Dirt Rag Magazine

Dropper seatpost review roundup

We rounded up six of the hottest dropper seatposts on the market to see how a diverse set of engineering principles is helping more riders than ever before get down.

Crankbrothers Joplin 4

Tested by Josh Patterson

Crankbrothers licensed the design for the Joplin seatpost from Maverick. They added 20mm to the seatpost’s drop, for a total of 100mm of continuously-adjustable travel, and redesigned the internals to decrease side-to-side play and address seal issues, which plagued the Maverick Speedball.

The Joplin 4 is available in both lever and cable-operated remote versions. I tested the lever-operated model. A tip for those thinking of purchasing a dropper post: don’t bother with a lever-operated model… It’s never as convenient as a remote-operated one. Half the time I forgot I had the ability to drop the darn thing. The remote upgrade kit will set you back $50.

An oil-damped air cartridge handles height adjustments. One quirk of the Joplin is that it will extend if the bike is lifted by the saddle. I never noticed how often I lifted my bike by the saddle until I installed the Joplin— slightly annoying, but not a deal-breaker. Unfortunately, over the course of my six-month test the Joplin’s action became noticeably less smooth and towards the end of the test the post began to sag, even when fully extended. I was able to improve the action by adding a couple drops of lightweight oil to the seatpost’s bushing. As for the sagging, this is an issue that needs to be addressed by sending the post into Crankbrothers for servicing.

Word on the street is that there is a new version of this seatpost slated for release at some point in 2013. The revised post will address my gripes about the post extending while in the dropped position. Cable routing for the remote is reportedly improved as well.

  • MSRP: $250
  • Drop: 100mm
  • Diameters: 30.9mm, 31.6mm
  • Weight: 505g
  • Warranty: two years
  • Country of origin: Taiwan 

 

Giant Contact Switch

Tested by Karl Rosengarth

The Contact Switch is a smooth operator, offering continuously-adjustable travel via a sealed air-charged, oil-damped cartridge. The air charge allows the post to spring back up, while the oil damping slows down the rebound rate, spank you very little.

The sealed cartridge offers no user adjustments, and other than wiping and lightly lubing the stanchion and dust seal once in a while, the post requires no additional maintenance.

The remote lever, a machined aluminum affair with great ergonomics, has an in-line cable tension adjuster, and mounts on either the right or left side of handlebars. The streamlined remote takes up minimal real estate on your handlebar. Grabbing and wiggling the nose of my saddle, I could detect a teensy amount of side-play in the post, but I never noticed the play while riding.

Speaking of grabbing, I liked the fact that I could grab the bike by the saddle and the post would stay in the lowered position. I didn’t realize how convenient that was for portaging and loading the bike until I’d ridden another seatpost that didn’t stay put.

My only gripe is that instruction pamphlet is poorly written. Fortunately, installation was not rocket science.

I’ve ridden several different dropper posts, and the action of the Contact Switch stood out as particularly smooth and the rebound as well-controlled. Overall, I really liked the Contact Switch and feel it’s a great choice, assuming its one available size fits your frame.

  • MSRP: $250
  • Drop: 100MM
  • Diameters: 30.9MM
  • Weight: 542g
  • Warranty: Two years
  • Country of origin: Taiwan

 

Gravity Dropper classic

Tested by Justin Steiner

Gravity Dropper offers three models, in a plethora of sizes, thanks to the flexibility of in-house production. The two-position Classic model I tested is one of only two mechanical posts in this group test—the other being Specialized’s Command Post Blacklite. The Gravity Dropper relies on a pin to lock the post in position. The cable-actuated remote slides a magnet back and forth, engaging and disengaging the pin, while the internal spring pushes the saddle up, and your weight pushes it down.

Over nine months of testing, the Classic performed flawlessly. There’s a touch of wiggle at the saddle, but isn’t noticeable on the bike. When the time comes to tighten things up, replacement shims cost just $2 and require just minutes to install.

The Gravity Dropper Classic’s operation is less intuitive than the competition. Lowering the saddle requires pressing the lever, momentarily taking your weight off the saddle, compressing the post with your weight, and then releasing the lever as the post drops. Raising the post requires bumping your butt on the saddle to release the pin. The Turbo model eliminates the need to bump and grind when raising and lowering.

Post operation can seem a bit harsh compared to the hydraulic/pneumatic competition, but there’s no air or oil to leak and cause failure. Plus, I love that the post locks in the down position. Another positive: the remote cable mounts to the lower, stationary portion of the post, this results in a constant cable length, regardless of your saddle height.

Overall, I’m stoked with the Gravity Dropper. I’d recommend getting the multi-position option, as I often yearned for the one-inch down position. While not the prettiest post in this test, the Gravity Dropper is a reliable, U.S.-made seatpost.

