Sunday, February 19, 2012

Dropper Seatpost Impressions

2012 will be the year of the dropper seat post! That's my take at least. I don't mean they will become mainstream this year, but I think they will achieve the critical mass necessary for them to truly start getting some attention- from both the consumer and the component manufacturers. I don't think it will be too many years before seat post droppers become yet another desirable component that most mountain bikers "need" on their rigs.

I say this because after riding with them for just a short while; I'm convinced that I want them on almost every mountain bike I own and these things are only going to get better.

I just recently installed a Rock Shox Reverb dropper on one trail bike and a Giant Contact Switch on another. They are both good posts and I'll go into that below, but the important lesson was how much more confident I was on the downhills. Yes, the more technical the descent the more I appreciated the dropper post, but even on fun, smooth, easy downhills I felt I had a greater amount of control. There it is in a nutshell. To me, it is well worth the extra weight that the dropper adds on my trail bikes for the enhanced control and confidence I feel bombing down the trail. Heck, at my heavier weight and modest racing ability, I might even consider putting them on my racing bikes. This probably isn't worth it for many of you real fast guys out there, but as weights come down over the next few years, it might make sense.

The Giant post, like most dropper posts, is a wire operated post. The handlebar mount works just as well on either side of the bars and it has a smooth easy to control action. On the flip side, the Rock Shox is a hydraulically actuated post whose handlebar mount is left or right specific. Designing it for one side of the bars or the other might give it an ergonomic advantage, but if you are like me, I didn't know which hand I would prefer to have operating the post (left, it turns out) and now I'm out the additional cost of the left-side controller (I'm told it exists) which I need to order. The hydraulic actuation is smooth as silk though, and won't be affected by grit like a cable can. It took some trial and error to get the handlebar mount in the perfect spot and one thing I noticed while doing this was the Giant has a much thinner clasp. This made it easier to fit on the bar amongst the grip, brake clamp, and shifter clamp. The Rock Shox mount is very wide and if your bars already feel cluttered, that might be a strike against it.

All dropper posts (with remote cables) create a cable routing issue, and it usually takes some trimming to make it look acceptable. Obviously this is easier with a cable than with a hydraulic line, but it only needs to be fit once. A final issue with dropper posts, particularly with the Rock Shox, is clamping them in repair stands. It is easy to forget that there is a cable along side the seat post and then it gets smashed by the repair stand clamp. This is not good in any case, but it is very bad when the line is hydraulic.

Both these posts are good, I just happen to like the Giant better at this point. Engineers and designers are still figuring dropper posts out. Things will continue to evolve quickly. For instance, Rock Shox has already released the Reverb Stealth where the cable comes out the bottom of the seat post (yes you need a special frame...or a drill) so the clamping issue is gone. There are a slew of other new models to look forward to from manufacturers like KindShock, Fox, Specialized, and Crank Bros, which will undoubtedly bring solutions to some of the current niggles (but will also create new ones).

Dropper posts will be standard fare for trail bikes in a few short years. Weights will come down some but there is surely a bottom limit we are probably fairly close to already. More importantly, price needs to come down- and it surely will. I'll post a long term report during the summer after they have done a few endurance races.

Charlie S.

No comments:

Post a Comment