Adjustable height posts are quickly gaining popularity, and for good reason. While expensive, they allow you to actually buy speed and control, which is something that can't be said of a lot of other so-called upgrades. Specialized
entered the dropping seat post game last season with their well received Command Post
. With its unique mechanical design it brings something different to the table, but how good does it work?Read on...
Height adjustable seat posts are quickly becoming the norm for a lot of riders who don't want to dismount when the going gets tough. Whether said riders are stopping to lower their seats via quick releases, or not risking trying to roll through whatever obstacles that are in front of them, both can and should be enjoying the benefits of height adjustable posts. While exponentially more expensive than a standard QR, an adjustable post obviously has many advantages and can simply add more flow to your ride. As well as being safer than tackling the challenging bits with your standard post at full extension. After a few years of running different models, I am of the belief that nearly every rider can benefit from installing an adjustable post on their AM, and even dedicated XC bikes. The Details
Adjustable posts can be found in two varieties: hydraulic; which uses oil to hold it at a given height, or a mechanical system that uses a pin or collet to keep it in place. Specialized's
Command Post uses a mechanical system combined with an adjustable air spring to raise it back up. The Command Post is also only available for use with the remote, whether you want it or not. The inner workings of the Command Post are quite a bit different than what you might expect to see. Besides being operated via a cable remote on the handle bar, there is also an internal cable within the post that releases tension on the collet
enabling the post to change position. Pushing the remote lever on your handle bar pulls on the cable, which in turn pulls the activation arm under the seat, thereby pulling the internal cable and releasing tension on the collet, freeing it to move to the next position. There are three 'slots' that the collet will fit in, each one obviously corresponding to one of the Command Post's height positions. Whew! Got all that?
Inside the Specialized Command Post
While all of the above looks and sounds quite complicated, it is actually pretty simple in practice and has some advantages over simpler designs. The biggest plus to the Specialized's collet design is a complete lack of play in the post's head. Even at the saddle I can only feel the slightest wiggle, I'm talking about less than 2 mm of free movement at the nose of the seat, very impressive. How can they manage that, yet still have the post move freely when need be? It's down to two reasons: a double keyway design with tight tolerance factors in, as well as the collet itself. Think of the collet as a brake or even a clutch. When the cable tension is released the collet expands into its slot at one of the three positions, and provides outward pressure, helping the post to be free of any slop.
The Command Post's head uses a single bolt for both fore/aft adjustment of the seat rails, as well as seat angle. Because one side of the opposing bolt is keyed, all that is needed is a single 5 mm Allen key to make either adjustment. One important note
: be sure to grease the threads on the seat rail clamp bolt to make it easier to attain proper torque to avoid any slipping of the clamp. The remote cable is attached to the actuation arm via a 3 mm Allen screw and cable tension is easily adjusted with a barrel adjuster right on the post.
The remote is a slick looking unit that uses a hinged clamp to attach itself to the bars for easy installation or removal. The Command Post comes with a lever that is intended to be used on the left hand side of the bars, although a right side unit is also available. The remote is quite compact and takes up very little room on the bars. Specialized made the choice to use a proprietary cable for the remote, something that potential users should take note of. The cable uses a unique barrel shaped head that allows it to pivot freely in the lever without kinking or binding. A standard brake or shift cable will not work without being modified, which users have been doing. Your local Specialized shop that sold you your Command Post will also be able to hook you up with replacement cables. • 4" (100 mm) of height adjustment
• Remote lever only - both left and right hand versions available
• available in 31.6 mm (400 mm long) and 30.9 mm (380 mm)
• 3 height positions - full extension, 100 mm drop (slammed), and a 35 mm cruiser position
• 520 grams (post only)
Command Post at full extension
If you have not had the chance to have a go on an adjustable post you owe it to yourself to give one a try. I have no hesitation in saying that adjustable height posts in general have had a massive impact on how I ride. I'm not exaggerating when I tell you that I'd put them in the same category as suspension and disc brakes, they bring that much to the table. My previous adj. post was a hydraulic/air unit as opposed to the Command Post's mechanical collet design. Of the two, the Specialized post has demonstrated itself to be more reliable and had fewer troubles, although it was certainly not trouble free. Full extension, dropped 35 mm cruiser position, slammed 100 mm drop
The Command Post proved to be both a useful and reliable addition to my ride. Installation was quite easy and the post does come with good instructions. Double check the post's air pressure before installing, mine was a bit low upon arrival, but hasn't needed any refilling over its two months of use. The single bolt seat rail clamp is simple to work with and it's painless to adjust the angle and fore/aft position separately. I would have liked to see easier access to the cable anchor bolt underneath the seat, something that could have been accomplished by rotating the cable clamp 90 degrees on the actuation arm. Users would then be able to reach the 3 mm Allen bolt from the side without having to rotate the seat up to reach it. Another qualm I have is the lack of any real channel for the cable to fit in under the bolt head, as it's quite easy to damage the cable while tightening the anchor bolt. Regardless, it only took a few minutes to get the Command Post up and running smoothly.
