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Ditched the suspension seatpost

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Ditched the suspension seatpost

Old 11-24-19, 04:12 PM
  #1  
joeruge
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Ditched the suspension seatpost

We had been riding with a Thudbuster LT for about three years on our 1999 Cannondale RT1000. Stoker was not a very experienced cyclist going in. I thought a suspension seat post would help her feel a little more comfortable. She's also a fairly tall woman (5'-9") and I thought the extra 'throw' of the LT would give her a little more room.

Of course, I don't sit back there and couldn't really say if it helped her feel more comfortable or not. And, her not being an experience rider, couldn't really say herself.

Well, she's not a very smooth peddler and I could feel almost every stroke. She bounces around pretty much. I thought maybe the LT was exasperating her pedaling and contributing to her bouncing.

We moved on to the a 2006 Co Motion Speedster we used a Thudbuster ST. Though there is less suspension and also a little less 'effective' setback, she really didn't notice a change in her comfort. And there was still a lot bouncing going on back there.

Two weeks ago I put a solid seatpost with about 25mm setback, no suspension. Well, she loves it! She says she feels more connected to the bike, more able to sense my effort and - much less bouncing! And as tiny bonus, shaved about 180 grams.

I don't know, now I'm thinking a suspension seat post is not all that import for the kind of riding we like to do. I no longer have to worry about saving up for a BodyFloat, which was next on my 'to buy' list.
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Old 11-24-19, 09:26 PM
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I really think that different people have different needs for suspension as stokers. My partner has no fun without suspension ('I can feel my brain rattle!'). I used to call out or avoid minor bumps in the road as I would be wearing out my stoker fairly quickly, until we got the body float. But I have also cycled with other people that were perfectly okay without suspension on longer stretches. I'm glad you're having a refreshing moment this way and that it's working well.
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Old 11-24-19, 10:13 PM
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I ride with other teams who've gone to a solid stoker post, too. In fact of the 8 mixed tandems I ride with, no one has a suspension post anymore. And these are bikes that do 40-60 mile rides all year, coast-to-coast and other long distance tours. A tandem stoker sits in exactly the same relation to the rear wheel as a single bike rider. Not young-uns, either, ages from mid-50s to 70s.
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Old 11-25-19, 03:39 PM
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My stoker is an experienced rider (30+ years on her single, 25+ on our tandem). The couple of occasions she's tried a suspension seatpost during test rides, she's given them a big thumbs down as she felt a lack of connection to the bike and was unable to to produce full power.

Different strokes for different folks....
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Old 11-26-19, 10:21 AM
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"Different strokes for different folks..."

Ooh...how about 'Different strokes for different stokers?'...

​​​​Someone up above mentioned that their stoker could put more power down once they got rid of their suspension seat post. We had 'El Tour de Tucson' here this past weekend. We did the 50 mile distance this year. Of course, I put on our 'go fast' wheels (w 25c Conti 4000lls tires), but this was only the second ride sans suspension seat post.

We averaged 20.5 mph. This is 1 mph faster than we had ever managed to do before on similar rides. A lot goes into a performance on a particular ride; level of fitness, how you're feeling, what you ate that morning, weather conditions, wind and what kind of group you get in with as you ride. I can't attribute all of our improvement on using a solid seatpost, but it didn't seem to hurt us and we sure felt great afterwards.
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Old 11-26-19, 12:46 PM
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I think suspension seat post can be good when sitting more upright, and riding more touring style. With more of a "racing" position there is less pressure on the saddle (more on the hands). I ride my tandem both as stoker and as pilot, and from my experience it's generally a very smooth ride compared to what I'm used to from my solo drop bar race bikes, so I don't see that there is a need for suspension seat post. I have noted though that some stokers are more sensitive to bumps than others, and it seems I'm one of the less sensitive ones.
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Old 11-26-19, 01:49 PM
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A good sus post can be tuned to provide a "platform" (ie: firm base support) if that is desired. The Thudbuster line has different elastomers per weight range and the LT has a preload screw that can be adjusted to firm up the movement. We had a Bodyfloat Kinekt which IMO is far better, and also has these tuning properties.

