Race Face Turbine Dropper Seatpost

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Tested: Race Face Turbine Dropper Post

Rating: Vital Review

Review by Johan Hjord // Photos by Johan Hjord and Tal Rozow

UPDATED REVIEW APRIL 2017: With promise of smooth operation and an innovative locking mechanism, the Race Face Turbine had us excited at the prospect of a sweet user experience and better reliability than we've become used to in this somewhat troubled product category. Unfortunately, despite a very promising start, our first sample developed an air leak and some consistency issues in regards to the locking mechanism/remote after about 5 months of testing, and its successor had similar issues a couple of months in as well. We have since been able to test a revised 2017 model which has benefited from improvements in manufacturing tolerances and revised internals, leaving the post less sensitive to the issues we had with the early

Review by Johan Hjord // Photos by Johan Hjord and Tal Rozow

UPDATED REVIEW APRIL 2017: With promise of smooth operation and an innovative locking mechanism, the Race Face Turbine had us excited at the prospect of a sweet user experience and better reliability than we've become used to in this somewhat troubled product category. Unfortunately, despite a very promising start, our first sample developed an air leak and some consistency issues in regards to the locking mechanism/remote after about 5 months of testing, and its successor had similar issues a couple of months in as well. We have since been able to test a revised 2017 model which has benefited from improvements in manufacturing tolerances and revised internals, leaving the post less sensitive to the issues we had with the early samples - but doesn't solve them completely. Too bad, since this post has an ace up its sleeve and could be a serious contender with more consistency and better reliability.

Race Face Turbine Dropper Highlights

  • Internal cable routing
  • Infinite-adjust within stroke
  • Race Face Hunter Head 2-bolt design
  • Quick Connector allows easy, tool-free disconnection
  • Left or right mount universal thumb lever remote (included)
  • Remote uses standard shifter cable and housing
  • Functions at full capacity in below-freezing conditions (i.e. suitable for Fat Bikes & winter riding)
  • 1x Front shifter style hop-up lever available in Black, Red, Blue, Green, Orange
  • Post Color: BLACK
  • Built For: XC/Trail/Enduro
  • Length:350mm, 375mm, 415mm, 440mm
  • Travel: 100mm, 125mm, 150mm
  • Lever Actuation: Mechanical
  • Head Type: Zero Offset
  • Size: 30.9mm, 31.6mm
  • Weight: 495 grams (30.9x440x150mm w/o lever)
  • MSRP: $469.99 USD
  • “Shifter-style” remote option MSRP: $59.00 USD

Initial Impressions

Easton was acquired in 2015 by Chris Tutton, majority owner of Race Face, and the resulting entity ("RFE Holdings" for Race Face Easton Holdings) was subsequently bought by Fox (the suspension company). There is of course some overlap in the product lines of Easton and Race Face, but the theme going forward is to leverage the respective strengths of each company while pooling resources and developing projects together where it makes sense to do so. The jointly developed Race Face Turbine/Easton Haven dropper post project is the first fruit of this collaboration. Weighing in at 622 grams for the 150mm 31.6 version including standard remote and cables, it certainly ticks a lot of boxes on the paper, with an MSRP in line with other high-end options on the market.

When it came to the internals of the new post, RFE went with an already proven design from 9point8, a Canadian company. Featuring an air spring and a purely mechanical locking mechanism, this cable-actuated solution is meant to offer several advantages: the rider’s weight is supported directly by the mechanical brake, which should help eliminate slippage, and the brake will continue to function even if for some reason the air spring should fail (in which case the post will of course not extend under its own power, but it can at least be locked in any position you desire to get you home). The design is also less sensitive to the outside temperature.

Pulling the post out of the box, we were met by a well-finished product. All the machining is precise, and the color uniform and deep. The box includes everything needed for installation, with a standard shifter cable and housing connecting a universal remote that can be mounted on either side of the handlebars. With Race Face offering an optional “shifter-style” remote in 6 different colors (MSRP $59), Vital green was the natural choice for a little extra bling (Easton sells the shifter-style remote too, but only in black).

