Vital MTB Face Off: The Best Dropper Seatposts

The dropper post has gone from a curious novelty to being spec'd on any trail or enduro bike worth its salt in just a few short years, and that has inevitably lead to an explosion in the number of options available to choose from. With many of the early posts suffering durability issues of some kind, the internet is awash with horror stories and firmly held opinions regarding which up-and-down-at-the-press-of-a-button seat holder is the one to go for, and you’d be forgiven if seeing the forest for the trees seems a little daunting at times. Especially if you’re new to the sport, or about to get your first dropper. But fear not! Vital is on the job, and we’ve put nine of the best 150mm travel options out there through the Face Off wringer to let you know what’s what.

After twelve months and a whopping 1,200 hundred hours of testing, we also provide the answer to the question you all want answered – which one is number one?

1st Place: BikeYoke Revive ($400)

BikeYoke started life making aftermarket yokes for those wanting to run different rear shocks on their Specialized bikes. With a creative approach to looking for novel solutions, it was only a matter of time before the company decided it could make a better dropper post too. The cable-actuated Revive offers 10mm extra travel without increasing the overall length of the post, excellent ergonomics and low weight. All this without asking for more money than most competitors. But what really sets this post apart is the fact that you can bleed the internal hydraulics without opening the post – in fact, you don’t even have to take it off the bike. At a time when 100% reliability is proving hard to achieve, BikeYoke’s approach is much more realistic in how they choose to be clever.

Shop the Revive at Jenson USA.

2nd Place: FOX Transfer ($409)

The race for second place was so tight that it had to be decided by photo finish. When all was said and done, the awesome ergonomics and great reliability record of the relatively new FOX Transfer post helped it lunge for the line, breaking the beams just a whisker ahead of its nearest rival. Not a bad thing that it looks pretty awesome too…

Shop the Transfer at Jenson USA and Competitive Cyclist.

3rd, 4th, and 5th Place: RockShox Reverb ($399), E*thirteen TRS+ ($279), KS LEV Ci ($545)

The remaining podium spots were claimed by three very different posts. The RockShox Reverb is a near-ubiquitous post that has been widely distributed thanks to very strong OEM sales. Recently redesigned to improve reliability and cold-weather performance, the Reverb now also comes with a brand-new, shifter style remote which is among the absolute best we have ever tested. E*thirteen’s first entry into the dropper post market sees them go for a fully mechanical solution in search of reliability and serviceability – the TRS+ is also among the cheapest posts on test which proves that you don’t have to spend a fortune to get your seat out of the way in time for the next descent. To round out the top-five, KS took its well-regarded LEV Integra post and went carbon with it. 200 grams off, and $200 added to the price tag – if it’s weight savings and good performance you’re after, you can’t go any lighter than this at present.

Shop the Reverb at Jenson USA and Competitive Cyclist, and the LEV Ci at Worldwide Cyclery and Jenson USA.

How We Tested

We have prior long-term experience with most of the posts tested here, while others were new to us. In addition to our combined long-term experience with the posts, we’ve also had each post ridden under the same tester on his home trails, over a period of almost one year. Of course, conditions change during these long months of testing, but this was the optimal solution to allow us to test a large number of posts and have them face off against each under under equitable circumstances. Reliability is one of the key aspects of evaluating dropper posts, and although a couple of the more recent posts were not tested to failure, we feel that we know enough to provide a ranking that includes reliability as a parameter. Also note that we only tested internally routed posts, as this is by far the most popular category, and all posts on test offered 150mm of travel (or equivalent, in the case of the BikeYoke Revive).

Looking at a bunch of dropper posts, they all look deceptively similar – but the devil is as always in the detail. As a general rule, the more drop you can get away, the better, but this also means you might be pushing the limits of your frame design, particularly if it features an interrupted seat tube of some kind. Alternatively, you may be an XXL specimen looking for as much seat post as possible to get you to your ideal saddle height for pedaling. To help you figure out whether a particular post is suitable for you and your bike, we broke out the tape measure to document the critical dimensions. Since the actuation mechanism is part of the post, all relevant measurements were taken from the bottom of the mechanism, and not the bottom of the post itself. Note that if your frame features a pivot in the seat tube, you may need to add 10-20mm to the overall measurement to allow the cable to get out of the way – you can only bend cables so much.

Does my butt look big in this?

Click to enlarge

So what do the numbers tell us? For example, overall post length is not very interesting in itself, since many other variables may affect whether or not a particular post will fit you. “Collar to Rail” already tells more of a story – this measurement indicates the lowest possible saddle height (measured at the bottom of the rails) you will get with the post fully extended, when it’s fully inserted in the seat tube. Then use the “Collar to Base” number to figure out if indeed you have enough room inside your seat tube for full insertion (as mentioned above, add 10-20mm to this number if your seat tube is interrupted in such a way as to interfere with cable routing). The “Minimum Insert” number tells you how far you MUST insert the post into the seat tube, but that number in itself is less interesting than “Max Extension” – the latter telling the taller riders exactly how far above the seat tube collar a given post will extend, while respecting the Minimum Insert.

When it came time to score and rank the droppers, we looked at a few key aspects and measurements. Starting with the easy ones, weight and price are purely a matter of ranking the facts and attributing a relative score to each one. What we called the “Dimensions” score refers to how many travel options are provided and how many seat tube diameters are supported. If a post only offers 150mm of travel it will score less than a post that also offers 100mm and 125mm. House brands Giant and Bontrager only come in the seat tube diameter used by the each brand’s bikes, which also led to a deduction here.

For the more subjective measurements, we scored the posts both on a general “In Use” category, as well as the remote lever specifically. The In Use score takes into account smoothness, ease of use, the general “feel” as well as certain aspects of durability and longevity (i.e. if the post felt rough after some time, this would affect the In Use score). The levers were judged both on the number of options provided (i.e. do both shifter-style and thumb levers exist, how many different cockpit configurations can be support out of the box etc), as well as how good the remote is in use.

