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  1. #1
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    Droppers for XC riding

    Hi Guys,

    I am doing a research project for school on the topic of dropper posts in XC riding. From a few of my resources, it is clear that they help with descending by aiding with confidence and movement but I want to know if these advantages are outweighed when it comes to climbing. Does anyone have any experience with this? And if so how has using a dropper helped? (More relevant to XC please).

    Finally, for those who are interested, I have put together a survey. It should only take 2 minutes or so. https://qtrial2017q3az1.az1.qualtric...fcGkSeWLV1hbOB

    Cheers, guys!

    Sam.

  2. #2
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    Depends on the race, how long and what kind of terrain. Good luck with the survey.
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  3. #3
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    They help me immensely for cornering and descending. My pedaling seat height is to high for me to really get off the back or weight the outside when cornering.

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    What about XC racing VS Marathon racing ? Where a Marathon you might have more technical features, more surprised unknown terrain. Would the dropper be much more of an advantage there ?

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    Took the survey. Good luck with your project, Sam!

    Personally, they are of no use to me whatsoever in xc racing and/or trail riding.
    Whining is not a strategy.

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by kosmo View Post
    Personally, they are of no use to me whatsoever in xc racing and/or trail riding.
    Same. Maneuvering the post up and down is too distracting to me... SQUIRREL!!!!

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by mungers View Post
    Hi Guys,

    I am doing a research project for school on the topic of dropper posts in XC riding. From a few of my resources, it is clear that they help with descending by aiding with confidence and movement but I want to know if these advantages are outweighed when it comes to climbing. Does anyone have any experience with this? And if so how has using a dropper helped? (More relevant to XC please).

    Finally, for those who are interested, I have put together a survey. It should only take 2 minutes or so. https://qtrial2017q3az1.az1.qualtric...fcGkSeWLV1hbOB

    Cheers, guys!

    Sam.

    Dropper do nothing to help climbing. The only way you could argue they do is if you are now able to run your seat at the height it should be for pedaling vs slightly lower. Again that is really for the descents anyway. I have dropper on my FS "trail" bike, but I don't have them on my 2 29HT bikes. I don't need them on those bikes, but I do like it on my FS since it more of a downhill bike. In my opinion the benefits don't counter the extra weight for the XC riding/racing I do.


    BTW... The survey is flawed. I do mostly XC riding and I don't use dropper for that. I do however use a dropper on other bikes. I think the survey will make it look like I use dropper for XC which I don't.
    Joe
    '18 Specialized Epic 29", Vassago Verhauen SS 29", '13 Santa Cruz Solo 27.5", XC, AM, blah blah blah.. I just ride.

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    good luck Sam. btw, riding level on a scale of 1 - 5. I picked 4 assuming that meant something just below superstar

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by wheelzqc View Post
    What about XC racing VS Marathon racing ? Where a Marathon you might have more technical features, more surprised unknown terrain. Would the dropper be much more of an advantage there ?
    What does that even mean? XC means "cross country" as in up and down and everything in between.
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  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by JoePAz View Post
    Dropper do nothing to help climbing. The only way you could argue they do is if you are now able to run your seat at the height it should be for pedaling vs slightly lower. Again that is really for the descents anyway. I have dropper on my FS "trail" bike, but I don't have them on my 2 29HT bikes. I don't need them on those bikes, but I do like it on my FS since it more of a downhill bike. In my opinion the benefits don't counter the extra weight for the XC riding/racing I do.


    BTW... The survey is flawed. I do mostly XC riding and I don't use dropper for that. I do however use a dropper on other bikes. I think the survey will make it look like I use dropper for XC which I don't.
    I've lowered the dropper while climbing to help clear crazy tight/steep switchbacks.
    "It's only when you stand over it, you know, when you physically stand over the bike, that then you say 'hey, I don't have much stand over height', you know"-T. Ellsworth

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  11. #11
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    Most of our XC trails still have some really fast or tech descents. Having a dropper is nice for keeping those parts of the trail super fun. They're ride-able without one, but they are nice to have.
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    My new Stache (is it really xc?) came with one, but I haven't found a use yet. Kind of like fork lockouts, I find it more distracting to use, and forget to put them back.

    Maybe it just takes time to get used to? Been riding for 20+ years, never felt the need for it

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  13. #13
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    I ran a dropper for about half my races this year. I am so used to dropping my post that I would thumb my non existent remote all the time in my races.
    I like having the dropper and it helps me rest on the descents. It's also great in the tight corners to drop it just a hair. Overall on the easy XC courses we are riding it's not worth the weight or possible failure.
    Really is course dependent. I do like it even if it slows me down overall.

  14. #14
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    Droppers for XC riding

    I use one on my HT and 120/130 trail/marathon bike. Absolutely awesome. Helps you rest on down hills, ride downhill faster, and the weight difference nowhere near outweighs the benefits for any style of mtb racing.


