Dropper posts have been around for awhile in the mountain bike world, but you may have heard more buzz about this specialized seat post after Matej Mohoric used a dropper as his secret weapon to win this year’s famous Milan-San Remo race after a blistering descent off the Poggio.
Originally intended to allow downhill racers to descend rock drops and steep features safely, dropper posts were quickly adopted as a mountain biking mainstay. The same benefits afforded downhill, extreme racers have crossed over quite easily into the recreational world. In the past without droppers, it took a special bike, special equipment, and a special talent to ride gravity features. By simply enabling a quick change of position by lowering the saddle and getting it down and out of the way, riders of many abilities can enjoy “radical” features. It is no coincidence that dropper seat posts have become more popular as the recent single-track trail-building renaissance has continued.
So, what on earth is a dropper post? What does it do?
A dropper post is a telescopic seat post (the mast that connects the bike to the saddle) that is equipped with a remote thumb lever on the handlebar, allowing the rider to quickly lower or raise the seat based on their needs. Larger bikes can have droppers with more travel-6″to7″-and smaller bikes less travel-2″-4.”
The rider pushes the thumb lever, applies their weight to the saddle, and positions the saddle at whatever height they feel is necessary for their ride conditions. Dropper posts allow infinite adjustability-a little for a fast turn or a lot for a steep drop.
A standard riding position requires nearly full leg extension for power, efficiency, and to protect the knee from overuse injuries. This “long-leg” position is great for going uphill, but puts riders in a precarious position while going down steep terrain, which can result in the dreaded “endo” or falling over the handlebars.
The key to safely descending features and all kinds of advanced mountain bike handling is bike-body separation. By moving your butt/hips down and back behind the saddle, you change your center of gravity giving you a much safer ride. Droppers allow you to do this at a moment’s notice making transitions onto various ride features almost instantaneous.
The cool part is bike-body separation makes all types of trail features more doable-banked turns, switchbacks, steep, chunky descents-any “fun” trail feature is easier and safer. And, droppers make that transition smooth and fast.
Over time, dropper seat posts have transitioned from exclusively downhill riding, to more recreational mountain biking, and now even into road riding and beyond. Road riders can take full advantage of a lower, more aero position in descents, just like Mohoric. Commuters have an easier time stopping and starting in traffic with a lower position but can still have a higher saddle for efficiency during longer sections of their rides. Gravel riders gain more stability in soft road conditions with a slightly lower saddle. And, bike packers can easily get on that lower saddle even with a heavy, loaded-up bike.
Removing Barriers – Droppers For Everyone
Dropper posts are definitely not for just those who shred the trails. Many non-cyclists or beginners who struggle with confidence, or seasoned cyclists who are older or may be having balance issues even on the most gentle terrain or bike path. In fact, 1 in 3 dropper installs that New Moon does is for strictly recreational cyclists who struggle with their balance while riding. Droppers allow these folks to mount the bike and start moving at a lower, more stable position creating a safer transition from stopped to rolling. A little practice and the dropper can make all the difference for these riders, too.
If you are interested in having a dropper post installed on your bike, have a conversation with your bike service department and explain what you are trying to achieve with your riding. They will help determine which post fits your bike and matches your goals.
An entry-level dropper seat post usually runs $200-$250 installed. That can be a big investment, but if it removes barriers to your riding, it is a great upgrade to your bike. Advanced models that offer better durability and longer travel for greater versatility are usually $300-$500 installed.
How To Start
When you begin using your dropper, start by utilizing only a small portion of the available travel-only go up and down a bit. As you become more familiar with the feel, you can transition to full travel for longer sections of trail.
Chris Young from New Moon reports that using a dropper post has fundamentally changed his riding style from a static, saddle-based position to an active, dynamic, and safer position. He crashes less and enjoys the trail much more. No matter what or where you ride consider trying out a dropper post for more fun and safety on the trails, roads, or bike paths. New Moon’s bike rental fleet includes many bikes equipped with dropper posts. This offers an easy way to give it a go. Just a few miles with a dropper and you’ll reap the many benefits of this amazing bike tech!