More than any other product, the best dropper seatposts have changed the way we ride, and are essential to the modern mountain biking experience
In the old days if you wanted to ride down a steep tricky descent you stopped, got off you bike and put your saddle down or you just went for it and hoped for the best. But the dropper post changed all that, allowing you to raise and lower your saddle at the press of a lever mounted to your handlebars. Now even XC racers are adopting them, and one was used to help win the Milan-San Remo classic road race.
Classic post that still delivers
Weight: 674g | Height options: 100, 125, 150, 175 and 200mm | Lower length: 271mm (170mm tested) | Diameter: 30.9, 31.6 and 34.9mm | Rating: 10/10
Reasons to buy: Smooth, decent height options, excellent clamp.
Reasons to avoid: Hydraulic hose means more complex to install.
Although it looks unchanged, the new Reverb has in fact been thoroughly refreshed, with both external and internal updates to elevate it above the rest. The seat clamp has been made lower profile, and along with a shorter collar means the overall height has been reduced, so you can now run a longer dropper in the same size frame. There are two longer drops – 175mm and 200mm – and the gizzards boast substantially reduced friction, so you need less effort to get it moving, and it’s also easier to get rid of any bounce, should it develop. The Reverb was a great seatpost already, but all these updates mean it’s better than ever before.
Best value for money
Weight: 617g, remote 33g | Height options: 100, 125, 150, 170 and 200mm | Lower length: 273mm (170mm tested) | Diameter: 30.9 and 31.6mm | Rating: 10/10
Reasons to buy: Cheap. Works well.
Reasons to avoid: Not the best remote lever and cable could be better quality. Small amount of play between upper and lower shaft.
Sometimes otherwise-great bikes don’t come with a dropper post – now considered an essential feature for any serious mountain biker. But fear not, all of these bikes can be upgraded for not too much over a ton (£100), thanks to the brilliant Brand X Ascend dropper. It’s available in all of the most common seatpost diameters, and plenty of different drops (85mm up to 170mm) and there’s a decent underbar, cable-operated remote in the box. This post works in exactly the same way as any other, and yes there are smoother more durable posts, with better remotes, but we literally can’t fault the Brand-X Ascend for the price.
Best for maximising drop
Weight: 534g, remote 46g | Height options: 90, 120, 150, 180, 210 and 240mm | Lower length: 270mm (180mm tested) | Diameter: 30.9, 31.6 and 34.9mm | Rating: 10/10
Reasons to buy: Light, minimal insertion depth, smooth action, great price
Reasons to avoid: Remote is not included
With one of the longest drops on the market, combined with height adjustability, a smooth action and very reasonable asking price, the OneUp dropper post is a great option for any upgrade program or frame build. There’s now a 210mm version (along with 180mm, 150mm and 120mm) suitable for the longest of limbs, but you can always tweak the drop with the internal shim system. A slim collar helps the overall length, and the seat clamp makes saddle installation and removal a doddle. The light-action remote is sold separately, but it’s comfortable and ergonomic and even adding the £40 cost to the price, the OneUp dropper is still a bargain.
Best for adjustable drop
Weight: 451g | Height options: 125, 160 and 185mm | Diameter: 30.9 and 31.6mm | Rating: 10/10
Reasons to buy: Customisable drop. Low-profile. Excellent remote.
Reasons to avoid: Not the fastest post in the west
We’ve always been big fans of Bike Yoke’s clever dropper posts, and the cheaper Divine is arguably the pick of the range. It gets the same Auto-Reset feature found on its Revive post, which helps prevent a saggy shaft, as well as the ability to customise the drop to suit your steed. Simply installing or removing internal spacers lets you tweak it in 5mm steps from the standard options of 125mm, 160mm and 185mm. Combine that with the low-profile collar and decent Triggy X remote, and you’ve got a superb dropper post with added flexibility for less than most of the competition.
Best for a clutter-free cockpit
Weight: 673g, remote 66g | Height options: 100, 125, 150 and 170mm | Lower length: 265mm (170mm tested) | Diameter: 30.9, 31.6 and 34.9mm | Rating: 10/10
Reasons to buy: Ultimate in ease of use and installation. No cables to replace or maintain.
Reasons to avoid: Another battery to charge. At this price it’s a serious luxury.
Wireless technology is everywhere, and now thanks to SRAM it’s on your mountain bike too. The suite of AXS components brings cable-free shifting and dropper post activation, along with all the benefits of simplified set-up and installation, reduced maintenance and a cleaner frame and cockpit. Yes, you pay a premium for the technology, but it works beautifully, with an effortless response, and swapping the Reverb AXS between bikes is child’s play too, which helps to justify the extra expense. At around 40 hours, the battery life is impressive, and they weigh so little that it’s hardly a chore to carry around a spare.