By The Numbers

Here you have it, two tables with nearly all the answers! First up, a few comments on the specs and measurements:

  • If you're looking for the tallest post on test, Bontrager's Drop Line and Giant's Contact SL Switch offer a whopping 360mm of Max Extension, followed closely by the Race Face Turbine.
  • If on the contrary, you need a 150mm travel post that positions to the saddle rails as close to the seat tube collar as possible, the Revive, LEV Ci, Drop Line, and Contact SL Switch all offer about the same, low Collar to Rail number (but the Revive manages to squeeze out 160mm of travel while doing so).
  • If your seat tube is short, the post with the shortest Collar to Base is the LEV Ci (this is useful to know if you already know you'll have to run your post slammed to the seat tube collar to get away with the full 150mm of travel).
Seatpost
Full Length
(mm)
Collar to
Rail (mm)
Minimum
Insert (mm)
Collar to
Base (mm)
Max
Extension (mm)
Weight (grams,
with hardware)
BikeYoke Revive 463 198 130 264 332 620
FOX Transfer 480 207 128 270 352 675
RockShox Reverb 480 215 126 270 353 643
E*thirteen TRS+ 502 220 219 280 290 721
KS LEV Ci 440 198 128 240 310 481
Race Face Turbine 460 212 100 245 358 663
Bontrager Drop Line 468 195 106 270 360 688
Thomson Covert 487 215 135 265 352 698
Giant Contact SL Switch 468 197 116 270 360 665

And now for the actual results, with a few explanations of how the scores were attributed and tallied:

  • Weights: In Use (35%), Dimensions (15%), Weight (20%), Remote (15%), Price (15%).
  • In case of a tie, the highest number of category wins placed higher.
  • The Dimensions score also includes consideration of how many seat tube diameters are supported (not shown in table)
Seatpost
TOTAL
SCORE
In Use
Score
Min Travel
(mm)
Max Travel
(mm)
Infinite
Travel?
Dimensions
Score
Weight (grams
,
with hardware)
Weight
Score
Remote
Score
Price
($USD)
Price
Score
BikeYoke Revive 9.20 10 125 160 Y 8 620 9 10 400 8
FOX Transfer 8.65 9 100 150 Y 9 675 8 9 409 8
RockShox Reverb 8.60 8 100 170 Y 10 643 8 10 399 8
E*thirteen TRS+ 8.45 9 150 150 N 8 721 7 9 279 9
KS LEV Ci 8.40 8 65 175 Y 10 481 10 8 545 6
Race Face Turbine 8.30 8 100 150 Y 9 663 8 10 470 7
Bontrager Drop Line 8.15 9 100 150 Y 6 688 7 9 299 9
Thomson Covert 8.15 9 100 150 Y 9 698 7 8 480 7
Giant Contact SL Switch 7.85 8 100 150 Y 6 665 8 8 300 9


Shifter Style Remote Lever - A Definite Plus

If there is one thing we don’t miss here at Vital, it’s the front derailleur. Not only because a 2x drivetrain weighs more and doesn’t work as well as its 1x counterpart, but also because the left shifter occupies a piece of handlebar real estate that can be put to so much better use – providing a home to your “shifter-style” dropper post lever. Simply put, this type of lever is always superior: it provides more control, is easier to operate, and requires the least amount of movement of your thumb – which crucially leaves it to do its other, more important job which is holding onto your grips for dear life as you shred the gnar. If you can, go shifter style.

Weight

Most vendors claim “a lighter post” but very few actually specify what exactly they are referring to with that statement. Most of them also fail to inform you as to the real weight of their product, probably preferring to publish the weight of a 100mm sample in the smallest seat tube diameter without cables or the lever. Since that is actually a useless piece of information, especially if you want to compare different posts before making a purchase decision, we tested the 150mm version of each post and we weighed them all with the supplied hardware and lever. Yeah, these things still weigh a fair bit, unless of course you opt for the only carbon post on test…be that as it may, all of these posts are worth their weight penalty three times over.

Type of Travel

Is infinite travel better? Only one of the posts tested here features preset drop positions as opposed to being infinitely adjustable within the travel, and going by that statistic one might assume that the majority is right for a reason. It’s not that simple however, as we generally find ourselves using our posts at either end of the travel spectrum, only using a middle position infrequently when tackling technical climbs (which, frankly, is no way to get up a hill if your purpose in life is earning your turns). And with just a bit of time, you quickly get used to finding that preset “cruiser” position when you need it, whether on an infinitely adjustable post or not.

Electronic – Yay or Nay?

It’s very early days yet, but there is one wireless, electronically activated post already on the market, and more on the way. So far however, the execution of this promising concept has left us wanting, which is why we have not included any electronic droppers in this test. We’ll be the first to celebrate having one less internally routed cable to worry about, so rest assured, we’re mostly definitely watching this space!


Our Picks

The best 5 dropper posts in the world, starting with our winner:

1st Place: BikeYoke Revive - Best in Test

BikeYoke is a small and relatively unknown company, which literally made a name for itself making replacement yokes for Specialized owners wanting to run non-OEM shocks on their bikes. More recently, they’ve introduced a replacement rocker arm to remove the ShapeShifter feature on Canyon’s Strive. They also make the DeHy remote for the RockShox Reverb dropper, which replaces the hydraulic remote with a cable-actuated one, and their Triggy universal dropper lever was already an often praised upgrade for other brands' cable-operated posts. It was only a matter of time before they would turn their attention to the actual dropper itself, and they did so with an open mind and an eye for innovation and creativity.

