Found: Cirrus Body Float Suspension Seatpost
Anytime we see something like this, we’re skeptical. But the founders caught us at Interbike and said “Hey, you’re with Bikerumor. Erik’s been testing this already!” That got our attention, we snapped a few pics and followed up with Erik after the show. Somewhat to our surprise, he’s totally digging it. Erik, BTW, is a former professional long course triathlete, Xterra racer and generally tags the following after his name: MS, DC, CSCS.
In other words, he’s a performance rider, hardcore trainer and he knows proper human function. Here’s his thoughts on the Body Float:
Developed in the small hamlet of Bellingham, WA, the Cirrus Body Float suspension seatpost was designed by frame builder Paul Barkley CPA and a local cycling stud and event planner Charlie Heggem. Their aim: provide comfort, reduced lower back and soft tissue trauma, improved cornering and handling ability and (reminiscent of Softride’s slogan) suspend the rider and not the bike.
The unique feature is that its cushioning comes from springs that can be loaded to your specific riding needs and body weight. Heavier springs can be installed for heavier riders and for more ‘cushion’ while lighter springs are utilized for lighter riders and for a more fine-tuned ride on smoother surfaces. The post has four pivot points for added rigidity. The parallelogram design means movement is vertical, not fore/aft.
I was able to ride two separate prototypes and each was an upgrade of the one prior. First, I was able to ride one of the originals during a cyclocross race in the fall of 2011… what an eye opener! Usually, I would feel the customary low back pain during lap two of 8. You know, the aching pain that saps your energy and stops you from being able to push the pedals as effectively and the pain that you never quite get in practice!
During the test ride, I was expecting the familiar pain. To my surprise it never reared its ugly head until lap 6 of 8 and even when it did set in, it was nothing like normal. It was less severe, I felt less fatigued and was far more comfortable overall. My performance in that race was better, too, finishing ahead of several competitors that had beaten me just two weeks prior. I was intrigued!
Between that race and fall 2012, the Cirrus Body Float has been modified countless times, tweaked to be lighter and to include more adjustability as well as refined to production-ready status.
I tested an updated prototype just prior to Interbike. The two springs’ preload is easily adjusted to suit the rider and terrain. The post has a reported travel of up to 1.5” (38mm) or as little as 1/4” (6.4mm) and finding the “sweet spot” of the post for your riding style and terrain of choice is part of the customization. I mounted the post to my cyclocross bike again and rode a crushed limestone path with meandering turns. This path is not without bumps and I wanted to see just how the post, with my “sweet spot” set to my weight and to the terrain, would perform. Giddie up! Smooth as silk. Little to no vibration travelling vertically into my soft tissues or my lower back and I couldn’t help but think that fatigue would be less and I looked forward to testing the long haul capabilities of the post.
My subsequent rides included the same bike but with different tires to test the post on the road. I switched out the springs to include one black (stiffest) and one purple (intermediate). The gents at Body Float told me the post should be thought of as one to be used on a road bike or even a time trial bike. Being a Triathlete myself I was wondering just how effective a post, seemingly designed for abrupt changes in terrain or to soften a rough ride, would assist me on the road.
I was pleasantly surprised with how it handled. Much like riding a Softride, it sort of forces you (in a good way) to better develop your pedaling efficiency. Nice bonus. Anyway, where the post really shined was in cornering; if you take a corner aggressively with a bike that does not have this post there is a tendency for the back end to ‘chatter’ and if you press into the corner too aggressively the bike finds its own line. Well, what I found with the Body Float was when you cornered hard your body compressed the post and without the chatter the bike held the line of choice. Another added bonus was with hitting chip seal pavement or a road with several divots, small pot holes or larger gravel the vibration did not transfer into your “chassis” and instead was reduced drastically.
Now, whether or not the triathletes or roadies are ready to mount this sort of post remains to be seen. It’s flat out different, and these are sports where “traditional” carries a lot of weight. Some big brands do seem to be embracing the concept does with Specialized’s new COBL GOBLR post on the Roubaix and the carbon leaf spring post from Ergon/Canyon.
With a claimed weight of 430g it’s not unreasonably “heavy” but it’s certainly not as stealthy some would like.
Whether or not this post will be effective in decreasing fatigue during a long TT is still in question. One of the issues (which is preventing me from testing that question) is that most TT/triathlon bikes these days use bladed seatposts, which won’t work with the Body Float. Would I try it if I could? Sure. If it helped me reduce fatigue, save energy and feel better starting the run, why not?
Personally, I think that cyclocross, hardtail 29ers and road bikes should be their focus And commuters and casual cyclists could be a great market, particularly with that chromed out version in the video!
(Editor’s Note: The post is also a Kickstarter project and has already met their funding goal.)