The Highline Dropper entered the competitive market of dropper posts mid-2016, and recently announced a long-drop 160mm version to accompany the 100mm and 125mm posts. It’s a cable actuated unit with a sealed and user-replaceable cartridge controlling the motion via a highly adjustable thumb lever.
We fit one to a bike and spent a few hours trying it out, here are our first impressions.
We watched a Highline Dropper Post go from its packaging to bike and ready to ride in a very short space of time. With the cable end attaching to the post into the actuator mechanism that can be removed by hand, the cable fixes at the lever with an allen key bolt. To make the fitting even quicker, the seat clamp can be opened up to let the saddle install without removing any bolts and juggling nuts.
The lever is elegant, with enormous scope to mount it where you like and move it into position by swivelling on a ball joint with a huge range. It has to be one of the most adjustable and ergonomic levers available, and by dialling in the cable tension, you can further customise the feel of the lever throw.
Up and down, up and down part.
To sum up the operation in words, we’d say it’s smooth and slow. The lever action is light and with no real feedback or noise, the post motions up and down very calmly at the same speed each time.
With the release of a 160mm drop version, the Highline will appeal to riders who want to get the saddle right out of the way, and bikes with low standover height. Though for most applications a 125mm post will be okay.
How is it different to the rest?
Crankbrothers aimed to restore confidence in their dropper posts in a crowded and competitive market, a tough task for sure. The Highline though has many unique features that set it apart from the likes of KS, RockShox, FOX, Bontrager, PRO, etc. Firstly the 160mm drop is a big one; then there’s the user-serviceability option that appeals. With the internal workings of the post housed inside a replaceable hydraulic cartridge, there is no bleeding required, that should make light work of any issues if they did occur.
With the easy saddle installation and cable management, it’s a quick post to fit into a bike, and the thumb lever can be mounted in a wide range of positions.
Options, weight and pricing.
Choose from a 100mm, 125mm and 160mm and expect to pay around $549.95 AUD for one.
Weight are 525g (100mm), 560g (125mm) and 610g (160mm).
Suddenly it seems like just about every company has brought out a dropper post, either as an aftermarket alternative to the established players, or to spec dropper posts on lower priced bikes by manufacturing their own model (Giant, Specialized, Merida and Trek/Bontrager all have their own posts now).
The Bontrager Drop Line Dropper Seatpost falls into both of those categories – OEM and aftermarket – killing two birds with one stone by allowing Trek to spec dropper posts on more bikes, and providing an aftermarket upgrade for consumers.
How does the Drop Line work?
The Bontrager Drop Line is an internally routed, cable actuated dropper post, operated by a lever that sits on the underside of the left-hand side of the handlebar. The cable stop simply ‘plugs’ into the base of the post, which operates the internals that offers infinite height adjustment.
What lengths available?
The Drop Line comes in 100, 125 and 150mm variants. Obviously, the more travel you go for, the more the post weighs, but we’re very pleased to see Bontrager offer different height options, as the needs of a shorter cross-country racer are very different to that of a lanky enduro rider.
A 150mm Drop Line weighs in at 624 grams, which is similar in weight to more established dropper posts such as the KS Lev Integra and the RockShox Reverb.
Is it easy to install?
Too easy. With the cable installing with the head at the post end – not at the lever – and fixing with a grub screw at the thumb lever, the install is quick. If you’re fussy about cable neatness like we are, you’ll appreciate how easy it is to cut down the cable in increments until you have the perfect length.
Is it reliable?
We’ve ridden the Line post on dry trails and it feels super-slick, smooth and consistent. It’s only when the rides are wet and long that the post falters, the sealing suffers when there is mud flicking up from the rear tyre onto the shaft, so keep that in mind. Our suggestion would be to make sure there is no buildup around the seal area and learn the quick job of lifting up the seal (two allen keys and some thick oil/grease and you’ll be right) to clean and re-lube the sliding parts of the post.
