Dropper posts have exploded in popularity in recent years, but would it surprise you to learn that the first, or one of the first units came into being 17 years ago?
Kind Shock, or KS as it’s better known to most riders, is a Taiwanese manufacturer based in Tainan that specialises in dropper posts. BikeRadar visited the company’s headquarters this week and while we there, we were shown what’s claimed to be the oldest dropper in the world. (And no, the Hite Rite doesn’t count, internet smartypants.) Back in 1998, Kind Shock General Manager Martin Hsu took inspiration from the common office chair to create his first dropper, paving the way for KS’s future efforts in the field.
Martin Hsu, seen here in the room where every KS post is assembled, was a man ahead of his time in 1998
This 'ur-dropper' looks slightly crude by today’s standards, but in design terms it’s remarkably similar to current offerings. It actually uses a control lever arrangement much like the one still employed by KS today for the company’s non-remote droppers.
The basic dropper design hasn’t changed much since its inception
With no locking mechanism to hold itself at the top of its travel, the post relies on air pressure to support the rider’s weight, making it a halfway house between a suspension seatpost and the fully controllable droppers to which we’re now accustomed. Once it’s down it stays down however, and all these years later, it still works.
Remote attachment aside, not a whole lot has changed
The post is a substantial object weighing roughly a kilo, which is more than double the current state of the art. It seems to be built to take some knocks, with an octagonal inner shaft that mates perfectly with the lower section to prevent the saddle from rotating sideways, an over-engineered version of the spline system that KS still uses. In fact, a version of this seatpost was later produced as the KSP-850.
There's no twisting here!
Are you aware of an earlier dropper post? Let us know in the comments below.
BikeRadar visited Kind Shock on a media tour of Taiwan hosted by TAITRA, the Taiwan External Trade Development Council. TAITRA is promoting the Taipei International Cycle Show, which takes place from March 2-5 2016. We’ll be posting more highlights from our travels over the coming days.