Do you need a dropper post on your gravel bike? 4 of the best we’ve tested

An essential for technical off-road riding or an unnecessary gadget?

RockShox Reverb dropper seatpost on gravel bike

A dropper post is a seatpost that can be lowered via the actuation of a lever, typically located on the handlebar, to allow you to drop the height of the saddle. This adjustment gives the rider a greater range of movement over the bike, which comes in especially useful when riding on trickier off-road trails.

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Dropper seatposts are most commonly found on mountain bikes, although more are now being made for gravel bikes.

While mountain bike dropper posts feature a range of movement up to 210mm, droppers designed for gravel bikes tend to range from 50mm to 125mm of travel.

Most gravel bikes will come with standard seatposts, although some top-of-the-range models will feature dropper posts, such as the Genesis Fugio 30, Liv Devote Advanced 1 and the Specialized S-Works Diverge.

Do you need a dropper post for gravel riding?

Many new dropper posts designed specifically for gravel bikes are beginning to appear on the market, but do you really need one? Here we take a look at the benefits and drawbacks of dropper seatposts for gravel riding so you can make up your mind.

Gravel dropper post pros

A dropper post helps you tackle technical terrain without being limited by the height of your saddle.
Andy Lloyd / Immediate Media

With the touch of a button, push of a lever or swish of a shifter, a dropper post will leave you with oodles of space to frolic over the top of your bike. You’ll be able to move your weight wherever pleases you without the snag of a saddle between your legs, helping you and your bike stay upright on technical trails.

If your idea of gravel riding is made up of canal towpaths, dusty hardpack and gentle gradients, then this might not make much sense to you. However, for those seeking adrenaline-filled, challenging rocky, rooty and steep sections to keep their rides spicy, a dropper post can help.

Then, of course, there are unexpected upsides. A dropper post puts your saddle at the right height for perching at traffic lights or when you’re waiting for your friends at the bottom of trails. In short, it’s hard to go back to a normal seatpost once you’ve used a dropper.

Gravel dropper cons

Where will you put your lever with drop bars?
ENVE

Just like suspension forks and shocks, dropper posts require regular maintenance to keep them in good working order. This might be something you’d be happy to do yourself at home or a task you’d rather ask a mechanic to do for you. Either way, it’s extra maintenance that you wouldn’t otherwise need to consider.

With more moving parts involved than a conventional seatpost, dropper posts can develop ‘play’. This is where the saddle moves around a little as you pedal, typically side to side. It’s not so noticeable on mountain bikes where you spend a sizable chunk of time out of the saddle, but it can become frustrating or even uncomfortable on gravel bikes where you tend to spend more time seated and pedalling.

By adding a dropper post to your gravel bike, you’ll also be adding extra weight.

Dropper posts for gravel bikes vary in weight from around 618g for a Brand-X Ascend II (without lever and cable) down to 450g for the PNW Rainier 3.

A dropper post lever can interfere with bikepacking bags.
Ortlieb

Comparatively, a standard 27.2mm seatpost weighs around 200-300g, depending on the material used. So you’re looking at a weight increase of around 150-420g.

Remember that with a dropper post, you’ll also need to add a lever. This can take up extra space on your gravel handlebar or even interfere with bikepacking bags. Dropper posts that can be used with a shifter lever on 1x setups are a good way to get around this.

If you’re planning on going bikepacking on your gravel bike, you’ll need to think about what kind of bag setup will be compatible with your dropper. This could mean opting for dropper-specific bags, or packing your kit elsewhere so that you can continue to use your dropper unhindered.

Lastly, there’s the cost to consider. Dropper posts don’t come cheap, with the latest Reverb AXS XPLR costing £500 / €600 / $600, while more budget-friendly options can be found from around £140 / $150  / AU$220 / €155.


4 of the best gravel dropper posts

Here are four of the best gravel dropper posts, according to BikeRadar’s team of expert testers.