The remote cable features a nifty quick release mechanism on the post side, which is meant to make life easier every time you need to remove your post, for example for moving it between bikes. And on that topic, it was time to fit the post and head out on the trail.

Installation

Installing the Turbine is fairly straight-forward, if you pay careful attention to the instructions and to what you are doing. Once you route your cable housing through the frame (which may involve various degrees of sweating, swearing, or throwing tools, depending on how your frame is put together), and make sure the cable tensioner is wound in to within 1.5 turns of the end, simply pull the cable through and align the activator tabs by using the yellow clip included in the box – tighten down the bolt and you’re done.

After you cut the excess cable, you attach the quick connector first by rotating the post while holding the smaller, protruding part of the connector static, then screw in the outer part while holding the post static. That’s it. If everything went well, you should only have to use the barrel adjust on the shifter side to adjust the play at the lever to about 2mm, and you’re good to go. We got it pretty much first time around. The post features a traditional dual-bolt head design, with a nice extra touch: a rubber plug holds the lower part of the clamp in place, and rubber washers on the bolts ensure they don’t fall off when you undo the bolts.

Additionally, the bolts are long enough to allow you to install the saddle from the side without actually removing the top part of the clamp – another nice touch that makes wrenching a bit easier. We also appreciated the graduated markings on the post body to help with saddle height set-up, a useful feature if you have a bike that other people use, for example.

Both remotes are easy to install and to adjust. The shifter style quickly became our favorite, as it sits exactly in the spot your left thumb will recall finding a shifter in, if you’ve been riding for a few years. It even features a side-to-side adjustment much like the 2 holes of a shifter body, to allow you to fine tune its position relative to available real estate on the handlebar. Matchmaker/iSpec compatibility would make it even cooler, but it gets on just fine without it.

On The Trail

The instructions told us to run between 20-40 psi of main air spring pressure, but we quickly found out that is too much. The Turbine features an internal air chamber that acts as the top-out bumper, and at the recommended air spring pressure, the post would shoot up so fast that it would blow right through to the top, with a marked and fairly violent “clack”. This violent top-out would also sometimes upset the locking mechanism leaving us with a post that would slip under load (a simple “brake reset” procedure fixes the problem – essentially holding the lever fully pressed down for a few seconds then re-adjusting cable tension if need be). Once we dropped down to about 12 psi or so, the post became a pleasure to use. The action of the remote lever is light but positive, and so is the movement of the post itself.

Even at the lower air spring pressure, the post extends in a hurry (but without the harsh top-out). Unlike the RockShox Reverb, you can’t really modulate the return speed, nor does pressing the remote only half way or so really work while riding. However, the fast return is not bothersome (for reference, it is a bit slower than a first generation Specialized Command Post, and a bit faster than a first generation Reverb in the fastest setting). The post can be stopped at any point in the travel, and it sits firmly in place wherever that may be. The brake also works in both directions which means you can easily and safely pick your bike up by the saddle like you used to in the pre-dropper era. As a bonus, it will work even if the air spring loses pressure, which means you are sure to make it back home in case of troubles on the trail.

On the topic of the brake, the Turbine post is very solid to sit on – once locked, it feels like a traditional, non-adjustable seat post. Under normal operating conditions, we did not experience any unwanted slippage, and the side-to-side play is equally well contained (we’d say about half the amount of a first generation Reverb, for reference).

We opted for the 150mm drop version, which is ideal for this 6’0 tester. 150mm gives you that bit of extra room to move around on the bike, as opposed to “only” 125 which sometimes has us opening the seat post clamp to drop the post a bit more for rowdier sessions. We quickly got used to the action of the post, and the bearing-mounted shifter-style remote adds even more lightness at the lever (in addition to feeling very natural under the thumb).

