24 December 2008

bikefix Exclusive Review: Alpha Q PRO seatpost

There are places on a bike where carbon fiber can just plain be fantastic. The material's strength, light weight and ability to damp high-frequency vibration are useful all over, but nowhere is that damping more appreciated than between the bike and the rider. Regardless your frame's material, your riding style or your size, carbon fiber bars and seatposts can make a subtle but important improvement in ride quality. Not sold? Replace that carbon bar or seatpost you've taken for granted with an aluminum equivalent and pay attention to how much more quickly you're visited by sleepy fingers or a tingly todger.

Of course, carbon fiber still scares some folks. And with good reason- unlike some metals (though very much like lightweight aluminum), poorly designed or damaged carbon fiber parts can fail catastrophically- not something I look for in either bars or a seatpost. As a result, I tend to be a bit conservative when it comes to my carbon fiber bits. Bars and posts from established brands, please, and never the lightest model in the range. With this in mind, I chose Alpha Q's PRO seatpost for my commuter/'cross bike several years back. With a very Shimano-like wide serrated clamp (featuring plenty of rail support) on its forged aluminum head, the PRO post is pretty traditional in appearance. The head is bonded into a straight 270mm or 350mm long 27.2mm diameter carbon tube (mine is unidirectional, later models have the expected cosmetic weave). That's it. No fancy molding, no finicky clamps. No other diameters, come to think of it. The 230g weight isn't going to quicken any weight weenies' pulses- but I personally find it reassuring rather than disappointing. Also reassuring is the $69 price ($79 for the 350mm length).

Alpha Q's PRO post is essentially a fit-and-forget part. At least, that's what I've done. For three years, it's done exactly what it's supposed to do- hold my saddle (and my bum), damp vibration and not break. It's reasonably priced and recommended for cyclocross as well as off road use and I'd have no qualms about recommending it for either. I don't have a ton of post sticking out of my frame, but haven't noticed the flex my 145lb can cause in less substantial posts. I'd personally have preferred the company stick with the understated graphics and unidirectional finish, but have a feeling that I'm the exception there, and neither are deal breakers- the PRO post is a very well made and reasonably priced piece of equipment.



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