Brand-X Ascend II dropper post

4.5 out of 5 star rating
The Brand-X Ascend II is available in a variety of widths.
Andy McCandlish / Immediate Media
  • Price: £140 / $150  /AU$220/ €155 as tested
  • Weight: 618g (without remote and cable)
  • Stroke length: 105mm
  • Diameters: 27.2mm (30.9mm and 31.6mm also available)

Not only is the Brand-X Ascend II a great value option, but this 105mm dropper also impressed on test with a near-perfect return speed, consistent action and ergonomic remote.

The externally-routed cable didn’t last long in the wet though, but replacement with a superior quality cable is an easy switch to reduce corrosion and aid longevity.

Crankbrothers Highline XC/Gravel

4.0 out of 5 star rating
Crankbrothers Highline XC/gravel dropper seatpost with remote.
Immediate Media
  • Price: £225 / $250 / AU$425 / €250 as tested plus remote
  • Weight: From 369g, plus remote and cable
  • Stroke length : 60mm, 80mm, 100mm, 125mm
  • Diameter: 27.2mm
  • Total length: 297mm to 452mm

Designed specifically for cross-country and gravel in a 27.2mm diameter, Crankbrothers’ Highline XC/Gravel dropper is available in a generous range of stroke lengths to suit a greater variety of preferences and bike sizes: 60mm, 80mm, 100mm and 125mm.

You’ll need to fork out extra for the dropper lever at £49 / $50 / AU$125, although this was a clever system, allowing you to actuate the dropper either using your thumb when on the drops or your forefingers when on the tops.

KS Lev Integra (2020) dropper post

4.0 out of 5 star rating
The KS Lev Integra is available in a good range of widths and stroke lengths.
Andy McCandlish / Immediate Media
  • Price: £290 / AU$500 as tested
  • Weight: 481g (for 100mm, without remote and cable)
  • Stroke length: 65mm, 100mm, 120mm
  • Diameters: 27.2mm (30.9mm, 31.6mm, 34.9mm also available)

Sitting in the mid-range of gravel droppers price-wise, the KS Lev Integra offers three different options from 65mm to 120mm travel, at a mid-range weight.

The reduced level of flex compared to other posts was noticeable with the KS Lev, thanks to the larger diameter upper shaft, especially noticeable with longer stroke lengths.

While the stroke is smooth and gives a reassuring ‘thunk’ when fully extended, the way the cable is mounted is one drawback. Clamped at the post end rather than the lever, this can take a little longer to get set up well and optimised cable tension.

RockShox Reverb AXS XPLR

4.0 out of 5 star rating
A dropper post and suspension seatpost in one.
Andy Lloyd / Our Media
  • Price: £500 / €600 / $600 as tested
  • Weight: 567g/597g (including battery)
  • Stroke length: 50mm, 75mm
  • Diameters: 27.2mm
  • Total length: 350mm, 400mm

Part of RockShox and SRAM’s XPLR collection, which also includes gravel-specific gearing, wheels and the RockShox Rudy suspension fork, this wireless electronic dropper is available in either 50mm or 75mm stroke lengths.

Although slimmed down from the mountain bike Reverb AXS which weighs in at 650g, the post is still at the more weighty end of gravel droppers, and certainly tops out the premium price range.

Unlike other dropper seatposts, RockShox claims that the XPLR post also doubles up as a suspension seatpost, offering some travel as soon as the dropper is lowered, even a fraction, to help take the sting out of really rough terrain.


What other options are there?

With dropper posts exploding in popularity in the gravel sphere, there is a plethora of new 27.2mm diameter, short-travel droppers on the market. Here are some of the other options.

FSA Flowtron AGX

3.5 out of 5 star rating
The FSA Flowtron AGX has a 27.2mm diameter making it compatible with most gravel bikes.
Russell Burton / Immediate Media
  • Price: £270 as tested
  • Weight: 510g (363mm length)
  • Stroke length: 100mm
  • Diameters: 27.2mm
  • Total length: 363mm

The FSA Flowtron AGX proves dropper posts don’t just belong on mountain bikes, but it does have some drawbacks.

