The best cyclists in the world were climbing mountains in the Alps from their top tubes while watching Tour de France replays a few weeks back. Even though it looked strange, I was able to see that they were using improved aerodynamics. I thought, “Why don’t they just dropper posts?”
This simple question can lead to many more. So here are six key FAQs from experts on the subject.
Wait, what’s a dropper post?
Dropper posts are becoming more common in mountain biking and gravel circles. Road riders may not be as familiar with them. Droppers are seat post that adjusts to allow riders to lower or raise their seats quickly and without having to stop. Dropper posts can be operated using a lever on the handlebars. They use the rider’s weight and hydraulics to elevate the seat (as shown on the Evil Chamois Haigar video). Why?
Matt Hornland is the brand manager for Easton Cycling. “Gravel riders are increasingly valuing performance over weight,” says Hornland. “Others are searching for new types of adventure. Although this type of mixed-terrain riding can be done with or without a dropper it will make you more confident and comfortable.
It’s not common to see a mountain bike park without a dropper post. This is due to their advantages in technical descents. Droppers are also useful for gravel riding and road riding. Dropper seatposts can make your riding more enjoyable, as I will explain.
What is the worth of a dropper and how do you calculate it?
How you ride will determine whether or not you install a dropper seatpost. Droppers are still quite rare on gravel bikes, says Aaron Kerson, founder, and CEO of PNW Components. They make riding more enjoyable by lowering your center of gravity. This allows you to move easily from one side to the other, which helps you corner better and keeps you from going over bars.
The sentiment is echoed by Kyle Taylor, Fox Factory. He says that dropping posts can expand your abilities, straight and simple. They are undoubtedly the most significant advancement in bike riding in the past decade. You can shift your weight quicker by lowering your saddle quickly. “I see a drop in gravel sales soon.”
This is not new news in the mountain bike community. Chris Mandell, SRAM, recalls that dropper posts were used on cross-country and enduro mountain bikes years ago to allow seamless transitions from climbing to descending. They allow you to extend your legs on climbs, and they remove the saddle from the way when you descend. Droppers are a great way to help gravel riders conquer new terrain.
What are the downsides?
According to Kerson, there is a weight penalty, but it is much smaller than you might think. Depending on the length of the dropper and how heavy your old post was, Kerson says the weight penalty is usually between 200 grams and 300 grams.
Road-riding culture has been dominated by the pursuit of lightness, which can sometimes result in boredom. Post-adoption, there are still obstacles to overcome. “Compatibility can be a limiting element. Kerson says that not all frame manufacturers are aware of internal routing. However, this is changing. Droppers are a way to add complexity to your best hybrid bike and make it more difficult for two-by drivetrains. Many gravel bikes come with one-bys so that the lever is always available. Best hybrid bikes available at the best deal, click on the website.
A gravel bike must have enough standover height to allow the dropper post to move up and down. This was not a problem with mountain bikes but it is with gravel geometries. Dropper post manufacturers have adapted to this problem and now offer 50-millimeter posts that can be used on bikes with high-top tubes.
Taylor says that although there was a problem with the diameter of a seat tube, compliance has become much easier than it was a few years back.
Industry insiders don’t find many of these obstacles surprising. Mandell says, “We witnessed the same problems a decade back in the mountain bike industry with routing and compatibility.” “Eventually, mountain bikers came to be. For gravel bikes, we’re currently on the same curve and things are rapidly changing.”
Droppers are universal, so why isn’t it?
Mandell says that the gravel category is still trying to figure out its identity. New technologies can take some time for new technologies to gain traction. Gravel riders must see the value in order to be accepted by all. They must understand that we aren’t trying to make them mountain bikers but that droppers can be useful for what they already do.
Mandell believes that extra weight is a common deterrent but asserts that riders don’t see the whole picture. Aerodynamics makes a greater difference in speed. You can improve your wind profile to make it faster, even if you are only a few hundred grams heavier.
Kerson says, “It’s all about education for the gravel and road communities.” These riders must learn how a dropper can help them, often testing one for themselves. Most gravel riders come from roads where droppers aren’t available. Many road cyclists consider mountain bikes too heavy and cumbersome. The gravel category is a cross-pollinating of both worlds. It is helping everyone to learn.”
These companies see the trend as clear. Taylor says, “We are on the edge of change.” “Back in 2002 or 2003, gravel bikes were rarer than ever. This was due to limited space and routing. We are starting to see it flourish with lower prices. It wouldn’t surprise me if roadies become the next big thing.
There will always be dropper resisters, and that is a good thing. The place you ride can have a big impact on your decision about whether or not to purchase a dropper. Hornland says that if you live in an area with flat terrain and rolling hills, you don’t likely need one. Hornland says that singletrack riding in such an area might be a good idea.
Who should receive a dropper and why?
Riders who are looking to travel further off the beaten track, particularly on steep dirt descents or flowy singletrack, dropper posts are the best option. Droppers are almost an automatic choice for these riders who want to bridge the gap between road and cyclocross. There are many other uses for a dropper.
Kerson says that droppers are becoming more popular among backpackers to assist them in getting on and off heavy bikes. Droppers can be used by couples who share bikes to adjust seat height. Commuters, especially those with less experience, use the dropper to lower their seats at stops and place both feet on the ground.
What are some great options?
The PNW Rainier 27.2IR is our favorite bike for those who want to use internal routing and have a longer seat tube. It costs just $199. It works well with most gravel bikes, thanks to its three lever types and 27.2-millimeters diameter. Easton’s HTML70 AX ($185), is a comparable price. It might be a better choice for those who have only 5omimeters of travel.
The Fox Factory’s transfer ($349, in action at the top) is a great machine for those with larger seat tubes. The electronic Reverb AXS seatpost by SRAM/Rockshox will save you money. Although the price tag is high (800 USD), it’s worth it for its seamless integration with SRAM’s road- and mullet drivetrains.
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