While we are used to not servicing some of the more expensive posts like the FOX Transfer, we can accept paying less for a post that requires a little more love and care from the user.
Unlike many of the cheaper posts, the Bontrager didn’t develop an unacceptable amount of rattling or play – nobody likes a rattling post that you can feel when you ride, it’s super distracting. So, top points on this one, Bonty.
Is the post easy to actuate?
The Drop-Line’s lever is fine. It’s somewhat similar in appearance to KS’s Southpaw remote, the lever isn’t a thin and wide paddle-like the KS, instead, it’s narrower and chunkier. Even with a slick and new cable, the actuation is slightly vague, though we’ll get used to it.
How much does it cost?
Here’s where Bontrager gets a big thumbs up over other alternatives! The Drop Line retails for $359 in every size, which is great value compared to other offerings on the market, and of course, the Drop Line is backed by Bontrager’s excellent 30-day unconditional guarantee as well as a three-year warranty, so there are no worries there.
Would we buy one?
For $359, with a three-year warranty, we could definitely get used to the lever and frequent service intervals during the muddier rides. The Bontrager Drop Line is a great option to consider if you’re thinking about getting a dropper post or perhaps increasing your dropper post travel without breaking the bank.
The RockShox Reverb is the most popular dropper post in the world, so there’ll be lots of people very happy to hear this new remote can be fitted to older models.
The dropper post market is growing at a rate of knots, and while posts like the Fox Transfer and the Pro Koryak make use of remotes that mimic the feel of a good old-fashioned front derailleur shifter, the Reverb remote was based off RockShox’s X-Loc suspension remote, and it certainly wasn’t the most practical option out there.
That all changes with the new 1X remote. The new remote was designed by RockShox to feel like a SRAM shifter, and with Matchmaker integration you can get a clean cockpit setup without sacrificing access to your dropper- it’s a win win!
Other changes include the bleeding system and speed adjustment for the post, which are both now hidden behind a rubber port, and the bleeding system uses SRAM’s Bleeding Edge technology found on Guide brakes- no more searching for tiny grub screws you dropped on the floor! Check out the video below on how to install the new remote.
We’re pretty excited about this new remote, and can’t wait to try one out ourselves. If you’re thinking this could be an upgrade you’d like to run, Australian pricing has been set at $149.95 for the remote only, or you can get the Reverb Stealth with the new 1x remote for $599.95. Initial deliveries are expected in late May 2017.
Continue reading below for the official word from RockShox.
The all-new Reverb remote pairs the superior ergonomics of SRAM’s shifter design with low-lever-force hydraulic actuation to create the world’s best dropper-post remote. Its excellent ergonomics and light touch mean that riders of all ability levels can use their Reverb posts quicker, more easily and more often, for better ride control everywhere on the trail. And the new Reverb 1x Remote’s Bleeding Edge™ fitting ensures that the periodic maintenance needed for optimum performance is about as hassle-free as working the remote itself.
REVERB 1x REMOTE
Compatible with all B1 and A2 Reverb and Reverb Stealth models (identifiable by the black return speed adjuster on the standard remote)
Reverb Stealth with 1x remote MSRP:
399$, 445€, 375£
At $329 (or $339 for the I-Spec lever version) the price is going to be a big drawcard. That’s about $200 less than a lot of the competition, making it a palatable upgrade for folk who haven’t yet joined the present era.
The lower price doesn’t mean it weighs a tonne either – 560g (plus cable) puts it right in line with the bulk of the droppers on the market.
For now, it’s only available with a maximum of 120mm drop, which might turn off some people who like to get particularly radical, but that will be fine for most trail bikes and riders.
It’s cable actuated, which puts maintenance within the realms of the average home hack, but we found it a pain to install. Because the cable is clamped at post end of the system, not the lever end, getting the correct housing/cable length is fiddly and can involved a bit of trial and error. A quick plea to PRO: Please change this, because simply swapping the end at which the cable is clamped will make installation much, much easier and mechanics will love you.
