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In partnership with Redshift Sports
At long last, the search for the most comfortable bike seat may well be over, and it doesn’t even involve having to change your saddle. The team at Redshift Sports have created a shock absorbing seat post that my sore buttocks couldn’t wait to try out. And, the verdict? Happy butt cheeks.
I get asked lots of cycling-related questions here at BicycleVolt and they break down into three common types. These are along the lines of, “Bike seat pain – does it ever stop?!” and, “Why are bike seats so uncomfortable?” and, “I get bruised sit bones cycling, what can I do about it?”
The common solutions to these involve adjusting the angle/height of your saddle, getting a pair of padded cycling shorts, and possibly swapping out your saddle. But, maybe there’s another option? Maybe we should actually be looking at what’s going on below your saddle? Maybe we should be taking a closer look at the seat post itself?
You may well be wondering whether suspension seatposts are any good. I know I was before I tried out the Shockstop. The thing is I didn’t fully appreciate how sore non-suspension seat posts were till I tried Redshift’s Shockstop. In fact, this seatpost is so good to ride on, I invented a new cycling term on my first trip out: the ‘Micro-wince’.
“This seatpost is so good to ride on, I invented a new cycling term on my first trip out: the ‘Micro-wince’”
We’re going to take a closer look at the Shockstop now and I’ll explain a little more about micro-wincing. Firstly, we’ll see what Redshift have to say about this bike seatpost shock absorber. Then I’ll talk about the features that I really like about it (there’s plenty to talk about here). We’ll go on to mention a couple of dislikes (and, believe me, there aren’t many). Finally, we’ll see who the Shockstop might be beneficial for.
My hope is that you’ll find it absorbing. Maybe a little shocking. But, the only vibrations will be good ones. The Beach Boys would definitely approve.
If your butt hurts from biking, then read on.
What do Redshift Sports say
“35mm of tunable, ultra-responsive suspension travel”
“the ShockStop Seatpost lets you float over rough terrain”
“reduces fatigue and strain, letting you ride further, faster, and more comfortably”
What do I like?
First up, let’s deal with the big animal in the corner of the room with the big ears and the long nose.
In fact, there are two of these elephant-shaped animals: cost and weight.
There’s an argument that the Shockstop posts are both more expensive and heavier than a ‘standard’ seat post.
In terms of pricing, the Shockstop comes in at around $230 right now. How does this compare to a non-suspension post? Well, they range from entry-level models at around $40, up to the fanciest posts, which top out at $400 or more. That’s more than many bikes I’ve owned.
So, it’s really not that expensive. And, actually, if it means the difference between you continuing to ride your bike, or giving up entirely because the pain in your rear end is so bad and chucking away your pride and joy on Craig’s List for 50 bucks…then the Shockstop really isn’t that expensive at all.
Looking at the weight, we can see that the Shockstop certainly is heavier than a standard post. With my trusty kitchen scales, I found that the Shockstop weighs in at a little over 1 lb 3 oz. In comparison, the stock post from my Specialized road bike weighs 11 oz. That’s an 8-ounce difference. A small restaurant steak, if you like. It’s heavier then, but not by much, and as a percentage of an overall bike’s weight it’s small.
The weight of the Shockstop brings me onto another comparison as well – with full-suspension mountain bikes. I’ll talk more about this in a moment but, if you’re a beginner rider looking at the choice between a hardtail and full suspension bike, consider this: the weight of an entry-level rear suspension mech is likely to be considerably higher than the 19 ounces of the Shockstop. Assuming your off-road adventures are going to be at the light-duty end of the scale, then the Shockstop may give you all the ‘travel’ you need to keep you comfortable on single track trails. Without adding a ton of rear-sus weight and complexity to your bike.
The seatpost works with most bikes and it’s designed to replace existing posts of 27.2mm diameter (you can normally find your post diameter if you lift it out from the frame, and it will generally be printed/stamped on the metal. Otherwise, consult the bike manufacturer). Redshift also supply shims that you can use to easily adapt the Shockstop for use with seat tubes of diameters including 28.6mm / 29.8mm / 30.0mm / 30.9mm / 31.6mm / 31.8mm. Just slip the shim into your seat tube and then slide the Shockstop inside the shim, before tightening the seat clamp collar as normal.
Setup of the suspension seatpost is incredibly easy (even for me, which is saying a great deal) The post comes with comprehensive and easy-to-follow instructions. There’s a chart which gives suggested settings based on rider weight. I’m around 180 lbs and went for the recommended ‘Comfort’ setting – main spring (pre-installed) and Preload #3 – which feels just right for me. The Preload is easily set by twisting the base adjustment plug by hand. You then remove your saddle by undoing the two hex nuts, remove your seatpost by undoing the seatpost clamp, slide in the Shockstop in its place and fit your saddle back on. Just follow Redshift’s printed instructions and you can’t go wrong.
