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Crankbrothers Highline 7 Dropper Seatpost

Vital Rating: (Excellent)
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Crankbrothers Highline 7 Dropper (170mm)
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Tested: Crankbrothers Highline 7 Dropper Post

Crankbrothers delivers solid performance and reliability with new dropper post family.

Rating: Vital Review
Tested: Crankbrothers Highline 7 Dropper Post

Leaving a trail of unhappy customers in its wake, Crankbrother’s first foray into the world of dropper posts was shall we say, adventurous. They began to right the ship with the original Highline post, released in 2016, a reliable post that was really only held back by slightly slow action and the imposing overall length of the post which made it unsuitable for frames with shorter seat tubes. Fast forward to 2019, and Crankbrothers released a fully redesigned Highline family of posts, including the value-oriented Highline 3 and the premium Highline 7, tested here. After four months on the trail, time for us to weigh in on how it performs.

Strengths

Weaknesses

  • High-quality build and components
  • Smooth and precise action
  • Good lever adjustability
  • Four-year cartridge warranty
  • No adjustable max travel
  • Slightly pricey
  • Long (may be a strength in certain scenarios)

Crankbrothers Highline 7 Highlights

  • Premium Trelleborg sealing
  • Igus LL-glide bearings and keys
  • Jagwire cable and housing
  • Self-contained IFP hydraulic cartridge
  • Internal routing
  • Quick connect mechanism for ease of cable installation
  • Linear actuator for quick return speed
  • 2-bolt quick-connect head
  • Remote sold separately
  • Warranty: 4 years (cartridge), 3 years (post), 1 year (dust seals, bearings and guide keyways)
  • Weight: 730 grams (31.6/170, including remote and hardware, verified)
  • MSRP: $299 USD (post) / $59.99 USD (remote)

Initial Impressions

The new Highline arrived as expected, well packaged and looking good out of the box. This came as no surprise, as Crankbrothers has always known how to make a good-looking product. In terms of overall dimensions, the new Highline has been significantly shortened, still not as short as the shortest posts currently on the market but a full 27 millimeters shorter than its predecessor (at normalized travel).

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The Highline 7 is available in either 30.9 or 31.6 mm diameter, if you need 27.2 or 34.9 the Highline 3 has you covered there. In terms of drop, you can get the Highline 7 with 100, 125, 150 or 170 mms of travel (the max travel is not adjustable as we’ve seen on some other recent posts from other manufacturers). If you opt for the Highline 3, there are also 60 mm and 80 mm drop versions available. In the table below are the key numbers, compared to some of the major players currently out there (you can find out more about how some of these posts stack up against one another in our big dropper post Face Off feature- but note that the Highline 7 has not yet been added to it).

Seatpost
Full Length
(mm)
Collar to
Rail (mm)
Minimum
Insert (mm)
Collar to
Base (mm)
Max
Extension (mm)
Weight (grams
with Hardware)
Crankbrothers Highline 7 170 510 220 130 290 380 730
BikeYoke Revive 160 463 198 130 264 332 620
RockShox Reverb "C1" 175 495 225 110 270 385 654
OneUp Dropper V2 180 480 213 135 267 345 644
Fox Transfer V2 170 500 210 130 290 370 731
PNW Loam 170 480 218 135 262 342 668

As for the internals, the Highline 7 makes use of a sealed hydraulic cartridge (made by Wintek, as is the case with several other posts on the market today), which comes backed with a 4-year warranty. The actuator sits enclosed in an external housing, which makes for a very clean overall appearance – the linear design of the actuator is also said to improve the action of the post. Looking deeper into the specs, we find Trelleborg seals and Igus bushings, a quality choice and typically a harbinger of good reliability.

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The Highline is sold without a remote, so any remote that clamps the cable at the remote end will do the job. We received Crankbrothers’ own Highline remote with the post, a compact unit that swivels on a ball joint to allow for maximum adjustability in the cockpit. It sits on a hinged collar which is part of the ball-joint, which means it is not compatible with SRAM MatchMaker or Shimano iSpec mounts.

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On The Trail

Installing the new Highline is very simple, the cable head goes into the actuator at the bottom of the post and the cable is then clamped at the remote. The post head is easy to work with, thanks to the “quick-connect” design, and the hardware feels nice and solid under the wrench.