We rode the post in pretty much every condition except snow and freezing cold. Whilst we can’t verify the claim that the Turbine works better than other posts in those extreme conditions, we can say that it performed flawlessly from about 40 Fahrenheit (5 Celsius) to much warmer. It was also unfazed by rain, mud or dust, and the head remained squeak free for many months (a common offender on many seatposts).

Things That Could Be Improved

As mentioned in the previous section, the post returns a bit too fast if you run the recommended air spring pressure. Whilst it is not a problem per se, it would be better to calibrate this aspect properly in the instructions. We would also welcome a change to the overall return speed management to slow it down a bit further – as it stands, it is not violent but it is definitely on the fast side. A solution that lets the user run higher pressure with slower return speed would likely also help make the long-term ownership experience more pleasant, see the Durability section below for more on this topic.

Long Term Durability

Starting with the good news, the finish of the Turbine is holding up fine, and there are no funny noises, no leaks, and no slippage at all - under normal conditions. Side-to-side play is still absolutely minimal as well. However, we ran into an issue with a leaking seal after about 5 months, which meant having to top the post up every week or so. Since you have to remove the saddle completely to do this, it gets a bit old after a while. We also noticed that the cable tension would vary with the position of the post. With the saddle up, we'd have a bit of slop at the lever, and with the saddle fully dropped, the cable would be completely taught. If we had to guess, we'd say that the brake sort of wears down a few microns of post material at the highest point (where you sit and pedal for hours), which lets the brake out a bit more before it grabs. We noticed this in our second sample as well, which also developed an air leak fairly quickly. We have since been able to test the revised 2017 model, which is said to solve these problems. So far, the new post is not leaking air, and the consistency of the cable tension is improved - but it's not 100% where it should be. We will be keeping an eye on what Race Face choose to do about this going forward, as many of the ingredients of an excellent dropper are definitely present in the Turbine, it's a shame to have consistency and reliability issues hold it back.

What’s The Bottom Line?

Race Face/(Easton) took their time to join the dropper post party, but from the functionality point of view it was well worth the wait. The Turbine/(Haven) addresses a few common complaints with existing dropper posts, and the light and intuitive remote is a pleasure to use on the trail. 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 and consistency are not perfect however, although the niggles are largely held to an acceptable level in the improved 2017 version.

More information at www.raceface.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.


Race Face Turbine dropper Seatpost

Outstanding when installed correctly

Rating: Featured Member Review
Race Face Turbine dropper Seatpost
The Good:

4 travel options, low psi suggesting longer service intervals, saddle stays locked in place when lifting bike from saddle, plenty of set-up and trouble shooting guidance.

The Bad:

Lever sold separately, mandatory 2-3mm lever play for proper performance

Overall Review:

If I could travel back in time, ten years from now and told you that dropper seatposts were going to become a standard component in biking you would probably be pretty stocked. If I told you that you’d be spending $350+ for that very dropper post, you’d most likely be a lot less excited. Well, It’s the year 2017 and that’s where we find ourselves. There is good news however because, since so many companies are making droppers now, you can find them for around $200 and even less if you buy used.

Ever since the dropper posts started taking off, one thing has remained a struggle. Has anyone made a completely hassle-free, reliable dropper and doesn’t cost your first-born child? I’m not entirely sure yet. One thing I know however, there are a ton of droppers out there. To help tackle the quest

Overall Review:

If I could travel back in time, ten years from now and told you that dropper seatposts were going to become a standard component in biking you would probably be pretty stocked. If I told you that you’d be spending $350+ for that very dropper post, you’d most likely be a lot less excited. Well, It’s the year 2017 and that’s where we find ourselves. There is good news however because, since so many companies are making droppers now, you can find them for around $200 and even less if you buy used.

