Just a few short years ago, there were not that many dropper post contenders on the market - and just a few short years before that, your seatpost clamp was your only ticket to more fun on the descents. Fast forward to today, and there are more than 20 viable options for those looking to drop their seats at the push of a button. Or lever, as the case may be. e*thirteen is one of the latest companies to join in the fun with their TRS+ dropper post, first unveiled at last year’s Eurobike and now available for sale. But rather than go down the me-too road with another airsprung, hydraulic cartridge offering, e*thirteen took a different Read More »
Just a few short years ago, there were not that many dropper post contenders on the market - and just a few short years before that, your seatpost clamp was your only ticket to more fun on the descents. Fast forward to today, and there are more than 20 viable options for those looking to drop their seats at the push of a button. Or lever, as the case may be. e*thirteen is one of the latest companies to join in the fun with their TRS+ dropper post, first unveiled at last year’s Eurobike and now available for sale. But rather than go down the me-too road with another airsprung, hydraulic cartridge offering, e*thirteen took a different approach. We’ve tested it to see how it performs.
e*thirteen TRS+ Dropper Post Highlights
- Fully mechanical design
- 4 set positions (150-125-75-0 / 125-95-65-0)
- Cable adjustment at lever
- Stealth cable routing only
- Interface style: railed
- SKF low-friction, dual-lip seal
- 1x or 2x compatible lever options
- Grip tape pre-installed on shifter-style lever
- Shop serviceable
- Weight: 575 grams (31.6, 150mm, verified)
- MSRP: $279 USD
Pulling the TRS+ dropper from its packaging reveals a well-made item with a very business-like look. The post has a sturdy appearance, but not bulky. You can have any color you want as long as it’s black, with just a white few logos and the graduated markings on the main body of the post to break up the murdered-out theme. We tested the 150-mm version, with a 1x compatible, shifter-style lever. The TRS+ exists only in the stealth version shown here, so if your frame lacks internal dropper post cable routing, you’re out of luck.
The shifter-style lever is quite big, but there is a good reason for this: it is meant to replace your long-forgotten front shifter on the handlebar, and it sits in very much the same space (it is MatchMaker compatible which is awesome for those running compatible brakes). The lever is solidly constructed with the adjustable thumblever rotating on bearings for a smooth, precise feel.
The actuator assembly on the bottom of the seatpost is fairly big, and it protrudes a bit more than on some other posts we’ve tested recently. Keep that in mind if you have limited space in your seat tube – we’ve put together a little table with the key numbers of the 150-mm drop version for your convenience below, with all relevant measurements done from the actuator assembly and not the base of the main tube itself.
|Full Length (rail to base)||Collar to Rail||Minimum Insert||Collar to Base||Max Extension (seat tube to rails)||Weight (incl remote & cable)|
As mentioned in the introduction, e*thirteen decided against using what is by now probably the most common dropper post design on the market, the airspring/hydraulic cartridge combo. Instead, they came up with a fully mechanical design, which they feel is going to provide better reliability than many competing offerings today. It has also enabled them to hit a very aggressive price point right from the start. The TRS+ post uses a mechanical spring and a system of locking pawls that engage slots set at four pre-determined positions. e*thirteen’s athletes and other testers helped them come up with what they feel is the ideal combination of positions, 150-125-75-0 or 125-95-65-0 for the shorter post. The post is made to be easy to service, and even a full tear down can be carried out by any shop using standard bike tools. The recommended basic service interval for a general clean/regrease is 200 hours.
On The Trail
Installing the TRS+ dropper is not very difficult to do. Chances are, the most complicated part of the job will be figuring out how to get your cable routed through your frame, depending on the manufacturer this can be anything from a walk in the park to a somewhat more painful experience involving sweat, tears, and choice vocabulary. Once the cable housing is in place, the cable stop end simply hooks into the actuator mechanism at the base of the post, where the cable housing is also held in place by a nut and a rubber washer. This is meant to ensure that the cable does not slip out before you can install the lever on the other end. Once the cable is hooked up to the post, you push it through the lever at the other end, apply light tension (by hand) and tighten up the locking plate. The locking plate is a nice touch (in contrast to many other posts that use a simple grub screw to crush the cable into submission), although it requires a fair bit of torque to ensure it won’t slip later. Having the “open” side of the cable at the lever also makes it easier to adjust the length of the cable housing if you want to clean up your cockpit properly (which you should!).
Once everything is installed, you can use the barrel adjuster on the lever body to fine tune the tension of the cable, just like you would with a shifter. The TRS+ is not overly sensitive to cable tension, unlike some other posts on the market it will continue to work even with a slack cable for example. For the perfect set-up, use the barrel adjuster to tighten the cable until there is little to no play in the lever and you’re ready to go.