BikeYoke Revive Highlights

  • Mechanically activated
  • Hydraulic, non-IFP internals
  • Air spring
  • “Revive” external bleeding feature
  • Shifter-style or thumb lever remote options available
  • Infinite height adjust
  • 125mm and 160mm travel options
  • 30.9mm and 31.6mm seat tube diameter
  • Weight: 620 grams (31.6/160, including cable and remote, verified)
  • MSRP: EUR 369 (~$400 USD)

Initial Impressions

The Revive is quietly understated while exuding an unmistakable air of quality. A couple of tubes and some bolts is not necessarily the most exciting product in the world, but at BikeYoke they sweat the details and it shows. Little things like the cable cutting guide printed on the base of the post make life easier and point to a company where somebody thought long and hard about how to make the user experience the best possible.

The Revive also scores points with its dimensions. By making the post collar approx. 10mm shorter, BikeYoke is able to offer a 160mm travel post that is not any longer externally than its 150mm competitors. In other words, if you can currently fit a 150mm dropper, you can fit the 160mm Revive. BikeYoke also managed to keep the overall weight of the Revive slightly below most competitors, bar the carbon LEV Ci. The shifter style “Triggy” lever is equally well put together, with a compact profile and smooth action.

The Revive owes its name to the unique feature that lets a user bleed the internal oil circuit free of air by simply activating a release valve. Operating the valve requires a ¼ turn of a 4mm allen key and takes all of five seconds – which sounds a whole lot better than sending your post in for service every time it starts going saggy on you…

On The Trail

Installing the Revive is simple and straightforward, as always the caveat being how hard your frame maker tried to make your life miserable with their implementation of internal cable routing. Once you have routed the housing and cut it to length, the rest of the process is painless. The Revive is not very sensitive to cable tension, and the barrel adjuster on the lever offers more than enough range to easily take up any slack in the cable. Being Matchmaker compatible, we also enjoyed how clean the relatively small remote looked on our handlebar. The seat post head is a classic two-bolt design, with smooth hardware that is a pleasure to work with, and which remained creak-free for the duration of the test.

The action of the Revive is as smooth and controlled as they come. The lever does not require a lot of pressure, and the post itself is easy to compress. It comes back up with good speed and an audible “thwack” when it tops out, letting you know your seat is back up and ready for action. It is equally easy to stop the post at any point in its travel. It is completely free of any sagginess, and side to side play out of the box was minimal. We did find ourselves having to use the Revive feature after a crash which left the bike upside down for a while (the same could happen if you store your bike in an abnormal position with the dropper in the low position). After each Revival, the post is as good as new.

Durability

With the Revive being such a recent offering, we don't have a ton of trail time with it behind us, but we still feel we know enough to properly evaluate the longevity of the Revive. We did notice a slight increase in side-to-side play by the end of the test, but it was still well within the norm and certainly not worse than most competitors. The lack of an Internal Floating Piston and the corresponding reduction in the number of seals bodes well for longevity in general. Thanks to the unique Revive feature, it should never have to be necessary to service this post just because it starts to sag (a common ailment with many other offerings), which will contribute to keeping you out of the workshop and on the trails instead. When the time finally comes for an overhaul, BikeYoke sells a number of spare parts and service kits directly on its website, and the Revive was designed to make working on it easy. You can for example replace the internal key guides and bushings without even having to open up the hydraulics. BikeYoke also has a growing worldwide network of distributors and dealers, so chances are you will be able to find support in your country as well – if not now, then soon.

Summary

Instead of trying to engineer a product that never fails (impossible), BikeYoke took a unique approach to solving the most common dropper post reliability problem, by creating an external bleed feature for the internal hydraulics. This means that instead of worrying about how to fix your saggy post, you are now free to enjoy the excellent ergonomics, low weight, and overall sober appearance of the Revive. It all adds up to one awesome product, and the clear winner of this test.

Shop the Revive at Jenson USA.


2nd Place: FOX Transfer Factory

FOX’s first dropper post, the DOSS, was never a big hit despite its well-deserved reputation for being nearly indestructible. We had one running for a few years straight without absolutely zero maintenance, and it never failed to the day it was replaced (when it found a new home and carried right on working just fine, thank you very much). The chief culprit behind the lack of commercial success were the very large and unwieldy lever and the decidedly crude ergonomics. When designing the Transfer, FOX attempted to recreate that same reliability in a slicker, sleeker and altogether more modern product. And they delivered.

FOX Transfer Factory Highlights

  • Mechanically activated
  • Hydraulic internals
  • Air spring, factory preset pressure
  • “Spool Valve” modulation
  • Shifter-style or thumb lever remote options available
  • Infinite height adjust
  • 100, 125, and 150mm travel options
  • 30.9mm and 31.6mm seat tube diameter
  • Weight: 675 grams (31.6/150, including cable and remote, verified)
  • MSRP: $409 USD (including lever)

Initial Impressions

There’s no denying that the Transfer is a good looking post, and the Kashima coating certainly helps it stand out in a sea of black (opt for the Performance series if stealth is the name of your game). The Transfer is a cable-actuated post with hydraulic internals, featuring FOX’s “Spool Valve” which is meant to help provide more control and better modulation throughout the post’s travel. All the hydraulics are housed in the upper portion of the post instead of in a cartridge, which FOX claims allowed them to increase the diameter of the hydraulic circuit and run lower internal pressures. The air pressure is set from the factory.

The Transfer comes with one of two optional levers, a small, thumb-operated number or a shifter-style version that mounts under the handlebar where your front derailleur shifter used to live before being summarily sacrificed on the altar of the 1x transmission. The nipple end of the cable goes on the post side, with a small grub screw clamping it down on the lever side. A neat little slot in the levers gives the cable end somewhere to live after you lop its head off, but other than that, the levers are unassuming and frankly a bit underwhelming compared to the post itself.

On The Trail

Installing the Transfer is devoid of drama. A nice touch is the use of a slightly over-sized cable end bushing on the post side, which means it gets clamped by the actuator mechanism and can’t really fall out while you’re installing the post in the frame. The hardware is of good quality, especially when it comes to the post head – smooth and solid to wrench on. The lever bolts could be one size bigger, were we to nitpick.