Ever since the dropper posts started taking off, one thing has remained a struggle. Has anyone made a completely hassle-free, reliable dropper and doesn’t cost your first-born child? I’m not entirely sure yet. One thing I know however, there are a ton of droppers out there. To help tackle the quest for the unlimited dropper, I was able to get my hands on and test out the Turbine dropper made from Race Face several months ago. After many hours of riding time on it, here are my impressions on the piece of art:

 

Out of The Box:

Pulling the Turbine dropper out of the packaging, it appears to be just like a dozen other posts out there. It all black, comes in multiple travel options, is cable activated, and weighs over one lb. In short, there isn’t much that separates it from other posts aesthetically.

Just like a few other droppers, the Turbine traditionally doesn’t come with a remote lever. This is good news and bad news. Because it’s cable activated, this is good news because you can pretty much use any lever from any other brand (if you have become accustomed to a specific one or just have a spare laying around). This can pretty much save you $45-$60 bucks. The bad news is, however, if you don’t have a remote lever, that $379.99 MSRP price will jump to as much as $439.99.

If customization is your passion, Race Face will be your best friend because they offer their X1 levers in 6 colors.

In terms of weight, the 175mm 31.6 option Turbine came in at 562 grams for just the post and 683 grams for the entire set up (including Race Face’s X1 lever). This is a bit more than the clamed weight of 495 grams for just the post in the 150mm 30.9 option.

On a side note, the aftermarket X1 lever came in at 60 grams which is a little on the heavy side compared to other levers but it’s burliness adds a sense of security while out on long, technical trails.

With the 175mm travel option, the maximum (extended) height from the bottom of the collar to the middle of the saddle rails measured at around 233mms. The minimum (slammed) height measured at around 59mms.

 

Installation:

The Turbine internals are quite a bit different than other posts which makes installing the Turbine a little different as well. 

Race Face decided to use a braking system is much different than the common activation switch of KS, Fox, and Thompson (as well as many others) but the final outcome is the same, the posts goes up and down.

 


Understanding that their braking system is more unique, Race Face has provided an excellent “how to” install video that I do recommend watching before giving it a go. It saved tons of time and a ton of shifting cables.

One other thing that was different was the amount of air pressure the Turbine uses to function. Some posts require 250 PSI while others require 100 PSI. Just like the unique installation procedure, the Turbine functions at an incredibly low PSI of 20-40. Setting mine at 25 PSI was just right. Fast enough to adjust to various terrain but slow enough to keep my nuts intact.

 

On The Trail:

Once I got the Turbine installed, I went out on the trail. Before too long, I noticed an issue. As I was out of the saddle, the Turbine post was growing in it’s travel. I’d hit the lever and sit down, only to have it do it once again.

When installing the seatpost, Race Face said multiple times to allow 2-3mm of play at the lever. This is slightly different than any other post out there (some frankly won’t work if the cable tension isn’t completely snug). When installing the post, I failed to allow for this play and as a result the brake system was slipping, which caused the post to raise. I adjusted the tension to about 1mm and it worked a lot better but ended up slipping in cold weather (cus the housing became more firm). It was only at 2-3mm of play that the post remained put. So, in short, when Race Face says to leave 2-3mm play, they really mean it.Outside of having to reset the cable tension, I found the Turbine to work well throughout most of the travel. 

 


It was only at when I had the post slammed for an extended period of time that it lagged extending the last 30mms or so. After cycling through the travel however, it extended quickly and consistently. I learned that this was due to a lack of lube on the inside of the post. The video above taught me what to do to correct this issue and now it extends quickly and consistently every time. 

The last thing I’d like to mention is a big pro for the Turbine. Many times, if you pick up your bike by the saddle to place onto a bike rack or chairlift, the dropper will actually extend. Although this usually has zero effect on the actual performance of the dropper itself, it can be a little annoying and scary. The braking system of the Turbine however keeps the post completely locked in it’s position no matter how quickly you hurl your bike around (as long as you have the 2-3mm of lever play). No other seatpost that I’ve used offered this feature.

