Gets the job done nicely
The Brand-X Ascend dropper post comes direct from Chain Reaction for the bargain price of £120 (at time of writing this review anyway!)
Of all the components on you bike, a dropper post will make the biggest improvement in your riding because being able to drop the saddle right out of the way for the steep tricky stuff and then pop it back up again for those long tortious climbs, means you’ll always have the ideal saddle height without ever having to get off the bike.
Dropper posts are pretty sophisticated, so are generally pricey but Brand-X cuts ways the marketing and hype and offers a cable activated dropper for £160 or if you go to the CRC website £99!
Combine this rock bottom price with the plain black livery and it’d be easy to assume there’s actually not a lot going on with the Ascent but you’d be wrong. It’s infinitely adjustable for starters, comes in five drops to suit different height riders, and three sizes 30.9, 31.6 and a rare 27.2mm (for 85 and 105mm drop posts), plus it can big a bigger diameter seat tube using a seatpost shim. The post attaches to an under bar remote, which you mount on the left of the bar in place of the front shifter using a hinged clamp. The lever has a nice profile but you can only change the position by rotating or moving the clamp, which may be tricky if the brake lever is in the way.
Everything for fitting, including inner and outer cables, is in the box but before installing I’d recommend upgrading both inner and outer these to the best you can find because the stock cable lasted barely three months before it needed replacing. Fitting a good quality brand like Shimano is going to make a massive different to the long-term durability and smooth operation of the Ascend.
Like most designs, the inner cable routes down from the top and is anchored at the base of the post using a small barrel clamp. It is tricky getting the cable tension just right with this design and, it does leave a ragged end on the cable, but it does means you can upgrade to a third-party remote if you so wish.
To keep play to a minimum, four brass sliders sit between the two shafts and there’s a simple Delrin bushing underneath the collar.
Return speed is tuneable by adding air via a Schrader valve under the saddle clamp but even with this charged to 150psi, the Ascend doesn’t return that quickly. The action is smooth and controlled however. My only gripe with the Ascent is about the same time the cable went south, the post stopped retuning to full height, which meant I had to physically pull it up the last few inches. Turns out is just needed cleaning and some lubrication, which is a five-minute job and it you can easily do at home.
If there are any left on CRC at this price I’d snap one up. The Brand-X Ascend is the best bargain dropper I’ve tested, which is why I’m awarding it maximum marks.