Monday, January 18, 2010

19 Look Ergopost Seatpost Failure

When you buy a $250 product, nothing in that price tells you that it will last. This is a fallacy bike consumers often go through in their minds. Is high price = safety & quality? Not necessarily.

This $250 "Ergopost 4" didn't last 10 minutes, according to a reader who emailed me his disappointing story. What's more, this is the second seat post he's broken in exactly the same location. The first one was a Look Ergopost 2Ti which lasted him an unsatisfactory 2 years. For appeasement and warranty honor, he received the "10 minute" Ergopost 4 from Look USA.

The product, by design, appears to be a monocoque setback post with weight of 170 grams and allowing 60 mm of fore-aft adjustability. I haven't seen this in person but Richard Feltner from Florida (the user) told me that while shining a light onto the post, he made out what appeared to be a two piece design with an upper "casting" or "forging" of CF joined to a tube section.

The catastrophic failure happened a little below the setback curve and internally, this is where Richard spotted an intersection or joint between two sub-assemblies that make up the post.

When he had initially received the Ergopost 4 from Look, he had made sure there were no scratches, cuts or deformations as stress risers before installation. He had then installed the post in neutral setback, adjusted it and torqued it to specs using the same OEM collar clamp that Look specially recommended.

Setting his 170 lb self on the bike, he went for a ride on the back streets of his residence. To his utter dismay, within 10 minutes, he heard the distinct crack. The saddle started rocking. The instantaneous cadence increase it brought along confirmed to him that the post had broken. He had to ride home standing on his pedals.

Richard contacted Look immediately who promised him, say what, a third post of the same variety! Apparently, Look has had him in the clutches of their word, assuring him that this is the most bulletproof item they manufacture. He doubts it after two unsafe experiences.

Check out the pics of the strong breakages. Meanwhile, if any of you readers have the same seat post, please fill us in with your honest experience of the product. If others have had similar issues, feel free to tell me about it through a comment. This will be helpful to Richard and a lot of other users. No one wants a seat post forcefully stuck into the rear end.

To Look Cycle : It's time to start "looking" into this issue.

Look Ergopost 2Ti (Richard's first seatpost)

Look Ergopost 4 (Richard's replacement under warranty)


Thomas Masterpiece Seatpost Failure + Mechanics Of A Seatpost Clamp
AX-Lightness Daedalus Seatpost Failure
Breaking Look KEO Pedals
Inspection Of Dave's Carbon Fiber Road Bike

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  1. Is it just me or do I notice the seatpost clamp installed the wrong way on the bike?

  2. 250 coins for a seatpost is just odd in my book. Lucky for the owner he's getting new posts one by one :)

  3. It would be interesting to see a few shots of that 'intersection' between the two assemblies, if Richard could provide us with one.

  4. Richard Feltner9:31 AM

    Bike Boy - No, the slot in the frame is such that this is the factory recommended installation. Other manufacturers such as Specialized do the same. It does look weird when compared to traditional frame construction but it has to do with the CF frame and getting enough clamping pressure on the post without the collar actually contacting the post.

    Mojo - I'd need to have one of those special ops cameras to get down into the seat post for a picture or two! I could see what looks like a join with excess resin. Not knowing Look's actual manufacturing process I'm only guessing. It could be the remains of an inflatable bladder if the product is monocoque in nature but after breaking two in the exact same place I'm more inclined to go with the two piece theory.

  5. Interesting tidbit of info from Richard himself (above) :

    "Look makes their frames in a Look factory in Tunisia but the seatposts are made in France and individually serialized so they should have an evidence chain regarding materials and manufacturing."

    Also, Richard has emailed Look about this issue but seems like they don't want to address it by replying back. What's the problem? Are they running away from the legalities? A decent percentage of pro's are using Look frames, maybe even with Look seatposts.

    P.S : Mojo, if you'll supply an endoscope sure? :)

  6. Anonymous10:49 AM

    Thanks for the notice. I wonder if this bad for Contador's image, as he's the glamor face for Look.

  7. Only Look Keo pedals as far as I knew. Not seatposts.

  8. Trackasaurus11:15 AM

    I thought there was an unwritten rule in cycling. The best seatposts -- prettiest, strongest, longest-time-tested -- sell for less than 1/2 of the price of this one.

  9. Anonymous1:39 PM

    First, in dealing with a warranty, Look is under no obligation to provide a report regardng the Root Cause to the customer.

    It could be debated as to the value of doing this, but I see actually very little.

    Second, A lot would be better understood if the post was cut open lengthwise.

    Lastly, Carbonfiber product is not produced in either the process of Casting, or Forging.

    - Ryan

  10. Richard Feltner2:38 PM

    Ryan - while technically you are correct in that metals and other materials are forged or cast go to Looks website and download the PDF product catalog wherein they describe how the bottom brackets and lugs are forged through their patented process. Now what does that actually mean? I'm not completely sure but I believe it refers to an autoclave process with matched metal molds (they refer to a very high pressure for the BB). Also many products today are made with a CF injection molding process that could be construed to be a "casting" process (though technically casting is un-pressurized) . In other words there are a lot of technical terms that are bandied about with regards to CF manufacturing. I was simply using the terms Look uses as I don't know the exact process employed. Looking at the complexity, undercuts, high density and lack of weave in the upper part of the seat post I surmised that the top clamp support section is molded under high pressure. You can see an overwrapping covering the complete outer surface of the post and that to me points at a two piece construction process (formed tube joined with formed upper component). Sorry for any misunderstanding from my poor use of terminology.

