Neater and more reliable, dropper posts are a great upgrade. Here’s a round up of the best.
Dropper posts mean you can change your saddle height on-the-fly and, despite the obvious weight penalty, that has to be a good thing in anyone’s book.
Right then, reviews first, conclusions after and general buying advice at the end. Let’s drop in!
Brand X Ascend
Specialized Command IRCC
FSA Gravity Dropper
The FSA dropper post’s action, thanks to sealed cartridge internals, was beautifully smooth, and during testing never stuck or hesitated, no matter where it was set in the travel.
Fox Transfer Factory
Price: £438.00 inc. remote
To justify the cost, this Factory model does come with a Kashima coat on the upper shaft. It’s hard wearing and also looks coordinated if you have a Kashima fork or shock on your bike. If you prefer a black post, there is a Performance Series model with a plain black anodised shaft, for £271.
Bontrager Drop Line
The Bontrager Drop Line dropper post is typical of the vast majority of Bontrager’s products — good value, well made, easy to use and fully serviceable.
Shimano’s expertise means the Koryak feels well made, with absolutely no play in the post even after months of riding. It’s well priced too, £200 for an internally routed dropper that weighs just 520g makes it something of a bargain, especially when you consider it comes with a new shifter style lever.
The BikeYoke Revive is stunning, well made, easy to use and the most versatile post out there. It’s also lightweight and reliable.
E13 TRS+ Dropper
E13’s TRS+ dropper is killer value, fully serviceable and, in the long term, may be more reliable than a conventional post, but fundamentally the function is no different to the 15 year-old Gravity Dropper. The reason most dropper post manufacturers have gravitated towards infinite versions is because you never have to compromise on saddle height, and that makes a huge difference off-road.
Crank Brothers HighLine
I’ve had the post on my bike for the last four months, and so far I’ve not had a single issue with reliability. There’s a little bit of play in the shaft — like most droppers — but it hasn’t got worse. Neither has the action — I’ve operated the post hundreds of times and it’s still smooth, with no stickiness in the cable or remote. Return speed isn’t the fastest, but it tops out with a soft clunk, so you always know it’s fully extended.
RockShox Reverb Stealth
The Reverb Stealth is lightweight, has a low ride height and offers trouble-free performance. It’s also available in a load of options: three drops, two lengths and two sizes. It might be getting old but it’s still one of the best on the market.
Giant Contact SL Switch
At over 600g, the Contact SL Switch isn’t the lightest cable actuated dropper on test, but the extra sizes, dual routing and low price make it ideal for new users.
KS Lev Integra
The KS Lev Integra is smooth, doesn’t rattle, comes in a range of options and has a relatively low ride height for the amount of drop. It’s also great value and a reasonable weight.
Compared to a Reverb, the Easton Haven is similar in weight and ride height, but it’s £30 cheaper and has less play between the upper and lower shafts. We haven’t rated it as highly because it’s not fit-and-forget, and we think the under-bar remote should be included in the price, not as a £50 up-charge.
The RockShox Reverb has risen to the top in terms of popularity over the years. It’s pricey, but is a class act with a smooth and damped action that none of the cable operated posts can beat. Plus, the new, highly-ergonomic remote lever is the best around. Working as intended, with its low ride height and slimline weight, the Reverb is still the nicest dropper overall, and the latest generation is the most reliable yet.
With over a million RockShox posts in use worldwide, one fly in the Reverb’s ointment is most experienced riders will have heard of or witnessed issues or failures. The Reverb’s bad press is amplified by being easily the most common dropper, but, even after relatively few issues on the hundreds we’ve ridden, it’s impossible to ignore some saggy posts or poorly factory-bled products. For the vast majority of us, a Reverb should prove trouble-free, work seamlessly in all configurations and is provide superior function and experience. A word of caution though; you’ll need to meet documented service intervals to fulfil RockShox’s latest, stricter warranty requirements though.
One 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 £325, 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.
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 buyer’s guide
It’s hard to remember how we managed before the dropper post arrived on the market. Arguably more than any other product, the dropper post has changed the way we ride, and is so essential to the modern mountain biking experience it’s become a standard fixture.
So much so that there is a bewildering array of different models available for sale. The latest generation of which are more reliable, better integrated in the bike’s cockpit, and come in a multitude of shapes and sizes. In fact, just about the only negatives are extra weight, cost and complexity.
You’ll need to spend around a grand on a new bike to get a decent dropper as standard, and, if you’ve not tried one yet, a hydraulic seatpost has to be one of the best upgrades.
All dropper posts work in the same basic way; telescoping up and down inside an outer sleeve clamped within the seat tube of the frame. The upper limit becomes your max saddle height for seated pedalling, and depending on the model, there will be either multiple fixed positions or a completely ‘infinite’ range until maximum insertion.
Droppers are mechanical, but not fully automated, so require body weight (while activating a lever) to compress the seatpost and push the saddle down. Pressing a remote handlebar lever usually activates the height adjustment, but on the cheapest posts the trigger is positioned underneath the saddle as part of the dropper itself.
The majority of height-adjustable seatposts are operated by inner gear cables pulling through an outer sheath. Although the popular RockShox Reverb uses a hydraulic system to push fluid through a hose to activate the release mechanism. Cables or hoses can be threaded inside the frame (known as stealth routing), or externally, using frame guides. Both methods are effective, but internal routing looks tidier and reduces the risk of cables being pulled or damaged. Going inside the frame means cables thread through the bottom bracket area and are more likely to suffer from tighter bends and kinks that can potentially stress outer housings or cause cable bind and affect smooth function.
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.
The shape and action of the handlebar remote is crucial. Simple designs that wrap around the bar with a radial lever used to be the norm, but nowadays (as more bikes run 1x drivetrains) the under-bar remote is becoming more popular. These shifter-style remotes are much more ergonomic and also better shielded from damage in the event of a crash. Look for a comfortable, sturdy and stiff lever blade for a more positive dropper actuation.
Insertion depth and clearance
Often overlooked, the amount of post hidden inside the seat tube and the height of the saddle clamp mechanism can have a big effect on standover clearance and how well a dropper gets out of the way. Some models have several centimetres of extra shaft at the base compared to rivals with the same height drop, which means you could end up with significantly more post sticking out of the frame depending on any seat tube obstructions, such as a bend or curve in the tube, as well as a shock mount or pivot.
Dropper posts require the outer body to overlap the inner shaft, meaning many of them are too big for older-style 27.2mm seat tubes (the Brand X Ascend comes in this slimmer size, albeit with a limited drop). 30.9mm and 31.6mm are the two most common outer post diameters, although shims are available (from brands such as USE) to fit most other common sizes if needed.
Being hidden inside the frame keeps dirt away from the release mechanism and also reduces cable rub and frame scuffs. Also, flapping dropper cables can get in the way of your legs while pedalling or catch on the rear tyre when the saddle is dropped. However, internal routing often brings compromises in terms of achieving a smooth, kink-free cable path.