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Dropper posts are one of the single most important inventions for the modern mountain bike. Disc brakes ultimately come out on top, but the advent of mountain bike dropper posts has completely changed how mountain bikers ride and handle their bikes.
A dropper post is a simple device when looking at it from the outside. The inner workings reveal a much more complicated picture.
There is a litany of dropper post styles, lengths, and travel to choose from. Your choice depends on the kind of terrain you want to traverse.
Finding the right dropper post can be a simple or complicated process. In this article, we’re going to make it easier to pick the perfect one to fit all your needs.
From the simplest and most affordable dropper posts to the top-of-the-line posts used by Olympians and World Champions, we’re going to cover the best dropper posts for riders of all levels of ability.
Dropper posts are adjustable seatposts that can be raised or lowered at the push of a button or lever, called the trigger. The trigger is typically mounted on the handlebars, next to the brake and shift levers.
A cable connects the trigger to the dropper post and can be routed internally or externally. When the rider pulls the trigger, the dropper post will naturally raise, or return the saddle to its maximum height position. Most riders set up the maximum height as their ideal saddle height which is best for efficient and powerful pedaling.
In order to lower the dropper post, all the rider needs to do is pull the trigger and put their body weight down on the saddle.
Dropper posts work in the same way as an office chair, in this sense. Pulling the lever returns the chair to its maximum height while pulling the trigger while putting your body weight on the chair causes it to lower.
That’s all there is to it. Dropper posts have different sizes, lengths, and travel which is the distance the seatpost can lower into the frame.
Mountain bikers use dropper posts for steep and technical descents or sections of trail. Lowering the saddle gives you more space to move in and out of the saddle. You can shift your bodyweight more easily and readily with the seatpost pushed into the frame. Then use the trigger to pop the saddle back up to its normal height as the trail levels out.
Here are some of the best dropper posts that you can buy, from the simple and affordable, to the very best.
Interested in more? See our guide to choosing the best dropper post.
The PNW Components Loam is one of the best value dropper posts on the market. Made with 7075 Aluminium Alloy, the dropper post is simple and reliable. PNW offers three different seat tube sizes and four travel lengths to have a model that will fit everyone.
The Loam comes with a lifetime warranty and on-bike travel adjustment up to 25mm. Customizable speed return is another unique feature of the Loam, which weighs in at 524g.
Not included with the Loam is its own lever, which is a bit expensive for a value dropper post at $69. However, the entire unit is easy and reliable, which means you’re likely never going to have to replace it.
The 55mm stack height can be a bit high for some. Thankfully it’s not enough to get in the way of a smooth and comfortable ride.
One concern is the significant side play in the saddle which makes the Loam seem less sturdy. However, this play doesn’t affect the unit’s performance and is at all a sign of a poor build.
The RockShox Reverb AXS is truly top of the line. Complete with an electronic trigger button, the unit is incredibly easy to set up and service.
Plus the updated internals make post actuation faster than ever. Even less downward force is required to drop the saddle as well. That makes the Reverb AXS one of the smoothest-running posts on the market.
It will cost you, but the Reverb AXS is top quality. Available in three different diameters (30.9mm, 31.6mm, 34.9mm), the Reverb AXS has a maximum length of 440mm, and weighs 650g.
The weight is surprising given the cost of the unit, but keep in mind that many manufacturers don’t include the trigger or cable in their product’s weight.
You can even use the Reverb AXS on multiple bikes – not at the same time, obviously – since there are no strings/cables attached.
Even in wet and muddy weather, the electronic system isn’t fazed. The electronic trigger is easier to operate than mechanical levers, which makes it even better for rough and technical terrain.
With smooth travel and easy compression force, the Fox Transfer Factory dropper post is one of the very best dropper posts.
At a mid-range price point, the Fox Transfer comes with some features that we don’t see in lower-end models. Low lever force and good modulation, for example.
Kashima Coating provides more lubrication and a harder wearing surface, offering more smoothness and sensitivity.
The weight is pretty mediocre when it comes to dropper posts. The 125mm posts weigh either 518g or 539g, depending on the size.
The Fox Transfer dropper post comes in four travel options, ranging from 125mm of travel to 200mm of travel..
Overall, the Fox Transfer uses a simple design with clever features to create a reliable and high-performing dropper post at a modest price.
What truly separates the KS LEV from other dropper post options is its 27.2mm diameter seatpost made for steel hardtails or lightweight carbon frames. There is a wide range of travel options as well. That makes the KS LEV one of the most versatile dropper posts on the market.
Some rides might prefer the 65mm option, while others want the most at 175mm. The dropper post is light, starting at just 400g, using titanium clam bolts, a carbon lower clamp, and carbon remote lever to reduce the overall weight. On top of that, KS uses its PowerCordz cable which is 75% lighter than the stainless steel cables used in most other dropper posts.
The actual dropper post is made from aluminum, which the internals are hydraulic to remove excess play.
Overall, the KS LEV is a high-quality dropper post designed for a variety of bikes and riders, with a unique 27.2mm diameter option that puts it apart from most other manufacturers.
The best part about the X-Fusion Manic Dropper Post is its sizing. The X-Fusion Manic dropper post is available in multiple lengths and diameters and is reasonably priced compared to higher-end models.