If you’re a user of Shimano brakes, the I-Spec integrated lever allows you de-clutter your bar too. The lever is far from the most refined offering on the market, it doesn’t offer any adjustability, but at least it’s big and easy to hit with your thumb.
Yes! The wait is over. This one has been a long time coming, but given the notorious reliability issues with dropper posts (they’re very difficult to engineer by all accounts), we’re happy that FOX have taken the time needed to get it right.
It looks sensational, especially in the Kashima coated version we have here, with excellent build quality. The twin-bolt post head is very Thomson-esque and the finish is perfect.
How is it different to the old FOX D.O.S.S. post?
In just about every way. The DOSS was externally routed only and had a two-step height adjustment (1-inch drop, and fully dropped), while the Transfer comes in both internally or externally routed options and has infinite adjustment. The rate of return on the new post is also a lot more mellow than the DOSS, which rocketed back up.
The lever is significantly smaller too – the old DOSS post looked like you had two tyre levers strapped to your bar, which was a real gripe for a lot of users.
One thing we hope hasn’t changed is the reliability, because the old DOSS post was one of the most bombproof posts on the market.
So it’s cable actuated, not hydraulic?
Correct, and we’d rate that as a positive. Sure, a hydraulic system doesn’t suffer from contamination in the same way as a cable, but we’ve spent way too much time bleeding the hydraulic lines on RockShox Reverb posts for our liking!
Does it come in all the usual sizes?
There are three drop options (100, 125 and 150mm) and two diameters (30.9 and 31.6) available, which will suit most bikes. Ours is the 150mm drop, it’ll be going in our Canyon Strive test bike.
Both, the Transfer still caters for bikes without internal cable routing provisions by offering an externally actuated version. But the cable fixes to the lower section of the post not underneath the clamp like the DOSS, so the cable doesn’t move when the post goes up and down.
I need to purchase the lever separately?
Yes. If you run a front shifter, you’ll need the shifter compatible version which puts the lever above the bar, or there’s a 1x specific lever (which we’re testing) that puts the lever in prime position under the bar.
How does it stack up in terms of price and weight?
We weighed the Transfer is at 535g for the 150mm post, plus 50g for the lever and cable, so it’s comparable to a RockShox Reverb and a little lighter than a KS Integra.
There are two price points for the Transfer, depending on whether you want the Factory versions with the gold low-friction Kashima coat or not. You’ll pay $527 for the Factory post, or $459 for the Performance post, plus another $72 for the lever. The Kashima finish is the only difference between the two posts.
Is it a pain to fit?
Not at all. The cable has a quick release mechanism that makes it quite easy to install and remove the post, and the lever has a degree of adjustability so you can get the position where you want it easily. Because it’s a cable system too, the only tools you need are some cable cutters and an Allen key. In comparison to a KS post for example which has the cable end at the lever requires careful adjustment and trial error at the seatpost end, far more involved than the way FOX has approached the setup procedure.
Would you recommend it?
Based on our first impressions, 100%. Despite the weight and somewhat clunky lever of the old FOX DOSS post, it has always been one our favourites, and the new Transfer looks to a huge improvement on what was already a good product. The weight and pricing are on par with the competition, and we love the look, so hopefully that same reliability of the DOSS carries through to the Transfer to round out the package.
The best thing to happen to mountain bikes since tubeless tyres is the adjustable seatpost. It’s one part that we can’t do without, and seeing them become a standard part on most dual suspension bikes from 120mm and up is a wonderful thing indeed!
We scratch our heads when we’re told by fellow riders that they don’t use them, especially without trying one out first. Sure there is a weight penalty over a fixed seatpost, and extra fuss with a cable etc but the benefits to your riding is so well worth it. Do yourself a favour and try one.