The Command Post has four inches of total drop available for use, something I was thankful for nearly every ride. I am of the opinion that if I am going to take the weight penalty for an adjustable post it may as well have as much travel as possible. The Specialized post has one extra inch of travel over my last adjustable post and I never would have guessed that it would have made so much of a difference. I would have liked to see 5" of movement, but 4" was more than sufficient in most situations. Hit the remote lever and weight the seat to lower it to either the cruiser or full drop positions. It took about 20 minutes of practice before I was able to hit the 35 mm drop cruiser position every time. Once I got the hang of setting the seat to the cruiser position it ended up being very useful. I found myself using this on most technical climbs as it added a degree of stability and confidence that helped me clean some inclines that had been troubling me. Just as I discovered with my first experience with adj. posts in the past, the cruiser position is also great for fast non-technical trails as your center of gravity is just that much lower. It has shown to be valuable in many places where I never expected to use it.
The Command Post's remote could be better
For how well the post itself functioned in the field, the handlebar remote is not quite up to par. While I certainly appreciate its slim and room sparing design, I just could not find a suitable position on my bars that worked well for me. Time was taken to try out every conceivable position: between the grip and shifter, the inside of both the shifter and brake, as well as all angles and even upside down. It just didn't mesh well with my SRAM and Avid controls. I would have liked to have it flush against my Elixir's bar clamp but the shifter body was not having any of that. In the end I was forced to move it inboard a touch which makes for quite the reach, enough that I can't be pulling the front brake if I want to drop my seat. Keep in mind that everyone's bars will be setup differently, just because I had some troubles finding the optimal spot doesn't mean you will.
I can forgive Specialized for their remote not playing nice with my controls, as every riders bar's will have a different layout. But, the quality of the remote lever is also a let down. Over only two months of use the lever pivot has developed enough slop to actually hinder pulling the cable. When it's depressed it shifts quite a bit at the hinge, which gives it a very sloppy and vague feel. Because the Command Post is very sensitive to cable tension, I found myself constantly playing with the barrel adjuster to try and take up slack found at the lever pivot. The lever's pivot is a simple pin that is pushed through instead of threaded. A small diameter threaded bolt would have been nicer, and possibly enabled me to take up any play that developed in the lever over time. Also, the lever's return spring proved useless quickly as it lost all of its tension. As with many adjustable posts, I have seen riders use remote levers from other companies that they have been more comfortable with. When doing this it is important to have a compatible amount of cable pull for things to work correctly. Other Notes...
• The post's single bolt head was both creak and slip free during the entire test.
• Take note of how much or your standard post is exposed at full height. I have long legs and the Command Post had to be at max height to work for me on my medium sized bike.
• To this day there is close to zero slop, even at the nose of the seat. Impressive.
• The Command Post does not like the cold weather. Movement slowed down considerably as temps dropped, something that can be remedied by using a lighter lube in the post as opposed to the stock heavier grease. Cold weather regulars take note.
• The mechanical collet design means that the Command Post is very sensitive to cable tension. Too little, either nothing will happen or you'll be forced to bump the seat with your ass to get it moving, too much and you'll feel a slight knocking as the collet shifts slightly within the post. A 1/4 to 1/2 a turn on the barrel adjuster is all that's needed when you get close. As mentioned above, this was aggravated by the shifty remote.
• A 5" drop model is in the works that should appeal to even more riders. Weight should be in the same ballpark so why not get an extra inch to play with.
After two months of solid use I came away with a good impression of the Command Post. The post itself proved to function perfectly, as well as being more reliable than finicky hydraulic based designs that depend a lot on oil seals. No creaking, slipping, or air loss was experienced during the entire time it was under me. That is something that can only be said about a few players in the still new adjustable post market. I was happy enough with how the post functioned that I can look past its weak link, the second-rate remote lever, or come up with my own solution. The adjustable height post market will only continue to grow as more and more riders discover the advantages to running one on their bikes. I suspect that I will start to see more and more Command Posts underneath riders as that happens.
to see their entire range of bikes, components, and clothing.Mike Levy