By Matt Marine
I own a Specialized Rockhopper Comp 29er mountain bike. I really like it (complete review at a later date), but it's a hardtail and sometimes would like the added comfort of a full suspension bike (especially after my two back surgeries).
One way to help a hardtail is to get some suspension for your seat. I used to have a seat post suspension shock absorber that was okay, but I’d heard about a different kind of seat post suspension system: The Thudbuster LT (for Long Travel).
Cane Creek states their Thudbuster is better than the traditional telescoping seat post suspension systems since there is not initial friction (they call it stiction) to overcome and the force is in the direct path of the travel of the rear wheel.
I went to their website and it seemed to make sense. My biggest reservation was the price (a hefty $150). My old suspension seat post cost only $30.
But, I figured what's the price of no back pain? Obviously, not $150 (at least for me).
I ordered the Thudbuster and was excited when it arrived. It has six different elastomers (the pliable coupling that you can adjust to your weight). Here's the idea: you use different combinations of the elastomers to work the best for your riding style and weight. I thought that was a great idea. But setting it correctly wasn't a snap.
One problem was the instructions. At best, they were fair. I had to call Cane Creek just to make sure I was setting it up right. It wasn't clear what elastomer combination I should be using for my weight (the instructions said one thing, their website another). Even though I set it to the recommended setting for my weight, I am not sure if it's really tuned that well.
Another nit was that it did not come with lubricant (though it is required for the assembly and maintenance). Just send a small tube with the seat post. Come on, we're already shelling out $150!
I got it installed and took it for a ride. The way it travels (more of an arc than up and down) gets some getting used to. At first I found myself feeling like I was going to be ejected from the seat after a large bump. I have bottomed out with it, but am afraid if I go with a harder setting, it won't be enough.
Here's what it felt like: the Thudbuster would "compress" by arcing back down toward the rear wheel upon hitting a big bump, then it would "spring" back. The full force of the elastomer pads sending the seat arcing toward the front of the bike.
This feeling has gotten better since I've gotten used to it, but it hasn't gone away all together. I don't get this feeling riding without it or with a regular seat post suspension kit. And it can range for just feeling a little weird to almost dangerous.
I think the ride is smoother than with my cheap seat post suspension kit, but it didn't make as much difference as I hoped it would. My back pain did not go away. It is not as nice as a full suspension bike either (though no ever said it would be).
Smoothes out some of the bumps.
Can be tuned to weight.
Seems to be well-built and sturdy.
Looks pretty cool (if that' important to you).
Came with the Crudbuster (a protective sleeve)
Cost. I think it's very expensive for what you get.
Directions could be clearer and up-to-date.
Did not ship with required lubricant.
Hard to get correct setting for weight. Additional elstomers can get lost. Would be better to have it be truly adjustable so no leftovers to keep track of.
Did not get rid of my back pain like I hoped it would (though this may work for others).
Although I still ride with it, I would not buy this again. I think your money is better spent on a "typical" seat post suspension kit (more bang for the buck) or if your back is hurting that bad, get a full suspension bike. Not worth the money.