For a great many people, one of the most unpleasant aspects of cycling is feeling every little bump in the road, transmitted through the seat and into their butt. Various companies have responded by offering suspension seatposts, such as the BodyFloat and the CF3 Pro Carbon. While those and others soak up some vibrations by flexing up and down, the prototype BioFloat seatpost takes things further – it functions as a shock absorber, but it also allows the seat to move around sort of like the head on a bobblehead doll, moving with the rider’s pelvis instead of pressing into it.
The BioFloat consists of a carbon fiber tube (the post), topped with a head that clamps onto the seat’s mounting rails – so far, just like a regular seatpost. The seat clamp, however, is cradled within a pair of flexible clamshell-style elastomer inserts, isolating it from the rest of the head. In this way, the seat sort of “floats” at the top of the seatpost.
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While sufficiently stiff to hold things in place, the elastomers are still flexible enough to eliminate some of the road vibrations, while also letting the seat tilt fore, aft, left and right. This allows it to move in response from pressure applied by the rider’s butt, minimizing pressure points and friction.
BioFloat co-inventor Tom Petrie likens it to the float feature that has become standard with clipless pedals, in which the rider’s clipped-in foot still has some room to move around on the pedal, allowing for greater comfort and less chance of injury. In keeping with that analogy, in the same way that riders can adjust the amount of float in their pedals, BioFloat users could also adjust the amount of float in their seatpost by choosing between three included sets of elastomers of varying softness.
Test riders have apparently liked using the 245-gram BioFloat prototype – once they got used to it. Petrie told us, “It’s pretty universally ‘I noticed it a lot when I first started riding it. It was weird, but I ended up liking it. I definitely noticed that it smoothed out the ride. When is it available?’.”
That’s a good question, actually. Petrie, who also runs Colorado-based bike parts company Cantitoe Road, hopes to have it on the market soon after he finds a business partner to help finance commercial production. He’s aiming for a retail price of about US$200.