By Eric McKeegan
I was first introduced to the importance of the dropper post during the BC Bike Race, a seven day mountain bike stage race in British Columbia. The idea of riding unfamiliar technical terrain at higher speeds made the dropper post on my loaner bike very much an “Ah-ha!” moment. But how does that translate to a dropper post on a drop-bar bike?
For those that aren’t familiar with this technology, a dropper post allows for seat height adjustment while riding, most often via a handlebar mounted remote. A lower seat allows for more room to move around on the bike, in turn providing more control on steep and/or rough terrain.
I’ve been using this post on a Specialized AWOL, which has a sloping top tube and quite a bit of exposed seatpost. You’ll need at least 163 mm of post from the seat collar to the saddle rails to make this work. The stock remote lever only works with 22.2 flat bars, but I got a prototype 31.8 lever that worked very well mounted next to stem.
The Rainier works as well as any dropper I’ve used, sliding up and down smoothly. Even without an adjustable return rate, I never thought it was too slow or fast. The 80 mm of drop is scant compared to the 125 mm to 170 mm that is standard for mountain bikes these days, but seems plenty to make things more fun and controllable on drop-bar bikes.
On long road descents it is nice to have another position, whether tucked in low or just loafing on the lowered seat. For improved cornering, there really is nothing like dropping your center of gravity to feel connected to the bike and the road. When venturing off the pavement it is hard to describe just how much it can improve the riding experience.
Instead of needing to get as far behind the saddle as possible on steep descents, you can crouch over the seat, keeping weight on the front end for traction, but keeping that weight well behind the front axle. Staying closer to the bar allows your arms to stay more bent, helping to steer and absorb bumps much better than the straight arm position that is the result of being stuck behind the saddle.
I see this post working well for a few types of riders. Mountain bikers who have grown to love the dropper post can now have the same thing on their road-oriented bikes or experienced riders that want to make their all-around bike (like the AWOL) as capable as possible. Finally, for beginner riders who are timid, the ability to lower the seat at the touch of a button can add an impressive amount of confidence.
This may seem like another “gadget” for your bike, and, admittedly, you could go through your riding life and enjoy yourself immensely without a dropper. But I see the dropper as an amplifier that can turn the fun factor of your ride experience up to 11 at the touch of the remote. It is up to you if that is too loud, or not.
This review was originally published in Bicycle Times 43. Check out more of our reviews online here and subscribe to our weekly email newsletter to get fresh content delivered to your inbox every Tuesday!Tweet Print