On the trail, the overwhelming first impression of the Transfer is how smooth it is to operate. The action of the lever is not the lightest of them all, but the modulation is up there with the very best. With just a gentle squeeze, the post starts to creep upwards, press the lever all the way and it shoots right up. The action is hydraulically controlled and you can really feel the know-how of a suspension expert behind the design. We only wish it came with a MatchMaker compatible lever, as the current design lacks adjustability and can end up in a slightly awkward place depending on where you position your brake levers. The second standout aspect is how solid the post feels. Everything about its movements is deliberate, there’s a loud mechanical clunk both at the top and the bottom of the stroke, which may seems off-putting initially, but is actually a blessing on the trail. If there is one thing we dislike, it’s wondering if our post is fully up or down. No such doubts with the Transfer. Lift the bike by the seat? Check. Press the lever to drop your seat while seated? Check. Silent and creak-free? Check!

Durability

The Transfer presents a tiny bit of side-to-wide play out of the box, but absolutely no sponginess was detected during this test (across three different testers and three different samples). We even mounted one of the posts back up about 4 months after the first test to see if we could detect a weakness after leaving it in the cupboard for so long, but we’ve come up empty-handed so far. The post-head is confidence inspiring under your wrenches, and it has remained quiet for the duration of this test. There is a bit of corrosion of some sort present on the actuator mechanism, but nothing that looks like it would ever impede operation.

Summary

FOX took their time to make sure they got it right this time – and that’s just what happened. The Transfer is a pleasure to use, its positive and solid action quickly becoming second nature on the trail. Easy to modulate, the Transfer never leaves you guessing as to what it’s doing or where you might be in the travel. Add in a great reliability track record so far, decidedly bling looks, and you’re looking at one serious contender.

Shop the Transfer at Jenson USA and Competitive Cyclist.


3rd Place: RockShox Reverb B1

The Reverb is the most widely distributed dropper post on the market, thanks to a dominant position in OEM sales. The Reverb has been around since the early days, and it’s been through one major internal redesign in that time (in 2016, after which the post was known as the Reverb B1). This is the only hydraulically activated post on the market, featuring a love-or-hate plunger-button remote that is connected via a brake hose to the base of the post itself. The post internals are also hydraulic, but the two circuits are fully separated from each other. Released at the very tail end of this test, the Reverb can now also be ordered with an all-new, shifter-style hydraulic remote that replaces the original push-button item. One of the very best shifter-style levers in this test, the new remote is an awesome upgrade and it allowed the Reverb to claim its rightful place near the top of the table of this shootout.

RockShox Reverb B1 Highlights

  • Hydraulically activated
  • Hydraulic internals
  • Air spring
  • Shifter-style or push-button lever remote options available
  • Infinite height adjust
  • 100, 125, 150, and 170mm travel options
  • 30.9/31.6/34.9mm seat tube diameter
  • Weight: 643 grams (31.6/150, including cable and remote, verified)
  • MSRP: $399 USD (including lever)

Initial Impressions

The Reverb is a familiar sight, and the recently revised B1 version looks essentially the same on the outside. Inside, however, it’s another story. The Reverb has a bit of a spotty track record when it comes to reliability, with the original generation requiring fairly frequent servicing to keep the saggy seatpost syndrome at bay. The new B1 version aims to lay these concerns to rest with improved design, materials, and manufacturing tolerances - and it succeeded, at least partially (more on this below). It is now also one of only a few posts to offer a 170mm travel version, and a 34.9mm seat tube diameter option in addition to the more common 30.9/31.6mm.

The big news of 2017 is not the redesigned post however, but rather the arrival of a shifter-style remote. People who found the original push-button remote hard to live with had only a couple of limited options for running something else, for example the DeHy remote from BikeYoke. With the new 1x remote from RockShox, these concerns are laid to rest. The new lever is modeled exactly after a shifter paddle, which makes it extremely easy to get used to, while retaining the advantages of hydraulic activation – smooth, predictable lever travel and great modulation.

On The Trail

Installing the Reverb may seem a little bit more involved than a cable operated post, but in reality, it’s quite straightforward, provided you have the bleed kit of course (we’ve seen them supplied with new bikes as part of the OEM spec sometimes, depending on the manufacturer – otherwise they’re readily available online or from your nearest SRAM dealer). On the plus side, a hydraulic cable is a lot less sensitive to how it’s routed, something to keep in mind if your frame has an interrupted seat post and you’re trying to maximize the amount of post travel you can get away with. On the topic of bleeding, the new “Bleeding Edge” port makes this operation even easier than before.

On the trail, the Reverb is a pure pleasure to use. The dropping action is smooth and controlled, and the new B1 version offers a much faster return speed compared to the old version. The old version could be problematic to operate in cold conditions, when the return speed would slow down even more – that issue has now been largely addressed. The return speed is adjustable, without tools if you are running the small, push-button remote, or with an allen key in case of the shifter-style version. On the topic of the lever, the new 1x specific option is simply put the most ergonomic and user-friendly lever of the test. Incredibly smooth and easy to control, it sits in the perfect spot allowing for safe operation even in the heat of battle. It’s MatchMaker compatible of course, so if you run SRAM or other compatible brakes you can get rid of a pair of clamps on your handlebar too.

Durability

The Reverb’s design leaves it sensitive to air ingestion in the hydraulic chambers, leading to the well-known sagging issue that plagued the first generation in particular. This problem may not have been completely addressed with the redesign, but it is certainly way less frequent and less dramatic now. We had some issues when the B1 was first released, but RockShox has since made changes to quality control at the manufacturing facility, which should mean this issue is finally behind us. At this point, if you accept that a dropper post is a complex moving system that requires a basic amount of TLC each year, the Reverb is not a worse offender than many others out there. Additionally, SRAM’s warranty service is as good as it gets, and their vast worldwide network of service partners means you’re never too far from help, should the need arise.

