TL;DR – In a hurry and just want to know what is the best dropper post? I recommend the Fox Transfer Seatpost 31.6 Factory Series 150mm Drop, Internal Routing (Lever Not Included) as your top choice. The best dropper posts available are (in my opinion):
- Fox Transfer Seatpost 31.6 Factory Series 150mm Drop, Internal Routing (Lever Not Included)
- RockShox Reverb Stealth (B1) Dropper Seatpost w/1x Remote Black, 31.6x390mm/125mm Travel
- Bike Yoke Revive Dropper Seatpost Black, 31.6x397mm, 125mm Travel
Best in Weight
- KS LEV CI Carbon Dropper Seatpost Black, 30.9x400mm/125mm Travel
- Bike Yoke Divine SL Dropper Post Black, 31.6x400mm/80mm
Best Budget Picks
- XFusion Manic 31.6mm Dropper Post 125mm with Remote
- PNW Components Cascade Dropper Post, 150mm Travel, External Routing, 3-Year Warranty (31.6/150mm)
Dropper posts are a relatively recent addition to the mountain bike. But unlike your flavor of the month hub standard or fraction of a millimeter crank innovation, dropper posts have surprisingly become a must-have on any trail bike. A dropper post simply allows you to raise and lower your seat post between your saddle height when climbing and your saddle height when descending with just a flick of a switch on the bars.
Before dropper posts, we would take measly 30-seconds to undo our trusty quick release seat post clamp and raise and lower our saddles before we hit a climb or descent. This is a simple step and a tiny amount of time spent off the bike, but cutting it out also removed interruptions to the ride and made time on the bike a more continuous and flowy experience.
The increase in fun factor was so great that changing out a light simple tube on the bike for a heavy and, at the time, unreliable dropper post wasn’t only a decent trade-off but a necessity on a trail bike. In the past few years, the dropper post has become staple on all but the most specialized downhill and cross-country race bikes.
Their reliability and availability have come along way as well. The myriad of brands that have come to the market with a dropper post can actually be overwhelming, but this mess can be cut through by looking at what are the defining features of dropper posts.
What To Look At When Buying a Dropper Post
1. Travel or Stroke Length
The defining specification of a seat post is how high it can extend from its lowest position. The first droppers often just came in at just 100mm to 125mm of travel.Since then it’s not uncommon to find dropper post with 175mm or more of travel. But more doesn’t necessarily mean better. This depends on your inseam length but can be estimated with your height. There is an ideal “low” position for your seat and an ideal “high” position.
The high position is easier defined as it is the height in which your knees are almost straight at the lowest point in the pedal stroke. It is the ideal height for putting the power down and therefore climbing. The ideal low position is more subject to personal preference. But generally, it is the height in which you can sit down and still easily balance your bike while being high enough in that the seat is about halfway up your thighs when you’re standing.
This is low enough to provide enough room to move on the bike during descents but still, provide an anchor point for your legs on the seat to provide input during corners. In general, shorter riders will need dropper posts with less travel while taller riders will have to get dropper posts with more travel to hit the sweet spots in both high and low positions.
2. Diameter, Length, and Minimum Insertion
These dimensions are bundled together because they determine what kind of dropper post you need for your frame. The diameter is matched to seat tube diameters on frames. Most frames come with seat tubes designed to fit 30.9 or 31.6mm seat posts or dropper posts. There are a few that still use the old 27.2mm standard or the larger 34.9mm standard. The larger of the two can easily be used with a shim along with smaller dropper posts and there are a few dropper posts out that were built smaller to fit the 27.2mm sized-seat tube. The length pertains to the overall length of the dropper post at full extension, including the saddle clamp.
The minimum insertion is the tallest height you can run the dropper post in the frame before risking damage to either the frame or the dropper post. The latter two can be an issue with newer frames that have a very low seat tube for even the larger sizes.This can be an issue for riders who prefer a high seat during descents or owners of dropper posts with relatively short travel but upgrade to a frame with a low seat tube.
If things are too low, you may not be able to run your seat at a comfortable seat height for pedaling without risking damage to your frame or dropper post. The opposite problem can also exist on bikes with high interrupted seat tubes. If the dropper post is too long in overall length, then you may not be able to run it low enough to get it to your comfortable descending saddle height.
You may have to opt for dropper posts that specialize in having very short overall lengths relative to their travel.
Although 500 grams doesn’t sound like much, it is a lot on a mountain bike. This especially true because the dropper post locates high on the frame which amplifies its impact on the center of gravity of the entire bike. You feel this heft every time you swing the bike from one side to the other. This is the one area where a dropper post will never beat a traditional seat post.
This is why competitive downhill and cross country racers often still run traditional seat posts.The weight penalty may not justify the quick height-adjust functionality on the kind of trails these events are held on. This also means that all other things being equal, a lighter dropper post is always better than a heavier one. Most dropper posts come in at around 600-700 grams.
This is the greatest drawback of a dropper post. A dropper post’s internals will often utilize air springs, hydraulics, and cable actuated systems. So, it is inevitable that moving to this from a simple rigid tube is always going to be a downgrade in reliability. While carrying around more weight is bearable, having your seat post stuck in the raised or lowered position can easily ruin someone’s day.
