As dropper posts become an essential component, picking the best dropper post for your bike is getting more complicated. An innovation from enduro bikes, the benefits of a lower centre of gravity to make you faster and more stable through corners and descending technical terrain has now permutated all the way to gravel bikes. To get low, centring yourself within the sweet spot of your bike’s geometry, is problematic with a saddle in the way.
Resolving that issue is the dropper post, which is perhaps the best confidence tonic for any mountain bike rider. There were many naysayers when Rockshox introduced their Reverb seatpost in 2011 however nowadays most riders couldn't imagine not having a dropper post on their bike.
Droppers have evolved greatly in the last few years, with an assortment of options now available. Where 125mm was once considered adequate, in 2020, we have droppers with up to 200mm of travel – ideal for tall riders or those wishing to benefit from bikes with extreme geometry.
Scroll down for our pick of the best dropper posts that are available or ship to the bottom for a guide on buying the right dropper post for you.
THE BEST DROPPER POSTS FOR MOUNTAIN BIKING
Rockshox's renowned Reverb post goes electronic as part of SRAM’s revolutionary AXS wireless groupset. You obviously pay a dear premium for this vanguard technology as an early adopter but there are real advantages to be had, too.
Wireless operation eliminates the need for cable routing and cutting. You don’t risk any cable tensioning issues over time either, which could influence this dropper’s actuation. Simply keep the battery charged and you’ll have 40 hours’ worth of flawlessly reliable dropper-post operation guaranteed.
Your frame will gain a clean look without the hassle of cable routing and also look better after a season’s hard riding, as there is no risk cable rub damage.
Magura was the first to launch a wireless dropper post back in 2016 and has since updated the Vyron eLECT dropper giving it a quicker responding time and faster return.
As with any wireless setup installation is a simple affair, no cables to route or systems to bleed, just fit the post and remote. Once charged the remote communicates via ANT+ to activate the motor in the dropper post to open the hydraulic system. Dropper technique is unconventional as you must hold the post in the dropped position until the hydraulic circuit closes which is about 0.5 seconds.
The remote takes a CR2032 battery and the post charges through a port under the saddle, the charge time is around three hours so something you will want to remember to check the night before if you're prone to last-minute packing the morning of a ride. On a full charge Magura state that you should expect approximately 400 actuation.
Crankbrothers have chosen to spec a completely sealed hydraulic system on their Highline 3 post series for smooth actuation and to keep the worst of the muck out, they are confident as well offering a 3-year warranty.
The Highline comes in a range of sizes from shorter 80mm XC/ gravel options to long-range 170mm lengths to accommodate low slung gravity bikes.
The lever is smooth and easy to use, resisting flex when you slam it in a rush, frustratingly Crankbrothers don't include a lever with the post. This does open up the opportunity to customise your lever option but seems odd when all other manufacturers include levers with their posts and adds another step in the buying process.
If you like some Kashima coated bling atop your trail or enduro bike frame, Fox’s Transfer Factory dropper is the solution. It features an ergonomically pleasing remote and smooth actuation, but no matter how good this dropper looks, it remains very expensive – and the cost of ownership cannot be moderated by DIY servicing as you’ll need to have it tended to by an official Fox service centre.
Available stroke lengths are satisfactory but there are only two seat diameter options – an area where its direct rival from Rockshox, the Reverb, is superior offering a 34.9mm option. If you possess the budget and simply must match your Fox X2 shock or Factory 36 fork with a gleaming Kashima dropper, this is the only choice.
- RockShox forks overview
- Magura mountain bike brakes - a comprehensive overview
- Fox and Marzocchi forks overview
If it is value you seek instead of a slick appearance, Brand-X’s Ascend XL is unbeatable. With an ample 150mm of stroke, this is a reliable dropper with specification ideally suited to trail or enduro riders mindful of budget.
The Ascend XL’s weight is not outrageously heavy and its price represents inarguable value, equating to what more sophisticated droppers often cost to service when abused. If you have mechanical aptitude, there is also the option to DIY maintain this dropper, further reducing cost of ownership over time.
The KS LEV has a great remote design and smooth actuation, thanks to its roller-clutch bearing design. These posts are reasonably light, too. But the feature which makes the KS LEV range notable, is a narrow seatpost option.
If you are running a steel hardtail or ultralight carbon bike with a 27.2mm seatpost, your options for a dropper are limited. KS has endured by offering the LEV in the 27.2mm seatpost diameter option, catering for a dedicated cadre of riders who value the feel of a steel hardtail frame and enjoy technical descending.
Rockshox’s Reverb remains the dropper post you are still most likely to encounter. The 2020 line-up offers a good spread of stroke lengths and seatpost diameters, along with an much-improved remote design.
The Reverb has developed an undeserved reputation for unreliability, simply by the virtue that there are more of them out there than any other dropper – and that will return a proportionally higher volume of individual unit mechanical issues. If regularly serviced, they run very well.
Potentially problematic in very cold weather, due to the hydraulic-actuation system – but we are referring to temperatures that would probably also preclude you from considering any high-speed technical descends.
From Germany comes the Bike Yoke Revive, which does its name justice by having an ability to bleed out contaminants in the system trailside. The Revive’s seatpost has a 4mm release valve, which you can loosen before cycling the dropper through a single actuation, which should purge any bothersome air from the system. This feature should keep your dropper running smoothly and predictably.
Available in generous range of stroke lengths and seatpost diameters, you’ll certainly find a Revive appropriate to your requirements. Beyond the self-serviceability of the Revive, Bike Yoke’s engineering prowess and manufacturing quality is this dropper’s fundamental appeal.
With appreciably tight and accurate manufacturing tolerances, there is little risk of the Revive developing an annoying creak or inconsistent actuation over time, even if you are a large rider – putting a lot of strain on it when climbing or merely pedalling along on level ground.
EVERYTHING YOU NEED TO KNOW
It is best to think of a dropper post as a suspension product. In the same manner that you would shop for a specific travel fork or frame, depending on your riding style and available local terrain, you need to decide how much travel you want.
When Rockshox launched it Reverb, 125mm was considered a lot of dropper post stroke. In 2020, that number is classified as a short-travel dropper. With best dropper posts ranging from short 80mm and upwards towards 200mm and beyond, you have options that can now get you into a lower and more stable position on your bike, than ever before.
2. Frame compatibility
It must be noted that there are constraints. Not all frames are designed to accommodate the latest generation of ultra-long droppers. Mountain bike designers have become cognisant of the grown-in dropper post length and the demand for them among riders, but older frames could limit your insertion depth and ultimately cap the ability of dropper post travel you can use.
Dropper post length and insertion depths is not the only consideration when choosing the best dropper post for your bike, seat tube diameter and potential cable routing must also be considered to assure fitting compatibility.
Dropper posts carry a lot of rider weight and transfer a great deal of leveraged force onto their bushings when you are seated, pedalling along, gently rocking those quads through your natural cadence. This is the primary reason that droppers develop dreaded fore-and-aft play and suffer return speed and actuation issues over time.
As droppers have increased in length, they have also become susceptible to bushing wear. Heavier riders, or those who ride with their seat at a peculiar angle, apply leveraged force to the post while pedalling in the seated position. The best droppers are those that possess the tightest possible manufacturing tolerances, which mitigate against the issues mentioned above, possibly causing premature component wear.
It is crucial to be reminded that the dropper post should be preserved with the same care and servicing discipline as your fork or shock. Keep them clean and don’t power-hose them after a muddy ride – it will only embed granular contaminants into the seals and bushings.