So, I have been building custom seats for some time now and I am frequently asked what i think about different seating systems or what seat/post i run on my personal bike. I know one mans opinion can only mean so much but there are a lot of choices out there and your seating system can be simple, over complicated, inexpensive, or cost a fortune. There are a lot of pros and cons to certain seating systems and there is not one that is particularly better than the others but one may be better for you than the others. There are basically four seating systems worth mentioning in “todays” bmx world. You have the original railed system, the simple one piece seat/post combo, the pivotal system, and the new tripod system. Here is my run down of what is currently available along with an explanation and a list of pros and cons to help you choose what is best for your ass to sit upon.
First, you have this… This is the simple seat/post combo. Not much to explain really. You purchase the entire deal as a combo. Some have padding and a cover, some dont. The main thing is that it is simple and light weight. Just a plastic seat base bonded and in most cases riveted to an alloy post.
Pros: light weight and inexpensive. also, very available(even walmart has d/k combos)
Cons: Absolutely no adjustment, typically come with a short post
Next, you have the classic railed system. This is the system with the most choices. For over 100 years railed seats have been produced along with posts. This system also offers the most modulation. You can move the nose of the seat up and down freely as well as push the seat forward and backward in relation to the center of the seat post. This system CAN be the most expensive but also offers so many choices. The variations of this system can also be the lightest or the heaviest depending on what you ride. The railed system has proven itself to be a strong system, it is the only system that depends on a metal frame for its strength. This is the most versatile and available system on the planed although it has been becoming an odd sight to see in the bmx world. bmx has obviously adopted the other systems with open arms but the railed seat isn’t dying any time soon.
Pros: extreme range of motion, strong and solid, wide availability in most forms of cycling.
Cons: seemingly impossible to find a “modern” bmx company producing a “new” railed seat. A hard fall the wrong way can bend seat rails or blow the pan off of the rails. Not seen as the lightest system and can also be expensive.
Here is what the world knows as the Pivotal system. This system was big for cycling as a whole but HUGE for bmx. Our small sliver of cycling had produced an amazing, new seating system. Darcy Saccucci had developed this seating system specifically for bmx. What a thought. The seat had no rails but a round splined piece on the bottom that fit inside a splined surface of a post. Bound together with one, simple, bolt this was one of those ideas that made you say “why didn’t i think of that?!” This started as one pan and one seat post, that was it. But, the design took off and gained popularity. It has now grown into arguably the most popular seating system in bmx today. It is basically the standard for all bmx bikes in todays market. Every company has one or many pivotal seats and posts. This system even grew into having the “wedge mod” posts, allowing you to tighten the post inside the frame without a seat post clamp. It is safe to say that the pivotal system isn’t going away any time soon.
Pros: Insanely available, reasonably affordable, many padding sizes to choose from, many cover materials to choose from, many post lengths available
Cons: Early versions, because of the plastic structure, can flex/fold/snap easily. It can also only be adjusted one way, nose up and down. no front to back adjustment with a pivotal.
This is the, new, Tripod system from Fly bikes. I had seen photos of this new system and had my doubts of how it would actually feel or work. Then a few months later I had a great conversation with John Povah with Fly at Interbike. He showed me the ins and outs of the Tripod system. Just when I thought it couldn’t get simpler or newer than Pivotal this falls into my lap. Shortly after Interbike John sent me some Tripod seat and post samples to try out. I was thoroughly impressed. Structurally, the under side of the seat is extremely strong. This system takes the good from the pivotal design and the railed design and gives you the strength and weight benefits of everything that has come before it. Basically, the two prongs from the tripod post fit into two pockets under the tripod seat. Then one, small, bolt sits through the front of the post and anchors into the seat pan. One small wedge allows you to put the seat in two positions. After talking to Povah I have found that the Tripod is not only lighter and stronger than pivotal but is also less expensive to produce. This system is extremely simple and affordable as well as strong and light. So, why does this not blow everything out of the water? Basically it hasn’t infiltrated the masses yet. My only beef with Tripod was the lack of adjustability up and down and the length of the post. But, in my first conversation with Povah he let me know that a micro adjust version of the post may be in the future. Also, it is no secret that a slew of companies are toying with different foam molds and pan styles for the Tripod system. Final, personal, thought… Tripod has the potential to become THE norm in bmx.
pros: affordability, strength, light weight, and the large future open to the tripod system
cons: current restrictions of angle adjustment and post length options.
As a final note I would like to state my personal deal with everything that is seating… I will never, ever retire my thomson post! I will always have a railed seat wrapped in leather bolted to a thomson post. I will probably never be spotted with a one piece seat/post combo. I have my beautiful deer skin/ ostrich skin tree ergo pivotal that i throw on from time to time to get oohs and aahs. Also, I am currently piecing together a new Tripod seat to ride for the summer. I rode one for a while and loved it, just waiting for a longer post to keep the tripod a permeant thing on my rig.