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  1. #1
    mtbr member
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    Why are dropper posts so bad?

    Actual, non-rhetorical question here.

    I was thinking today, as I prepared to return my 3rd dropper post this year for warranty repairs, that the technology used seems pretty well developed. I mean, air-sprung forks and shocks cycle thousands of times every ride and rarely fail. Same for hydro disc brakes. Hydraulic pistons are used in thousands of applications. So why does it seem like absolutely no one can pull off a dropper post that lasts more than 6 months? Is there some super-tough engineering there that I'm not considering? Is it such a small market that the designs are just bad?

  2. #2
    I Tried Them ALL... Moderator
    Reputation: Zachariah's Avatar
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    Short answer....Giant Switch. All-mechanical operation. Heavy, but works with nary a hiccup, in 2.5 years.
    "The mind will quit....well before the body does"

  3. #3
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    Because mine, the Hurricane Components "Elevator Shaft" has not come to market yet.
    I'm looking at all the problems on the current post's and addressing as many as I can, I'm also doing things that have not been done before.

  4. #4
    DOH!
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    Shorter answer: Gravity Dropper.

    Oldest is six ...no, seven years, and never a problem. Three others of various ages, also never had any issues.

    Very easy to maintain yourself (clean it once or twice a year; perhaps a new cable - for the remote-actuated versions- every two or three years); great customer service when you need anything.

    Enough stuff on modern rigs requires frequent babysitting. It's nice have a bit that just works, day in and day out, without having to dick with it.

  5. #5
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    Shorter answer: Specialized Command Post.

    All-mechanical with an air spring return. You can even lock it in place should the air spring fail. Very easy to maintain- just disassemble and re-grease.

    I've used one for almost 5 years with no problems at all.

  6. #6
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    It looks to me like the gravity dropper would be the most reliable. I have a buddy that's also ridden one for years with no issues. There really isn't much too them.......I wish they looked better and were lighter, but.....

  7. #7
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    another non-rhetorical question: is this your 3rd different brand/model post or did the same one fail 3 times and you're assuming all others are just as bad?

  8. #8
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    I've had failures on a Reverb, Reverb Stealth and KS LEV. So different brands and models, but certainly not a full spectrum of what the industry has to offer. I'm also about to send an unused KS LEV Integra back, because after talking to a buddy and seeing posts on this board it seems they really screwed up the design of the actuator at the bottom of the post. I just got a Thomson to replace the LEV, so here's hoping that works better.

    But I don't think I'm off base in saying dropper posts are, in general, the least-reliable part of a modern mountain bike. Just look around this board at all the issues....

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by deoreo View Post
    Shorter answer: Specialized Command Post.

    All-mechanical with an air spring return. You can even lock it in place should the air spring fail. Very easy to maintain- just disassemble and re-grease.

    I've used one for almost 5 years with no problems at all.
    This. I have a close to 3 year old Command Post Blacklite that gets used year round and I have had zero issues with it.
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  10. #10
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    Gravity dropper, I've had mine a year and a half without any issues. You can clean and maintain it at home without any special tools.

  11. #11
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    It's really disheartening to hear this (not that discussing it is bad or anything)... I can completely see how a dropper would improve my AM experience, but I have no patience for stuff that constantly needs to be in the shop.

    The divide between reviews and user feedback on some brands is also concerning. The Reverb Stealth gets amazing reviews, but I see comments everywhere that they are completely unreliable. Ibid on the Specialized mentioned above... even the user reviews on the company website aren't great. Bummer.
    2014 Trek Remedy 8 29er
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  12. #12
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    Well, for what it's worth I've warrantied them every time they break, and to be honest I wouldn't consider building an AM or Trail bike without one. So I think they're incredibly useful and actually worth the trouble; I just wish they worked better!

    If you get one, make sure it's new and from a shop that will work with you if issues develop. Or better yet, get it from Competitive Cyclist (currently blowing out Thomsons!), they have a no-questions-asked lifetime return policy.

  13. #13
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    I've got a Thomson.. it's got some side to side play.. called thomson.. they were easy.. said sent it back and they will send me a new one.. pretty easy..

    They stated that they had contamination issues from Loctite Blue getting slick honey mixed in and causing issues. They fixed this per thomson..

