Brand-X Ascend II
In a world where dropper posts regularly cost somewhere in the region of £200 upwards, and remotes an additional £50 plus, the Brand-X Ascend II really looks like a bargain, coming in at £140 – and that’s with a remote included.
The Ascend II uses the more recently adopted fitting method of having a moulded cable barrel at the post and grub-screwing the cable at the much easier remote end of the assembly, which I prefer.
Older styles require the cable inner and outer to be trimmed very accurately, and a fiddly barrel grub-screwed on at the post end. It doesn’t sound like much of a difference, but once you’ve fitted a few posts it really is .
Brand-X sent me the externally routed version of the Ascend II, but an internally routed version is also available for the same price. I would have liked to have tried that, but for reasons I will come on to, they appear to share the same smooth and consistent action.
Brand-X Ascend II impressions
Within days of riding the Ascend II over hill and dale, I was very impressed, and not just for the money, which is hugely impressive on its own, but because it works, and works well.
As you would expect, adjustment is infinite, and it’s very easy to place thanks to a well judged return speed – which isn’t adjustable because the cartridge is sealed with no way to change the pressure.
I liked the shifter-style remote a lot too, with its roomy paddle and positive action to the swing. Fitting it was a breeze, thanks to the cable being clamped at the remote rather than the post, as previously mentioned.
The shifter-style remote has a roomy paddle and positive action. Andy McCandlish
This is something worth paying attention to if you are likely to change the remote – just make sure to get a compatible lever type with a grub screw at the lever paddle. Not that I think the remote is worth changing though, because it is excellent.
After a month or so, I noticed that the cable outer had split slightly and corrosion was appearing at the break, meaning it was very much on its way out. A few quid and a quality Shimano cable sorted it in no time though, so it wasn’t a big deal.
In fact, I would recommend dropping the supplied cable from the off and fitting a quality one to save a re-fit so soon down the line. It also gave a slightly snappier action with less flex in the outer.
A closer look revealed the remote, stanchion and saddle clamp hardware to be near identical to the Race Face Aeffect-R, which I had in the workshop at the same time, but it’s £100 more and the remote is £50 extra.
The Syncros post is also extremely similar. The action was the same too, which suggests either the Brand-X really is a bargain, or the Race Face is overpriced.
The truth likely lies somewhere in the middle, but it did mean I didn’t have to use my imagination when it came to wondering what the Ascend’s internally routed version would be like.
Brand-X Ascend II overall
The Ascend II can regularly be found online for around the £100 mark, which makes it a no-brainer if you are looking for a champagne dropper on lemonade money. Just replace that cheap cable from day one and you won’t look back.
It’s great to see a 27.2 option too, especially if you are running a skinnier posted bike.
How we tested
A selection of the latest seatposts were tested head to head to find out which ones rise to the top or fall by the wayside.
Other posts on test: