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 twelve of the best 150mm travel options out there through the Face Off wringer to let you know what’s what.

This article originally featured nine posts, but has been updated as of November 7, 2017 to include three additional contenders: The Fall Line from 9point8, the Bachelor from PNW, and the Manic from X-Fusion. The Fall Line stormed right onto the podium in third place, while both the Bachelor and the Manic put in very respectable performances as well.

Down to business then - after more than 18 months and a whopping 1,500 hundred hours of testing, here is the answer to the question on everybody's mind: which dropper 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 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: 9point8 Fall Line ($447), RockShox Reverb ($399), E*thirteen TRS+ ($279)

The remaining podium spots were claimed by three very different posts. The 9point8 Fall Line is made by a company that only exists because the people behind it wanted to make a better dropper. With a unique locking mechanism design and near-unlimited travel options, the Fall Line was added to this test in round two to see if it could upset the packing order - and it did! 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.

Shop the Reverb at Jenson USA and Competitive Cyclist, the Fall Line at 9point8, and the TRS+ at Competitive Cyclist.

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 not all the posts were 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, X-Fusion 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
9point8 Fall Line 455 210 127 247 330 623
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
PNW Bachelor 456 208 122 248 332 652
Race Face Turbine 460 212 100 245 358 663
X-Fusion Manic 490 198 148 290 342 733
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 9.35 10 125 185 Y 9 620 9 10 400 8
FOX Transfer 9.00 10 100 150 Y 9 675 8 9 409 8
9point8 Fall Line  8.85 9 100 200 Y 10 623 9 9 447 7
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
PNW Bachelor 8.35 9 150 150 Y 8 652 8 8 320 8
Race Face Turbine 8.30 8 100 150 Y 9 663 8 10 470 7
X-Fusion Manic 8.25 9 125 150 Y 8 733 6 8 199 10
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 initial testing (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 (it has now been back on the bike for another 4 months). In addition to our own great experiences with this post, the Transfer is quickly earning a reputation as one of the most reliable offerings out there. 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, decidedly bling looks, and you’re looking at one serious contender.

Shop the Transfer at Jenson USA and Competitive Cyclist.


3rd Place: 9point8 Fall Line

One of the things we really hate about dropper posts is how unreliable they can be. Coincidentally, so do the good people at 9point8 which is why the company even exists in the first place. Inventors of technology that is also licensed to Race Face and Easton (the former is part of this test as well), 9point8 took a different approach to designing the locking mechanism. Said to offer advantages like better performance in colder weather and the ability to pick your bike up by the seat, it turns out that in the form offered by the original purveyors, this technology goes a long way towards putting those reliability demons to rest.

9point8 Fall Line Dropper Post Highlights

  • Infinitely adjustable
  • Titanium saddle-rail clamping screws and angle-adjust screws. Black-Ti coated for anti-galling, anti-seize performance.
  • Convertible between inline and offset configurations (with purchase of conversion kit)
  • Split clamp remote control design
  • 3 different types of remote levers available
  • Rotational anti-backlash design (patent pending)
  • Adjustable travel via internal spacers
  • Independent adjustment of the seat angle and seat fore/aft position
  • Micro-adjustable seat angle
  • Mechanical DropLoc™ braking technology (patent pending)
  • Locks in push and pull direction
  • 2 year warranty
  • Weight: 623 grams including “Digit” shifter style lever (verified, as tested)
  • MSRP: $447 USD as tested (with “Digit” lever)

Initial Impressions

9point8 wanted the same thing we all want from our dropper posts, which is slip-free performance in any conditions. To achieve this, they looked past the ubiquitous hydraulic locking cartridge design and came up with a mechanical brake that is said to be less sensitive to variations in temperatures and of course not at risk of hydraulic air ingestion, possibly the most common cause of dropper post failure today. It also locks equally effectively in either direction, meaning you are free to pick up your bike by the seat at any time, regardless of what position it happens to be in and without running the risk of actually causing the post to fail. The design of the mechanical brake is licensed to Race Face and Easton and used in their Turbine and Haven dropper posts, respectively. As for 9point8 themselves, they manufacture most parts in their factory in Canada, where the posts are also assembled and tested.