  • MSRP: $275
  • Drop: 50, 80 (tested), 100, 120mm
  • Diameters: 26.8, 27.0, 27.2, 30.9, 31.6mm (w/shims available for other sizes) Weight: 510g
  • Warranty: one year
  • Country of origin: United States

 

X-fusion HiLo

Tested by Karen Brooks

The Hilo’s construction is much like a shock: hydraulically damped and sprung with 25psi of air pressure, added via a Schrader valve located at the base of the post. Movement is smooth and predictable, not too quick on the upswing, and the saddle can be stopped anywhere on the way up or down. I made the most of this continuous adjustability in all kinds of situations—climbing as well as descending. Sometimes just an inch or two lower is enough to save one’s bacon.

The tiny pictogram showing how to assemble the post gave me fits, but once installed, everything stayed in place. The post comes with both remote and under-the-saddle levers; I opted for the remote. The remote lever clamp is hinged to go on easily, right or left side, and has a nice thin profile.

The post operated flawlessly in all kinds of muck, and has no noticeable side-to-side play. Its one-bolt saddle clamp design has not been my favorite on other posts, as it tends to either slip while riding, or stick while trying to change saddles—the clamp on this post gave me no such problems. The only bother was the fact that when I grabbed the bike by the lowered saddle, it didn’t stay put—I never realized how often I do this.

Like many of X-Fusion’s other offerings, their HiLo dropper seatpost flies somewhat under the radar, but is a nice product for the money. The latest version HiLo has shed 45g of weight compared to the one tested here.

  • MSRP: $250
  • DROP: 100MM (tested), 120MM
  • Diameters: 27.2, 30.9, 31.6MM
  • Weight: 690g
  • Warranty: One year
  • Country of origin: Taiwan

 

Rock Shox Reverb

Tested by Eric McKeegan

The Reverb has a lot going for it: left or right-hand remotes, super-smooth remote operation, almost undetectable play in the saddle, and adjustable return speed at the handlebar remote. Unfortunately, the first version of this post proved less than reliable. The new version, tested here, is doing just fine. The hydraulic line from remote to post is now much more robust, as are the fittings at both ends, which should help alleviate the need to frequently bleed the system.

The remote is super smooth, although I’m not a huge fan of the over-the-bar location; unwrapping my thumb from the bar during a sketchy descent to activate the post was not ideal. The Reverb can be set at any height within its range, and stays in place when dropped, even when lifting the bike by the saddle, but a firm tug while holding the bike down can raise the seat.

Bleeding the post  is a quick process; in fact, it’s faster than some cable changes I’ve done on other posts. Air pressure is set from the factory at 250psi, no adjustment needed, or advised.

The zero offset, two-bolt saddle clamp is solid, no slipping or creaking, and easy enough to adjust or change saddles. The remote lever also acts as a bar clamp for Avid brakes and SRAM shifters making for a very clean setup. An ideal placement of the remote can be harder to find when mated to Shimano bits.

The Reverb is the most refined and consistent-actuating seatpost of any I’ve used. The Reverb is a contender for top spot on any dropper post podium.

  • MSRP: $370
  • Drop: 100 (tested), 125mm
  • Diameters: 30.9, 31.6mm
  • Weight: 355g
  • Warranty: one year
  • Country of origin: Taiwan 

 

Specialized Command Post Blacklite

Tested by Eric McKeegan

Much like the Reverb, the Command Post Blacklite is a second-generation dropper seatpost. The original Command Post (non Blacklite) was 100g heavier and used a proprietary cable and a screw-in saddle clamp. The new post uses a standard derailleur cable and a bonded saddle clamp.

The standout feature of this post is the locking collet system, which is a mechanical stop with three settings, fully up, a 35mm down “cruiser” position, and fully down (125mm as tested). Air pressure controls the return rate (20-40 psi) and multiple seals are keeping stiction to a minimum. The collet and dual keyways make for almost imperceptible saddle wiggle. The 25mm offset saddle clamp is the single bolt clamp type, which needs a good bit of torque to stay in place.

The remote is simple to set up next to the grip for easy actuation. Initially, I found it hard to hit the middle position consistently, but after developing some technique, it became second nature. When new, the lever moved pretty freely, but the plastic ferrule at the post end is easy to knock out of shape, making the lever hard to push, and the saddle needed a bump to get moving. A new ferrule is a cheap fix, but I’d rather see a metal ferrule. Or better yet, attached the cable to the lower, fixed portion of the post.

Even with the somewhat fragile ferrule issue, the Command Post is my favorite dropper post to date. Light, simple construction, saddle stays up even if the seals blow and, so far, quite durable. Specialized’s Command Post Blacklite is my number one recommendation when asked about dropper posts.

  • MSRP: $275
  • Drop: 75, 100, 125MM (tested)
  • Diameters: 30.9, 31.6MM
  • Weight: 576g
  • Warranty: One year
  • Country of origin: Taiwan

 

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