forest recorded the lowest ever level of vibrations (7,7% less vibration than on Ergon CF3 Pro seatpost which already was providing a very comfortable ride). Though on the fast gravel route a carbon two leaf springs of Ergon CF3 sestpost offered better resistance to high-frequency vibrations (Kinekt 2.1 was 3,4% less effective there – at 30 psi).
This reading was on my benchmark bike equipped with Lauf Grit SL fork, Shockstop stem and Soma Cazadero 700x42c tires run at 30 psi. To find out more about the benefits of Kinekt 2.1 I put more air into the tires (60 psi to be exact) and rerun the test. In forest the level of vibration increased about 4 % (very similar to increase recorded with Ergon CF3 Pro tested at 60 psi) but on the fast gravel route to my surprise Kinekt 2.1 was almost on the same comfort level as it was with tires run at 30 psi (1,6% is so minimal difference that it was basically the same). To get a better comparison I also tested Ergon seatpost in that situation and the vibration increased by nearly 5%. So it seems that in general no matter what the tire pressure on fast gravel route Kinekt 2.1 will provide basically the same level of (very high) comfort.
So everything is good with Kinekt 2.1?
Not exactly. I already said about bounciness (which is not that apparent on an Ergon CF3 also spring but carbon-based solution) but there is something more. The mechanism, especially in the most comfortable settings (like 0) can be prone to bottoming out. It happened to me many times on 0 settings but when riding on level 2 it was much less frequent. But still, it was happening. For the record, I weight 185 lbs so I am still somehow in the middle of my spring setup (150 to 200 lbs). Maybe with more stiff springs, the problem would not occur but at the same time, there would be a less cushioning effect that I am after.
Then there is a weight penalty. At 525g (aluminum version) it is definitely not the lightest seatpost on the market. For comparison, my Ergon CF3 Pro Carbon weighs about 220g. This is a considerable difference. You can buy a carbon version of Kinekt but it still weights nearly 471 g (and it has a shorter length: 330 mm vs 350 mm).
And finally, there is one more thing – not exactly the flaw of Kinekt itself but the flaw of all the suspension solutions that suspends the rider and not the bike. When riding with something as good as Kinekt you start to become a hooligan and go for the biggest potholes you can find. Kinekt does a remarkably good job of isolating you from the hits (really it is just insane how much it can do) but at the same time, the rear wheel itself is not suspended at all so I quickly noticed that my wheel definitely took some beating and needed a centering. The other thing with suspending the rider and not the bike is that rear wheel quickly loses the traction as it bounces on the big roots so you get a very strange sensation: your bottom is still on the saddle and you are still pedaling strong as nothing happened yet your bike is all over the place. Strange and not exactly safe riding sensation ?
Would I buy it?
It is a tough question for me. I like very much a comfortable ride but at the same time, I like to be connected with my bike and feel exactly what is going on. When riding on Ergon CF3 Pro carbon seatpost I have both things and when using Kinekt 2.1 I can be very comfortable but at the same time, I can’t help but notice that I am somehow disconnected from the rear of my bike. So I think I will sacrifice some of the comfort that Kinekt can provide on a forest route just to have a better overall feeling and fun from riding my bike. But hey, everyone is different and if you are after the best comfort possible, especially when your bike is not comfortable at the beginning (maybe a city bike or an e-bike without suspension) or you just like to ride with high air pressure then Kinekt 2.1 could be a great comfort providing solution!