You have probably been thinking to yourself a dropper post?  Do I really need or want one? 

Yes!

But before plunking down some hard earned cash you really need to determine what type of rider you are and the type of terrain you ride.  There is no need for one if you are cruising beginner trails with rolling terrain or dirt paths where the tech section is maneuvering around soccer moms with strollers. 

Most mountain bikes use a bolt or a quick release on the seat post clamp. With a bolt you have to stop and use a tool to adjust the seat height and the quick release allows for tool free seat height adjustment.  But both require you stop before and after each technical section, slowing down the group or putting you further off the back.  Or you can compromise by riding tech sections with a high post or have inefficient peddling with a low seat between sections 
stopping at the top of every tech section is tedious

When I bought my Niner RIP 9 last year I ponied up some extra money and bought a RockShox Reverb dropper post. Just about everyone I ride with has a dropper post and after attending a bikepacking presentation the winner of the CDT race showed off his race bike with one on it.  Knowing that a ‘weight weenie’ endurance racer wouldn’t ride without one and I was tired of stopping to adjust my post, catching my shorts on the seat, peddling long sections with a low seat and repeated trauma to my man parts from a hight seat I made the upgrade and never looked back.


The basic styles of dropper posts.

Lever Activated
Pro:
  • No cables
  • Light weight 
  • Simple

Con:
  • Remove hand from bar to activate

Remote Lever Activated (Internal)
Pro:
  • Cables inside frame for clean look 
  • Able to adjust with hands on bar

Con: 
  • Can be difficult to install, cable routing
Remote Lever Activated (External)
Pro:
  • Able to adjust on bar
  • Easy installation


Con:

  • Cable moves up and down with seat and can be snagged by wheel, pedal or trail debris (some models do hot have moving cable).
  • Cable can stretch, break, and need servicing
  • Remote lever can fail or break

I limited this review to Specialized, KS (Kind Shock), and RockShox because these are the ones I have used. I would not consider this a ‘long term’ review but just my experiences with the ones I used. I am also leaving prices out because they can fluctuate based on where you buy one from.  I did not get weights on the units so I will show those from the manufacturers websites.  Lets go..

Specialized Command Post




Pro:

  • All black (pro for me anyway)
  • Affordable, cheapest model in review

Con:

  • Internal model only available on Specialized bike or via someone selling it.
  • Full up, full down and 25mm drop adjustability
  • Not very reliable, returned after less than 30 days of use.
  • Adjustment of return in via air pressure requiring stops for adjustment.
  • Single bolt seat binder can make adjustment difficult.

This post came on my Specialized Stumpjumper EVO and after just under 30 days of use it had to be replaced because of a air leak.  The leak was so bad that it would not last through a whole ride of ~3hrs. I would have to pinch the saddle between my legs and lift the seat to the fully extended position.  When I spoke to the bike shop about my issue the owner of the shop was in the process of having his replaced for the same issue. Searching the internet it became obvious that many others have had the same issue so when the replacement came I quickly sold it and replaced it with the next seat post, KS LEV Integra. 

I put the 3 position stops down as a con but after riding with the post I became used to the full up, full down and just under full up positions. There is some adjustability of the post via air pressure but it still works like a catapult and can offer you a surprise if you are not ready for it.  I was told the proper technique was to release the post while sitting on it and allow the seat to rise as you rise, controlling the return.  If you are buying a post based solely on price and are willing to sacrifice reliability then this may be the one for you.  But remember that you may be without a post for frequent repairs and having to deal with the learning curve of where the stops are and dealing with the catapult returns if you do not release it under load.

KS LEV Integra

Pro:

  • No cable movement with external model
  • Internal and external model readily available
  • Return rate controlled via bar remote
  • Two bolt seat adjustment
  • Infinite height adjustability

Con:

  • Not all black
  • Plastic remote lever, suspect durability
  • Cable actuation may require replacement or maintenance

Before buying this post I spoke to a mechanic at one of the top bike shops in town and this was the post he recommended over all the others.  He mentioned that he has seen several issues with the RockShox reverb and that he owned the KS. After reading some  so that is the one I went with.  I have only ridden my bike a few times with this post but it has operated smoothly and I like being able to control the return via the remote lever. The remote lever offers excellent feel and allows for modulation of the return speed of the post. The remote lever is plastic and I question the durability of it.  You can purchase a alloy one from KS but if I am spending close to $400 for a post a alloy lever should be included. On a positive note I prefer the fore and aft seat attachment bolts that allow for micro adjustment of the seat vs the single bolt on the RockShox and Specialized that requires you to really hold the seat from moving up and down or fore and aft when the single bolt is loosened. But you generally leave the seat alone once you find the place you want it so this could be a nitpicking area against the others.

RockShox Reverb  

Pro:

  • All black
  • Internal and external options
  • Adjustable rate of return via adjuster and remote lever
  • Infinite height adjustability
  • Integrates into SRAM brakes/shifters


Cons:

  • Hydraulic activation may require bleeding
  • Broken hose not field serviceable
  • Suspect dependability





This was the post I first purchased because the LEV had just come out and I was unavailable when I bought my bike.  I rode the bike for just over 1k miles and put this post through its paces without it failing.  Just before selling the bike I the hydraulic system did develop some play but was easily remedied by bleeding it (kit supplied when purchased and easy to do).  This post worked flawless for me and if not looking elsewhere and hearing about some suspect issues vs the rave review for the KS LEV I would have purchased another without hesitation. My questioning the plastic lever on the LEV or the use of a cable on the LEV and Specialized brings the hydraulic activation on the RockShox into question. During a trip of epic local ride I will carry a spare derailleur cable.  Allowing me to repair the broken derailleur cable or my dropper post cable. In order to repair a failed/broken Reverb hose I would have to carry the hose, fluid, and bleed kit.  Not something I am likely to do and the repair parts could be difficult to obtain if you are out in a remote small town. However, a nice feature of the hydraulic system is that the return rate can be controlled via a adjuster on the remote lever.  You can also control the return by how far you depress the lever in.  

Here is a quick video comparing the return rate of the KS and Specialized. The Reverb operates in a similar fashion to the KS. This is my first one so bear with my lack of skill and composition.



Summary:

The decision to buy one or not is your decision, along with which one. But if you are riding terrain with several technical sections the benefits outweigh the cost and weight.  Dropper posts help you maintain constant motion and can help you ride safer.  I know I have had the rear wheel catch something that I did not see and launch me over the bars or catch my shorts on seats as I try to get my butt over the back or as I return to the riding position.

I went with the LEV because it is now readily available and the recommendations of others. I did not have an issue with the Reverb but the hydraulic activation over cable did play into my decision related to field repairs.  This may seem like a one in a million failure but I have been on several trips where one in a million gear failures have happened.  The failure of my post and the owner of the bike shop within a close timeframe, along with what appears to be other on the interwebs made my replacement a easy decision. The Command post is relatively affordable but if I am spending that much money I would tell someone to wait a bit longer, save more money and get a different one. I did not get to weigh the posts myself and according to the respective websites there is not that much difference between the weights of the posts.

This is my limited review and not comprehensive by any stretch. I will update my experience with the LEV as I spend more time on it.  Take my views and those of others into consideration. Go out and ride your friends bikes with dropper posts and get you like and can afford. 

Above all… GET OUT AND RIDE!!!

Disclaimer: Products in this review were purchased by me and not provided by any suppliers or manufacturers.

Please feel free to email/comment with criticism, comments or questions.


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