Summary

The 2016 redesign of the Reverb has left it far more reliable and consistent than the original version, while retaining all the features that made it awesome in the first place. Smooth and well-controlled, it’s available in a plethora of sizes to suit any rider and bike. The love-or-hate original remote is still one of the most versatile solutions out there when it comes to finding a place for your dropper lever on a crowded handlebar, but the addition of the new 1x specific, shifter-style lever takes the Reverb’s game to a new level.

Shop the Reverb at Jenson USA and Competitive Cyclist.


4th Place: E*thirteen TRS+ Dropper - Top Budget Pick

E*thirteen has been impressing us recently with their ever growing line of well-engineered components. Everything from wide range cassettes to cranks and wheels are available from the US manufacturer these days, so it was only logical that they turn their attention to the dropper post as well. Being relatively late to this market, they set three goals for themselves with the TRS+ dropper: reliability, serviceability, and affordability. Traditionally, these three have been somewhat lacking, especially in one single package, but E*thirteen seems to have hit them all.

E*thirteen TRS+ Dropper Highlights

  • Mechanically activated
  • Mechanical internals, coil spring
  • Only shifter-style remote option available
  • 4 set positions
  • 125 and 150mm travel options
  • 30.9/31.6mm seat tube diameter
  • Weight: 721 grams (31.6/150, including cable and remote, verified)
  • MSRP: $279 USD (including lever)

Initial Impressions

Keith Bontrager once famously said “Cheap. Light. Strong. Pick any two.”. This expression pretty much holds true to this day, and the TRS+ is another great example. The cheapest post on test here, it was built specifically to be strong. However, it is also the heaviest post we tested, even if it’s only by 50 grams or so on average. Aside from its heft, the TRS+ impressed us with solid workmanship and an overall impression of quality out of the box. Sure, it’s “only” a mechanical post, but nothing about it feels cheap to the touch. The post was specifically built to be easy to service, and can be stripped right down to the individual component level with standard workshop tools. Inside it, you’ll find a coil spring and a mechanical locking cam that engages the post in one of four preset positions.

The TRS+ is only available with a shifter-style, 1x specific lever. Built to mimic a shifter paddle, it's weather sealed and the lever rotates on a bearing to keep things smooth. For ease of installation the cable clamp is on the lever side, leaving the nipple end at the base of the post. The paddle comes with factory installed grip tape to combat any slipperiness in action. It’s also worth noting that the TRS+ has the longest overall length of all the posts tested here, but that does not mean it is the best choice for taller riders: the minimum insertion depth is quite a lot longer than the other posts on test here, so you won’t be able to actually use all that length to get your seat up.

On The Trail

Installation of the TRS+ is straightforward, although you do need to apply quite a lot of torque to the cable locking plate in the lever. The locking plate design was chosen in an effort to avoid mangling the cable with a grub screw, but our experience shows you end up doing that anyway, and potentially for less secure grip, so this aspect could be upgraded in the future. Other than that, the remote is easy to find a perfect position for, and out of the box MatchMaker compatibility is a boon for those running SRAM (or compatible) brakes. You can even adjust the rotational angle of the paddle just like on higher-end shifters.

Once on the trail, the TRS+ remote continues to impress, with impeccable ergonomics and a very light touch required to operate the post. The post itself has a distinctly mechanical feel to it, but not in a sloppy or rough way. It’s different to a hydraulic post, but ultimately, it does the same job and it does it well. The first (of three) dropped positions can be a little hard to find in action, you need to be ready to release the lever fairly quickly or you blow right by it in a hurry. Additionally, when dropping the post all the way down, it travels a bit beyond the lowest locking point, which means it clicks up into place only once you unweight it again. Small niggles that have no real bearing on the post’s usability.

Durability

E*thirteen built the post specifically to be reliable, and our experience so far points to good results. The one niggle we’ve uncovered is a tendency for the post head to work itself loose from the mast every now and again. A little Loctite and a 10mm allen key essentially make this issue go away. We also noted that the post would sometimes fail to return all the way to the top in really muddy conditions. Cleaning the mast and applying a bit of fork oil to it would help with this in most cases. E*thirteen are on top of the issue however (which only affected the first batch of posts), and the current production version now features a longer spring for a permanent cure to this ailment. They are also now using a different main post seal to keep the crud at bay. We replaced our spring after a while, which was easy and straightforward to do. After the upgrade, the return speed is still on the moderate side, but the post extends with a bit more authority. For the rest, we have not noticed much development of side-to-side play. The ability to have the post serviced by any shop or even at home is a big plus when it comes to the total ownership experience as well.

Summary

As late entrants to the dropper post market, E*thirteen had the luxury of knowing what needed to be improved on when they designed their first ever dropper post. They took a long hard look at the major issues and complaints out there, and came up with a different product that certainly seems like a step in the right direction. It may be a bit on the portly side, but it more than makes up for it with excellent manners and a super competitive price tag.


5th Place: KS LEV Ci - the Weight Weenie’s Wet Dream

KS is another one of the dropper OGs, their LEV and LEV Integra posts earning a good reputation since the early days thanks to their smooth dropping action and good lever ergonomics (especially with a “South Paw” shifter-style remote). To tackle one of the chief complaints about dropper posts, the fact that they weigh a fair bit more than a traditional seat post, KS turned to carbon when putting together the new LEV Ci. Combined with a carbon remote and the company’s super-light “Recourse” shifter cable, KS were able to shave nearly 200 grams off the post compared to many of its competitors. Of course, this accomplishment comes with a premium price tag, but if you want to drop a serious amount of weight this is currently your best bet by far.