Specialized have used their in-house seatposts as a stock item on their bikes for years, they’ve always been popular and we’ve seen them improve in quality and user-friendliness over time. We reviewed one of the earlier Command Posts with the external cable here. – http://flowmountainbike.com/tests/tested-specialized-command-post-blacklite-adjustable-seat-post/
The Command Post is based around a purely mechanical system with a good old gear cable actuated remote lever. The majority of posts use a hydraulically adjusted mechanism (RockShox, KS, Giant, FOX, Thomson etc.). There is a lot to be said about the reliability and simplicity of a mechanical system versus hydraulic, and we’ve certainly had our share of mixed experiences and heard of many more too.
The post we have here is the latest from Specialized, the Command Post IRcc (internally routed, cruise control). It’s an updated version of the IR post with its three height positions, it looks the same on the outside but the new cc now has 10 incremental positions that are located towards the middle of the seatpost’s motion range.
If you loved the original Command Posts, but found it hard to locate that ‘dropped, but not quite dropped exactly where you wanted it’ position like us, you’ll love this one.
The Command IRcc is not infinitely adjusted as such, the 10 positions are pre-determined and when you press the lever with weight on the post, you can let the lever go where you want the post, and it’ll positively engage into place.
The Command Post’s are well known to return back to full extension with mighty force, but with the air valve easily accessed under the front side of the seat clamp, you’ll be able to fine tune the post for the desired speed. We like ours to return super fast though, it might scare your nether regions with the thought of it rocketing upwards, but when you’re riding that feared impact never happens.
The remote lever comes in two flavours, the new SRL (single ring lever) which takes place of the left hand shifter if you’re running a single chainring setup, or the original thumb lever on top of the bar. The SRL is about as easy as it gets, perfectly ergonomic but will require you to find a SRAM shifter clamp first.
The Command IRcc comes in both 31.6 and 30.9mm diameters, and for smaller bikes a shorter drop 100mm post is available. We tested the 125mm version.
No, internally routed seatposts are nowhere as simple and fast to install as the older style external ones, but they are much neater once fitted so it’s worth the extra time and swearing for the first time, so we sucked it up and got it done.
Our Pivot Mach 4 has all the provisions for internal cable routing, even for the Shimano Di2 that is fitted. It takes a bit of trial and error to find the right length outer cable so the cockpit still looks neat and tidy, but following the manual is easy, and clear.
With the help of our brilliant new Park Tool Internal Routing Kit, the job was much easier. Seriously worth the investment if you’re doing these things a lot like us.
Being a cable system there was no complicated bleeding needed and if you messed up the cable it’s just a standard gear cable found at any bike shop.
[divider]On the Trail[/divider]
We spent a few days in Rotorua on the Command Post IRCC recently in horrendously wet and muddy conditions, and the post was always doing its thing just right. The mud and grime from the trails will test a seatposts mechanism and sealing, and where some become slow to return or drop, this one never faltered during our testing time.
Back home and fitted to our Pivot Mach 4, we’ve been enjoying the post’s snappy action and intuitive adjustability, happy days.
We did find the previous version of this seatpost a bit frustrating at times with only one ‘dropped’ position, so this one has cleared up any misgiving we had. The positions were easily found when both dropping and returning, the post made a bit of noise and sent a little shudder into your backside at times, but nothing worth worrying about.
With the increased positions of adjustment, and using the SRL lever the updates to this popular post make it a worthy option, fitted to a Specialized or not.
Pricing is still yet to be advised, and mid-year availability but keep an eye out for the new post on new season Specialized’s coming to dealers very soon.
The KS LEV is is a cable-actuated dropper post available with either external or internal ‘stealth’ cable routings. While we love the clean looks of an internally routed post, many older (and some newer) frames aren’t compatible with internally routed posts. And, even if your frame is compatible, sometimes the hassle of threading bits of housing through your frame packs all the enjoyment of stubbing your toe on the way to taking a piss at 2:00am. For this reason, when we wanted to fit a dropper post to our Yeti SB5 test bike, the external version of the LEV got the nod. Just for kicks, we also went for the Ti version of the post, which has a carbon lower seat clamp and titanium hardware and saves a few grams.
