Shimano component brand PRO is working on a dropper remote that’s specifically designed for drop bars and I've had a play with a working prototype at this year’s IceBike show. A production version is expected later this year.
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Dropping from the drops
PRO isn't the first brand to tease a product like this — Wolf Tooth showed us one back in 2017 and Specialized fitted something similar to its Diverge — but it's probably the most elegant and versatile approach we've seen yet, other than that of using the left shifter to control the dropper.
Mounting on the left side of the bar, the remote can be activated from both the hoods and drops thanks to a design that includes thumb and finger levers.
In fact, it’s one big lever with cleverly positioned protrusions. The rider can pull upwards with their index or middle finger, or push downwards with their thumb.
While the lever protrudes forward of the bar, it’s designed to allow enough clearance for the shift/brake levers, although I could imagine there might be interference depending on the rider’s precise setup. The cable outer runs under the tape so there's no extra clutter on the bars.
The prototype remote lever on show looked very finished externally but apparently had pre-production 3D-printed internals. Its return spring action was quite weak but the final version is expected to be more assertive.
Who is this for?
Few riders will want a dropper on their road bike, but short-travel posts are appearing more and more frequently on gravel bikes.
PRO already offers a gravel-friendly 70mm travel version of its Koryak post and the brand will apparently be releasing an updated model with internal cable routing, even in the skinny 27.2mm diameter that gravel frames typically demand.
The Koryak puts the cut end of the cable at the bar end, so there won’t be any grief with cable clamps coming adrift inside the frame.
Pricing on the new lever isn't official but the word is that it will cost the same as the current flat bar lever, which comes in at £59.99.
Do you want a dropper on your gravel bike?
Droppers on drop-barred bikes have been around for a while but there doesn’t seem to be much consensus as to whether they’re actually useful for gravel and ‘cross.
Would the option to drop your gravel-specific saddle in a hurry come in handy? Or is this another example of gravel bikes morphing into old-school XC machines, something we’ve been discussing for years? Let us know what you think in the comments below.