Looking deeper, the Fall Line is loaded with features. Quick connect cable attachment, independent adjustment of seat angle and fore/aft position which also allows air valve access without modifying the angle of your seat, a design that is convertible between a straight and an offset head, optional clamps for oval seat rails, and a massive range of travel options from just 75 to a whopping 200mm. Additionally, the Fall Line allows travel adjustment via an internal plastic spacer. This enables riders to get the maximum drop for their fit/frame. For example, a 500x175 with an 8mm spacer yields 492x167. As for the remote side, there are several options available, ranging from a small thumb lever to MatchMaker or iSpec compatible shifter-style levers. We tested the shifter-style standalone remote, which is tidy and very well executed.

On The Trail

Installing the 9point is a little bit more involved than some other posts. The quick connect feature requires a fair bit of precision, but if you follow the instructions to the letter, you won’t have any problems. Once installed, the design is solid and will for example remain unaffected by moving the post up and down in the frame or otherwise manipulating the cable or remote.

Finding the right seat angle and position is a breeze thanks to the design that separates these two adjustments. The hardware is a pleasure to work on, the “Black-Ti” coated bolts spin smoothly and the clamps are rock solid once tightened down to spec (9point8 even include a 4mm torque key in the box, so there goes your last excuse for getting this part wrong). On the trail, the mechanical brake system is a pleasure to use. The small thumb lever requires only moderate pressure to operate and it gives good control over what the post is doing with tactile feedback and consistent performance. You can press the lever while seated to drop the post, with no extra discernible stickiness as a result. As for the post's action, it pops back up with purpose, but a secondary, “bottom out” air chamber provides a soft buffer at the end of the travel. Overall, there is a distinct feeling of quality and consistency to the behavior of the Fall Line.

Durability

We have been testing the Fall Line for a solid six months now, including lending it to another tester for a trip to the EWS race in Finale Ligure, and although we have yet to subject it to the full wrath of winter, we are very impressed with the performance so far. Up or down, the post is 100% solid, with no detectable slippage of any kind – including picking the bike up by the seat or hanging it from the post in the workshop. It has also remained absolutely creak free so far. Additionally, the cable tension variations and air leaks we experienced with the Race Face Turbine have so far failed to materialize at all, likely a testament to the quality control and manufacturing tolerances applied by 9point8.

Summary

9point8 took a different approach when designing their dropper post, and it seems to have paid off. The Fall Line is loaded with smart and functional features, well put together, and weighs less than many of its competitors. The innovative mechanical brake also seems less prone to developing reliability issues than many of its hydraulic counterparts, and is a pleasure to use on the trail. A winning formula in our books!

Shop the Fall Line at www.9point8.ca.


4th 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.


5th 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 one of the heaviest posts 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 slightly annoying issue 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.

Shop the TRS+ at Competitive Cyclist.


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.

KS LEV Ci

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.


PNW Bachelor

Boasting a competitive weight, a fair price and excellent reliability, PNW's new dropper holds its own in the ring against the competition. Our time with the Bachelor post has been trouble free throughout the months of abuse we have put it through, while it drops the ball at little bit when it comes to the travel options and the execution of the shifter-style remote. With that said, the best parts on any bike are the ones you can install and forget about because they just work – the PNW Bachelor post is on that short list of parts.

Shop the Bachelor at Jenson USA.


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 (licensed from 9point8, the company that placed 3rd in this test) 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 of the Turbine 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.


X-Fusion Manic

There’s no shortage of good dropper posts out there, but most of those do tend to come in at a significantly higher price point than what X-Fusion has managed to hit with the Manic. Yes, it is a bit on the long and heavy side of things, but it makes up for it with silky smooth actuation and solid performance on the trail. Our time on the post revealed no reliability issues, but it's still good to know that a replacement cartridge runs $25 if anything happens to it outside of the 2-year warranty window. If you are looking for a quality option that is easy to maintain at home, at a price that defies most competition, look no further. If you can live with the length and the weight, it puts up a great case for best budget post too.

Shop the Manic at Jenson USA.


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: 44 // 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.

69 comments
  • mtnbikeguru

    11/9/2017 12:16 PM

    You should also talk to mechanics about post's durability, manufacture customer service and warranty. So many dropper post work great for the first few months, then require too much maintenance. Have had some customer posts cost almost as much to fix as buy a new one. Function should always overrule form. Trail side repair ability, should also count.

  • Axa

    11/9/2017 9:02 AM

    On many frames the longest measurement are of no interest since it's the shape/bend of the ST that is the limitation and not the length including the cable connector. At least if it can be turned around like on the Bikeyoke Dropper. A sweet upgrade on my Tantrum Meltdown

  • ka81

    11/9/2017 5:19 AM

    and BikeYoke Revive with 160mm travel.
    https://www.bikeyoke.de/en/seatpost-revive-160-30-9.html
    It's 466.2mm

  • ka81

    11/9/2017 4:50 AM

    http://www.ridefox.com/help.php?m=bike&id=802
    Fox Transfer
    457+28=485 (NOT 480 like in your table chart)

    Are there any more errors in measurements from your chat?



  • iceman2058

    11/9/2017 11:56 AM

    That depends a little bit on where we estimated the middle of the rails to be. We eyed it up, so you'll have to forgive us is it doesn't correspond exactly to the tech drawings. It's just a few mm...

  • ka81

    11/9/2017 12:17 PM

    The point for measurements on rails is exactly ob a stright line with full dropper.
    Anyway, much very thank you for that table chart!!!

  • jonkranked

    11/8/2017 11:48 AM

    do you plan on checking out the 170mm version of the e13 once its available? it's supposed to have a 20mm shorter min insert depth.

  • kwapik

    11/7/2017 11:05 PM

    Was the Manic being little long and heavy the only reasons it placed below the so-so Bachelor and problematic Turbine?

  • iceman2058

    11/8/2017 10:24 AM

    Yes, otherwise it could have climbed above those two. In use, the lever action is super light which takes little getting used to, but turned out to be very user-friendly after a while. The lever execution is not as nice as the Turbine, but functionally, it more than gets the job done. The action of the post itself is also very "pleasant", for lack of a better term.

  • diatribe69

    11/7/2017 9:09 AM

    I recently rode the new Specialized Command Post WU and must say that it's the next post I am going to get. Like everyone on here, I too was skeptical and thought it a gimmick--until I rode it. None of these posts does what it does, and if you find yourself often in sketchy, steep-ass trails, you'll appreciate that it gets out of your way when it's dropped. Definitely a game-changer.

  • ac1

    11/15/2017 2:21 AM

    I can see for most people it would be a good choice. But I tried it and hated it. I did not like whenever I'd sit for a short section with the post down the seat was sloped back. I'd have to change my riding style to make it work.

  • obygobywanoby

    11/7/2017 8:26 AM

    Please test the Crank Bros Highline post.

  • Lankycrank

    11/7/2017 6:35 AM

    Did you measure the numbers for "collar to rail" in the collapsed position, as well? Would be interesting to know which post has the lowest stack height, and gets the saddle furthest away from your nethers, in the 'down' position :-)

  • iceman2058

    11/7/2017 8:25 AM

    Easy. Just subtract 150mm (or 160 for the BikeYoke) from the Collar to Rail number, and you have your answer.

  • Ganderson

    11/7/2017 6:06 AM

    RE: 9point8 Fall Line

    You used the Digit remote and claim that it is more involved and requires precision to install? Nope.. you did it wrong.

