A lower centre of gravity makes you faster and more stable through corners and descending technical terrain. To get low, centring yourself within the sweet spot of your bike’s geometry, is problematic with a seat in the way.
Resolving that issue is the dropper post, which is perhaps the best confidence tonic for any aspiring trail or enduro rider. Droppers have evolved greatly in the last few years, with an assortment of options now available.
Where 125mm was once considered adequate, in 2019, we have droppers with up to 200mm of travel – ideal for tall riders or those wishing to benefit from bikes with extreme geometry.
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.
Although not the first, Rockshox can rightfully claim to have popularised the dropper seatpost with its Reverb, launched back in 2010, but the dropper to have in 2019, is from German brand, Bike Yoke.
BEST DROPPER POSTS: 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 seatpost stroke. In 2019, that number is classified as a short-travel dropper. With droppers ranging 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.
Droppers 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.
It is crucial to be reminded that the dropper seatpost should be preserved with 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.
Our top picks
The best current droppers are those which manage to combine the greatest stroke length with admirably tight manufacturing tolerances, thereby creating a mechanical interface which is superior in its resistance to bushing wear. Bike Yoke’s Revive excels in this regard and not only offers plentiful seatpost diameter and stroke options, but also has an easily operated bleed valve. If you start detecting any issue with the Revive’s operation, you can simply give it an impromptu flush-bleed during a ride by using an easily accessible valve in the post’s seat head.
In terms of fundamental design, the Eightpins dropper is absolute genius and an indication of where all future dropper post design might converge: marrying droppers with dedicated frames. Its single-tube design eliminates many of the weaknesses in any dropper by using the frame’s seat tube as its external shell. This allows Eightpins to create a much thicker dropper post stanchion, as you’ll know from riding forks with larger diameter stanchions, there are enormous benefits in stiffness.
The only issue is availability, as the Eightpins dropper requires a dedicated frame to house it – and for now, those are limited to only a few German boutique brands.
Best of the rest? If you are seeking the widest range of sizes and diameters, the KS Lev range offer a broad portfolio. Addicted to wireless devices? Then Rockshox has its AXS electronic dropper, which might be the first of a new wave of wireless options removing the annoyance of cables.
THE BEST DROPPER POSTS FOR MOUNTAIN BIKING
1. Bike Yoke Revive
German engineering where you need it most on a seatpost
Travel: 125mm, 160mm, 185mm | Diameter: 30.9mm, 31.6mm, 34.9mm | Weight: 620g
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.
2. Eightpins NSG
Brilliant but also rare – for a reason
Travel: XS to XXL (150mm-220mm) | Diameter: Frame specific | Weight: 511-595g
An Austrian product and perhaps the most advanced non-electronic dropper post of all. The single-tube design lowers weight and allows Eightpins to provide a thick 33mm dropper stanchion, which is much stronger and stiffer than any rival.
Unfortunately, the Eightpins droppers have to be pre-installed to a dedicated frame, and at the moment it is limited to German brands Liteville and Rotwild.
Offering an enormous spread of sizes, Eightpins has any rider covered, from XS to XXL frame sizes, something unrivalled in the adjustable seatpost market. Different sizes are also correspondingly altered in length to ensure that you don’t have to face the grim reality of cutting a frame’s seat tube to make a desired length of dropper work if you happen to have very short legs.
3. 9point8 Fall Line
A clever Canadian option without obvious compromise
Travel: 75mm, 100mm, 125mm, 150mm, 175mm, 200mm | Diameter: 30.9mm, 31.6mm | Weight: 451g
From Canada comes a dropper range with ultra-short and long travel. The engineers at 9point8 are also riders and with their Fall Line of droppers, they cater for an impressive range of bike types.
If you are a cross-country or marathon racer only requiring minimal drop, there is a Fall Line with 75mm of travel. At the opposite end of the spectrum, 9point8 supplies a dropper up to 200mm in stroke length.
Great products with reliable quality, the only issue is additional cost if you wish to order one to fit a bike of 34.6mm seatpost diameter.
4. Rockshox AXS
The future is now
Travel: 100mm, 125mm, 150mm, 175mm | Diameter: 30.9mm, 31.6mm, 34.9mm | Weight: 646g
The world’s first mass production electronic dropper seatpost is 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.
5. Fox Transfer Factory
Looks like gold – and priced as such
Travel: 100mm, 125mm, 150mm, 175mm | Diameter: 30.9mm, 31.6mm | Weight: 604g
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.
6. Brand-X Ascend XL
Unsophisticated but outstanding value
Travel: 150mm, 170mm | Diameter: 30.9mm, 31.6mm | Weight: 637g
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.
7. KS LEV
The choice for steel hardtail purists
Travel: 65mm, 100mm, 125mm, 150mm, 175mm | Diameter: 27.2mm, 30.9mm, 31.6mm, 34.9mm | Weight: 576g
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.
8. RockShox Reverb Stealth B1
The original mass market dropper – evolved
Travel: 100mm, 125mm, 150mm, 170mm | Diameter: 30.9mm, 31.6mm, 34.9mm | Weight: 695g
Rockshox’s Reverb remains the dropper post you are still most likely to encounter. The 2019 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.