In any case, proper bike fit is always the best starting point to achieve a baseline rider position setup. This can be done on either a tandem or single bike of the same type (road or mtb). It is usually not appropriate to simply put a rider on a large setback post (ie: Thud LT) simply with the idea of providing more cockpit space, while ignoring critical biomechanical needs (saddle height, forward/aft position for correct knee alignment over BB, bar reach). My guess is that much of the stoker's pedal stroke issues are caused by incorrect bike fit.
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Old 11-28-19, 02:00 PM
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Believe me, it is not the position of the seat that is causing her bouncing. My stoker, sweet as she is, is just not a very smooth pedaler. She's got some bio-mechanical issues and no amount of adjustment would fix that. The Thudbuster doesn't cause it either, though perhaps it accentuated it.
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Old 11-28-19, 04:29 PM
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Originally Posted by joeruge View Post
Believe me, it is not the position of the seat that is causing her bouncing. My stoker, sweet as she is, is just not a very smooth pedaler. She's got some bio-mechanical issues and no amount of adjustment would fix that. The Thudbuster doesn't cause it either, though perhaps it accentuated it.
Smooth pedaling can be trained. My stoker will actually do these trainer drills with me. It's made a big difference on the tandem. That said, there aren't many riders period who are that interested in getting smooth. Be that as it may, here's my system: Pedaling Drills-How Exactly Should I be Doing These?

The OLP may be a bit much, but we did 30' of FastPedal together today. 20 years ago, I used a ~60" gear for these, today it's a 35" gear. My 5'1" stoker uses 149mm cranks. We can spin over 100 on the tandem if we need to.
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Old 11-29-19, 05:05 PM
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FWIW (vs. a pissing contest), when cruising along on the tandem we typically spin higher (103 is a good average) than my 100ish cadence on a single and frequently find ourselves reving upwards of 107rpm without thinking about it. I'll get us up higher than that +108 if I let my mind drift, but then my stoker reminds me via a lot of whiney sounds and complaints. Our efficiency is way better at revs over 102 than trying to push a bigger gear and bogging down with a sub-100 rpm. Climbing is obviously a different story for cadence.

I used to race track and learned to develop good power at super high rpms - you have to else you go nowhere, and then control the spin down for braking. This is also the "big secret" to sprinting... thinking about winding up the spin rather than pushing. On hills, my stoker does tend to start pumping and so needs reminding to just relax the legs and think about spinning rather than pushing.

High spin practice sessions while relaxing the legs can really help. To start, send your stoker to a spin class and tell her to concentrate on relaxing the legs vs hammering and bouncing.
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Old 11-29-19, 10:12 PM
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Hey, thanks for those suggestions about high cadences and spin classes. When we first started riding on the tandem together she would mumble about how fast I was having us pedal. Not that it was crazy high, probably in the high 80's, but way higher than she was used to, probably in the 60's. Since then we've progressed a bit. Now we regularly pedal near 90 with no complaints.

​​​​​​I have also suggested she go to a few spin classes, not only for the high cadence training, but because of the mirrors, she could see her body movements. It's really more than just bouncing because of high cadence. She also accentuates her left pedal stroke and blobs her head and upper body any time we are putting a little extra effort out.

I truly appreciate all of the suggestions given to help us improve our combined pedaling. I think we'll work with some of those suggestions to help us improve the smoothness of our pedaling.

I suppose the point of my original posting was to report that when we ditched the suspension post we did not suffer any of the negative affects I was expecting, and in fact had somewhat enhanced our riding experience. Thanks to all for your input!
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Old 12-02-19, 12:16 AM
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Originally Posted by joeruge View Post
Hey, thanks for those suggestions about high cadences and spin classes. When we first started riding on the tandem together she would mumble about how fast I was having us pedal. Not that it was crazy high, probably in the high 80's, but way higher than she was used to, probably in the 60's. Since then we've progressed a bit. Now we regularly pedal near 90 with no complaints.


​​​​​​I have also suggested she go to a few spin classes, not only for the high cadence training, but because of the mirrors, she could see her body movements. It's really more than just bouncing because of high cadence. She also accentuates her left pedal stroke and blobs her head and upper body any time we are putting a little extra effort out.


