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.