    You are also correct in that Look owes me no explanation of the root cause of the failure. I'm pretty sure if you were tooling down the road in your car and the brakes failed not once but twice you'd be asking for an explanation from someone. The value of an explanation to me would be simple assurance that my ass isn't going to be skewered on the third time go-around. I'd certainly feel more comfortable if Look would acknowledge the problem is being addressed instead of using me as a guinea pig (hey, don't ask, here's another post give it a try).

  11. I think the take home message is that at a certain weight point (perhaps <200g for seatpost; perhaps <150g for stems) there is significantly higher risks for failure. Certainly this threshold changes with technological advances, but one should not believe that durability of a 250g alu ritchey post is going to be equivalent to a 180g carbon unit. I've had friends break carbon posts after a few uses, and i've personally gone through a few <1500g wheelsets.

  12. Richard : I think Ryan has a point about warranty. Its a way to appease the consumer without coming clean on what the cause of the failure was.

    But I hope they are not negligent, if the post has a problem.

    I sort of remember reading about the famous Firestone 500 tire failures in the 1970's. Even after more than 40 deaths from tire blowouts, several thousand complaints from consumers, the formation of a Auto Safety committee and whistleblowing, the company still was unaware of why their tires were actually failing on the road. What's more, they were also opposed to recalling their complete lineup of Firestone 500's and vehemently blamed the consumer for underinflation and improper care. Even hen investigators found out a flawed design that lead to corrosion of the brass coating of the steel beads, the company still kept giving angry denials of responsibility in the press. Finally, when they knew a recall was imminent, they sold of the final 500's in southeastern states, at clearance-sale prices. :) It was a desperate attempt to unload damaged goods.

    Ofcourse, I'm not saying Look is the Firestone company but just saying, how many failures will it take before companies start taking responsibility for flawed products?

  13. Anonymous9:22 PM


    A lot can be better understood with the manufacturing method of carbon fiber products if you cut them open and look inside.

    Given what you have described I would speculate that the product is made of two primary parts and then is either co-molded or epoxy bonded, then wrapped with a finish layer of carbon to provide an aesthetic appearance.

    I wonder if the failure was at the joint? Or how close to it the failure was?
    That would be interesting to learn.

    Regarding Root Cause Analysis, if I were Look, there is no way I would even begin to guess what the cause of this issue is until the product has been returned for a quantified inspection.

    For the customer to demand an immediate answer without returning the product is just not reasonable.

    Also, your previous seat post that was made out of a different material which lasted 2 years has really little to no correlation with this current issue.

    - Ryan

  14. Richard10:40 AM


    You can see from the photos that both posts broke in the same location. I was curious about that so I did a little "non-invasive" observation and noted the apparent join between the 2 sub-components and the break that occurred at the join.

    I didn't pressure Look for an immediate explanation concerning the failure. There were however several emails from the dealer to Look requesting an immediate replacement under warranty (it still took Look 2 months).

    Please understand that I'm not tying to bust Look and I don't have any animosity towards the company or their products (I happen to like my 585 a lot and plan on putting another 10k on it).

    BTW both posts are constructed from the same materials in apparently the same fashion. The primary difference is an upgraded seat rail clamp (a completely separate component from the post itself) now made out of carbon as opposed to the original in aluminum.

    I'm not married to the cult of CF. This just happens to be the way I built up the bike. The dealer had a kit price and I spec'd the major components but didn't spec the post. I was surprised to see that they opted for Look's SOTA post in the build kit. Not being a weight weenie, I didn't give it much thought beyond "hey, that's a nice "Lookin" post".

  15. It IS French...

    As for the OP's concerns regarding ass-skewering on the third time around, I would say the way to ensure that, or at least guard against it as best you can, is to find a different post.

  16. At the risk of jinxing my own seatpost, I've used a Look Ergopost on a LOOK 585 for the last 3 years without issue. Thanks.

  17. Anonymous12:27 PM

    I've been using an Ergo4 post for the last 3 years with absolutely no problems (last year alone I did over 5000 miles on it all over France). Before that I had an Ergo2 that also had LOTS of miles with no problems.
    There must be more to this story...

  18. Ginger1:20 PM

    I've got an Ergopost 4Ti at home that I bought due to the amount of setback it could achieve. It got a month of mild use, at most, and has been sitting in my parts bin since. I'll look at it when I get back from the office this evening to see if I can spot the marks the original post referred to.

    Worth noting, Look lists the post under it's MTB selection as well as it's road selection of goods.

  19. Anonymous10:07 AM

    I've had a Ergo Post break in the same spot but only at the rear of the post. Will Look warranty the post without a receipt? I have another post that has some imperfections in the carbon in exactly the same spot where the other one broke, hopefully it won't break there.


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