    I haven't sent mine back yet.. i'm waiting for the season to end for me.. The top clamp works loose and it creaks.. hand tighten it on the trail then use a 32mm (IIRC) spanner and tighten it..

    i could not live without my dropper.. I love it. they will be a stock item on almost all bikes within a few years IMHO..

  14. #14
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    I have had a gravity dropper on my last bike and it lasted 5 years with no major problems except I broke one of the seat mount bolts on a hard land (probably my fault).
    I now have a Fox DOSS and it has been trouble free for the last 6 months of constant use.
    I recommend going with a gravity dropper, proven design, easy to maintain and great customer service.

  15. #15
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    2 years on my Command Post w/o an issue. I have actually never even done anything to it maintenance wise. Works great!
    '11 Specialized Enduro Expert for the trails
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  16. #16
    Appalachian Singletrack'n
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    I was under the impression that the GD was the lightest on the market except that carbon KS.

  17. #17
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    the OP had a great question. So, Hurricane Jeff, assuming "yours" will resolve the reliability issue, what were the trends that you found which keep dropper posts from meeting our reliability expectations in general.
    My direct experience includes:
    - Joblin (hydraulic, lost air spring, gets sticky especially when cold)
    - AMP (mechanical ball lock, eventually marred up slider and lost smooth operation)
    - Gravity Dropper (good after 1 year and counting)
    - just bought a KS Lev Integra (for future bike, I have not installed this)

  18. #18
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    Love my LEV Integra... It was a tad finicky to set up, mostly because I'm a relative noob and didn't have a great cable route. It's been hassle free since the first week I got it in September though.

  19. #19
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    It could be something you're doing.

    My KS Lev didn't work right until I talked to the manufacturer at Sea Otter.
    The bike shop had installed the cable backwards, which is pretty common.

    Mine has worked really well since then.

  20. #20
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    The issue with the Lev Integra (not the normal LEV) is that the design of the actuator at the bottom of the post (inside the frame) is faulty. The cable is fixed to the bottom of the post, and does not move; the actuation is achieved by pulling the cable from the bar, which has the effect of moving the housing along the fixed cable. So it's the position of the housing that makes it work. The problem with this is that if you have a bike design where there's friction on the housing (e.g. the housing goes through a small rubber grommet at the bottom of the seat tube) then it's super tough to get the housing to run in such a way that it'll actuate reliably and smoothly. And if you raise or lower your seat post at all, it screws everything up.

  21. #21
    Finally stateside again
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    i have a Command post Blacklight and have not had a single issue. i have taken some bad crashes as well.

  22. #22
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    All the above plus more. I've been working on my design for a long time, I'm the one who designed the first modern day dropper post (HiteRite and Power post were to different animals all together) back in 2000, I could tell you the whole story, as I have done on other occasions and forums, but I save it when my post is finished . I have changed my designs over the years and have pretty much settled on my current design, with a few tweaks.
    As soon as I get finished with more than a rough prototype, I'll post it here.

    just noticed there is a post below originally from 2011 in regards to how I came about the dropper seat post idea........

  23. #23
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    i just have a reg post. i put my seat a little lower, overall and just ride. it may not... blah blah blah

    but who cares. im not trying to save the world by how i ride
    2010 GT Avalanche Expert

  24. #24
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    My KS eTen has been flawless so far. I got mine right when they came out and its been problem free.
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  25. #25
    Bicyclochondriac.
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    Quote Originally Posted by DrewBird View Post
    Actual, non-rhetorical question here.

    I was thinking today, as I prepared to return my 3rd dropper post this year for warranty repairs, that the technology used seems pretty well developed. I mean, air-sprung forks and shocks cycle thousands of times every ride and rarely fail. Same for hydro disc brakes. Hydraulic pistons are used in thousands of applications. So why does it seem like absolutely no one can pull off a dropper post that lasts more than 6 months? Is there some super-tough engineering there that I'm not considering? Is it such a small market that the designs are just bad?
    You are just buying the wrong ones.

    Gravity Dropper. Mine is 8 years old. Still works great. Next to zero maintenance needed. One of the lighter ones out there as well.
    15mm is a second-best solution to a problem that was already solved.

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