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BodyFloat puts shocks under the seat for improved riding comfort

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October 4, 2012

BodyFloat works by levitating a rider over their bike and terrain via a patent-pending und...

BodyFloat works by levitating a rider over their bike and terrain via a patent-pending undamped dual spring, dual parallelogram system

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Looking for a way to make his frequent bike journeys a little less arduous while assisting rural village development in Kenya and Uganda, veteran frame builder Paul Barkley found that existing spring seats just didn't offer the kind of action, adjustability, performance and comfort he was looking for, so he set about designing one that did. When he discovered that the first prototype worked much better than expected, he set about refining the design. After spending more than a year riding, testing, racing and tweaking, he teamed up with keen cyclist Charlie Heggem to form Cirrus Cycles and bring the BodyFloat to market. The seatpost suspension system is claimed to smooth out the terrain below by levitating the rider above the bike, resulting in a comfortable ride and allowing for a smooth, comfortable and efficient pedal stroke without bounce, flex or wasted energy.

"BodyFloat works by levitating a rider over their bike and terrain via our patent-pending undamped dual spring (meaning no elastomers, oils, air or other substance), dual parallelogram system," Heggem told Gizmag. "No damping and the horizontal configuration allows for straight vertical travel over a controlled sweet spot that is tunable to any rider, bike or terrain. Vertical travel allows the BodyFloat to actively isolate the rider while maintaining critical frame fit geometry. Minimal vertical compliance of the rider allows natural movement that we believe aids in bio-mechanical performance, improves comfort and aids in energy conservation within the body."

The suspension system allows up to 1.5 inches of true vertical travel, with the option to ...

"The concept is not new ... as Softride pioneered the 'Suspend the Rider' idea in the late 80s and 90s with the 'Beam Bikes'. Many other companies followed suit. Both myself and my business partner Paul Barkley (the inventor of the BodyFloat) came from a Softride lineage, with him being the original frame builder and I was a pro-level mountain bike rider. Our goal isn't to suspend the rider, however, it is about isolating the rider within the controllable sweet spot (the ideal combination of spring rate and pre-load). Tuning the BodyFloat allows it to perform over any terrain and under any rider on any bike."

Two versions are currently being offered to backers via a Kickstarter funding campaign. BodyFloat 3.0 is primarily constructed using 2021 aluminum machined in-house with a carbon seatpost. Steel springs and sealed bearings round out the main parts. BodyFloat 2.0 uses 6061 aluminum, a highly efficient bushing system and an alloy seatpost. Both models will ship fully assembled and pre-configured to the customer's weight and stated riding style.

The suspension system allows up to 1.5 inches (38 mm) of true vertical travel, with the option to pre-load down to less than a quarter of an inch (6.4 mm). Pre-load can be user-adjusted for fine tuning on the fly, and springs swapped out if desired.

Future versions of the system are in the works to cater for mountain-specific applications and will have over three inches (76.2 mm) of available travel. Current models are available in 27.2 mm and 31.6 mm seat post diameters (with shims for other sizes), making it compatible with most bikes, but are supplied without a saddle – although a model with seat included is very much on the "To Do" list.

The BodyFloat system installed on a Stromer bike

The funding campaign on Kickstarter has been successful ahead of schedule but, you can still get in there and back the project if you're quick. Otherwise, BodyFloat will be available for US$349 (version 3.0) or $199 (version 2.0) after the campaign closes. Heggem told us that "additional models (1.0 and 4.0) are in the works to be released in 2013. Our 3.0 will begin shipping in December 2012, followed by Model 2.0 in February 2013."

Source: Cirrus Cycles, Kickstarter

Have a look at the following video to see the BodyFloat in action.

About the Author
Paul Ridden While Paul is loath to reveal his age, he will admit to cutting his IT teeth on a TRS-80 (although he won't say which version). An obsessive fascination with computer technology blossomed from hobby into career before the desire for sunnier climes saw him wave a fond farewell to his native Blighty in favor of Bordeaux, France. He's now a dedicated newshound pursuing the latest bleeding edge tech for Gizmag.   All articles by Paul Ridden
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9 Comments

Great innovation. Reminds me of those days when bikes did not have suspension but there were these coil springs under the seat. This new spring for the seat can complement the bike's suspension and reduce even further any shocks on the rider's spine, since it is directly under the seat and in line with the spinal column.Great for people like me with cervical prolapsed discs.

Nantha
4th October, 2012 @ 06:45 pm PDT

Looks nice. Purposeful.

Still, considering the price, how does it compare out on the road head to head, or bottom to bottom, with the Thudbuster in terms of performance?

duh3000
5th October, 2012 @ 04:32 am PDT

The BodyFloat is substantially different than the Thudbuster in numerous ways. Movement is straight vertical for the BodyFloat vs down and back for the Thudbuster. Pre-load is available from 1.5 inches down to 1/4 inch of vertical motion, Thudbuster has a much more limited adjustability range. The BodyFloat is fully tunable for any rider weight (50-250lbs), riding style and terrain selection. The BodyFloat utilizes undamped dual steel springs that allow for the most responsive unit with the least amount of wasted motion or stored energy, the Thudbuster uses rubber elastomers. All of these features allow the BodyFloat to isolate you from the bike and terrain, allowing for maximum comfort and performance. Cheers.

Cirrus
5th October, 2012 @ 10:12 am PDT

First comment looks a bit biased.

They reinvented the wheel and put a big price tag on it.

Suntour already have 2 versions of a similar concept. Bought mine for 50 bucks and does a great job. Exactly the same results...

vlvivia
5th October, 2012 @ 10:48 am PDT

What does it weigh? Better make certain this is vastly different in concept to the Thudbuster or Cane Creek will sue you like they did Moxey. Sadly, Moxey had the better product, but lost the suit. No more Moxey :(

tbgwio
5th October, 2012 @ 11:20 am PDT

Well, the cheap one only cost $60 more than my current bike, so there is that. But seriously, there have been dozens of suspension schemes, and I doubt if this crazily overpriced one is going to make an impact when perfectly good ones at 1/4 the price did not.

Michaelc
5th October, 2012 @ 02:39 pm PDT

When I saw the BodyFloat....I immediately thought Softride suspension stem under the seat! Then I saw your involvement with Softride and understood. I have 4 Softrides,one fitted with a suspension stem. BodyFloat plus Softride stem would be a great combination for a light weight simple suspension mountain or trail bike.

Robert Meurant
5th October, 2012 @ 05:00 pm PDT

Mechanism complicated. More than the number of parts. Broken pins in deep trenches.

bulsis
10th October, 2012 @ 12:15 am PDT

ThudBuster doesn't compress the length of the pedal stroke because it goes back and down, not just down.

This does have the advantage of being much more compact than the LT model ThudBuster.

Comparison test is in order.

C. Walker Jr.
19th December, 2012 @ 05:35 pm PST
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