The usual issue with an externally routed post is that the cable is normally affixed to the top of the post. This means, when you drop the seat, you end up with a dirty big loop of cable dangling about your rear wheel, buzzing your tyre and generally being a pest. The LEV avoids this problem with its unique actuation system. The post’s mechanics are all located mid-way down the post, closer to your frame’s seat collar, on the non-moving portion of the post. No Flapping Cable Syndrome.
The post’s minimum insertion mark doesn’t leave you with a lot of room to manoeuvre, so it’s handy to know your seat-to-bottom bracket measurement before you order. We went for the 125mm travel version, but there’s a 100mm version, or a 150mm drop for people who really want their seat out of the gouchal vicinity.
The standard KS LEV kit comes with a small, unobtrusive lever that can be mounted in place of one of the lockrings of an ODI lock-on grip. But with our test bike running a 1×11 drivetrain, we opted to use KS’s Southpaw lever instead. The Southpaw lever might be a tiny bit heavier than the usual lever, but it sits where your left shifter would have traditionally been located, which is the best location for a dropper post lever as you barely need to move your thumb to activate it.
Installation is reasonably straightforward. The only real complexity comes when you’re trimming the cable – it needs to chopped very precisely. If you chop the cable too short, the post’s locking mechanism won’t properly engage meaning the seatpost height won’t stay put. Too long as it either won’t fit into the little cable compartment, or you’ll need to wind on a ton of barrel adjustment to take up the slack. The classic twin-bolt seatpost head is zero fuss, unlike so many of the completely useless single-bolt post heads out there.
After only a few rides, we’re overwhelmingly happy with this post. It’s an infinitely adjustable system – there are no preset steps in the drop (unlike the FOX DOSS air Specialized Command Post), and we prefer this. Sometimes it’s nice to run the saddle just a centimetre lower, and posts with preset levels of drop don’t allow this. The lever is super light to operate and has superb ergonomics, especially compared to the relatively heavy push needed for a RockShox Reverb post. And because it’s so little effort to quickly bump the post down or up, you use it more than you otherwise would with a less user-friendly post. The rebound speed can be adjusted via the schrader valve under the seat post head, but out of the box the rebound is at a sensible rate which won’t inadvertently neuter you, unlike Specialized’s Command post.
Our only criticism is we found the post is very sensitive to having the cable tension correct. There’s a fine line between having the Southpaw lever feel floppy and vague, or having too much tension and the post therefore not locking into place when you release the lever. We can see this being a potential concern, as a gummed up cable/housing could hinder the precise nature of the operation. Still without many months of riding this product under out belt, it’s impossible to comment. We’d love to secure a longer-term review on this post to see how it performs after a winter of neglect.
All up, we think this post will answer the prayers of plenty of riders. Admittedly, it does also come at a price that will make you pray a bit too. If your frame doesn’t have the provisions for an internally actuated post, or if you simply can’t stomach the arse ache of internal cables, then the KS LEV is the best option on the market, hands down. It gives you all the pluses of an externally cabled post, but without the flappy cable downsides, and works effortlessly too.
Read some other dropper seat post reviews while you’re here!
It always surprises us when we meet someone on the trail who asks us, ‘what’s that?’ while pointing at our adjustable seat post. We guess that’s because once you’ve been using a dropper post for a while, it kind of becomes impossible to imagine riding without one!
The Specialized Command Post BlackLite (whatever that means – kind of sounds like a commando squadron) comes as a stock item on many Specialized bikes. Specialized are one of only two brands (the other being Giant) to have developed their own in-house dropper post, rather than speccing one of the myriad of options available from FOX, RockShox, KS, crankbrothers and more. So how does the Command Post stack up?
