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Fox Transfer SL Performance Elite dropper post review

Fox’s Transfer SL is a stripped-down, short-stroke dropper seat post for racers and gravel riders wanting a lightweight performance option

WTB saddle affixed to Fox's Transfer SL Performance Elite dropper post
(Image: © Guy Kesteven)

Our Verdict

There are very few genuinely light dropper seat post options which make the functionally focused Transfer SL a clear winner for XC racers and gravel riders

For

  • Seriously lightweight
  • XC/Gravel sizes and strokes
  • Clear communication
  • Proper trigger
  • Secure, wide-angle seat clamp
  • Rapid action
  • Totally reliable so far

Against

  • No intermediate pedal position
  • Go standard Transfer for more radness

The SL Performance Elite version of Fox’s Transfer post is 35 per cent lighter than the range-topping model thanks to its mechanically sprung, two-position system. It also gets a new seat clamp and 27.2mm seat tube options but are these weight-reducing measures enough to earn it a place among the best dropper posts currently available?

Construction

Rather than just looking at ways to save weight from the existing Transfer post, Fox has dropped the hydraulically controlled air spring in favor of a coil spring, mechanically locked with a ball bearing clutch. While the coil doesn’t need much strength to return it, it’s still obviously heavier than an air spring but once you add seals and valves, it’s an overall weight - and hopefully reliability - win for the simpler setup. 

The actual drop distance is reduced to 50-100mm of stroke, depending on size, so it’s short for trail and super-short for the best enduro mountain bikes but enough for most XC rippers, gravel riders or small riders who normally have no hope of fitting a dropper. Taller riders get an XL length 100mm stroke option in 31.6mm, which is a nice touch too. 

Because they’re not trying to squeeze as much between the saddle and the bike, Fox can use a deeper but lighter seat post clamp design, too. That drops weight by nearly 25 per cent over the standard post. 

Thankfully, it still has double fore and aft bolts for security rather than a side bolt, but it’s still compatible with 70-85-degree seat angles. By the way, if you’re thinking that seat angle sounds unlikely, don’t forget a lot of top XC athletes run a significantly nose-down saddle position so it’s more about that. The simpler mechanics mean Fox can finally offer a 27.2mm diameter for skinny-tubed mountain bikes and gravel bikes, and the bar lever is SRAM Matchmaker and Shimano I-Spec compatible.

Fox Transfer SL Performance Elite dropper post

The bar lever is SRAM Matchmaker and Shimano I-Spec compatible (Image credit: Guy Kesteven)

Performance

The weight of the post is obviously the initial draw for racers and weight shavers who are often put off by the thought of adding 300g of dropper to their bike compared to a conventional post setup (or perhaps 500g compared to carbon all in one post and seat exotica). The speed and simplicity of the action - there’s no intermediate position, just full length or slammed - works well for cross-country mountain biking, too. Even the clunky lock feel and instant, solid ‘thunk’ to full height leaves you in no doubt what’s happening with the post when you’re totally focused on the rest of the racing/riding. Fox hasn’t skimped on the trigger size or the smoothness of operation either so you’re not going to miss or slip off the button coming into a rough section. Both crucial when accidentally sitting on a lowered post could cause a cramp attack or getting an unexpected high post in the gusset could send you over the bars on a tech section. 

On the downside, there’s obviously not a ton of stroke if you’re more into your ‘enduro stoke’. There’s no 34.9mm option for older Scott bikes either, though the new Spark has a 31.6mm so you’re okay there. While Fox had suggested the mechanism stopped any twist in the saddle, there is still a bit of rotation under your bum. Some of our test riders also missed the third ‘slightly dropped’ position that Fox’s original DOSS post had for combining a bit more body movement with a workable pedaling position. 

Being a fresh dropper post design, there’s always going to be a question around reliability but Fox’s previous two designs have set the gold standard for durability. On the subject of gold, while we tested the Performance Elite spec post, there is a Factory version with gold Kashima coating and titanium hardware that’s 10g lighter but £50 more at £419.

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Fox Transfer SL Performance Elite dropper post

Fox uses a deeper but lighter seat post clamp design which has helped reduce weight (Image credit: Guy Kesteven)
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Fox Transfer SL Performance Elite dropper post

The lever takes up residence neatly on the bar. It's all very tidy and symmetrical (Image credit: Guy Kesteven)

Verdict

A properly focused XC/gravel post with a real weight advantage and clearly communicated binary action. An intermediate position would have been the icing on the cake, but it’s got all the sizing and stroke options most of the target users will want. The Performance Elite is definitely the best value option compared to Factory, too. Go for the standard Transfer if you want longer drops or more subtle action though.

Tech Specs: Fox Transfer SL Performance Elite dropper post

  • Price: £369
  • Weight: 350g (31.6mm)
  • Sizes: 27.2mm diameter x 50/75mm stroke, 30.9 and 31.6mm diameter x 75/100mm stroke
Guy Kesteven

Guy Kesteven is Bike Perfect and Cyclingnews’ contributing tech editor. Hatched in Yorkshire he's been hardened by riding round it in all weathers since he was a kid. He got an archaeology degree out of Exeter University, spent a few years digging about in medieval cattle markets, working in bike shops and warehouses before starting writing and testing for bike mags in 1996. Since then he’s written several million words about several thousand test bikes and a ridiculous amount of riding gear. To make sure he rarely sleeps and to fund his custom tandem habit he’s also coughed out a handful of bike-related books and talks to a GoPro for YouTube, too. We trust Guy's opinion and think you should, too.


Rides: Pace RC295, Cotic FlareMax, Specialized Chisel Ltd MTBs, Vielo V+1 gravel bike, Cannondale Supersix Evo Dura-Ace Di2 Disc road bike, Nicolai FS Enduro, Landescape custom gravel tandem

Height: 180cm

Weight: 69kg