KS LEV Ci Highlights

  • High compression molded carbon fiber head micro adjustable with titanium bolts
  • Adjustable air sprung hydraulic cartridge
  • Patented one-way roller-clutch bearing
  • One-piece molded unidirectional carbon fiber mast
  • Stealth cable routing
  • Includes “Recourse” ultra-light cable system
  • Carbon remote (lock-on grip compatible)
  • Travel: 65mm, 100mm, 125mm, 150mm, 175mm
  • Weight: 481 grams, including cable and remote (150mm/31.6mm, verified)
  • MSRP: $515 USD to $605 USD (depending on travel - $545 as tested, 150mm)

Initial Impressions

Compared to any of the other posts on test here, the LEV Ci is a flyweight. It’s still some ways off a traditional, fixed seat post of course, but it’s light to the point that you really don’t feel like you’re adding a lot of weight to your build. Additionally, the post is very well finished off with a quality feel to it, which is nice when you’ve parted with $550 or so of your hard-earned dollars to purchase it. Progress comes at a price, it seems.

After having shaved about 100 to 150 grams off the post itself, KS turned to the remote and the cable for even more weight savings. Thanks to the minimalist carbon remote and the ultralight “Recourse” cable system, KS managed to drop another 50 to 100 grams off the remote/cable assembly. If you’re looking to go light, the LEV Ci stands heads and shoulders above the rest, at present. As for the construction of the post itself, it uses well-regarded technologies from the original LEV post, such as the one-way roller clutch bearing that helps minimize play in the post. It offers adjustable air pressure to allow you to change the return speed of the post, and Ti bolts with a carbon base plate in the seat post head.

On The Trail

Installation of the LEV Ci is on par with other cable activated posts in this test, although it is perhaps a bit more sensitive to cable tension. The “Recourse” cable is also a bit more delicate to deal with, it is for example quite easy to crush it with the clamping bolt in the lug if you are not careful. The head is excellent, it is easy to wrench on and it holds the saddle tight without too much bolt torque.

On the trail, we were not completely won over by the “Recourse” cable system, as we found it introduced a certain amount of “vagueness” to the lever feel. Not to the point of calling it spongy, but the vagueness is there. On the topic of the small thumb lever, it is not the best design out there either – because of how small it is and how much it rotates when you depress it, the thumb feels like it might slide off the lever at the end of its travel sometimes. We much prefer a standard cable mated to KS’s excellent “South Paw” shifter-style lever, which of course negates some of the weight savings, but finds a happy middle ground in our opinion. The post itself is smooth in action and easy to work with. We did find the lack of a top-out sound to be slightly unsettling at times – did the seat make it all the way up before sitting on it again? We also noticed that the LEV Ci does not like it when you sit on it while pushing the lever to drop it, it feels like the valve is a bit stuck this way. You’re better off standing up before activating the post, and then sitting back down to compress it. A bit of an annoying niggle when compared to some of the other posts.

Durability

The KS LEV has a fairly good track record when it comes to reliability, although some samples have been known to suffer the “stuck-down syndrome”, needing a shop service to get back to its normal mode of operation. Other than that, we’ve gotten many troublefree miles out of a few previous versions of the LEV, and judging by our (somewhat limited) experience with LEV Ci so far, it seems set to follow that trend. We did note a tiny bit of vertical play at the end of the test, only visible when pushing the lever at the end of a long, seated climb or fire road spin, indicating that the post had sagged by 1mm or so. Not an issue in use and definitely par for the course for hydraulic droppers. The carbon finish also took a bit of a beating to the portion that is inserted into the seat tube, but this is superficial cosmetic damage only.

Summary

The KS LEV is a proven performer, and the LEV Ci takes the same design and drops a significant amount of weight thanks to the wonders of carbon. The result is a dropper post that is the lightest in the world by a huge margin, while also taking the crown as the most expensive. Is it worth the cold hard cash? A dollar per gram is pretty standard fare in the old weight drop game, so if you’re a player it probably is. Whatever your reason, you will get an excellent dropper for your money.

Shop the LEV Ci at Worldwide Cyclery and Jenson USA.


The Contenders

We chose the dropper posts for this test fairly carefully. We went with fairly high-end products, but we still ended up with a reasonably large spread in price points. We stopped short of considering the super cheap, sub $150 dollar “generic” offerings out there, but even so, there are also quite a few well-respected droppers that didn’t make the short list for this test. With at least ten more serious options out there in addition to the nine we ended up testing, we had to draw the line somewhere or we would not have been able to pull off this test. So although the contenders listed below failed to make the top-five in this Face Off, they still beat out a whole other set of posts by being chosen to be part of the test in the first place.

Race Face Turbine

Race Face took their time joining the dropper post party, but from the functionality point of view it was well worth the wait. The Turbine addresses a few common complaints with existing dropper posts (cold weather operation is one), and the light and intuitive remote is a pleasure to use on the trail – among the very best on test here (we only wish it was MatchMaker compatible to clean up the cockpit as well). The innovative locking mechanism is all-weather reliable, and rock solid to boot. You can even pick your bike up by the saddle like in the good old days. Reliability is not perfect however, and the post is finicky to set up (despite a recent change to the spec which sees Race Face include a handy little spacer to help with this task), which ultimately meant it fell short of challenging for a podium spot here. The high price also did not help.

Shop the Turbine at Jenson USA and Competitive Cyclist.


Bontrager Drop Line

Bontrager produced a fairly “generic” post with the Drop Line, but they pulled it off remarkably well. The remote is a pleasure to use, and the action of the post is smooth and well controlled. The return speed is a tad on the slow side, and we found the lack of a distinct top out sound to leave us guessing sometimes, but overall, the Drop Line does its job and does it well. Reliability is not absolutely top-notch however, this post has a tendency to ingest a bit of grime and can quickly end up feeling a bit rough when it does. It is one of the cheapest options out there, but note that it only comes in the 31.6mm flavor – not a surprise from Trek’s house brand since this size is used on all their bikes. Judging it as a mass market, general public offering, we knocked its score a bit on this aspect alone.