I truly appreciate all of the suggestions given to help us improve our combined pedaling. I think we'll work with some of those suggestions to help us improve the smoothness of our pedaling.


I suppose the point of my original posting was to report that when we ditched the suspension post we did not suffer any of the negative affects I was expecting, and in fact had somewhat enhanced our riding experience. Thanks to all for your input!

If she can go from in the 60's to 90's, then there should be no ceiling. This is a really good sign. Most non-cyclists find 90 RPM WAY too fast to sustain; it feels like a sprint. So that comes as no surprise. However, as one puts more and more miles on the bike, 90 RPM becomes more and more "normal" and comfortable. It's no longer a sprinting speed. And with L. Armstrong's influence, cyclists' cadences increased well over 90. Yesterday's goal of 90 is really about 100 today. Perhaps more (I can't say, I'm not in the racing scene any more).


As already mentioned, working on increasing her top-end cadence would be the best way for her to work on her pedal stroke. This was weekly training for the cycling team - go out to our sprint point and choose a relatively low gear and spin as high an RPM as possible, everyone bouncing like mad on their pedals and saddles. It's funny to watch as everyone would go over their "redlines" and their form would explode. This would be done over and over again. This was how smooth cadence was developed over time. By the end of the season, everyone's form improved and their "redlines" were raised. Track riding is essentially the same thing. But since you have no other or higher gears to utilize, you're FORCED to amp up your cadence. If you didn't, you simply didn't progress on the track.


Another way to develop smooth cadence was to unclip from one pedal with one foot, while keeping the other clipped in. (This assumes you're riding clipless pedals, of course.) Riding this way immediately reveals the unbalanced power a rider applies to the pedals with each leg. It reveals just how overwhelming the downstroke is compared to virtually zero power production everywhere else. So, on flat terrain, you pedal with only one leg so you are forced to utilize all the leg muscles throughout the pedal rotation. However, with the re-embracing of flat pedals in off-road environments, the thinking about power throughout the pedal stroke has changed in the last ten years or so. But even so, having her try this exercise may be very beneficial.


And the beauty of these methods is that they require no additional equipment. No gym memberships. No spin classes. Just you and the bike. So if she'd really like smooth out her pedal stroke, give it some time and she'll be spinning along with you in no time. Good luck.
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Old 12-02-19, 09:44 AM
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My wife used a Thudbuster all last year and I believe there is a lot of power loss from it. I added it some time after we first started riding a tandem (Al frame C'dale) due to complaints about bumps. With the TB, complaints from the stoker stopped and it actually smoothed the ride out for both of us since hard bumps were no longer transmitted through the frame to me as well (This was on 32c tires @ 90psi). The problem is that unless you are very disciplined in your pedaling, the TB introduces a lot of bounce to the stoker. I can see it in the occasional video that we are in and also sometimes by watching our shadow on the ground.
When we switched to gravel this past fall we went to 42c tires at 50psi and put the stoker saddle back on a rigid seat post. The difference was night-and-day: more power from the stoker and still a cushy ride. We left the big tires on for some single-day tours and at 65psi and no more Thudbuster I think we have found our sweet spot.
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Old 12-04-19, 05:00 PM
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My wife doesn't use one, either.
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Old 12-15-19, 07:18 AM
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Late to the thread - but same here. We stopped using a suspension post on the road tandem years ago. My wife is 5'00" which means that any change in saddle height is proportionally more significant than it would be for a taller rider. She could never really get her saddle position right (because it was constantly changing) with a suspension post. If we were to ever go back it would be to something like the Specialized C-GR post which doesn't have any moving parts but flexes just enough to take the sting off of big hits. I have one on a single bike and there is no sensation that the saddle is moving and no bouncing at high cadences.
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Old 03-01-20, 10:45 AM
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Not much to add here but to say we just got a new Co-Motion Steelhead and I had been researching suspension seatposts to put on it because she always had one on our Trek T2000. Well we took the Steelhead for our first shakedown ride yesterday - with solid post - and she was fine with it. Of course, the Co-Mo has fat tires and we only had a short ride on relatively good roads so it's not a full test but that and this discussion has me thinking I will hold off on a suspension post purchase.
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