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The Highline remote offers good adjustability, and it’s fairly straightforward to get it to sit in a convenient location. It is not SRAM MatchMaker or Shimano I-Spec compatible, but the clamp is fairly small and it’s easy to find a spot for it on the handlebar, whether you prefer to run it close to your grip or further away. The lever is easy to actuate, with medium pressure. Not as light to the touch as a BikeYoKe Revive or the new Fox Transfer for example, but lighter than or comparable to many others.

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The action of the post itself is smooth and precise. It drops with moderate pressure on the saddle, and it’s easy to modulate the drop or return speed with the lever. You can stop the post at any point in its travel, and you can still pick the bike up by the saddle at any point. A subtle but distinct “thunk” announces the end of travel in either direction, which is something we like – it helps you be sure that your post has indeed fully compressed or extended and is ready for action. The post presents very little side-to-side play and it also did not suffer from any vertical play or squishiness out of the box.

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Things That Could Be Improved

In terms of specs and dimensions, there is not a lot to complain about. The Highline is not the shortest post out there, so if space comes at a premium in your frame, you may need to look elsewhere to really squeeze out the most amount of post travel you can for your particular bike build. On the flipside, if you have very long legs, the Highline is among the longest posts out there when it comes to max extension (which indicates how far from the top of the seat tube you can run your saddle). 

We should also point out that Crankbrothers has opted to not make the new Highline adjustable in terms of max travel. Several recent posts on the market offer the possibility of reducing the max travel in small increments, which can be useful for those trying to maximize post travel for a given frame/rider combination. Whether or not you see that as a drawback obviously depends on whether you need it or not.

As for pricing, the OneUp Dropper V2 and PNW Components Loam droppers both cost about $100 USD less than the Highline 7, and both of those posts offer similar performance with more adjustability (if you are looking at that price point, the Highline 3 fits the bill, although it makes use of a less sophisticated cartridge with only two years of warranty).

Long Term Durability

After 4 months on the trail, our Highline 7 has not developed much, if any additional side-to-side play – it actually remains one of the tightest and most solid posts we’ve tested in this respect. The post head has also remained free of any creaks and we have not had to re-adjust our saddle position at any point during testing. The cartridge itself is starting to show some signs of vertical play – not in the hydraulics, but rather in what appears to be the mechanical connection between the piston rod and the piston head. The result is about 1 mm (or less) of vertical play, accompanied by a small “click” as you lift or push down on the saddle. The issue does not affect performance and we do not notice it while riding. We’ll continue to use the post to figure out if this is something that gets worse with time – at any rate, the cartridge is backed by a four-year warranty and the replacement is very simple to do should the need arise.

What’s The Bottom Line?

For its latest dropper post, Crankbrothers has not looked to push the envelope when it comes to innovation, rather they have focused on making a solid post that should provide long-lasting performance with little maintenance. They’ve gone with a proven cartridge supplier and high-quality components, which results in a post that feels solid and is pleasant in use. Our sample has developed a very small amount of mechanical vertical play after four months, but it does not affect performance nor is it noticeable in use. A generous four-year cartridge warranty provides extra peace of mind.

More information at: www.crankbrothers.com.


About The Reviewer

Johan Hjord - Age: 47 // Years Riding MTB: 15 // Weight: 190-pounds (87-kg) // Height: 6'0" (1.84m)

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.

Photos by Johan Hjord

Specifications

Product Crankbrothers Highline 7 Dropper Seatpost
Riding Type Cross Country, Enduro / All-Mountain, Trail
Seatpost Type Dropper
Interface Railed
Remote Adjustable Yes
Diameter 30.9mm, 31.6mm
Travel 100mm, 125mm, 150mm, 170mm
Length 237mm (100mm), 286mm (125mm), 336mm (150mm) 377mm (170mm)
Tilt Adjustable via 2-bolt standard head
Materials 7075-T6 Aluminum
Colors Black
Weight
  • 1 lb 0.8 oz (475 g)
  • 1 lb 1.3 oz (490 g)
  • 1 lb 2.2 oz (515 g)
  • 1 lb 2.8 oz (532 g)
  • 1 lb 3.4 oz (551 g)
  • 1 lb 4.2 oz (572 g)
  • 1 lb 4.6 oz (583 g)
  • 1 lb 5.3 oz (604 g)
Miscellaneous - 47mm minimum stack height
- Internal routing
- Quick-connect mechanism for ease of cable installation
- Jagwire cable and housing
- Self contained IFP hydraulic cartridge
- Igus LL-glide bearing and keys
- Trelleborg seal
- 0mm setback
- Linear actuator for quick return speed
- 4-year warranty
Price $299
More Info

​www.crankbrothers.com

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