If you’ve been a BikeRadar reader for a while, you may have noticed that I’ve often been critical of dropper seatposts. Never in the sense that I think they’re a superfluous technology — these days I can hardly ride a mountain bike without one, nor would I want to — but I feel strongly that mountain bikers shelling out hard-earned money (and lots of it) for a dropper seatpost shouldn’t be used as beta testers. You should be able to count on a dropper to last more than a season’s worth of riding. With that in mind, here are five advancements I would like to see in dropper seatposts this year.
- Examining the next generation of dropper seatposts
- Why all dropper seatposts suck
- Dropper seatposts for cyclocross?
Above all else, I would like to see dropper seatposts become more reliable.
The latest crop of droppers is significantly better than those introduced a few seasons ago. Unless you’re riding in sub-zero conditions or, in some cases, dare to pull up on the seat while the post is compressed...
Which is to say, there is still room for improvement.
A dropper seatpost is a significant financial investment on par with purchasing a high-end shifter and rear derailleur. So why do so many companies skimp on the lever?
It’s the opinion of this tech editor that a good dropper lever should mimic the ergonomics and feel of a high-end shifter. Currently the only one that comes close is the Wolf Tooth ReMote, and it’s a pricey aftermarket upgrade.
There’s also some irony in the fact that SRAM, the company that spearheaded the development of 1x drivetrains (thanks for that, by the way. I owe you guys a beer) continues to rely on a repurposed suspension lockout, rather than a lever that mimics its own shifter paddles.
The current Reverb remote has the advantage of being able to run on the right or left and top or bottom of the handlebar, which is a benefit for those running a drivetrain with a front shifter, but the supremacy of 1x drivetrains renders this advantage moot.
Will 2017 be the year SRAM steps up with an improved Reverb remote? It wouldn’t surprise me.
One of my great hopes for 2017 is that this year will usher in the first generation of self-dropping seatposts.
Who needs a seatpost that compresses at the press of a button, as opposed to pressing a button while weighting the post? Enduro racers, for one. As cross-country courses become more technical, this could also be a boon to the light and fast crowd.
If you’ve ever found yourself riding an unfamiliar trail and have ridden up to a steep and unexpected drop, then you probably understand the benefit of slamming a saddle with haste.
According to Jose Gonzalez, the head of Trek’s Advanced Concepts Group, this sort of “oh crap” moment was the motivation behind the development of a self-dropping seatpost.
“There were numerous times when we were out riding in places like Moab or Fruita where you come around a corner and there’s a technical section that you want your saddle down for, but unless you slow and intentionally give yourself time to do it you're kinda stuck. You either stop or you drop in with your saddle up. Neither one of those are desirable. That’s when we started thinking ‘there’s got to be a better option,’” Gonzalez said.
I'm hopeful we'll see at least one self-activated dropper make it to production this year.
Better electronic options
We have a handful of electronic seatpost options that hold potential, but aren’t as polished as they could be.
If nothing else, this is a start. As stated in a previous column, there are all sorts of possibilities that accompany electronic droppers, including the ability to pair them with electronically-controlled forks and shocks to control whether the suspension is open or locked out.
Dropper compatibility for all
Last on my list of dropper desires is a wish for increased dropper seatpost compatibility across different genres of bicycles. No, you don’t have to use a dropper, but if you have a cross-country bike or even a gravel rig you should have the option.