The Frugal MTB Rider: Part 2 – Dropper posts are awesome!
Dropper posts are one of the hottest products in the mountain biking industry. They vary in price ranges starting at around $250 for the cheapest ones, up to around $600 for the top end. But what if you are on a frugal budget? For instance, you might have an inexpensive $500 – $700 bike. Spending close to $350 on a good reliable dropper post might not be your cup of tea. So what are the alternatives then?
Dropper posts are awesome! I was very fortunate to test ride a few, and I was instantly sold. I can easily see why they are so popular. Many new frames now commonly come with built in internal dropper post routing. Droppers are awesome tools that greatly enhance your riding experience. This is especially true if your type of riding is a bit more on the trail, technical, and with some downhill mixed in. Drop the seat and they allow you to drop your center of gravity down low for tight turns. Then they let you float the bike underneath you on the bouncy stuff, and then carve the higher speed downhill flow turns better by letting you lean the bike over easier. Once you hit a flat section or a climb, you then can raise the seat back up for ultra-efficient pedaling. I think that they will eventually become more and more popular even for XC riders.
Dropper posts are not without their problems unfortunately. Over the years they’ve had a reputation of having issues with reliability, wobbly posts, sticking slides, harsh returns slamming up, and problems with the remote activation. There have also been a bunch of new companies that have suddenly jumped in with their own new dropper post designs that have no proven track records.
But what if you have an inexpensive $500 – $700 bike? Spending close to $350 on a good reliable dropper post might not be your cup of tea. So what are the alternatives then?
The company that first introduced dropper posts more than 7 years ago was Gravity Dropper. They still sell one of the least expensive, most reliable, easiest to service, lightest, and most popular dropper posts in the market. They come in a ton of seat post diameter sizes to fit almost any bike, and from 2” to 5” of drop. You can get a “Decender Post” model that comes without a remote cable release for close to $250. If you shop around then you can probably even find one for as low as $200. The remote cable versions are even more desirable. The “Gravity Dropper Classic” goes for $300 and the newest “Gravity Dropper Turbo LP” for $325. Gravity Droppers are often described as bomb proof! I was very lucky to have tested a Decender on a friend’s bike. I very highly recommend this one.
$250 is still a bit steep, especially if you do more XC style riding than down hills. On my bike, my alternative was to keep it as simple as possible and make it ultra-reliable at the same time. I do not race. I do not have to keep up with a bunch of friends on group rides. I do not mind stopping just before hitting downhill technical sections. I tested several high-quality quick release seat post clamps; The frugal person’s dropper post! I know, I know, I know… that this is not the solution for everyone.
I settled on a $36 Hope Quick Release Seatpost Collar, and it works perfectly fine for me. The main reason I chose the Hope Quick release was mainly because of the brass cam on it. It makes it silky smooth and very durable. Some of the other models that I tested had plastic cams that do not last very long under repeated use. It also does not need tools to be re-adjusted. Even if I decide to later on get a Decender Post, having a quick release clamp is still a convenient thing to have for easy quick removal when it is time for a maintenance service, or to swap it to my other bike.
Those are my thoughts and recommendations for dropper posts. Stay tuned for the next write-up in this series of “The Frugal Mountain Biker”.