The TRS+ uses a traditional 2-bolt design, with a little twist: the bolts and lugs pop out of the top clamping plate via an opening towards the front and rear respectively, which makes it a lot easier to install and remove the saddle. A nice touch. The rearward bolt is a little bit on the short side, which limits the maximum forward tilt angle of the saddle. It’s not a problem per se, but it is right on the limit especially if you run a saddle with taller rails.
The TRS+ is easy to use on the trail. The action of the lever is very light, and the force required to push down on the saddle is also minimal – one of if not the easiest post on the market to push down. The lever sits in a very natural position, especially if you run it with a MatchMaker compatible brake. The return speed of the post is pretty much spot-on, it gets back up in a hurry but not in a violent way. The 4 stops are well defined, and the post makes a distinct clicking sound when it locks into place.
The design of the locking mechanism means it locks in both direction, so you can lift the bike by the saddle in any of the four locked positions.
The mechanical character of the post makes for a different experience than a “regular”, hydraulic post. There is a bit more clicking and clacking, and you can feel/hear the locking pawls working if you just press the lever half way and then move the post. Also, when the post bottoms out, it does so at a point beyond the lower locking position, which means it then clicks into place only once you take your weight off the saddle. None of this gets in the way of the post’s performance, it is just the result of the design and something to be aware of. It is very easy to get used to the post, and it has performed flawlessly for the duration of this test.
The design of the locking mechanism means it locks in both direction, so you can lift the bike by the saddle in any of the four locked positions. There is a tiny bit of side to side wiggle in the post, and a very small amount of vertical play in all four locking positions as well. Neither are noticeable when you’re actually sitting on the post (and are certainly still par for the dropper post course), but we’ll keep an eye on this aspect over time to see if and how it evolves.
On the topic of the intermediate stops, e*thirteen told us they were chosen carefully, based on feedback from their athletes and testers. In use, we found the first stop (at just 25mm drop for the 150mm version) to be hard to lock in consistently. It comes so soon after you start pushing the post down that it’s easy to go straight by it before releasing the lever, especially if you’re standing on tired legs. Apart from that, the TRS+ is very intuitive and user friendly in action, and we didn’t find ourselves missing the ability to stop anywhere within the travel as you would with an infinitely adjustable post (although we admit to not being heavy users of the intermediate position in any case).
Things That Could Be Improved
Overall, we have been impressed with the TRS+. We appreciate the light action of the lever, but we think it could offer a slightly more defined travel range. As it is, it feels a bit vague towards the end of its travel, making it hard to know if you’ve pushed it all the way. This ties into our only other issue, which is the top-out sound – or slight lack thereof. Standing beside your bike, you definitely hear the post topping out, but at speed on the trail, it can sometimes be a bit harder to pick out. And with the aforementioned slight vagueness of the lever, it means you sometimes wonder if it made it up there (which is it always does, BTW).
Long Term Durability
The whole point behind the mechanical design chosen by e*thirteen is durability and ease of service. Since there is no airspring and no hydraulics, there are no critical seals that can fail and cause the post to suddenly stop working. The locking pawls and keys were designed to be easy to replace in case they wear out, which e*thirteen claims will take a “heavy rider and many hours of climbing” to achieve. A basic clean and grease service is not a complicated job, and even a full rebuild can be done by any shop (or reasonably skilled home mechanic) with standard issue bike tools. This all bodes well for longevity, and although our ride time so far has been limited, we feel the TRS+ has the potential to provide a satisfying long-term user experience – which would certainly set it apart in today’s dropper world, plagued as it is by various mysterious ailments and afflictions. We did have the post's head work itself loose at one point (which manifested itself gradually in the form of extra side to side wiggle). The remedy involved simply tightening the main bolt that holds the head onto the post mast with a 10mm allen key. We’ll be keeping a close eye on the TRS+ for the next few months to make sure it lives up to its longevity billing, and we’ll come back to this review if something needs to be amended.
What’s The Bottom Line?
Reliable, easy to service, and affordable, that’s how e*thirteen describe their all-new TRS+ dropper post. With a 100% mechanical design and a list price of just $279 USD at launch, it certainly seems like they have put their money where their mouth is. We do not take any dropper post reliability claims lightly, but although we still have some miles to put in before delivering a final verdict, what we have seen so far of the TRS+ does not point to any problems. On the contrary, e*thirteen have delivered a very user friendly dropper post which is refreshingly different and very effective on the trail.
More information at: www.bythehive.com.
About The Reviewer
Johan Hjord 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.
Photos by Johan Hjord