Then jump on your bike and take it for a spin. Because this is where it gets exciting.
I mentioned earlier about my new phrase – the micro-wince. I realized, on my first ride with the Shockstop that, whenever I’ve been out cycling in the past, I’ve been continually wincing as I hit lumps and potholes in the road and pavement or stones and roots on single track and trails. If I see the obstruction first, I’ll tense up my muscles, then I’ll hit the lump/pothole/stone/root and do a little wince of pain as the saddle bounces up and whacks me on the butt.
You’ve probably had a micro-wince or two yourself when you’ve been riding?
But, it’s only when you ride with the Shockstop that you realize you’re not wincing any more. There’s no tensing-up. There’s no pain. You’re not continually lifting up off the saddle to save your buttocks from another beating.
That makes the ride smoother, more flowing and, ultimately, faster and less tiring. All that for a couple hundred bucks and 8 ounces of extra cargo.
“That makes the ride smoother, more flowing and, ultimately, faster and less tiring. All that for a couple hundred bucks and 8 ounces of extra cargo.”
Is the Shockstop the best suspension seatpost? I don’t know. What I do know is that I won’t be swapping back to my original non-shock absorbing seat post any time soon.
What do I dislike?
There are a couple niggles with the Shockstop that I need to mention. Neither are deal-breakers at all, but both are worth being aware of before you purchase.
Firstly, adjustments to the seatpost tensioning can only be done with the post out of the bike as the adjustment plug is set into the bottom of the post. Adding or removing the additional inner spring requires you to completely remove the adjustment plug, so clearly can only be done with the post off your bike.
As I mentioned earlier, I went for the setting recommended by Redshift on the instruction sheet. Since then, I’ve only played about with the setting for the purposes of researching this article. And, in fact, I’ve now set it back to the setting I began with. If you’re like me and prefer a set-it-and-forget-it approach, then I predict that you’ll either stay with the recommended setting, or make a one-time adjustment, before enjoying the feeling of happy buttocks thereafter.
The second point is that the integrated fender only protects the Shockstop workings when there’s no load on the seatpost. When the post suspension is fully compressed a gap opens as the fender moves away from the seatpost.
Whilst all the workings are sealed and seem robust enough to handle mud and gunk being thrown onto them, it feels like a useful improvement would be to have the lower edge of the fender sliding/locked on to the seatpost. That way, the fender stays covering the mech as the springs bounce up and down. I might try and fashion something with a rubber band and it’s possibly something that Redshift can add to the Shockstop in the future.
Who is it for?
In terms of bike type, I think the Shockstop has massive potential to improve comfort on any bike that doesn’t already have integrated rear suspension – basically full-suspension mountain bikes. A suspension seatpost like this is a fantastic add-on for gravel bikes, electric bikes, road bikes, hybrids and beach cruisers. For gravel bikes, a Shockstop will smooth out the roughest dirt roads and fire trails. And anyone who has to negotiate their road bike around broken up surfaces on their local roads and pavements will definitely appreciate a Shockstop.
And don’t think that it’s just an option for skinny cyclists in tight spandex. The Shockstop is the perfect suspension seatpost for heavy riders too. Add in the optional inner spring (which comes in the box) and this will take a rider weight of up to 242 lbs / 110kg. The spandex is optional.
It’s worth taking a closer look at mountain bike seatpost suspension as well. Sure, hardcore adrenalin junkies will want to spend their budgets on a bike with integrated rear suspension rather than a hardtail. But, for beginners, there are significant pros and cons to consider when looking at hardail vs full suspension bikes.
If you’re asking yourself, “Do I really need a full suspension mountain bike?”, then the answer is probably, “No”. Lots of great singletrack can be easily ridden on a hardtail mountain bike. Add in a Shockstop and you get 35mm of ‘travel’ on the rear of the bike. This allows you to keep your butt on the saddle throughout – without the pain and with more control of your bike. Remember the cost differential – cheap full-suspension MTBs have heavy and prone-to-failure rear sus mechs. Full-suspension MTBs with good rear mechs? You’re looking at $5k upwards. Turns out that a hardtail MTB with a Shockstop is a far more cost-effective option that will likely give you all the vibration dampening that you’ll need.
I must admit that I didn’t really know what to expect with the Shockstop. I thought it’d be something a little like a full-suspension MTB and actually it’s more of a subtle feeling than that. Hop on the bike and the mechanism compresses down slightly. You then feel like you’re floating along as you pedal. You still feel the road or trail surface – which is important for control of the bike – but you don’t get the big jolts that happen when you hit bigger obstacles.
The Redshift Sports Shockstop – Goodbye saddle soreness and micro-wincing – hello comfortable butt cheeks.