Thomson Covert

Thomson was always the gold standard in regular seat posts, so it's no wonder they took their sweet time coming up with a dropper worthy of their name. With nothing but top-quality components and a sturdy construction, Thomson went all in at the reliability table. All this goodness comes at a price though, in this case both weight and dollars. Although this ultra-smooth, sophisticated post is a pure pleasure to use, the lack of a shifter-style lever option and a hefty price tag made it impossible for the Covert the challenge for the top spot here. Consider it if you’re after an exclusive product with long service intervals.

Shop the Covert at Evans Cycles and Chain Reaction Cycles.


Giant Contact SL Switch

Giant’s own-brand dropper post shares a lot of its tech with the Bontrager post also tested here. It delivers a functional option at a good price, but it is only available in the 30.9mm size (which is what Giant uses on all their bikes today). The thumb lever feels cheap, but is actually one of the best on the trail, a just-right combination of travel, shape, and the pressure needed to activate the post. The action of the post itself is a bit on the clunky side however, and it did not seem to take too kindly to getting down and dirty on the trail, developing quite a bit of roughness as the test went on. On the positive side, this post is easily convertible between external and internal routing out of the box, a plus if you move posts between different frames for example.

Shop the Contact SL Switch at Jenson USA.

Want to browse more seatposts? Check our Product Guide!


About The Reviewer

Johan Hjord - Age: 43 // Years Riding MTB: 11 // Shoe Size: 12 US (46 Euro) // Weight: 200-pounds (90.7kg)

Johan loves bikes, which strangely doesn’t make him any better at riding them. After many years spent practicing falling off cliffs with his snowboard, he took up mountain biking in 2005. Ever since, he’s mostly been riding bikes with too much suspension travel to cover up his many flaws as a rider. His 200-pound body weight coupled with unique skill for poor line choice and clumsy landings make him an expert on durability - if parts survive Johan, they’re pretty much okay for anybody. Johan rides flat pedals with a riding style that he describes as "none" (when in actuality he rips!). Having found most trail features to be not to his liking, Johan uses much of his spare time building his own. Johan’s other accomplishments include surviving this far and helping keep the Vital Media Machine’s stoke dial firmly on 11.

45 comments
  • Varaxis

    7/22/2017 8:19 PM

    These "shoot-offs" are exactly what I love to see. Making it easy to spend my money...

    I already got the Cush Core for 29, and now sold on 'em. Zero arm pump riding blown out bike park trails for 2 days, at under 15 psi (150 lb rider, 2.3 tire), and no problems.

    Now have the BikeYoke Revive on my wishlist. Glad that Jenson carries it. Might be replacing my RF Turbine, which has an air pressure leaking issue.

  • Krischan Spranz

    5/15/2017 7:56 PM

    Great work Vital, what a great review!

    Just a shame that one of the newest dropper post concepts (using a dropper not as an afterthought, but rather as a structurally integrated member of the frame) did not find a place in this article, likely because it was not yet available when Vital commenced testing. If you do a repeat of this test in future please make sure you include the EightPins post from Austria: www.eightpins.at

  • Jmhdh

    5/12/2017 11:02 PM

    I have the revive and the transfer. The revive is my favorite, much more sensitive to pressure to control extension and great ergonomics. My transfer with the wolftooth remote isn't far behind, but long term the revive seems to make more sense. It does get saggy easy if you turn the bike upside down or similar (like putting it in the back of a wagon), but it's also dead simple/fast to fix and it doesn't sag down on rides, even hugely abusive 50 mile races with 8,300' of descending, like last week I went in early during the kickstarter phase and it seems to have paid off. Great instructions and great post. If my transfer craps out, I'll likely get another revive.

  • SprungShoulders

    5/12/2017 2:05 PM

    The Thomson is trash. I had two, on two different bikes. Both snapped cables regularly (every 5-8 rides). Over time the lever needs thumb-breaking pressure to operate. The final one I pulled before I threw it in the trash stopped returning to full extension...between snapped cable replacements, that is.

    I now have two Giant Contact Switch SL's. The oldest has survived seven punishing months of PacificNW wet, crud, and snow. It's still smooth. Best of all, it works reliably; unlike the Covert, I never have to wonder and worry if the cable is going to snap and leave with either a slammed-down or jacked-up seat.

    Personal mileage varies of course, but you couldn't give me a Thomson Covert for free. It's really that bad. Their customer service, however, was awesome. They did try to fix my situation(s). They failed...but they were responsive to my plight, at least.

  • ThomDawson

    5/10/2017 11:11 AM

    Lots of complaints about this or that post not being included...I guess thats the trouble when you do group tests...difficult to include every single option on the market.
    But I have to commend Vital for such an in-depth and comprehensive test. This is what PB seem so reluctant to do and what a lot of people have been asking for.
    Well done guys, moar pls.

  • Orastreet

    5/10/2017 8:43 AM

    Specialized Command post not included? Hardly a "niche" company...

  • Marine.downhiller

    5/10/2017 8:52 AM

    Stated they didn't include it because it does not come in a 150mm drop. Also have owned several it's really not that great of a post.

  • Headshot

    5/10/2017 3:52 AM

    The Giant is underrated methinks. $300 seems expensive - I paid far less for mine. A year of use and aside from some stanchion wear, no issues. It works like clockwork.

  • Fahzure

    5/10/2017 6:05 AM

    Exactly. A perfectly good post, 2 minute overhaul, with the lowest of prices. Vital doesn't want only 30.9 owners to benefit from such things.

  • Fallguy

    5/10/2017 2:53 PM

    I paid 75 euros for a 100mm second hand one three years ago, using it as a stop gap, well it's been transferred on to my new bike, zero problems and no servicing in that time, I'm over 110kg so durability wise it can't be beaten. I'm out every weekend biking and do local enduro races.

