The pros speak: Why you need a dropper post
© Mason Mashon/Red Bull Contentpool
What was exclusive to trail-riders is fast becoming a must-have accessory for MTBers of all genres.
The droppable seat post (‘dropper post’) is being adopted by ever more riders outside of the core trail-riding scene and there are marathon and XCO riders who believe that will be the next ‘big thing’ since the wheel-size revolution.
The dropper post was developed so that trail and all-mountain (enduro) bikes could be pedaled up the hill with optimum power transfer (by having the seat higher) and then dropping it out of the way before hitting the downhill trail.
It evolved into a push-button gadget after riders got tired of doing this manually with their quick-release seat clamps.
Today most dropper posts have remote levers on the handlebars, which allow for quick height adjustment. See a rock garden approaching? Quickly lower the saddle and hit it with confidence, then pop the saddle back to climbing height for the next drag. Haven’t tried one? Here’s why you should:
THE WEIGHT DISADVANTAGE IS NOW NEGLIGIBLE
“The XC riders have held back because of the weight penalty,” says photographer Sven Martin, who’s been around pro bikes (across disciplines) for years and witnessed developments and improvements first hand.
“They (XCO riders) will do just about anything to shed grams regardless of how it affects bike handling,” he says. “For a lot of racing this is not a bad decision, but with increasingly technical sections being added to World Cup XCO courses this is due to change, I think. More than a few close races last year were perhaps won in the descents vs the climbs.” Martin believes that with the advent of shorter drop (sub 100mm) carbon droppers, the weight penalty may not be as much as it was in the past.
BETTER POSITIONING ON DESCENTS
“Dropping the seat allows you to shift your weight around,” Oliver Munnik, Gear Editor on Bicycling magazine, explains the main benefit. “This way you can to find the best possible position to descend. A position, which is often blocked by a high seat post and saddle.” Being in a better position results in greater control over your bicycle, which in turn gives you more confidence to go faster. And faster – usually – translates to more fun.
IT MAKES DESCENDING SAFER
“It’s not all about speed though, safety is another factor,” cautions Harry Orr, from Specialized South Africa. “For newcomers to mountain biking who struggle to navigate singletracks with roots or rocky obstacles, a lowered seat allows them to distribute their weight back behind the saddle briefly, before returning to a neutral position without fear of getting hooked on the rear of the saddle,” says Orr.
IMPROVED LEVELS OF ADJUSTABILITY
The beauty in the technological advancements of dropper posts is the level of adjustability – at the push of a button the rider can lower the saddle to a pre-set setting where they feel comfortable to tackle the singletrack ahead. “Advanced riders would like the saddle very low for full maneuverability on steep rough terrain and to hit the odd jump,” says Orr. “A beginner or intermediate mountain biker may want the seat lowered only a few centimetres, so that they can still feel the saddle between their legs.”
THE CAVEMAN HAS BEEN RIDING ONE FOR YEARS
Multiple Xterra World Champion Conrad Stoltz never rides without a dropper post.