    The shift cable simply drops in from the post-side of the connectors and the anchor bottoms out.. the bare wire end clamps at the remote. No set-screws or trimming required at the post end when using the digit. Extremely easy to install and remove.

    Read the directions: https://www.9point8.ca/support/9point8%20Digit%20Remote%20Manual%200000-0889-R00.pdf

  • iceman2058

    11/7/2017 8:21 AM

    It is true you don't need the set screws when using the Digit remote (or any other remote with a cable clamp at the remote end), but you still need to be more precise with cable tension on the Fall Line than on some other posts. Some posts in this test will work with anything from a fully loose cable to one that is taught as a piano wire...the Fall Line is not one of those. That was my main point with that comment.

  • Ganderson

    11/7/2017 8:48 AM

    Ah.. gotcha. In the pics it looks like it was installed with the set-screw method so I thought you were referring to that.

    You are correct that the post doesn't like any tension on the cable when locked.. just a hair of play in the lever does the trick.

  • Br4inm4n

    11/7/2017 1:49 AM

    What didn't you like about the Lev Ci except the price? And what is your estimation on how durable a carbon dropper post might be in cace of a crash?

  • iceman2058

    11/7/2017 2:48 AM

    Hi!

    we have quite a lot of experience with KS posts, and overall, they do a great job. There are a few small things that dropped the score here: it has a tendency to get "stuck down" after the bike sits for a while, you may have to force it to return back up (usually not critical, but sometimes it remains stuck down and has to be serviced to fix this - a known issue with KS posts in general). The post tested here also started to develop a tiny bit of sag as air leaked to the wrong side of the seals (about 1mm so far, not more). I wouldn't say it's any more problematic than a Reverb that needs to be bled every now and then, and many remain trouble free. Regarding the Ci version we tested here specifically, I also didn't like the feeling of the superlight "Recourse" cable. It feels a bit "flexy" for lack of a better word. Additionally, I much prefer KS's Southpaw (shifter-style) remote to the thumb lever tested here. Cable and remote can be swapped which is an easy remedy for sure, but since the Recourse cable and extra light thumb lever are part of what you pay for with this version (and you pay a lot!), that's what I judged it on. Overall, a quality post for sure, and it works perfectly well on the trail.

    As for crashing, I don't think this post is any more likely to break than an alloy version, possibly even less so. The lower tube is relatively short, and quite sturdy from what I can see. There's a lot of material, and this type of shape lends itself to carbon construction very well (and most of it typically sits in the seat tube anyway, unless you're a giant). The stanchion is far more exposed to bending damage, and that is made from alloy like any other post, so it would be no better or worse on the Ci. I wouldn't worry about that aspect at all here.

  • Br4inm4n

    11/7/2017 4:48 AM

    Thank you very much! That really helped a lot. Allthough I thought the newer KS posts had new guts. Well you can't habe it all...

  • Axa

    9/6/2017 3:44 AM

    Who is producing the DVO Garnert post?

  • Carraig042

    8/20/2017 5:48 AM

    No Xfusion Manic post?

  • iceman2058

    8/20/2017 5:52 AM

    We're testing it right now as a matter of fact. We'll have our impressions ready shortly.

  • 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.

  • fartymarty

    11/8/2017 12:07 AM

    Also have a Thomson as it's one of the only posts in 27.2. The great thing about the externally routed cable is the cable end is at the shifter. I have modded an XT shifter (Jared Graves style) to use with the dropper and it has a really light feel to it and is very intuitive to use. Plus it matches my right XT shifter. I used the standard Thomson one for a bit but it felt heavy and not intuitive to use.

    When it is working it is awesome but it developed rotational play after a service and has been back twice and still has the same issue. I haven't had any cable issues as it is externally routed and very simple. Also Thomson customer service (i-Ride) have been awesome.

  • 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.

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