The Vario Dropper post from e*thirteen has tool-free, user-adjustable travel and is available in two sizes: a 120mm to 150mm version and a 150mm to 180mm version.
The post retails for £200 / $209, while the Vario 1x style remote costs £50 / $49.95 and is sold separately .
e*thirteen Vario dropper post details
The Vario’s standout feature is its tool-free travel adjustment with up to a maximum of 30mm of change in 5mm increments, without needing to remove the post from the bike.
e*thirteen has done this by using a removable step-notched bushing that’s rotated to engage its different length notches with keys, to set how far the post can extend upwards.
In its shortest travel setting, the post’s keys will ‘top out’ on the shortest notches before the stanchion reaches its full length, thus limiting travel.
The stanchion and the post’s head are one piece of 3D-forged material that e*thirteen claims increases stiffness and improves durability. The seat clamp has 28 degrees of total angle adjustment and uses Torx T25-headed bolts. There is 12mm of horizontal position adjustment, too.
For people looking to increase dropper post travel – so the seat can be lowered further for the descents while still rising to the correct height for climbing – maximum insertion depths are important.
e*thirteen claims the Vario has a maximum insertion depth of 288mm, however it hasn’t included the cable ferrule. I measured the actual maximum insertion depth to be 299mm using e*thirteen’s supplied ferrule. For reference, OneUp’s 210mm travel V2 Dropper Post has a 311mm maximum insertion depth. OneUp’s shorter 18omm travel version has a claimed maximum insertion depth of 267mm.
The other crucial measurement is the post’s minimum length at full travel with it fully inserted into a frame. This number will dictate whether you can run a certain post in a certain travel setting on your bike.
Set to 180mm of travel, the Vario’s minimum total length including cable ferrule is 535mm – 15mm longer than the brand claims. Using the benchmark OneUp, the 210mm travel post’s minimum length is 554mm.
The Vario’s minimum compressed height is 57mm – this is the distance from the top of the bike’s seat clamp to the centre of the seat rails with the post fully inserted into the frame. Once again, for reference, the OneUp’s figure is 33mm.
e*thirteen claims its gas-sprung cartridge, which can be replaced for £45, requires 20 per cent less force to compress compared to the competition, although doesn’t say what that competition is.
e*thirteen Vario 1x Dropper Lever
e*thirteen recommends mating its Vario 1x Dropper Lever with the Vario post, although it is compatible with any cable-actuated seatpost. It has an angle-adjustable paddle that rotates on two cartridge bearings, the return action is sprung and there’s grip tape on the paddle’s actuation surface.
Along with a standard bar clamp, it’s also SRAM Matchmaker compatible and has three mounting positions.
My test sample, including bar clamp, weighed 74g.
e*thirteen Vario dropper post performance
Although the Vario post’s length was 15mm longer than e*thirteen’s claims, and 55mm longer than OneUp’s 180mm travel dropper, I didn’t have any problems with maximum insertion depth, or minimum or maximum saddle height on the my Yeti SB165 long-term test bike.
I was able to set the post to my preferred height and, when it was adjusted to its 180mm travel setting, it provided ample drop to get out of the way on the descents while rising high enough for the climbs without needing manual height adjustment.
Installation and initial setup was easy, especially setting cable tension in the Vario 1x remote – using a large 3mm Allen bolt to clamp the cable – and needed only hand-tight cable tension to get the post to actuate smoothly.
The Vario 1x remote was supplied with an un-hinged handlebar band clamp, which meant I needed to remove the brake lever and handlebar grips to set the lever in my desired mounting position.
The remote is SRAM Matchmaker compatible, but won’t work with Shimano’s I-Spec system. I found removing the brake and grip frustrating, especially considering the retail price of the remote, which is one quarter of the price of the post itself.
Bar clamp fitment frustration aside, the remote was easy to set to my preferred position, aided by its three mounting holes that can shift the remote 25mm side to side.
On the trail the thumb paddle was easy to use, with plenty of grip, thanks to its taped paddle surface, and had a smooth, positive movement that was light to push. Its direction of travel mimicked the movement of my thumb and I never felt strained when actuating the post.
The lever’s spring helped the paddle return quickly to its neutral position, rather than relying solely on the post’s actuator and cable to do all of the work. When testing in wet and, at times, freezing conditions, the lever didn’t become notchy or unreliable.
The seat clamp is fastened using two Torx T25 bolts rather than Allen keys (something I’m sure Tom Marvin would be aghast about). Even though the post has plenty of potential clamp angle adjustment, the fitted bolts aren’t long enough to safely adjust it to its maximum positions. However, the angle I wanted the saddle to be set was within its adjustment limits.
The Vario’s main selling point, its tool-free travel adjustment, was quick and easy to do. I would recommend performing the travel change when the post is clean and dry, though, because you need to remove its collar.
Although it’s a novel feature, and the same post could be used on multiple bikes if you can deal with re-routing the internal cables each time, beyond the initial setup process I wonder how many times you’re going to need it and how much of a weight penalty comes with the design.
The hand-tight collar that needs removing to adjust travel had a tendency to undo itself, most probably caused by my knees and legs contacting it during descents. Doing it up very tight helped reduce the number of times this happened, though.
The post developed a fair amount of head play during the test period, too. I followed e*thirteen’s helpful online FAQ checklist to problem solve and couldn’t find any discernible faults with the post. I believe the head play was a result of the travel adjustment key tolerances.
The return speed was also slower than I was expecting and isn’t adjustable. e*thirteen recommended checking the post is properly greased or using a lighter grease to help it run more freely. It was frustrating waiting for the post to return to its highest setting, though, and was the Vario’s biggest fault.
It was also stiffer to compress than e*thirteen’s claims led me to expect. And although it was impossible to quantify its 20 per cent less force claims, experientially I didn’t think the Vario was easier to compress than a Reverb, OneUp or X-Fusion post in the same conditions.
e*thirteen Vario dropper post bottom line
The Vario has proven to be a reliable and affordable post with easily adjustable travel. However, its un-adjustable return speed might frustrate some and it is a little on the weighty side.
Given that it has longer stack heights compared to the similarly priced OneUp V2 Dropper Post – for any given equivalent travel – it doesn’t quite topple the current market leader.
The Vario 1x Remote, however, is brilliant and I will be looking to use it with my OneUp V2 Dropper Post going forward.
|Price||GBP £200.00USD $209.00|
|Weight||628g (150mm - 180mm travel, 31.6mm diameter) – 150mm - 180mm travel, 31.6mm diameter|
|What we tested||E*Thirteen Vario Infinite Dropper Post 150mm - 180mm travel, 31.6mm diameter with E*Thirteen Vario 1x Dropper Lever|
|Features||Internal cable routing. 28-degree seat angle adjustment. 12mm fore/aft saddle adjustment. Tool-free travel adjustment in 5mm increments between 150mm and 180mm. 30.9mm and 31.6mm diameters. Gas charged spring.|
|Remote||E*Thirteen Vario 1x Dropper Lever|