Since we began this test, Specialized have unveiled another version of the Command Post, this time with internal cable routing (ala the RockShox Reverb Stealth). However, as most older frames won’t be compatible with the new internally routed post, so we think the standard Command Post will remain very popular. As an aftermarket item, it’s available in two diameters (30.9 and 31.6mm) and three different lengths, offering 125, 100 or 75mm of on-the-fly adjustability.
The Command Post, like the FOX DOSS post, uses pre-set drop levels, rather than infinite adjustability. There’s full extension (climbing), fully dropped (getting rowdy) or an intermediate 35mm-drop ‘cruiser’ setting, which gets the saddle out of the way without making seated pedalling too hard.
We hit an early snag with installation; our BH Lynx frame didn’t allow us to insert the seat post far enough to get the seat height right – it was about 25mm too high when the post was at full extension. We sent our 125mm version back and swapped it for the 100mm-drop version, which is about 35mm shorter in overall length. It’s interesting to note that the Command Post is comparatively long for its amount of adjustability. By way of comparison, the RockShox Reverb and KS Lev posts are both about 20mm shorter in overall length while maintaining 125mm of adjustability.
With that issue sorted, installation went very smoothly. The Command Post uses an air spring; we set the post’s air pressure at about 30psi. There is no rebound damping with the Command Post, meaning it really shoots back to full extension quickly when you hit the button, so it’s important not to run too much air pressure or it’ll spring back like a gonad-seeking missile.
Compared to a hydraulic system, like the Reverb post, the cable actuated system is easy to set up. The lever is petite and comes supplied with a ‘noodle’ to ensure clean routing from the handlebar – keeping the line of cable as smooth as possible is important or you’ll end up with too much friction in the system. There’s also a barrel adjuster, which is useful as the system is quite sensitive to the correct cable tension. The post head uses a single bolt clamp, and like other single bolt systems, you need to do it up super tight. The cable has a quick release mechanism as well, meaning you can detach it from the post in seconds if you need to take the post out of the frame.
Performance so far has been consistent and reliable and we’ve got high hopes for the durability of the post too. Unlike many dropper posts, the Command Post isn’t plagued by side-to-side slop, which makes it feel robust and well built.
The lever isn’t as tough, and we lost one half of the pivot bolt assembly early in the game. It still works fine, but there’s a bit of slop in the lever as a result. That said, there’s still plenty to like about the lever; it takes up little bar real estate, fits neatly with most shifters or brakes, and is easy to position in comfortable reach of your thumb. It can also be integrated with a Specialized lock-on grip, replacing the lock ring, which is pretty tidy. The downside of the small lever is that it doesn’t give you that much leverage – posts like the KS Lev or FOX DOSS have significantly lighter actuation.
Coming off an infinitely adjustable post (the crankbrothers Kronolog… not so good…) it took a while to adapt to the three-position adjustment of the Command Post. Engaging the fully dropped position is easy – there’s very little resistance to lower the post – but finding the intermediate 35mm drop position takes a bit of practice to hit it smoothly. You need to compress the lever, sit on the seat and compress the post past the 35mm point, then release the lever before taking your weight off the seat, allowing it to slot back into the intermediate position. It took half a dozen rides before it became intuitive. The FOX system, where there is a second lever to engage the intermediate position, is easier to operate, but it is significantly more bulky and heavier.
We like the reassuringly solid engagement of the Command Post. You can really feel and hear it lock into position with a clunk. The internals of the post are quite simple, using a expanding collet style locking mechanism that sits securely into recesses in post’s inner wall. It’s robust, and feels and sounds positive and tough.
Overall, the Command Post is a solid offering, not entirely without foibles, but then no dropper post seems to be perfect yet. Now that we’ve adapted to the operation of the post and can engage the very useful intermediate position quickly, we’ve become quite fond of the Command Post. The robust post construction is the highlight, and the price is good too, and we’re looking forward to seeing how it’s going in a year’s time as we get the feeling it’ll be trucking along nicely.