Things to Consider When Buying a Dropper Post
Dropper posts make it simple for you and your bike to adapt to changes in terrain when mountain biking. All you need to do is flip a switch to have more efficient and comfortable pedaling. Their advent and popularity have also led to allowing bike manufacturers the option of building bikes with a steeper seat tube angle which makes for easier climbing. From travel, height, feel, seat tube, and design, there are a range of things to consider.
If this is your first time choosing a dropper post, there are a few things you should know. We’ll go over the most important, so you can make a solid choice with your purchase.
Seatpost Travel and Length
We’ve talked a lot about travel in this article and that simply means how far up and down the post lets you travel. In most cases, there are options here. The most common travel lengths include 80, 100, 125, and 150 mm but some companies have larger or smaller options available. When you buy a dropper post, you want to be certain the length is enough when extended that you can hit your preferred height for pedaling. You don’t want the travel or length to be either too short or too long of it can get uncomfortable quickly.
Infinite or Fixed Adjustment Options
You can select an infinitely adjustable dropper post or one that has a fixed travel. Infinite adjustment means that you can stop the post at any point you like in the travel. This is often preferred as you get more customization to fine tune the height of your saddle. However, there are also many posts with fixed positions. There might be only a couple or some have up to a dozen. The reason some people prefer this option is because the heights are consistent and repeatable. In some cases, these are also simpler to use and can be more reliable so it’s worth considering which factors matter most to you.
Hydraulic or Mechanical
The majority of the dropper posts you’ll see will use pneumatic or hydraulic pressure to move the seat up and down, however the remote lever is attached in unique ways for each. Each design has benefits. Full hydraulic posts will have a sealed remote that controls the post. This can be a benefit since there is no cable to worry about and the hose can be routed any way you like without causing problems. On the other hand,it’s operation may require fresh fluid on a regular basis. Other dropper posts use mechanical levers which involve a cable being threaded through your gear housing and then attached to the dropper post. These are much easier to setup and keep in good shape than a hydraulic would be. Maintenance should be minimal.
Positioning of the Remote
When dropper posts were new, seatpost levers were the most common option for mountain bikers. However, with refinement to the systems, handlebar remotes have surpassed them in popularity and use. The reason for that is because it’s much easier and more intuitive to use the remote with a position on the handlebars since your hands are there already. Every company that offers dropper posts will have their own remote design and some may work better for you than others. One of the newest options, spurred by the new interest in 1x gearing, is a below handlebar position that is better ergonomically.
Selecting Internal or External Routing
Just as with your gear and brake cabling, your dropper cabling can also be external or internal. Most of those using mountain bikes prefer internal cabling. It offers a better aesthetic and there is less of a chance of getting dirt and debris into the works. It also decreases your chance of damaging the bike or yourself when and if you crash. However, less expensive dropper posts often utilize external cabling which can be routing outside of the down or top tube and attach to the shaft or head of the post. The perk of an external cable is that it’s easier to fuss with and service when needed. If you choose this version of cabling, it’s best to go with one that attaches to the shaft, as it is safer.
Diameter of the Seatpost
As with your fixed or standard seatpost, a dropper seatpost for a bike can come in various diameters. You’ll most often see options of 27.2, 30.9, 31.6, and 34.9 but this can vary by manufacturer. You’re going to want to select the diameter that corresponds to the frame you will use the dropper post on. In order to find out this information, all you need to do is take off your post and look at the side markings which should be on the bottom. If your size doesn’t fit the ones listed, you can choose one a bit smaller and use a shim to fit it to your frame. In most cases, mountain bikes will utilize a larger diameter which is associated with strength and stiffness. Always consider the length, diameter, and weight of everything you buy for your bike.
What to Know About Saddle Clamps
While this isn’t the most important factor of choosing a dropper post for a bike, the saddle clamp design is something worth at least think about. In most cases, you will find that it will use a twin-bolt design. This is the option that allows compatibility with various carbon and metal railed saddles. It also gives you a much larger amount of angle adjustment options with the saddle. However, some of the less expensive dropper posts may have a single-bold side saddle clamp. This isn’t necessarily a problem, but it does mean you’ll need extra parts if you move from a carbon railed slide to a metal railed slide or vice versa.
Thinking About Your Budget
You can find a dropper post to fit your frame for anywhere from $20 all the way up to over $500. Obviously, this means there are going to be differences in terms of quality. You can expect that sub $200 dropper posts may be heavier and have fewer numbers of features available to riders. You’ll probably also find they feature external cable routing. If you move up past the $200 level, you’ll find more feature and internal cables will be more likely. This can also mean the weight is less and the durability is higher. Going above $350, you’ll find some of the best dropper posts out there. These will have top specs and be lighter than any of the less expensive options. Any feature you could want will be included to justify the price. When you move about $500, you are going to get a dropper post that has suspension and pneumatics of an advanced level. You may also find special coatings and high-quality internals that need less servicing.
At this point, you should be able to find the perfect dropper post on the market for your frame’s needs. It doesn’t matter if you’re new to mountain biking or a long-time pro, these nine posts will suit you well. We’ve provided a range of great options that offer excellent performance. Consider exactly what you want from your ride and look at your budget before narrowing down your options to find the best brand, system, and design available on the market. You will want to look for reliability with the product and system you choose. Now you know exactly what to look for and where to start your search. Good luck out there!