The dropper seatpost has been a tremendous enabler for all mountain bikers. This is especially true for those riders who relish descending trails, where lowering your center of gravity is crucial to stability.
The best dropper posts allow you to get low and conquer technical trail obstacles with better balance, but they can be pricey. With a dropper seatpost, you are effectively packaging suspension fork technology into a much smaller tube, which is an expensive thing to do.
The packaging and engineering costs of a dropper seatpost can make them too expensive for most budget-minded riders. However, trickle-down technology and increased manufacturing scale have produced some great deals on cheaper droppers.
We have listed the best ways to get that saddle out of the way, on the fly, without busting your yearly bike budget.
Best budget dropper posts
PNW produces a great range of droppers and ergonomically tailored remotes. The Washington brand has been a value champion since it started and manages to deliver exactly what the market needs, at a great price, without obvious engineering compromise.
The Ridge is inarguably affordable, but it has everything you’d expect on a more expensive dropper. Most new mountain bike frames only accept internally routed droppers, and the Ridge runs its actuator at the bottom of the post, making it compatible with internally guided cables.
Although the available stroke length is a touch short, at only 125mm, the PNW Ridge is a great option for hardtail or trail bike riders seeking a budget dropper with a premium feel.
If you are an environmentally aware rider, you’ll also appreciate the sustainability initiatives from PNW, including biodegradable packaging.
Brand-X has value as its mission statement and the XL range is ideal for enduro riders on a budget.
These dropper seatposts use a 7075 aluminum material composition and offer a lot of stroke. For riders who are on the latest frames, with seat tubes that can accommodate a longer dropper, the XL delivers.
Brand-X produces their long-travel droppers in both 170mm and 200mm stroke lengths, which means even the tallest riders will find an adequate option.
The XL’s trigger and cable configuration use a linkage mechanism in the paddle-type remote. This system has the advantage of not generating unnecessary cable pull when a rider is actuating the dropper. The Ascend XL is affordable, thoughtfully designed and not unduly heavy (the 170mm weighs 638g).
Crankbrothers offer an enormous selection of sizes with its Highline 3. This is the dropper seatpost range that will match virtually any seat tube diameter you might be riding.
Length is also not an issue, with the Highline 3 being manufactured in no less than five depths of travel. Crankbrothers might not offer an ultra-long 200mm version of the Highline 3, but they do cater to those XC riders on a budget who might want an 80mm dropper.
Solidly build with relatively robust internals, the Highline 3 is a great product at the price. Its core appeal is diversity, with those five stroke lengths available in three seat tube diameters.
Built with Igus bushings and using Jagwire cabling, the Highline 3 should prove to be a very durable component on your mountain bike, ready to get you low, whenever the going gets steep.
The German value brand produces an array of products and among them is a short-travel budget dropper post.
It is only available in a single 31.6mm diameter, which also happens to conveniently be the dominant seat tube measurement for most contemporary frames.
The Cube Internal dropper post offers 100mm of travel, which makes it best suited to marathon riders who require a touch more confidence on singletrack and gravel road descents.
There is an adjustment screw for altering the seat angle, and the internal cable routing should neatly port through most frames. One thing to consider with this specific budget dropper post is its 200lb rider weight limit.
KS produces some of the slickest dropper seatposts around, but its E Ten is a basic design. Ergonomically, the E Ten offers 20mm of offset and can accommodate a 265lb rider weight, which is very generous for a budget dropper post.
The KS E Ten comes in internal or external cable routing, which makes it better suited to older frames that aren't compatible with internal cable routing. If you are after a basic, budget dropper post, which should prove more durable in all weather and trail conditions, this KS is a fair choice.
This RFR is an older design that forgoes the handlebar remote for a seatback lever. It offers 95mm of travel, which should prove adequate for most riders seeking a touch lower center of gravity on that tricky descent.
One of this dropper’s most appealing features is its seat angle adjustment. The seat angle can be adjusted from -15-degrees to 15-degrees. Constructed from 6061-series aluminum, the RFR dropper is reasonably light at only 568g.
For many mountain bikers, the notion of a dropper post that cannot be triggered by a handlebar remote would appear illogical, but some riders prefer the cleaner look and simplicity of something like the RFR.
While this may be the most expensive option on our budget dropper post list, OneUp does a great job of incorporating all the premium features with its V2 model.
If you want a long dropper, to get low and leverage the benefits of a modern short seat tube frame design, the V2 is ideal. It is available in lengths of up to 210mm. Best of all, there is a travel adjust shim system that allows 10mm spacing increments.
The trigger system is cable operated, which makes for easy installation and set up, while maintenance can be accomplished by a moderately skilled home mechanic. Replacement cartridges can be purchased for only $60.
The latest OneUp V2 dropper post updates have trimmed 20g of overall weight and fitted superior DU bushings. With the length of drop available on these models, the bushings carry a heavy burden of leverage when you are riding seated on a rocky climb. The improved DU bushings resist wear better and improve durability.
What to know about budget dropper posts
The initial purchase price of a budget dropper post might appeal, but servicing it when things go wrong can be costly.
If you are mechanically capable, consider the ease of servicing and supply of parts for the budget dropper post you are interested in. A low price doesn’t alleviate the frustration of a bad ownership experience due to service issues.
2. Bigger is better
We are not referring only to the total drop but also the diameter size. Mountain bike designers have realized that larger seat tubes make for stronger frames.
Those larger diameter seat tubes also allow for bigger droppers. Why would you want that? The larger your dropper seatpost’s diameter, the less leverage wear it will strain under as you are pedaling along in a seated position.
Unless you have a frame with a 34.9mm, it's best to consider a maximum seatpost size of 150mm for better durability.
As with most mountain bike components, you want something that will last for multiple riding seasons. Our favorite products hold up to lots of riding over a long period of time. Before purchasing a budget dropper post, make sure that your choice isn't prone to breaking or other abnormalities. As mentioned above, it's best to buy a dropper post that is easily serviceable with easy-to-find service kits, too.