Offers 30mm adjustment of travel range for fine-tuning bike-fit
Weight: 620g | Height options: 120-150mm or 150-180mm | Diameter: 30.9 or 31.6mm | Rating: 9/10
Reasons to buy: Light action remote. Reliable post. Adjustable travel is useful.
Reasons to avoid: Weight. Remote lever costs extra.
The fixed (5mm) steps in overall travel can be changed in five minutes by unscrewing the seal head and rotating an indexed bushing, and the cable-activated Vario works like most droppers while riding. The benefit of the travel adjustment is you can set exactly how much you need by slamming the post in the frame for maximum standover clearance, and then dialling in the extended height to your leg length for maximum pedalling efficiency.
Low-profile collar maximises insertion
Weight: 570g, remote 52g | Height options: 100, 125, 150, 170, 190mm | Lower length: 290mm (170mm tested) Diameter: 30.9 and 31.6mm | Rating: 9/10
Reasons to buy: Smooth action. Light action remote lever. Good value.
Reasons to avoid: Heavy. Not the best for insertion depth if you’ve got a short seat tube.
Ostensibly the Manic is pretty much like any cable-actuated sealed hydraulic cartridge design dropper. Indeed, it can be hard to see where the slightly higher price tag is derived from… Until your thumb operates the lever. Not only is the remote lever an excellent shape which – due to its ball and socket design – can be positioned exactly how you like it, but the sprung cam on the bottom of the post itself really improves the tactility of the system. It’s really surprising the difference in accuracy this makes. Other posts feel woolly and vague by comparison. You find yourself using the Manic more frequently to position it perfectly just-so for the terrain at hand.
How we tested the best dropper seatposts
Dropper posts are under a lot of stress – you are putting a lot of force through them when pedalling and they go up and down hundreds of times during a ride. It also doesn’t help that they’re in the firing line from mud and spray thrown up by the rear wheel. Most droppers are well sealed, but dirt can still get inside and cause wear in the guide rail system. This actually consists of tracks machined into one part of the post and guide blocks running between the two. These small brass/Delrin blocks can wear too, and some aren’t even that tight out of the box. With a lot of the posts that are cable activated you also get a big variance in the quality of the inner and outer cables – in fact, on the really low cost droppers we recommend ditching the cheaper inner for a branded alternative. So, our focus when testing is ease of set-up, initial play in the system, overall performance and long-term durability.
Need to know about the best dropper seatposts
The benefits of putting your saddle down are obvious– it puts your body in a lower position relative to the handlebars so you’re less likely to go over them. Lowering your centre of gravity increases stability and crucially also allows you to use the full bend in your legs to absorb impacts. Squatting into turns lets you increase traction on the rear tyre so you can rail stuff, which is good right?
The dropper post changed mountain biking massively, and because it’s so good, loads of companies make one. All of them function in the same way – you press a lever, sit on the saddle, it goes down. To get it return, you press the lever and a spring sends it back to the original position. You can also do a bit of fine-tuning using body weight to access any position in between.
The difference in extension between the seat collar and saddle clamp is the ride height of any dropper. Modern posts continue to offer a bigger range for taller riders, with some of the latest options delivering up to 200mm extension. Your perfect dropper post length is dependant on frame size, seat post insertion depth and your inside leg measurement.
If you’re using 1x gearing you want a under bar dropper remote, but to get it where you want it needs an adjustable mount. Both in terms of side to side, in and out and also the angle. A hinged clamp is also helpful, so you don’t have to remove all the controls during installation.
If you have front gears you want a lever than fits on the top of the bar. Since the majority of trail riders use the former that’s what we expect to see; the top-mounted lever should be an optional upgrade.
The 1x lever may have a direct mount option so you can bolt it directly to a Shimano or SRAM brake levers – it can cost extra.
The distance from the seat clamp to the saddle can have a big effect on standover clearance or how well a dropper gets out of the way. Some models have several centimetres of upper shaft sticking out of the lower shaft when fully compressed. To reduce ride height look for a shallow collar and low-profile head.
It stands to reason that on a 170mm post the lower bit of the post is longer than the equivalent 150mm. However, not all 170mm posts have the same insertion depth. Some posts may not fully sink into the seat tube. This can dictated by the length of your seat tube but the shorter the lower portion of the post the better.
On a modern trail bike 30.9mm and 31.6mm are the two most common outer post diameters, although shims are available (from brands such as USE) to fit bigger diameters if needed. You also see 27.2mm posts but they tend to be shorter 100mm options.
Most posts are now internally routed so the cable is hidden inside the frame. They’re not always easy to fit but being routed this away keeps dirt off the release mechanism and also means the cable can’t rub or wear the frame.
Droppers route either cable top down, with it anchored at the mechanism, or bottom up and the cable is clamp at the lever. The latter is the easier to set up and is often cleaner but can add length to the post.