 

Durability:

As you read other reviews on the Turbine dropper (previous versions and up-to-date), you’ll see a bit of “The damn seatpost won’t stay down!” which happened to mine as well. After setting the cable tension to what they recommend (2-3mm of play) this issue ceased to happen. Since then, I haven’t experienced any other issues which suggests that this post should be quite durable; keep in mind I’ve only used mine for several months. The fact that the post runs on a relatively low PSI also suggests that the seals should last for much longer between services than others posts too.

 


I came across a troubleshooting video that give you a step-by-step guide to make sure the Turbine stays fully functional. After watching it, I found it very helpful and I feel confident that I’ll be able to fix any issue I encounter down the road.

 

Bottom Line:

The Race Face Turbine seatpost appears to be just another average seatpost in a sea of droppers. When looking into what makes the Turbine different, you’ll quickly see that it separates itself from the rest in a few unique ways. The braking system really does lock the post in it’s travel when adjusted correctly (make sure you have that 2-3mm of lever play). In addition to that, it runs on super low PSI which has thus far allowed the dropper to be quite durable. I’ve only had the post for a few months so it’s too early to give a full report on how it holds up, but with the knowledge Race Face has put out there, I’ll have a hard time believing I’ll experience a major issue. All and all, I’ve been quite satisfied with this post.

So so dropper

Rating:
The Good:

When it works, it works simply and does what it should

The Bad:

Upcharge for buying a proper lever. Inconsistent performance.

Overall Review:

I have had this post for about 1 year. It seems to always have issues with the cable and even if not it won’t stay up or won’t fully extend or won’t stay down. I have done a service and relube but this last issue with not fully extending couldn’t be fixed so I sent it in for repair. I have a feeling it will come back working for a while and go through the same issues. I won’t buy from race face again.

Overall Review:

I have had this post for about 1 year.  It seems to always have issues with the cable and even if not it won’t stay up or won’t fully extend or won’t stay down.  I have done a service and relube but this last issue with not fully extending couldn’t be fixed so I sent it in for repair.   I have a feeling it will come back working for a while and go through the same issues. I won’t buy from race face again. 

Most unreliable post I have tried. Buyer beware.

Rating:
The Good:

Short height allows longer travel post in some frames.

The Bad:

Horribly unreliable. Sent my 150mm back 3 times in 6 months.

Overall Review:

I have gone through many droppers searching for a reliable option. Had spotty luck with reverbs. Had a Thompson fail. Then this new post with a mechanical braking mechanism comes out. Great right, seems like someone might have figured out a good reliable system. Well 2 friends and I each ordered up a 150 version (the best option for over 125mm dropper option we thought) Less than a month later I bought my girlfriend a new bike that came with a 125 which was too long so I replaced it with the 100mm version.

All is well for 3-4 weeks when friend #1's dropper starts loosing air pressure. A week or so later mine does also. So 2 of the 4 droppers we ordered had failed within a month. So began the constant journey of sending posts back and having them rebuilt until 2 of us gave up and went with

Overall Review:

I have gone through many droppers searching for a reliable option. Had spotty luck with reverbs. Had a Thompson fail. Then this new post with a mechanical braking mechanism comes out. Great right, seems like someone might have figured out a good reliable system.  Well 2 friends and I each ordered up a 150 version (the best option for over 125mm dropper option we thought) Less than a month later I bought my girlfriend a new bike that came with a 125 which was too long so I replaced it with the 100mm version. 

All is well for 3-4 weeks when friend #1's dropper starts loosing air pressure. A week or so later mine does also. So 2 of the 4 droppers we ordered had failed within a month. So began the constant journey of sending posts back and having them rebuilt until 2 of us gave up and went with another brand. 

A few weeks ago my girlfriend (who is a light and novice rider) had her post start failing! It has less than 20 rides on it!

So out of the 4 posts ordered a year ago and used only one remains. Why because that friend had a bad crash keeping him off the bike most of the year. I expect his post to fail once it gets 10-20 rides on it also. 

