The art of fine-tuning…
There is a lot of suspension seastposts on the market. And now we have another one: suspension seastpost from a company that made a very well received suspension stem. Redshift’s seastpost not only looks interesting but also promises a great suspension effect. I tested one to find out how good it really is.
If you are looking for a suspension seatpost basically you can choose between:
– a flexing carbon seatpost with a Canyon VCLS 2.0 / Ergon CF3 as the best example
– a spring-based suspension like Kinekt 2.1 from Cirrus Cycles
– an elastomer-based suspension like Cane Creek eeSilk
– an air suspension systems like PMW Coast suspension
Each suspension approach have advantages and disadvantages. I will talk about them much more when I will be doing a seatpost shootout in the coming weeks but for now, let’s focus on a spring-based suspension because a new Redshift seatpost is based on springs. And springs are, well, springy. So the main challenge when using spring for suspension is to make it as less springy as possible while maintaining the proper suspension effect. I have already tested a Kinekt 2.1 spring suspension from Cirrus Cycles and while it was a very comfy solution, the springiness was apparent no matter what setup I tried. Is Redshift suspension any better? In short answer: Yes, but it is still not perfect.
The ride feel
My first ride was on a setup dedicated to an 80 kg rider. And it was bad. Bounciness was huge and I managed to bottom out the seatpost quite heavily. So I went back and tried a firmer setup. This required removing the bottom cup and extracting the spring because I was already on the firmest (level4) setup for just one spring. Then I had to put a smaller one into the bigger and put everything together. Then I set the firmness to level 2 (for 90 kg riders, and I weight 84 kg) and went for another test ride. Big surprise! I don’t know if this is the effect of two spring working together or not but the feeling of the suspension changed dramatically for the better. There was no bottoming out and the suspension effect was quite noticeable. But on bigger bumps there was still a lot of saddle movement up and down. It was well maintained (only down and up with no additional bounciness) but definitely it was there and I am not a big fan of that feeling. So I tried to make the suspension firmer even more (level 3 for 100 kg riders). Another test ride and the feeling was even better.
I would say that 90% of the time I did not even feel the suspension doing its job (although it definitely was moving when I was looking at it). There was also no bounciness when pedaling hard. But I found another issue, this time with my saddle. Brooks C17 is a very comfy saddle that can move a lot to offer some suspension effect on its own. So with a firm setup of the suspension seatpost itself, Brooks saddle shell started to move a lot and it was not a pleasing sensation (you could also hear it). So I changed the saddle for a more firm one (Prologo Scratch RS) and the weird sensation was gone – it looks like Redshift Suspension seastpost (like all spring based seatpost) likes more firm saddles. But I did not stop there and wanted to find out what will happen when I make the suspension even firmer. This required (like always), removing the seatpost from the bike and tightening the lower cup (this time to level 4). Another test ride and another surprise. This time I managed to create a small catapult. When riding hard on big bumps the spring effect was so big that it was literally catapulting me from the saddle. So I knew, that level 3 is the best one for me. Yet each of you will have to do all of this finetuning on your own to find the best possible setup (not too soft so you will have a lot of bounciness but also not too harsh so you will not create a catapult effect). What is worth noticing is that all this finetuning do not limit the available suspension travel which is always up to 35 mm and in my opinion more than enough (maybe a less travel would mute the bounciness even more bike Redshift told me that they wanted to find the best compromise and one solution for all types of riders).
How good the suspension effect is?
To find out that I used Argon 18 Dark Matter bike with a rear-end that is harsher than my steel Jamis Renegade. The bike had a Challenge GravelGrinder 700x42c tires. To make the suspension shine I also did not wear this time bib shorts and just joggers (during my testing I found out that the foam gives a noticeable difference) and used a firm Prologo Scratch RS saddle. The air tire pressure was 40 psi (not too low to make the seatpost work but also not too harsh because I wanted to make this test as useful as possible and I don’t think that you should be riding a 700x42c tire with a pressure much bigger than 40 psi, not only for better comfort but also a better traction on a bumpy road).
The results are very clear. Redshift suspension seatpost with me on the saddle and with firmness level set on 3 was much more comfortable than both Ergon CF3 and a carbon FSA seatpost (which is one of the comfiest rigid seatpost). To be honest, I felt the difference but I was not aware of how big it was. On the bumpy forest route Redshift suspension seatpost was delivering a ride with 15% less overall vibration than Ergon CF3 carbon and almost 25% less than a rigid FSA carbon seastpost! On a fast gravel route (which this time of the year become more like a fast bumpy gravel route) Redshift seatpost was almost 10% comfier than Ergon and 29% better in absorbing vibration than carbon FSA rigid seastpost. Those are truly remarkable numbers and I must say, although the forest route was delivering slightly better improvements I think that Redshift suspension seatpost works best when riding on a fast gravel route (a lot of high-frequency vibrations where you don’t really notice the suspension effect yet it is definitely there and you don’t feel any bounciness).
To me, the most surprising thing was the difference between Ergon CF3 and Redshift seatpost. I thought that it will be smaller but for Ergon CF3 defense I must add that I rode a Dark Matter sized M with a 52 cm seat tube which meant that there was less seatpost exposed (compared to my steel bike). As a result, the suspension effect of Ergon was somehow limited but honestly, I do not think that even with 3 or 4 cm shorter seat tube, the Ergon would get even close to what Redshift suspension was providing in terms of comfort. Yet, before we conclude about the superiority of the Redshift seatpost suspension effect let’s do not forget that all the tests were done with the air tire pressure set at 40 psi. Just of curiosity, when I lowered the pressure to 25 psi, I got exactly the same result as with the Redshift solution, but this time with a rigid FSA carbon seatpost. So again and again, I will say that the first and the foremost thing that you should do to improve your comfort is to lower the tire air pressure. Only then add another suspension solution to the mix…
What else should I know before buying one?
One crucial thing. The saddle installation is not easy due to the fact that access to the screws is very limited. I tried two different wrenches and I still had a hard time doing so and I ended up scratching the black surface of the seatpost near the screws. So, even if you don’t need to use the quirky magnetic cover in everyday riding (Redshift assured me that the mechanism itself is bulletproof) you will probably end up using one just to hide those scratches…
The firmness adjustment itself is not a problem. Removing the seatpost, tightening the cup and putting the seatpost back takes no more than a 1 minute (the numbers indicating saddle height are very useful in this situation). And you do it only at the beginning so no problem there (once you finally find the perfect setup for you).
And what about the reliability?
Redshift sestpost has a lot of moving parts so there is always a question of long term reliability but during my 2 weeks of heavy testing (and riding without cover, as you can see on the pictures), there was no issue at all, no noise at all, so it looks like it should last but I will be able to tell more about that matter in a coming weeks (when I do a lot more riding on it in a heavy, winter conditions).
Do I recommend it?
Yes. If you are after the best possible suspension effect I think it could be the best possible solution. But… It is not a perfect solution due to the nature of the springs itself. It is a suspension after all so the saddle will move down and up on a bigger hit and you really need to finetune the effect to get the most from your rides. Yes, the installation could be more user-friendly but this is a minor thing. What really counts is everyday comfort. And Redshift suspension seatpost definitely delivers that!