Thomson Elite Setback seatpost review

Few components are as uniquely distinctive as Thomson’s Elite Setback ‘kinky’ seat post, and it works brilliantly even if it looks wonky

Thomson Elite Setback seatpost review
(Image: © Guy Kesteven)

BikePerfect Verdict

Expensive but super effective, light yet strong and secure design with masses of fit options

Pros

  • +

    Super secure

  • +

    Light

  • +

    Strong

  • +

    Saddle saving extended clamp

  • +

    Masses of angle adjustment

  • +

    Loads of different diameter options

  • +

    Three different lengths

  • +

    Spares are available

Cons

  • -

    High price

  • -

    Kinky looks aren’t for everyone

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Thomson’s Setback seatpost can look broken at a first glance, but the bent shaft is a simple- and super-effective solution to keeping a traditional saddle position without compromising the security and infinite angle adjustment of a twin-bolt head. The US machining masters make it in a huge range of sizes to fit almost any bike, too.

How does this pricey alloy seatpost compare to the best mountain bike seatpost on the market?

Design and aesthetics

While the kinked angle halfway down the shaft is the obvious feature of the Setback post, even Thomson’s straight posts are a lot more complex than they might seem. For a start, while most seatposts use an extruded metal (or carbon) tube with a separate clamp head bonded onto it, Thomson machines the whole shaft and the lower part of the seat clamp from a single piece of billet. It’s not just a simple, plain wall pipe either. The internal bore is ovalized to make the front and rear of the seat post thicker to increase strength at the point of most fore and aft stress. 

A separate cradle then sits in the recessed top of the shaft, tilting back and forth from -5 to +29-degrees as you tighten and loosen the fore and aft clamping bolts. These thread into replaceable barrel receivers that are cradled in the top section and both bolt kits and saddle clamps are available as spares in case you lose them. There’s enough length in the bolts to handle deep carbon saddle rails as well as conventional round rails. 

As well as all the usual post diameters, and some we’ve never even used on a bike in several decades of riding and wrenching, Thomson also makes the post in three different lengths so you don’t have to chop down any excess. That means our 250mm post just crept under 200g but you can go even lighter (roughly 40g) with the Masterpiece post for $169.95/£155.

Thomson Elite Setback seatpost clamp pictured from the side

The seatpost is machined rather than bonding the clamp to the post (Image credit: Guy Kesteven)

Performance

That puts it in contention with some carbon posts and around 20 per cent lighter than most alloy posts of a similar size. The real win with the Thomson though is the range of saddle angle achievable, the ease of doing it and the subsequent security. Because everything tilts so smoothly there’s no indexing or fight trying to nudge a stuck cradle into the sweet spot only to overshoot in the wrong direction. While it obviously looks bent already, we’ve never bent a Thomson any further even back when we were high-posting MTB seats in the painful days before dropper posts. The longer than average 41mm long seat cradle helps spread stress on heavy landings, so lightweight saddles are likely to survive longer, too. 

That makes the only downsides the fact that not everyone can cope with the kink aesthetically and the fact it’s twice the price of most good quality alloy seatposts. If you view it as an investment in long-term durability and seat husbandry though, it’s easier to justify putting your hand deeper into your pocket and it does come in a nice bag.

Thomson Elite Setback seatpost clamp screw detail

The clamp gives loads of adjustment, easy setup and works with most saddle rails (Image credit: Guy Kesteven)

Verdict

If you’re okay with the kinky looks, Thomson’s Setback Elite post is light, strong, super-secure and can really help with saddle survival, too – which potentially makes its high price a wise long-term investment. It comes in a massive range of angle adjustment and different diameters and lengths as well. 

Tech Specs: Thomson Elite Setback seatpost

  • Price: $121.95 / £95
  • Weight: 198g (27.2 x 250mm) 
  • Diameter: 26.8, 27.2, 28.6, 30, 30.9, 31.6, 32.4mm
  • Length: 250, 330 or 410mm
  • Colors: Black or Silver

Guy Kesteven is Bike Perfect and Cyclingnews’ contributing tech editor. Hatched in Yorkshire he's been hardened by riding round it in all weathers since he was a kid. He spent a few years working in bike shops and warehouses before starting writing and testing for bike mags in 1996. Since then he’s written several million words about several thousand test bikes and a ridiculous amount of riding gear. To make sure he rarely sleeps and to fund his custom tandem habit, he’s also penned a handful of bike-related books and talks to a GoPro for YouTube, too.


Rides: Pace RC295, Cotic FlareMax, Specialized Chisel, Vielo V+1 gravel bike, Nicolai FS Enduro, Landescape custom gravel tandem

Height: 180cm

Weight: 69kg