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Crankbrothers Highline dropper post review

Crankbrothers' new dropper introduces short-shaft, skinny-post options for gravel and XC bikes with remote levers to match. Does performance match the brand's full-size posts?

Crankbrothers Highline dropper post
(Image: © Guy Kesteven)

Our Verdict

Lightweight, slim-shaft, smooth action dropper with plenty of stroke options and a neat, easily-used drop bar remote. Longevity is still in review though

For

  • Low weight
  • Neat drop bar remote
  • Secure universal saddle clamp
  • Smooth action
  • Wide range of stroke options

Against

  • First lever was sticky
  • Some shaft twist
  • Potential shaft wear issues

Crankbrothers' Highline 7 is one of the most reliable dropper posts around but it’s heavy and, like the cheaper Highline 3, it’s only available in bigger 30.9 and 31.6mm sizes. The new Highline short travel dropper post aims to fill the gap for cross-country and gravel riders and, if our initial issues were an isolated glitch, then it’s a good option.

The Highline's 27.2mm diameter makes it compatible with skinny seat tube bikes left out by other posts, and a 264mm max insertion length (100mm minimum) on our 80mm stroke sample means it fits curve-compromised frames too. Long bolts on the fore and aft clamp system mean it works with deep carbon saddle rails as well as conventional round metal rails, and there’s plenty of angle adjustment to cope with weird upper seat tube designs.   

Crankbrothers Highline dropper post

The clamp head can be used with metal or oval carbon rails (Image credit: Guy Kesteven)

The plastic cradle for the nipple end of the cable holds it securely when you’re threading it through the outer, and it’s a lot easier to work with than a barrel and clamped wire set up at the post end. It comes with a barrel adjuster to fit into the cable to take up the slack after everything is clamped, too, which is very useful when fighting with awkward through bar cable routing. The drop-bar remote lever uses an L-shaped finger and thumb design that sits just under the brake lever for easy operation from the hoods or the drops. As that’s where your hands will be when you’re descending and needing the dropper, the position makes it far easier to operate than other dropper bar levers we’ve seen where the trigger is on the tops or near the stem.

We did have an issue with the first lever being so sticky that it wouldn’t release, but the replacement lever has been fine. With the post being gravel and XC intended, you need to order the appropriate version for your bars separately from the dropper itself.

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Crankbrother Highline dropper post

The L-shaped lever sits just below the brake levers on a drop-bar (Image credit: Guy Kesteven)
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Crankbrother Highline dropper post

The lever allows dropper operation when in the hoods or the drops (Image credit: Guy Kesteven)

With everything installed, the operation is very smooth and infinite in terms of where you want your saddle to stop. We’d definitely suggest you get the longest stroke post that will still fit your bike though as while our 80mm worked fine, the difference in saddle height didn’t make a massive difference in how dynamic we felt we could be on the bike. It still makes drops and steeps a lot less sketchy though, and with four options from 60 to 125mm stroke, you should be able to accurately max out the amount of drop you get. At 501g for the post and the remote without a cable, it’s a very light choice too, which will obviously please racers. 

The only potential issue is rapid shaft wear around the collar which we’ve seen on our test post. Our sample has been fine so far though, and we’ll monitor the situation and update this review as weeks of riding turn to months.

Verdict

The Highline is a lightweight, smooth-operating, easy-to-set up, short-stroke dropper post for skinny seat tube bikes, with a well-designed and positioned drop bar remote. We did experience some sticky lever and shaft wear issues though.  

Tech Specs: Crankbrothers Highline dropper post 

  • Price: $249.99, $49.99 for remote
  • Weight: 459g, 42g for remote
  • Sizes: 27.2mm x 60, 80 (tested) 100 or 125mm
Guy Kesteven
Guy has been riding mountain bikes since before they were mountain bikes and is right handy on an offroad tandem (of course he is).