Here’s some questions to start this post off with some audience (you) participation:
1. Ever gone over the handlebars on a steep-ish descent because that fixed, high saddle behind you pushed you over (on purpose🤬!)?
2. Having trouble getting your leg over (a high saddle😬)?
3. Have you ever caught your leg on the saddle whilst mounting the bike AND fallen over in a heap in the car park AND everyone gave you a look of pity🙄.
Any long serving mountain biker will have experienced at least one of these, and the unlucky ones will have probably achieved (if that is the right term) all three. None of these would have happened if the dropper post had been invented at the same time as the bicycle.
It’s funny how something that was developed in mountain biking back in 1984 in the form of the Hite-Rite (Google it if you have never seen one), has suddenly and only just been perfected and become one of the best cycling innovations ever. We all know that riding a bike downhill requires the rider’s body to be pushed back over the rear wheel as far as possible, and to the point that you can grip the rear tyre with your arse/butt cheeks. This however, is difficult when there is a permanently fixed high saddle preventing your arse/butt from getting anywhere near intimate with the rear wheel. Anyway, the dropper post is here now, and here to stay, so thank fuck for that! Today, a dropper seat post can cost between £50 for a wobbly and basic one, to over £600 for a well-over-engineered one, and as with every innovation, time and volume brings the price down. I’m sure that most cyclists think that this device is purely for the mountain bikers, but they would be very wrong.
What works well for mountain bikers in being able to drop the saddle to a low seat height also has equal strengths in other parts of the cycling world. The commuter groups are starting to use these saddle droppers as they’re great for stopping at traffic lights and setting off again, or getting on the bike with kids. Tourists who have a lot of luggage find it helpful. There are also people who, whilst being able to cycle with a normally extended seat post, find it difficult to get their leg over the saddle when mounting and dismounting, so yes, it is helping a lot of the older cyclists or those that have an injury, to get on and off the bike with ease.
The other thing about innovations like this at the time of their launch, is that they’re usually only made for certain new bike models that have included them at design phase, and which have high specifications. Primarily, in the case of the dropper post, the diameter of the frame seat tube determines whether a) there is a dropper post available to fit and b) the seat tube is long enough to take the length of the dropper post. When innovations like this are embraced by all manufacturers, there starts to become a much larger choice of product to suit the different frames and rider requirements, as well as an availability to fit one to a bike that never had one in the first place. A dropper post on your bike nowadays also gives you that unspoken tribal identity too🤟.
Here’s an example of what I mean in that paragraph above. If you’ve read any of my Cannondale posts, you’ll know that I have, and still ride, a few versions of the iconic Super V mountain bike. One of the limitations on these older bikes is finding a balance for the seat height between maximising pedalling efficiency and the right height to descend steep hills. Until recently, none of the dropper post manufactures have offered a size to fit the 27.2mm Super V seat tube, or one that is the right length for my normal riding position, or even one that can be remotely operated on the handlebars whilst having somewhere to tidily fit the cable in. Until now that is. As luck would have it, I’ve found one and it’s great.
The model of the dropper post I’ve bought is at the cheaper end of the price and specification spectrum. The brand is XLC (I’d never heard of it either…) and it retails at £211, but I got it £138, so a good saving. Online feedback suggested that others had thought it was a good buy, so I waded in for the purchase. Because the Cannondale Super V frame has only a small seat tube and which sits directly over the rear shock, I am limited for space, so I managed to get one 300mm long, which is about the same length as my fixed seat pin. Because it is only 300mm long, the drop length is just 70mm, which for me and this bike is perfect. As a comparison, the dropper post on my Trek eBike drops about 100mm, but that bike has been designed to specifically have components like a dropper post, unlike my Cannondale.
Whilst the dropper post is a wonderful innovation, it relies on some maintenance, particularly as it is in the direct flight path of everything that the back tyre can throw at it. Just like any sliding device like suspension and that has rubber seals, it will only function if correctly cleaned. In winter, I use one of those clip-on rear mudguards and that really protects the dropper post as well as my arse/butt from getting covered in muck. I think that whilst this mudguard is effective, they do look crap. Very un-Moto, but hey! as I can’t actually see it when riding, I’ll stick with it.
Anyway, back to my Super V and its new dropper post. Fitting was straightforward and you can see from the photos how I routed it and how tidy it looks. Crucially, it has transformed this old bike into something that I have more confidence in to push the descent boundaries with, particularly when I’m riding with others on more modern bikes. Whilst the dropper post has been a great addition to this bike, let’s not kid ourselves that vintage bikes like my Super V are anywhere near as capable as one with wheel diameters 1 and 3 inches larger, with better suspension, brakes etc etc. In fact, I wonder if anyone does any extending wheels that go from 26 inch diameter to 29 inches🤔……..
If you want to read more about Cannondales, click of the categories tab in the main menu, click Cannondale and read on✌️
All photos by the Author