Many triathletes who start out in the sport do not want to fork out for a triathlon-specific bike as their first bike. With the average Tri bike costing $5,000 versus the average road bike being $3,500, that is understandable.
But what happens when we start to modify that road bike, and are all of the possible add-ons really worth it? In this article, we will be looking at the value of getting a fast-forward Seatpost.
Is a fast-forward Seatpost worth it? If you have a standard road bike with no other modifications then there is no real benefit to using a fast forward seatpost. However, if you couple a forward seatpost with clip-on aerobars then you will see some benefits in speed and efficiency, as it will create a more aerodynamic and efficient riding position.
Check out the fast forward seat post that I use myself which I found to work perfectly in my list of Best Triathlon Battle-Tested Budgeting Gear
- What Is A Fast Forward Seatpost?
- Why Would You Want A Fast Forward Seatpost?
- Can I Use A Fast Forward Seatpost Without Aerobars?
- Will A Fast Forward Seatpost Affect The Bike Fit?
- Do I Need To Change My Saddle To Use A Fast Forward Seatpost?
- How Much Does A Fast Forward Seatpost Cost?
- Disadvantages Of A Fast Forward Seatpost
- Final Thoughts
What Is A Fast Forward Seatpost?
Most road bikes have a seat tube angle of 70-75 degrees (source) whereas a tribike typically has a seat tube angle of 76-78 degrees (source). In order to achieve the extra angle to replicate the seating position on a tri-bike, manufacturers now offer a fast-forward seatpost.
These seatposts are designed in a way that artificially increases the seat tube angle without having to go and buy a tri-bike frame.
Why Would You Want A Fast Forward Seatpost?
Tribikes are built with a steeper seat tube angle in order to make the rider more efficient in the aero position. This saving of energy is key because you are able to travel at the same speed while using less energy than you would be able to on a standard road bike.
By adding a fast forward seatpost, you can look to take advantage of this benefit too. For help on your triathlon bike purchase, check our our Triathlon Bikes: Complete Entry Level Buyer Guide
Not only is the position more aerodynamic, but it also means that there is more power coming from your hamstrings when peddling.
This is good news for triathletes as it will go some way to helping save the energy in your quads for a stronger run.
This means that you can end up feeling a bit stretched out when you try to reach your aerobars. The fast forward seatpost brings you closer so that you can reach the aerobars with more comfort.
Although tri bikes are typically considered faster, there are certain terrains where road bikes are favorable, especially with the above upgrade. Check out our article for details: How Much Should Road And Tri Bikes Components Cost And Weigh? How Do They Differ !
Can I Use A Fast Forward Seatpost Without Aerobars?
Fast forward seatposts and aerobars work hand-in-hand because they are both looking to do the same thing; put the rider in a more aerodynamic position.
If you add a fast forward seatpost but cycle on the hoods then your body is still going to be very much upright and you won’t see the benefit.
If you cycle on the drops then this will help to create a more aero posture, but it is likely to get very uncomfortable after a while because the seatpost angle is pushing more weight onto your wrists.
To really see the advantages of a fast forward seatpost aerobars should be fitted to your road bike.
This enables you to get into that aero position that you are looking for and also means that you can distribute your weight through the elbow pads. This will be a lot more comfortable when riding at long distances in the aero position.
Also make sure to check out Road & Mountain Bikes Essential Upgrades For Triathlons: A Beginners Guide
Will A Fast Forward Seatpost Affect The Bike Fit?
A fast forward seatpost by nature will change your riding position. Unless you are very confident in fitting a bike then it would be a good idea to go to your local bike shop and get fitted properly so that the seatpost is angled and positioned correctly for maximum effect.
You may find that there is some adjustment needed for your aero bars too, so be sure to take the time to get your new setup dialled in. Check out The cost of bike fitting and what to expect (Amateur, advanced and professional)
Do I Need To Change My Saddle To Use A Fast Forward Seatpost?
In most instances there will be no need to change your saddle.
However, you should note that not all saddles are compatible with fast forward seatposts.
If you have a saddle with oval rails, or carbon rails then you would do well to check first if the saddle is compatible with the seatpost as these are the types of saddle that seem to have compatibility issues.
How Much Does A Fast Forward Seatpost Cost?
For an upgrade that will create significant changes in your riding position, a fast forward seatpost is quite a reasonable investment compared to something like a new wheelset. An aluminum one will cost around $150, and a carbon fiber version will cost around $230 .
Check out our battle-tested gear for recommendation
If you couple that with a set of carbon aero bars, can take your current road bike and transform it to a more tri bike-style rider position for as little as $200-$300.
Disadvantages Of A Fast Forward Seatpost
If something sounds too good to be true, then it probably is! So at this point we have to talk about the disadvantages, or limitations, of the fast forward seatpost.
The steeper angle means that the pressure is moved away from your buttocks and, instead, rests much more heavily on your hands.
There are times when we cannot be on the aero bars, maybe you are riding in a peloton or there is traffic around and you need to be able to react quickly on your brakes. In this case, you are going to feel a lot more weight pushing through your wrists, which can create aches and pains.
Additionally, by pushing the rider’s weight further over the front wheel, you will find a difference in handling. The bike will become a touch more squirrelly and feel more unstable. At low speeds, this will not be so noticeable, but if you are going downhill at 50kpm you may well notice the lack of stability in the front end a lot more.
Finally, there is no getting away from the fact that a road bike is not built the same as a tri-bike; the frames are fundamentally different.
By adding on and changing components of a road bike, you are moving away from the manufacturer’s intended purpose and this can cause potentially serious issues in terms of injuries to you as the rider. Check out this great video which shows the pitfalls of trying to modify a road bike too much:
If the cost of a tri bike is prohibitive for you, and you are looking at ways to adapt your current road bike to give it more of a tri-bike feel, then you would do very well to look at investing in a fast forward seatpost coupled with a set of aero bars.
Be ready for an adjustment period as your body gets used to the different riding positions and how that distributes weights and forces in a way you may not be used to.
Also, get yourself a professional bike fit in order to be sure you are getting the most from your new modifications and not putting undue strain on your body.
If you are modifying your road bike and want to know more about how much different components should weigh and cost, then check out this article which will give you a detailed breakdown of the major components.