  • jack_steel

    5/10/2017 1:09 AM

    Good and extensive review, but one of the best posts is missing: Vecnum Moveloc. It weights 560 grams with hardware and has 200 mm of extension, simple construction, full mechanical, no bleeding, ecc. My personal 1st place. :-D

  • Sk8love

    5/9/2017 11:42 PM

    Shame no 9point8. Have mine for 1&1/2 year no play works same as first day.
    Simple mechanical solutions easy to service. All service videos are on YouTube.
    Option to adjust travel with spacer or offset adapter. What more to ask.

  • Cant Climb

    5/10/2017 7:17 AM

    Yup, absolutely awesome dropper. Reverbs weren't lasting me 6 months, and 3 months in already had play. 9point8 been awesome, amazing really.

  • valimiu

    5/9/2017 11:30 PM

    Great article...I do have a dropper and I think it's the best...and it is not any of the ones U reviewed..one word: wireless!! I love the clean look of my bars...If they will make wireless brakes...sing me up!

  • Marine.downhiller

    5/10/2017 5:12 AM

    Wireless suffers from lots of interference issues. While a dropper it may not be as noticeable on. Things like brakes I would still want a hydraulic or mechanical connection.

  • Speedster

    5/9/2017 10:10 PM

    Rock Shox 34.9mm does NOT come with the new lever, it still has the old lever. So says my Evil dealer spec'ing my new Wreckoning! Sucks!

  • Tehllama

    5/9/2017 10:04 PM

    Awesome stuff.
    I concur that the BikeYoke is brilliantly engineered; but it's hard to compete on price, support, and overall feel of the Fox Transfer with a WolfTooth lever. Love mine.

  • al.boneta

    5/9/2017 8:44 PM

    I couldn't agree more about the BikeYoke Revive. I have had personal experience with the majority of the post tested and it is head and shoulders above everything else on the market.

  • jack_steel

    5/10/2017 1:10 AM

    What happens when you turn the bike head around? Do you have to press the bleed-button afterwards?

  • iceman2058

    5/10/2017 1:55 AM

    If you inverse the bike while the post is dropped, you may well have to use the revive feature, yes. If the post was extended when you turn the bike over, it should not happen.

  • jack_steel

    5/10/2017 4:49 AM

    Ok, that's a no-go for doing bike & hike (carrying the bike on the shoulders).

  • Jmhdh

    5/12/2017 11:05 PM

    It doesn't contaminate that easily. If you carry it upside down maybe, but simply setting it on it's side is usually not enough to do it. Riding it hard over a 50 mile race last weekend (followed by a 65 mile trail ride two days after and a bunch of other riding) it was flawless. A few crashes here and there in Sedona too, again, no problems or sagginess during riding. You'd have to do something pretty dramatic to make that happen. If you set the bike upside down while fixing a flat, then yeah, it's going to sag, but then you've stopped already so it's a minor deal to reset it.

  • hamncheez2003

    5/9/2017 3:51 PM

    The links for the KS Ci (and everything I can find on google) is only for the 65mm XC racing model. Does anyone else know where it is available?

  • birdman2447

    5/9/2017 2:53 PM

    Anyone know what red grips are on one of the test bikes? I like them!

  • iceman2058

    5/9/2017 3:05 PM

  • Marine.downhiller

    5/9/2017 2:31 PM

    Use a wolftooth lever with the fox and you have a matchmaker and Ispec Lever for the same price as the fox lever. Have one on mine. Has a better feel and look in my opinion also.

  • zoso

    5/9/2017 3:05 PM

    Agreed. Wish I would have done that instead of the Fox lever.
    Also, if you buy the non-kashima version, it's $284 + $65 for the Wolf Tooth = $349. Win.

  • Tehllama

    5/9/2017 10:05 PM

    Yup, practically unbeatable if local support is a must have.
    FWIW, that's what I've been running since last December, couldn't be happier

  • Schilly

    5/9/2017 2:26 PM

    One of the best product shootout articles I have ever seen. Amazing work!! And thank you for doing all the testing for us. I will definitely be on a Revive for my next build

  • al.boneta

    5/9/2017 8:54 PM

    The part about the Revive is that you forget it's on your bike and just use it instinctively, because it just keeps working.

  • Hextall

    5/9/2017 12:51 PM

    CTRL+F... "9Point8"... only find in the comments. Oh.

  • Fahzure

    5/9/2017 12:39 PM

    "Judging it as a mass market, general public offering, we knocked its score a bit on this aspect alone." Elitism as a judging criteria.

  • iceman2058

    5/9/2017 12:43 PM

    The fact that we think a post should exist in both major seat post diameters in order to be considered suitable for as many riders as possible is elitist?

  • Fahzure

    5/9/2017 12:58 PM

    That is not at all what you said. And, who cares? Most people, who are not buyers for retailers, only care about what works for the bike they plan to use it on. Properly, you should have scored them by size.

  • Dogboy

    5/9/2017 2:04 PM

    Nope, I think that's exactly what they said. Not making 30.9 and 31.6 options should result in a lower score.

  • neil.carnegie.1

    5/10/2017 2:43 AM

    I'd more judge it on the fact that 100% of them go sticky, score the upper tube tube and grind within 10-20 rides from new. Trek do a lot of good things, but that post is a disaster. Shame, as the ergonomics are excellent when it's new.

  • iceman2058

    5/10/2017 3:08 AM

    @neil.carnegie.1, note that Trek did implement a running change to some of the internals (seals etc), and although we did point out in the article that the post has a tendency to get a bit rough, it seems better now than what your experience has been.

  • Luky_Kuky

    5/9/2017 12:23 PM

    "Electronic – Yay or Nay?" They are watchin'.. :>
    Excellent article. Thanks.