This is why reliability should be the top factor in determining what kind of seat post you should get. Dropper post has a bad reputation when it comes to reliability but, thankfully, dropper posts of the latest generation have come a long way in this regard. Every new post focuses on nailing down this aspect, raising the bar each time and driving the competition for the best working posts.
2. Lever Ergonomics
Drivetrain manufacturers know their finger-actuated lever ergonomics. Unfortunately, most dropper post manufacturers don’t have a background in making shifters. This meant that the first few years of droppers were plagued with lever or twist actuators that were hard on the hands.
This has been another area of intense competition with some manufacturers leaving their twist actuators behind and even third-party manufacturers making ergonomic aftermarket levers for mainstream dropper posts.
Most dropper posts come in at around $400. We will go over some dropper posts that are on the low side and the high side of this average.In general, a higher price tag pays for better build quality and lower weight.
The Best Dropper Post Options We Would Choose
Fox Suspension has become the household name of quality in the suspension market. Their focus on high-end products and the brand identity of their bronze Kashima coated stanchions have made them the premium standard for performance and reliability. Their entrant into the dropper post market is no different. The Fox Transfer is a complete package.
It is priced around the same as other high-end dropper posts but it has a great track record of reliability. It is also one of the only dropper posts that offer a non-black stanchion option, making it one of the most sought after posts when it comes to bling – especially when matched with bikes already outfitted with Fox Factory suspension.
Rock Shox Reverb B1
Rock Shox was one of the first major manufacturers to jump on the dropper post bandwagon. Unfortunately, their first product was a miss in terms of reliability and gave the entire dropper post market a reputation for poor performance. Their current generation of Reverb is a far better product than the first and is one of the only fully hydraulic posts for sale.
This can make things a lot easier on frames with cable routing that has sharp kinks. Reverbs are also the most common dropper posts by far because of SRAM’s OEM reach.
And if you’re shopping second hand, you’re going to see a lot of these on bikes. An advantage that stems from this vast availability is the easy sourcing of spare parts and the vast service network that comes with strong OEM support.
Bike Yoke Revive
Bike Yoke is a relatively small player among bike component manufacturers. They used to be limited to just making custom links for Specialized bikes but have since grown to develop a dropper post which has propelled the brand’s reach. The Revive dropper post has a special feature that allows you to bleed out the pressure that has built up in the dropper post from being used.
This is the culprit for one of the most common reliability issues in dropper posts, the inability to get full extension and a squishy post when fully extended. This simple feature makes this post a contender among the big players even without its worldwide distribution and service reach.
- Material: aluminum
- Diameter: 30.9mm, 31.6mm
- Length: 397mm, 467mm
- Offset: 0mm
- Travel: 125mm, 160mm
Best in Weight
KS LEV Ci
Kind Shock (KS) has been the market of squishy seat posts for a long time, far before dropper posts became popular. They’ve carved out a unique place in the market for themselves by selling a more expensive model of their LEV dropper post and lever with ultra-light materials. A full carbon mast and a lightweight remote lever give the LEV Ci a weight of about 400g for the average model but can be configured to be as light as 375g. This is over 250g lighter than what you normally see on other dropper posts. These impressive specs come with a price tag of $450-$500.
BikeYoke Divine SL
BikeYoke’s Divine SL comes in even lighter than the LEV Ci at 350g in its lightest configuration. The catch here is that it only has 80mm of travel, making it the perfect dropper for any cross country racer that’s looking for an edge on the descents. It would also be perfect for lighter riders who don’t need much travel but could benefit from the reduced weight.
The stock Divine SL has a weight of 385g but can be cut down to under 350g for bikes will tall seat tubes or for shorter riders. The advantage this post has over the LEV Ci is that it comes in at the same price, $400, as other seat posts making it a legitimate option over the competition if you have specific needs and can take the compromise of shorter travel.
- Material: [post] aluminum, [saddle clamp bolts] titanium
- Diameter: 30.9mm, 31.6mm
- Length: 400mm (can be cut as short as 283mm)
- Travel: 80mm
- Dropper: cable-actuated, hydraulic internals
X-Fusion is an established player in the suspension market and has a solid foothold in the budget segment. They have brought that experience to the dropper post market and have released the Manic, which delivers specifications and reliability to rival the more mainstream posts.
It weighs in at over 730g for the complete system but it is priced at just $200, almost half of that most of the competition.
- X-Fusion Seatpost Manic Dropper 31.6 375.5/125MMadj Height/Remote Black - 22-SSSMNCOP-125-804
PNW Components Cascade
PNW is a relatively new player in the market and sells popular posts around the world but under different brand names. The Cascade matches the Manic in terms of price, at just $200, but with dimensions and performance that competes with the very best. A Droppers post like this show that if you’re not a gram counter, don’t mind the generic looking hardware and can go without the service network, you can get top tier performance at a huge discount.
- 125, 150 and 170mm Travel Dropper Post
- Lightweight sealed alloy cartridge
- External cable routing
- 3-year warranty
- Unless indicated with (NO LEVER KIT), Includes Puget MTB 2x Lever, cables and all required hardware. NO LEVER KIT DOES NOT include cable, housing or lever.
Ok, so we actually covered a lot of dropper posts! Who would have thought there is so much to talk about bike posts?! But seriously, I would love it if you could comment below what your experience has been with dropper seats. Else, if you have a dropper seat that you think is awesome that isn’t on the list above please tell me about it!