Neater and more reliable, dropper posts are a great upgrade. Here’s a round up of the best.
More than any other product, the best dropper posts change the way we ride and are essential to the modern mountain biking experience.
What is a dropper post?
A dropper post is seat post that can be raised or lowered at the press of a lever mounted on the handlebar. Lower it out of the way for descents or technical trails. Raise it up for climbs or pedalling sections.
The best dropper posts in 2020
Our favourite dropper posts. Links to the full reviews below.
- RockShox Reverb Stealth, £395
- Crank Brothers Highline, £299
- Brand X Ascend, £140
- Bike Yoke Revive, £390
- X-Fusion Manic, £220
Our current pick of the best dropper posts
On the trail, there’s no denying the Reverb’s silky action feels a cut above the rest. It’s smooth and precise, but the taller seat collar does leave the post sticking out of the frame further than some. The Reverb’s been around for ages, and always been a strong contender, but the latest incarnation is even better and makes a really smart choice for most riders.
Brand X Ascend
A post we’ve had absolutely zero issues with is also the smoothest cable operated dropper around. Designed in Germany, the Bike Yoke Revive incorporates every conceivable design feature to boost performance and reliability, as well as boasting several tricks up its sleeve to better the competition. At £390, it’s not cheap, but has excellent lightness of touch from the nicely shaped remote, and also packs rock-solid reliability. The low ride height and shallow insertion depth suit more frames and rider heights too. One possible caveat is riders transporting a bike laid in a car (or upside down) might need to regularly activate the unique ‘reset’ function to rebalance the hydraulics. This literally takes seconds though, and, on the latest generation (with an added internal rubber membrane), we’ve not reset the Revive post once during months of use.
Crank Brothers HighLine
After a dodgy predecessor, Crank Brothers has completely redeemed itself with its latest, totally dependable dropper. The Highline has been hammered by various testers, subjected to foul UK weather and proven 100 per cent reliable, with a solid, wriggle-free head and a neat lever with a good range of bar orientations. The price is decent for the quality on offer, but one small niggle is the return speed might be a little slow for some, and, on bikes with aggressively curvy internal routings – like one carbon test bike we used – the HighLine is sensitive to cable tension, and needs frequent barrel adjuster tweaking on the remote to stay in the sweet spot.
The best mountain bike dropper posts: the verdict
When it comes to buying a dropper you have a choice between a cable-operated post or a hydraulically-operated one. Nine of the droppers in this test are cable operated. We like cable droppers, they’re easy to work on and most of us have tools to install and fix them in our tool boxes or trail pack. However, over time they get contaminated and sticky, which is why we recommend you fit the best inner and outer cable you can buy from the outset.
One dropper in this test, the RockShox Reverb is hydraulic operated, like a disc cable. RockShox says it’s more reliable because it’s sealed from potential contamination but with a good inner and outer and regular maintenance, some cable dropper will easily go a year or longer before they need the cable need replacing.
If you decide you want the simplicity of cable dropper the Bike Yoke Revive is the best one. It’s the smoothest, has the best insertion measurements and you can purge it in the middle of a ride if it’s starts to misbehave. It’s bit expensive though and if you can’t afford it we recommend the X-Fusion Manic. It’s a low-profile dropper, has a full sealed cartridge, so is super reliable and has a nice adjustable remote.
Compared to the 15mins to fit a cable dropper, it took us an hour to route the Reverb hose through the frame and bleed it correctly but we managed to navigate quite a tight bend in our test frame. The new Reverb may still be slow to fit but the action is quicker and smoother than the old one. It’s not as buttery smooth as the Bike Yoke Revive and if you need to reset it this will mean partially dismantling the saddle clamps, with the Revive you can just poke a tool in the side. However, we’re giving it the test win for one reason – we can run a 175mm dropper in the space where we’d normally run a 150mm. That’s like an extra 25mm of free drop, which makes a difference to performance. For the frame size and space we had to work the Reverb had the biggest range of adjustment without any of the negatives, like the seat being too high, both descending and climbing. This means if you use a 100mm dropper on your bike right now you can run a 125mm and a 175mm instead of a 150mm and so on. That’s something that’s going to change the way you ride a mountain bike and that’s why we’ve awarded the Reverb top marks.
After a dodgy predecessor, Crank Brothers has completely redeemed itself with its latest, totally dependable dropper. The Crank Brothers Highline has been hammered by various testers, subjected to foul UK weather and proven 100 per cent reliable, with a solid, wriggle-free head and a neat lever with a good range of bar orientations. The price is decent for the quality on offer, but one small niggle is the return speed might be a little slow for some, and, on bikes with aggressively curvy internal routings – like one carbon test bike we used – the HighLine is sensitive to cable tension, and needs frequent barrel adjuster tweaking on the remote to stay in the sweet spot.
Chain Reaction’s in-house brand, Brand X, offers a solid, quality post for an unbelievably good price with the Brand X Ascend. Now it’s also available with a longer, 150mm drop it’s more versatile and will suit more rider shapes. Despite the remote being a bit flimsy, the actual post is very reliable and durable with a smooth action and a solid clamp. Even if you’re not on a tight budget, it’s a post we fully recommend, and you can’t argue with the fact that it provides virtually all the performance of the leading options here for less than half the cash.
|Dropper post||Price||Weight||Drop options||Diameter||Rating|
|RockShox Reverb Stealth||£395||574g||100, 125, 150, 170mm||30.9, 31.6, 34.9mm||10/10|
|Brand X Ascend||£140||610g||100, 120, 150mm||30.9, 31.6mm||9/10|
|X-Fusion Manic||£220||622g||125, 150mm||30.9, 31.6mm||9/10|
|Bike Yoke Revive||£390||539g||125, 160, 185mm||30.9, 31.6mm||9/10|
|Crank Brothers Highline||£299||595g||100, 125, 160mm||30.9, 31.6mm||9/10|
Dropper post buyer’s guide
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. Then Gravity Dropper invented the dropper post, so you could put the saddle down (and back up again) without stopping – you didn’t have to wing it.
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 change mountain biking and because it’s so good, loads of companies make one and we have 10 of the best. 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 fires 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. 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.
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.