British built dropper to compete with the big boys
The USE Helix is the first dropper post the British component brand has produced. The Helix is available in a standard 125mm drop or a whopping 165mm.
For a brand synonymous with seatposts, and telescopic suspension ones at that, it probably comes as a surprise that the Helix is USE’s first ever dropper. It’s been all over cycling media since the prototype was unveiled a couple of years ago. But as always happens with such a complex component, getting it perfected to the point where the company was happy to release it took its time.
USE Helix dropper post review
Helix isn’t just a pretty name for the post; it provides a clue into the unique nature of the inner workings of the post. The Helix you see is based around a helically coiled rod. The way U.S.E. best describe the movement is similar to that of a spiral ratcheting screwdriver. But don’t worry, the saddle doesn’t spin around! It’s just the internals that pirouette. Press down on the post when the lever is depressed disengages the clutch controlled locking disc, allowing the post to drop. Releasing the lever locks the disc in place, allowing for infinite positioning. The helical tooling of the central rod ensures the post moves evenly and under full control.
The return speed is determined using air pressure and can be adjusted through the handily located valve at the head. The return will go from glacial to eye-watering, dependent on the personal preference of the individual rider.
USE has released the Helix in two drops; a conventional 125mm and long 165mm drop in both popular diameters. The longer drop suitable for riders with long legs or with plenty of space for a long drop. Interestingly, each drop has a different price with the 165mm drop costing around £25 more than the shorter version.
You want machining?
Like most of USE’s components the Helix’s remote is exquisitely machined from aluminium. Featuring a ball joint, similar to a Crank Brothers lever, allows the rider to position it exactly at their preferred angle. As standard it uses a slim handlebar clamp that keeps everything tight and functioning. However USE also make matchmaker style clamps to fit it to your chosen brake lever. Even the thumb pad is machined into the shape of the USE logo, helping aid wet weather grip. To further the customisation, USE also include two grub screws at the back of the lever to alter the length and ultimately the throw of the lever. For the ultimate in smoothness at the lever USE has teamed up with another British brand, Fibrax, to supply the Helix with their slickest inner cable and housing set.
The performance of the Helix can’t be faulted and has remained reliable throughout testing. Movement is smooth and the lever requires relatively little pressure to actuate compared to some other posts. One thing to be noted is a short throw of the lever does get the post moving but is accompanied by a disconcerting and loud noise that sounds like the post is being ripped apart! USE reassures us that it actually isn’t causing any damage but we certainly recommend using a full throw of the lever. The saddle clamp is also a doddle to use with the single, easily accessible bolt making angle adjustments rapid and simple. Once tightened it has held rock solid with zero creaking.
The only sticking point with the Helix is the physical length of the outer post. At over 330mm (plus allowing for cable) it is too long for a fair few frame designs and is over 50mm longer than many other posts. This is especially the case on smaller frame sizes or if the seat tube is interrupted. One of our testers couldn’t fit it to his bike as it resulted in too much exposed post for him to actually use the full height position. So for riders with this sort of frame or are shorter in stature you might be better off looking elsewhere. For the rest of us, USE has created an excellent dropper to make the choice even harder now.
USE has produced a highly functional dropper post in the form of the Helix. Lever action is smooth and light and the post has remained faultless throughout the test. Be aware of the added length when compared to some of its arrivals, especially in its longer 165mm guise, as it might not fit a small frame or one with an interrupted seat tube.