Now I have 3 turbine droppers (a 125mm pulled from my girlfriends bike and is unused, my 150 which I believe they straight up replaced after the last failure ruined the shaft finish, and the 100mm that has now fail and needs service) I can't In good conscience sell them even though 1 is brand new and 1 is freshly "serviced"

So I have over $1300 of garbage is the shape of dropper posts if anyone is interested.

Fickle unreliable performance

Rating:
The Good:

No side to side saddle play, solid finish

The Bad:

Not reliable

Overall Review:

I have the 1st Gen Easton Haven version of the seat post. This post has been plagued by reliability issues since I purchased it two years ago. Sometimes the brake on the seat post slips when it is not fully extended. Sometimes not. It's annoyingly inconsistent. It's a bummer. I know other riders who are experiencing the same problem. I would steer clear of this product and look at the Fox or KS if you are in the market for a mechanical seatpost.

Overall Review:

I have the 1st Gen Easton Haven version of the seat post. This post has been plagued by reliability issues since I purchased it two years ago.  Sometimes the brake on the seat post slips when it is not fully extended.   Sometimes not.   It's annoyingly inconsistent.  It's a bummer.    I know other riders who are experiencing the same problem.  I would steer clear of this product and look at the Fox or KS if you are in the market for a mechanical seatpost.

Race Face Turbine Dropper: not my favorite

Rating:
The Good:

Smooth throughout, with a consistent brake

The Bad:

Loses air and has cable issues

Overall Review:

We had these dropper posts on a number of our rental bikes, and as a mechanic, after awhile I noticed a trend that we were doing maintenance on these dropper... like a lot!

The turbine dropper is air powered and cable actuated with a good braking mechanism. I really enjoyed the dropper when it was working properly.

For whatever reason, this droppers were not consistent in holding the right amount of air pressure and it was annoying to have to check the pressure whenever something was wrong with the turbine dropper. Another issue is the cable for whatever reason would come loose after lots of use and we would have to go in and reset the cable tension... now maybe this is user error, but after this happening to a number of the turbine droppers on our rental bikes, it might be an issue.

Overall Review:

We had these dropper posts on a number of our rental bikes, and as a mechanic, after awhile I noticed a trend that we were doing maintenance on these dropper... like a lot!

The turbine dropper is air powered and cable actuated with a good braking mechanism. I really enjoyed the dropper when it was working properly.

For whatever reason, this droppers were not consistent in holding the right amount of air pressure and it was annoying to have to check the pressure whenever something was wrong with the turbine dropper. Another issue is the cable for whatever reason would come loose after lots of use and we would have to go in and reset the cable tension... now maybe this is user error, but after this happening to a number of the turbine droppers on our rental bikes, it might be an issue.

Overall take: I liked the dropper when it did what it was suppose to do, but with the mechanical upkeep, I recommend considering other options.

Specifications

Product Race Face Turbine Dropper Seatpost
Riding Type Cross Country, Trail
Seatpost Type Dropper
Interface Railed
Remote Adjustable Yes
Diameter Universal, 31.6mm, 30.9mm
Travel 100mm, 125mm, 150mm, 175mm
Length 350mm, 375mm, 415mm, 440mm, 490mm
Tilt Adjustable head, zero offset, 2-bolt design
Materials Aluminum
Colors Black. (Black, Blue, Green, Red, Orange, Purple levers)
Weight 1 lb 1.5 oz (495 g)
Miscellaneous Mechanical lever actuation
Internal cable routing
Infinite-adjust within stroke
Quick Connector allows easy, tool-free disconnection
Remote uses standard shifter cable and housing
Functions at full capacity in below-freezing conditions (i.e. suitable for Fat Bikes & winter riding)
1x Front shifter style hop-up lever available in Black, Red, Blue, Green, Orange
Price $469.99
More Info

​​​Race Face Website

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