While they certainly aren’t anything new, it seems likely 2017 will be the year that dropper posts start to extend (sorry) into every corner of mountain biking — and some parts of road riding too.
Obviously Shimano’s late entry into the dropper post market might have made a lot of noise, but there’s been an explosion in brands looking to get a slice of this ever-growing market — with new units from KS, e*thirteen, X-Fusion as well as some other rather out-there designs.
- Examining the next generation of dropper seatposts
- The BikeYoke Revive dropper post can be bled at the push of a button
- Fox squares up to rivals with all-new stepless dropper post
KS goes wireless
The KS — or Kind Shock to its friends — range is really starting to pick up pace, with a range of more affordable posts, 175mm drop options and lightweight carbon units, but the most exciting news has to be a new wirelessly operated post.
Magura’s Vyron post might have been the first to introduce wireless actuation, but it looks like this relatively small brand has managed to create an item that’s much swifter in operation as well as being much longer lasting, if the claims are to be believed.
The new Lev Circuit post marries KS's tried and tested air and oil cartridge guts with a wirelessly operated battery powered actuator on the post and a Bluetooth remote to give cable free control. As with all wireless posts it also means that you can use one dropper between many bikes without much faff, making the inevitably higher asking price seem much more reasonable.
KS didn’t have final pricing, but they expect the unit to cost below the US$600 mark.
Unlike Magura’s offering, where the battery is mounted at the top of the post to make it accessible for on-bike charging, the battery sits inside the seat-tube keeping it safe from harm. That does mean that charging it via the USB 2.0 port requires you to remove it from your bike, but with no cables to contend with that’s not too much of an issue — though you’ll probably want to dig out that old QR seatclamp lever again.
The battery itself sits on the bottom of the post, adding around 30mm insertion depth on top of the cable-operated units. KS claims that the battery in the post will last around 600 cycles, roughly equating to 4-5 big rides.
The remote itself is an underbar unit designed to pair up with 1x drivetrain setups, powered by a simple coin cell battery to communicate with the post. KS said that the post on show was an early prototype, but despite that, the actuation was relatively swift to initiate, though certainly not as immediate as cable or hydraulically operated rivals. On the other hand, releasing the post to full extension was remarkably swift.
It’s going to be available with 150mm or 125mm drops in either 30.9mm or 31.6mm diameters. Availability isn’t confirmed, but considering that what we saw was no rough and ready prototype, it shouldn’t be too long.
KS Lev range gets longer and lighter
Elsewhere in the KS lineup the Lev Integra post gets a redesigned head and clamp, which is said to be more secure and reliable. In very exciting news for those people with extremely long legs, there is now a 175mm drop option to add the to existing 150mm, 125mm and 100mm versions.
If you’ve got a bit more cash, you can get a lot less weight with the carbon bodied Lev Ci. KS claimed a very impressive weight of just 400g for the 175mm drop option.
At the more affordable end, the Lev Si is made mostly for OEM spec on complete bikes, doing without a roller bearing at the collar to keep prices down. It also gets an improved clamp.
Roadies, cyclocrossers, gravel grinders and whatever other drop bar niches might be sprouting into existence as we speak will find the Lev Zeta very interesting. It’s designed to look just like a normal seatpost, with a shaft that you trim to size before fine tuning with the clamp-on head.
It’ll give you 50mm of drop should you want to get your saddle out of the way at times and conversely 500mm of raise should you want it to go higher occasionally. It’s all a matter of perspective.
X-Fusion drops the Hilo and goes Manic
X-Fusion has been turning over the proverbial apple cart in the world of suspension forks with a mix of giant-killing performance at much more wallet friendly prices, but its dropper post offering left a lot to be desired.
The Hilo was definitely a relic of a bygone age, with internals that mixed oil and air and consequently introduced both of those to the outside world from time to time. The new Manic post gets a cartridge design that keeps the two separated, reducing pressure on the sealing system for hopefully much improved reliability.
X-Fusion claims that service intervals are now up to a year from six months, which is impressive if true.
At US$199 it’s at the much more affordable end of the market, which means we can forgive there being just one 125mm drop option.
X-Fusion has worked on keeping the ride height of the post as low as possible however, with a clamp and collar that drop 25mm from the overall height of the old design.
Having a quick play with the lever also revealed that it has a really nice and light action, a pleasant change from some cable designs that are clunky and sticky. The underbar remote — and that is the only kind on offer — also sits on a gimbal, which allows plenty of fine tuning to get the lever placement just so.
While there’s no 27.2mm option yet, X-Fusion reckons that it could — in theory — fit the cartridge into a slimmer body, so stay strong skinny tubed hardtail owners, there could be something for you out there fairly soon.
e*thirteen gets in on the game
A relatively surprising new post was from e*thirteen, better known for wheels and chain devices. This design flew against convention in a number of other ways, most obviously in having four fixed positions rather than stepless travel adjustment.
Ranging from 0-150mm travel via stops at 75mm and 100mm, the TRS Plus post is a fully mechanical cable operated design that uses relatively simple pins and slots to lock and release the post. This system may seem less refined, but the big benefit is that simpler usually means more reliable. Our past experience tends to prove that true, so we’re very keen to see how this works in the real world.
Eightpin’s integrated offering
Throwing convention even further out of the window before shouting at it never to darken the door again, is this post from Eightpin. Post is probably the wrong way to describe it as it’s more of a tube that integrates into your frame, in this case a Liteville.
With up to a whopping 220mm of travel on offer, it uses a mechanical design with eight travel settings. You can adjust both the travel and overall length, with the latter achieved by cutting down the post internally. It’s a very neat looking system that also helps drop quite a lot of weight, but if we’re entirely honest, we can’t see this one gaining widespread acceptance. Good luck to them though, without dreamers of dreams, where would we be?
..and a first fondle of Shimano’s PRO Koryak
Yes, we know we’ve covered it previously, but we couldn't resist going and laying our hands on the long awaited dropper post from Shimano.
Having expected big things it would be truthful to say that this feels like a bit of a letdown, with no clever electronic integration to be seen, just boring old cables to operate it and no magically auto-adjusting internals. We’re not sure if the model on display was a very early production model either, but some of it was pretty roughly finished and certainly didn’t feel like it had the usual flawless Shimano quality.
The remote levers (one underbar, one on bar) had quite a lot of slop in the joints too. This might be overly harsh; you take it out on those you love, after all. We'll wait until we get our hands on one for a proper test soon.