How To Choose a Dropper Seatpost for Your Mountain Bike

How To Choose a Dropper Seatpost for Your Mountain Bike
How To Choose a Dropper Seatpost for Your Mountain Bike

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This guide is intended to help answer the most common dropper post questions, including:

  • What is a dropper post?
  • How to choose the right dropper?
  • What size dropper do you need?

How to ride with a dropper post?

The dropper post, or more commonly known simply as the dropper post, is one of the best upgrades you can make to any mountain bike. The amazing quick adjustments you can make to your seat height will make you wonder why you didn’t buy a dropper post years ago. With remote actuators attached to the handlebars, these safety posts allow the driver to change seat height without getting off the vehicle. No more messing around with quick-release pliers, or even more frustrating pulling a multi-tool out of your rumpled bag. If you’re considering an upgrade, there are several important factors to consider when choosing the right dropper post for your bike

Compatibility and suitability ie: seat pipe diameter and it’s travel

The dropper cylinder stroke measurement indicates how far the cylinder can extend. To choose the right dropper post, measure from the saddle clamp to the handrail (in climbing or highest mode) on your current bike. This measurement subtracts 50 mm and the resulting number is the maximum dropper cylinder length that you can comfortably use. Moving too much can make the seat height too high, even when climbing. 

Cable line: Internal versus external

The dropper safety pole uses a cable to connect your joystick or remote control to the saddle post itself. There are two ways for these cables to run from bars to poles, inside (inside your bike’s frame) or outside. Some bikes are set up for internal routing or “stealth”, which reduces clutter on the bike and reduces the chance of getting stuck. Meanwhile, externally routed dropper columns are easier to install and maintain.

Note:

You cannot use an internally routed (i.e. “stealth”) dropper post with a bicycle frame that is not specifically equipped for internal cable routing. Mechanical versus hydraulic versus electronic:

The dropper cylinder is mechanically, hydraulically or electronically operated. Each system has advantages and disadvantages. The mechanical dropper post is often the simplest and cheapest way to pay upfront, as well as the easiest to maintain. Hydraulically actuated drippers offer smoother performance, but maintenance requires chain melting, as well as hydraulic disc brakes. Electronic dropper cylinders offer a beautiful closed system and clear routing, however, they are the most expensive.

Setting up a dropper post

Once you’ve chosen your new dropper post, it’s time to mount it on your bike. You can take it to a store, such as any of the evo stores, or make it yourself. The process is pretty straightforward, although installing internally routed cables can be frustrating (think threading a needle but through your bike’s frame). The important thing to notice here is the location of the remote control and the length of the cable. When installed properly, the fully extended saddle post should be at the saddle height you want to climb. Next, find the most comfortable position on the handlebars for your dropper remote. The easier it is to use, the more you can enjoy it. With the front derailleur becoming less common due to the better 1x drive train, many racers choose to place the dropper remote control on the handlebars near where their front gear lever used to be. 

Note:

You cannot use an internally routed (i.e. “stealth”) dropper post with a bicycle frame that is not specifically equipped for internal cable routing. Internal cable routing tips
Using a magnet picker or drain snake:
These versatile tools help guide cables through the chassis. Magnetic tools allow you to simply reach for the tool in the seat tube and pull the cable out. Thread the cable first (if it’s a mechanically operated dropper post), use it to guide the external cable. You can find either of these tools at the hardware store.
Drop a rope into the upper cable port near the head tube, dropping it as far as possible. Then vacuum to suck the fiber. Use this wire to pull the dropper pole cable through.

Riding with a dropper post

Fully extended, your dropper post should be in a good natural climbing position, which means your knees are slightly bent at the end of the pedal stroke. This allows you to achieve maximum efficiency when climbing.
When you encounter technical obstacles and downhill sections, that’s when the dropper pole shines. Lowering your chair when going down allows you to spread the seat out and lower your weight and back further.
Any other time you want more maneuverability when cycling, such as on rough terrain (even if it’s flat) or cornering, this is a good time to lower the pole and spread out. widen that saddle so you can move more freely. .
Finally, show off the incredible convenience of a saddle as much as you can, especially if you’re traveling with friends who haven’t upgraded yet!