Ultimate Vybe Suspension Seatpost
460g 27.2mm Hard Spring Black (as tested) £120
The Ultimate Vybe Suspension Seatpost by USE is a single spring model with an easy tuse clamp and several size and weight options pre-purchase and fully adjustable when in-service. There’s a gravel version if the laid-back version tested here does not suit.
Pros: Easy to fit, good price, simple adjustment, deals with most surfaces/contexts the moderate rider will encounter.
Cons: Less tuneable than some, can bottom-out on roughest surfaces.
A matt black aluminium seat post, the USE (Ultimate Sports Engineering) Vybe Suspension Seatpost is a generous 400mm in length. With a minimum insertion of 100mm, this gives 300mm of exposed seatpost, if you need to go that far. This may cause some issues for older geometries (more of that later), but gives loads of adjustment on more modern machines.
Spring, as opposed to elastomer ‘Thudbuster’ types offer more uncluttered seat post. There’s fifty millimetres of travel. The preload can be adjusted using a hex-head bolt at the base of the post. Fine-tuning is done in the parameters of the three broad categories that you choose form when purchasing. These are dependent on rider weight. The soft – green coloured spring – 85-120lbs (38-55kgs); medium – yellow spring – 120-174lbs (55-80kgs); and hard – purple spring – 174-225lbs (80-100kgs). Ours was the hard spring, and the adjustment just happened to feel right from the first ride. For each load there are three post diameter options; 27.2mm, 30.9mm, and 31.6mm. That covers most possibilities, although not 25.4. There are, as one would expect, no aero options.
USE describe the seatpost as completely serviceable.
The Duro clamp (two grooved plates pulled tight by an Allen-head bolt. It is marked with gradations to help with getting the elevation as you want it. It has a 10mm set-back for comfort. Gravel riders or those seeking more power directly over the pedals may want to look at the Vybe Gravel with no-setback. It also has a different seat clamp.
The Duro default is a standard 7x7mm. A different clamp for oval carbon rails is available. It is up to the purchaser to check the measurements, especially if the rails are wrapped.
The Supergalaxy that once carried me all over Europe has now been relegated to the hack-commuter-utility role of day-to-day cycling. Most regular commutes involve, luckily, a mixture of asphalt, gravel, canal towpath, mixed surface riding. So, it seemed logical to add the comfort of a suspension seat post to its Kinekt Suspension Stem and some thick gravel bar tape. Firstly, some of the canal towpath routes are now deteriorating badly and becoming rougher – as are some of the roads into the city; secondly, poor old Steve is getting on and is developing arthritic joints (one knee and several fingers); suspension seems to be the way to go. However, it is a 23inch frame with old-style touring geometry and does not leave much seat post visible – more of this below.
I have also fitted it to my Swallow touring bike and my son’s go-anywhere Pinnacle.
Having removed the old set-back seat post, cleaned out much of the old grease from the seat tube, I spent a few moments familiarising myself with the design of the Ultimate Vybe and intuitively slid the mount into the rails of the little used Brookes B12 that I’d decided suited the colour scheme (such as it is – the faithful old servant is in real need of a respray). Actually, it took a couple of attempts to get things aligned properly so the bolt would slip neatly through to be tightened with an Allen (Hex Head) Key.
By the way, USE recommend Weldtite TF2 Bike Grease – or other greases suitable for suspension forks. They warn against automotive, lithium, and greases suitable for bottom brackets.
The gradations on the Duro clamp are helpful. I like a nice level saddle, but different elevations can also be easily located. The Duro clamp is certainly much simpler to use than older style brackets requiring either spanners or contortions to turn a large Allen Key whilst holding the bracket and saddle in both horizontal and vertical planes.
The previous seat post was 240mm long. Given this I was not surprised that the 400mm long Ultimate Vybe only just went in far enough. With the shockstop just above the top of the seat tube, the fit was perfect. However, this may be worth considering if your bike has a more old-fashioned geometry. There should be no issue with shorter seat tubes that allow a lot more seat post to be exposed when adjusting for height. Michael’s fixie and his old girl Ursula, both have more compact frames, and he’d expect to mount an SQR mounted pack comfortably.
Initially, I ignored the fine-tuning offered courtesy of a pre-load adjustment screw. However, as you’d expect after a honeymoon period, I made minor adjustments. Simply remove the seatpost and adjust the Allen (Hex-head) bolt at the base. A bit of trial and error is inevitable, but the whole business is simple enough not to put one of in-trip fettling as asphalt gives way to forest track on mixed-surface rides, although much less convenient than models adjusted at the top of the post.
I have been very favourably impressed from the start. Deteriorating crushed lime canal towpath felt like carpet. Bumping over setts remained bumping over setts, although even that uncomfortable experience was improved. There was the occasional bottoming-out over more prominent tree roots, but you’d expect that, and even that was reduced. On decent asphalt it was hard to detect any movement. Interestingly, I get to ride over some roads effected by mining subsidence that have troughs and ridges that roll and rise like a sea swell; no problem.
Of course, all the above depends upon selecting the correct post to start with and the adjustment made. Whilst not as convenient as more expensive models that can be adjusted without removing the seat post, it isn’t that much of a problem to loosen a seat-bolt. I’ve fettled around (or faffed about) and for most rides, stiffened the spring to reduce travel. This has led to no loss of comfort.
Generally, movement has been gently progressive. However, in my opinion, it does not perform so well on really turbulent gravel surfaces than some more expensive and more tuneable models, such as the Kinekt Suspension Seatpost. Having said that, with adjustment, it has not sent a sudden shockwave up the spine on most surfaces. Overall, I have found this a real boon on mixed surface rides of any length, and a very pleasant perch on long day rides on country lanes of variable quality. I’ve not had the chance to test it on a tandem, but my inclination would be that it would serve well, especially for touring.
I’ve not noticed any significant impact on power transfer through the pedals, nor have smooth action or cadence been affected.
Needless to say, accompany first installation with a clean of the seat tube and seat bolt, add some suitable grease, and insert to the required depth. After some two hundred miles, I needed to nip-up the seat-clamp and it was then I made the first adjustments to spring length, reducing distance of travel.
Those with rear facing seat bolts who ride sans mudguards may like to add a little extra grease or bodge a boot to cover the exposed seat post/barrel area. I use mudguards, even in summer, on my commuter and tourer, so this was not really an issue. Hidden under the saddle and protected with a general protectant or suitable grease, there’s little chance of ingress by water. The former has also been used to keep things looking shiny.
Use with a saddle pack hasn’t scuffed things up with both the Oxford Evo Adventure Seat Pack or the Carradice Carradura Maxi Seat Pack has interfered with neither with the fabric of the packs or the function and appearance of the seat-post.
The Kinekt 2.1 Suspension Seatpost offers more tuneability and a little extra length for height adjustment, but is nearly twice the price and half-again as heavy. Much will depend on the roughness of your riding and the depth of your pocket.
Cane Creek ST Thudbuster is about the same weight, but is more expensive. Having used these on a tandem, I can say it gained favour with both skipper and stoker.
Like the USE Vybe, the Redshift Shockstop Suspension Seatpost is adjusted at the less convenient end, but met with Michael’s approval. It is, however, much more expensive.
A definite plus if you are seeking a more comfortable ride and are not concerned too much about weight. The price is distinctly moderate for this quality, is easy, if not especially convenient, to adjust and has enough ‘play’ for most surfaces. It may not have the tuneability or sophistication of some more expensive models, but there is lots to like.
Verdict: 4.25/5 Good value bit of gear, offering a sound compromise between price and sophistication.
PUBLISHED JULY 2023