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RockShox Reverb AXS XPLR review

Is RockShox’s XPLR AXS Reverb a dropper post? Is it a suspension post? Does being both wireless and controlled make it the ultimate progressive gravel seatpost?

RockShox Reverb XPLR dropper post review
(Image: © Guy Kesteven)

Our Verdict

Brilliant lightweight short-stroke, dual-action dropper and suspension post but heavier and much pricier than cabled options and saddlebags incompatible, too

For

  • Significantly increased control, confidence and speed
  • Smoothly adjustable suspension
  • Slick dropper action
  • Solid but easily adjustable saddle clamp
  • Super easy wireless fitting/swapping
  • Multiple AXS trigger options
  • Much cheaper and 100g lighter than the MTB AXS Reverb

Against

  • Expensive compared to cabled posts
  • Heavier than cabled dropper posts
  • Initial accurate/accidental actuation issues
  • Battery gets in the way of seat packs

RockShox's new Reverb AXS XPLR seat post is 27.2mm seat tube compatible and also has a bonus suspension effect to improve comfort as well as control. It’s lighter than the brand's mountain bike Reverb, too. Hair-trigger engagement and a high price are downsides though and it won’t mix well with most saddlebags. 

There has been a renewed interest in gravel and cross-country with riders looking for the best short travel dropper posts for extra advantage on the descents, has SRAM and RockShox just redefined gravel riding with the Reverb XPLR from the new XPLR component range

Construction

The big difference with the XPLR Reverb is that it only comes in a slim 27.2mm shaft, finally giving compatibility to svelte tubed gravel bikes and retro MTBs. Internally, there’s no hydraulic damping or control either - just an adjustable pressure air spring.

The same AXS wireless controller as the existing RockShox Reverb AXS MTB post can hold the return stop position of the post in any position from top out to full stroke. If you set it even slightly into the travel though the post rides on the ‘ActiveRide’ air spring giving a smooth but undamped and therefore bouncy ‘suspension’ stroke through whatever amount of shaft you have showing. The clamping head mechanism is also the same, with a single-bolt side-mount cradle that’s compatible with standard and oval carbon saddle rails. The tilt angle is then adjusted with a separate bolt so it’s easy to set up exactly right for your preference.

Even with the sturdy head, clip-on AXS battery (the same as all other AXS equipment), the air internals mean it’s relatively light for a dropper (100g less than MTB Reverb AXS) and less than 100g heavier than the PNW Ranier Gen 3 cable operated gravel dropper post. 

RockShox Reverb XPLR dropper post head showing the rail clamp and separate saddle tilt adjustment

(Image credit: Guy Kesteven)

Performance

As there’s no cable to plumb in, setting up the post is a joy. Obviously, you need a set of AXS shifters or a blip box remote switch to connect to the wireless actuator, but once it’s paired and you’ve got your saddle angle right then you’re good to go. 

Like the MTB dropper, the action is super light and smooth and the compression and return speed are controlled by the air pressure you set, but it doesn’t feel clunky at either end of the stroke. While 50 or 75mm of stroke doesn’t sound much compared to mountain bike posts, just dropping the saddle slightly makes a big difference to how much you can lean on your bike without the seat getting in the way. Even if you’re not feeling rad, just getting a bit lower and removing the risk of clattering your crotch on the saddle will make descents a lot less nerve-racking. 

The amount of bounce of the ‘ActiveRide’ is controlled by the spring pressure so you can run it as firm or as soft as you want. Again the short-stroke still makes a big difference, not just in comfort over rougher surfaces but also in the ability to pedal and maintain consistent rear-wheel traction when the gravel gets rough. Unlike most suspension posts, it’s completely locked out for solid pedaling at full extension and there’s only an unobtrusively slight amount of sideways twist from the saddle.

Our 75mm RockShox Reverb XPLR post at full extension

Even with the relatively short 75mm drop, being able to drop the saddle makes a huge difference in descending confidence (Image credit: Guy Kesteven)

The controllers are so sensitive (we had it set up to respond to a simultaneous tap of both levers) that we kept dropping it accidentally at first. If you’re running it soft it also takes some bodyweight-hovering skill to just compress the saddle enough to trigger the ‘ActiveRide’ without pushing the saddle too deep into the stroke. The former issue is just solved by keeping your fingers away from the shifters (or fitting separate blip box buttons) though, and the more we ride, the better we get at the ActiveRide activation. 

While the skinny sizing makes it gravel-bike compatible you could obviously shim the post to work with larger diameter MTB frames, and if you only need short travel it’s a lot cheaper than the MTB post. Because there’s no cabling to fight with, switching between different AXS bikes is easy, which potentially halves (or even more) the effective cost. Judging from the performance of the AXS MTB dropper, reliability should hopefully be good too and it’s certainly not given us any problems so far. Check back to this review periodically in case we’ve updated though.

Finally, the battery on the back of the head - as well as the vertical movement - means it’s even less suited for use with a seat pack than a cable-operated dropper post so you may need to rethink your best bikepacking bag setup or switch to a rigid post for nights away.

Rear mounted battery on the RockShox Reverb XPLR clamp means its it isn't well suited to seat mounted bikepacking bags

(Image credit: Guy Kesteven)

Verdict

Reverb AXS XPLR is a lot more expensive than a cable-operated post and it's heavier, too. Wireless actuation means next-level ergonomics and ease of fitting/swapping between bikes though. It’s also unique as a combined dropper and suspension post that still locks out completely at full height. In other words, if you can afford it and have an AXS bike already (or just need to add a remote trigger to a flat bar), then it’s a brilliantly executed way to add comfort, control, and extra rough terrain speed upwards and along as well as downhill. Combine it with the RockShox Rudy Ultimate XPLR gravel fork to turn your bike into the ultimate singletrack shredder. 

Tech Specs: RockShox Reverb AXS XPLR

  • Price: $600 / £500 / €600
  • Weight: 571g (75mm stroke)
  • Sizes: 27.2mm. 50 or 75mm stroke, 350 or 400mm length
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