While this unit might not be ready for the XCO Olympic race, it can handle everything from cross-country, trail, and all-mountain to enduro riding. Plus it has a huge range of adjustability.
Related: Best Mountain Bikes
The 2-bolt style head is slim and the dropper post itself allows for a wide range of seatpost angle adjustment.
The shifter-style remote is crafted from durable alloy. Overall, these features are hard to pass in this price range.
The PNW Rainier Gen 3 is one of the smoothest dropper posts tested and comes in four different lengths which is unique in this relatively niche field.
The 27.2mm diameter is rare to see, and fits well on steel hardtails and carbon frames, while at the top of the range is the 34.9mm diameter.
Easy to install and maintain, the Rainier Gen 3 can be used on more than just mountain bikes too.
The wide range of diameters makes this dropper post suitable for gravel bikes and many different types of mountain bikes. In addition to the fit, reliability, and performance, the Rainier Gen 3 comes with a lifetime warranty from PNW.
Made of 7075 alloy, the Rainier Gen 3 even includes tool-free travel adjustment which allows for up to 30mm of travel reduction in 5mm increments. The remote lever kit for the Rainier Gen 3 isn’t included. It comes in a reversed design that can be an adjustment for some.
However, the Rainier is as high-quality as ever with lighter seals air cartridge designed for flawless actuation, internal cable routing, and a redesigned bottom actuator and shorter lower tube which makes the overall length roughly 20% shorter.
The Crankbrothers Highline 7 strikes a balance between performance and reliability with this aluminum dropper post. It uses a short stack height of 50mm and has a maximum length of 417mm (125mm travel). The unit weighs in at 516g, which doesn’t include the remote and cable – the remote costs an extra $60.
What this dropper post is known for is its quality and reliability. It uses high-end materials including Trelleborg sealing and igus glide bearings to create better performance combined with excellent durability.
Even in the muddiest conditions, the feedback for the Crankbrothers Highline 7 is top-class.
Interested in more MTB topics? See our mountain bike selection.
A dropper post is a height-adjustable seatpost that can be raised or lowered at the push of a button (called the trigger).
Dropper posts are used to lower the saddle or seatpost out of the way during steep descents or technical trails in mountain biking. This kind of riding requires significant shifts in bodyweight fore and aft, and side to side, which can be hampered when there is a saddle in the way.
Dropper posts allow complete freedom of movement for mountain bikers. You don’t have to worry about bumping into or getting caught on the saddle.
A dropper post should be positioned so that at its highest point (full extension), the saddle is at your normal seat height (position for optimal seated pedaling). You never want your dropped post to be higher than your normal seated position, as it should do down into the frame instead.
Technically, yes. But practically, no.
In order to fit a dropper post onto your bike, you need a certain amount of insertion depth and length in the frame to accommodate for the dropper post travel. You will also need a certain seat tube diameter and room for the internal or external cable routing for the trigger.
So yes, you could technically put a dropper post on any bike from a mountain bike or gravel bike, to a road bike or a hybrid. But the performance benefits do not outweigh the cost, hassle, and potential ‘misfitting’ of putting a dropper post on an old road bike, for example.
There are a number of different ways to measure your seat height, from laser beams to anatomical estimates. Here are a few, summarized:
Besides using the above methods, you will notice a few things if your seat is too high. Your hips may be rocking back and forth as you pedal, because your leg is extending too far and reaching for the pedals.
Your toes may also become pointed at the bottom of your pedalstroke. You can even experience back pain or sit bone pain from having too much or uneven pressure from your bodyweight on the saddle. In general, being uncomfortable on the bike is a sign that your seat height is incorrect.
Yes, you can adjust a mechanical/cable-actuated dropper post by checking and adjusting the cable tension, including using a barrel adjuster. Always check the manufacturer’s manual and warranty before making any major adjustments including removing the dropper post from the frame or replacing the cable.
Dropper posts are controlled by a trigger mounted to the handlebars and next to the brake and shift levers. With a pull of the trigger, the dropper post will pop up and be raised to its maximum height. In order to lower it, all you need to do is pull the trigger while seated (pushing your bodyweight down in the saddle) and the seatpost will descend.
Internally, dropper posts are controlled by either pressurized fluid systems (hydraulic dropper posts) or locks and pins (mechanical) which are controlled and activated by the trigger.
Dropper posts became popular in mountain biking in the early 2000s. Modern technology allowed for huge advancements in the device which was first created in 1984. The Hite-Rite was the first adjustable seatpost for mountain bikes and featured a clunky, spring-like design that certainly worked, but didn’t work well.
The design of the modern dropper post was created by Wayne Sicz in 2002. The Gravity Dropper Classic and Descender were the first modern dropper post models that became wildly popular in the mountain biking community, and have paved the way for the dropper post revolution.
Installing an entry-level dropper post will cost at least $100, and more often $200-300. Lower-end models will be heavier and more basic in function, which the more expensive models (>$300) will be significantly lighter and race-ready.
You can use a spacer, insert, dropper post remote, or even a plastic shim to limit dropper post travel. This is ideal for variable terrain riding when you want to drop or raise your post part-way and still be able to pedal comfortably.
For minor adjustments, many dropper posts come with their own adjustable systems, which you can use to adjust your ride height in 5mm increments in some instances.
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