Out of the box you’ll need at least 164mm of exposed seatpost for the post to fit your bike, and the internal cable routing will take care to set up.

The ergonomic thumb lever with custom tension is a highlight. We did experience some issues with the dropper post’s return spring in dirt and grit.

Easton EA70 AX

The 50mm Easton EA70 gravel dropper aboard an Allied Able.
Easton Cycling
  • Price: £189 / $214.99
  • Weight: 400g (350mm length)
  • Stroke length: 50mm
  • Diameters: 27.2mm
  • Total length: 350mm, 400mm

In a short-travel 50mm option only, this internally routed gravel dropper comes in two lengths: 350mm or 400mm.

The price and weight both seem pretty moderate, and the dropper can be paired either with a dropper lever or integrated with a drop bar shifter.

The internal cable can also be attached from either direction, which gives great compatibility with different dropper levers and easier fitting.

OneUp Components V2 27.2

OneUp 27.2 gravel dropper post.
OneUp Components
  • Price: £179.50 / €199.50 / $199.50
  • Weight: 377g (90mm travel version)
  • Stroke length: 90mm to 120mm
  • Diameter: 27.2mm
  • Total length: 340mm to 410mm

The OneComponents V2 27.2 Dropper Post is designed for gravel bikes and cross-country mountain bikes and is a skinnier version of the brand’s V2 Dropper Post.

OneUp claims this post has the shortest stack height and total length of any post with the same travel. The brand also says the 90mm-travel variant weighs 377g, which is less than most 40mm droppers.

The post is said to be compatible with cable dropper levers as well as SRAM and Shimano drop-bar shifters.

PNW Rainier Gen 3

The Rainier is one of relatively few droppers available in 27.2mm.
Matthew Loveridge / Immediate Media
  • Price: £146.99 / $179
  • Weight: 448g
  • Stroke length: 125mm (adjustable)
  • Diameters: 27.2mm
  • Total length: 452mm

The third generation narrow diameter dropper, the PNW Components Rainier offers an adjustable 125mm travel with this cable-actuated, internally routed model.

Adjustable you say? Yep – the stroke length can be easily reduced in 5mm increments down to 100mm.

The lever isn’t included in the good value price, meaning you get a choice of PNW’s levers, including the 19g Drop Bar option, which mounts on the drops.

PRO Discover 70

With 70mm of travel and a drop-bar compatible remote, this could make gravel bikes more capable off-road.
Immediate Media
  • Price: £230
  • Weight: 417g (plus cable and lever)
  • Stroke length: 70mm
  • Diameter: 27.2mm

Unlike the similar cross-country focussed Pro Koryak 70, the Pro Discover 70 dropper post is internally routed, and only available in a 27.2mm diameter.

The Discover dropper comes complete with a lever and cable, designed for use with drop bars.

The lightest of Pro’s dropper post options, it weighs in as a mid-range short-travel gravel dropper, with a mid-range price to match.

X-Fusion MANIC Gravel

We’re used to seeing the X-Fusion Manic on mountain bikes (as pictured), but now there’s shorter travel options for 27.2mm diameter seat tubes too.
Ian Linton
  • Price: £199.99
  • Weight: 410g / 465g
  • Stroke length: 50mm, 100mm
  • Diameter: 27.2mm

Offering a good mix of value and low weight, the X-Fusion MANIC Gravel dropper seatpost certainly looks good on paper.

There’s a choice of short or long travel options with this gravel-specific 27.2mm diameter model, which is internally routed and supplied complete with a drop bar style lever.

FOX Transfer SL

With up to 100mm of drop, the Transfer SL is best suited to XC or gravel applications.
Fox
  • Price: £369
  • Weight: 327g / 338g
  • Stroke length: 50mm, 70mm
  • Diameters: 27.2mm (30.9mm, 31.6mm also available)

An impressively light seatpost, the SL model of the Fox Transfer is also available in a narrower 27.2mm diameter for use with gravel bikes.

Choose between 50mm or 70mm stroke lengths with this short travel, internally-routed dropper, as well as drop bar or standard levers, which are available to buy separately.

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