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  15. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by phalkon30 View Post
    ..
    Maybe it just takes time to get used to? Been riding for 20+ years, never felt the need for it
    they do take time to get used to. Just like a front derailleur they take planning to know when to use when not to use. I have gotten better, but it always takes me a second or two hit the button and lower by butt to get the seat down. Last week I was riding and came to steep roller and should have lowered the seat, but it was too late. By the time I realized how steep and long the roller was I was pretty much over the edge and could not lower the post. So I just did it the old fashioned way and let the seat move alot. Still cleaned it, but I would really love it if the dropper would lower without needing to sit on it. Makes it more useful in mixed terrain.
    Joe
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  16. #16
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    Quote Originally Posted by bikeguy0 View Post
    I...Helps you rest on down hills...
    I guess I don't see how it lets you "rest" on the downhills. When I rest on the downhill I want to be on the seat resting in smooth spot on the trail. I can't do that with seat down the same way I can with seat up. In fact I did a long 15 min enudro style downhill with the seat down it was more taxing than on my HT with seat up. The reason was I could never sit and rest on he short little bits that were smooth. I had to stand the entire time since there was not time to raise and lower the seat. Of course I was faster overall with the dropper, but it was not "easier" it was faster since I was pushing harder and the low seat allowed me to attack the trail harder. What I learned is that I need to strengthen those standing muscles more for those long DH runs. Similar muscle group to skiing.
    Joe
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  17. #17
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    Quote Originally Posted by JoePAz View Post
    I guess I don't see how it lets you "rest" on the downhills. When I rest on the downhill I want to be on the seat resting in smooth spot on the trail. I can't do that with seat down the same way I can with seat up. In fact I did a long 15 min enudro style downhill with the seat down it was more taxing than on my HT with seat up. The reason was I could never sit and rest on he short little bits that were smooth. I had to stand the entire time since there was not time to raise and lower the seat. Of course I was faster overall with the dropper, but it was not "easier" it was faster since I was pushing harder and the low seat allowed me to attack the trail harder. What I learned is that I need to strengthen those standing muscles more for those long DH runs. Similar muscle group to skiing.
    You drop the saddle 2 inches or so and stay seated on the smoother parts of the downhill. When you get to a more rocky part you just stand up and ride through it. With no dropper you are constantly standing because you don’t have any room between your butt and the saddle to soak up the smaller bumps and your center of gravity is much higher. You also need more time to react since you can’t brake as fast or soak up bumps as well. By doin this you take load off your legs where you would be standing for almost the entire descent.


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  18. #18
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jayem View Post
    What does that even mean? XC means "cross country" as in up and down and everything in between.

    Excactly. The term "XC", like many others has no real meaning. Entirely subjective.
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  19. #19
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    Quote Originally Posted by Thatshowiroll View Post
    Same. Maneuvering the post up and down is too distracting to me... SQUIRREL!!!!
    It took me some time to get past this stage, now it is more instinctive than shifting. I found the more I used it, the less I thought about it, until it became like an extension of my ass.
    I got some bad ideas in my head.

  20. #20
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    I can react faster when standing than seated and my seat up position still allows me to get my butt off the seat when I need to. Minor rocky bits don't cause me to need a dropper even on my HT. It is only when the trail gets really rough that the dropper helps. Minor trail chatter is always taking standing. Seated is for smooth bits of trail on both bikes. I mostly ride with dropper fully up or fully down, but I have found a few places where slightly down helps. These are areas were I need to pedal alot and then hit some rocks. All the way down compromises pedaling too much and moving it up and down is too slow. All the way up works, but sightly down can be bit of help.
    Joe
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  21. #21
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    On the track I race there is a couple S turns that you take at 25mph. They are sandy and off camber. You can make them at full speed with the post up, but I find myself tensing and really working the bike to stay on track. With the dropper down some I can rail the turn and my heart rate is lower. Same for fast sweeping corners on hills where your not pedaling, I slow less or keep all my speed and stay relaxed.
    I use the intermediate positions a lot on fast swoopy single track too. You can still pedal and get the advantage of low CG.

  22. #22
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    Quote Originally Posted by JoePAz View Post
    they do take time to get used to. Just like a front derailleur they take planning to know when to use when not to use. I have gotten better, but it always takes me a second or two hit the button and lower by butt to get the seat down. Last week I was riding and came to steep roller and should have lowered the seat, but it was too late. By the time I realized how steep and long the roller was I was pretty much over the edge and could not lower the post. So I just did it the old fashioned way and let the seat move alot. Still cleaned it, but I would really love it if the dropper would lower without needing to sit on it. Makes it more useful in mixed terrain.
    So then logically, if FD's have gone away because they were too complicated, then surely droppers are next.
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  23. #23
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    Quote Originally Posted by ACree View Post
    So then logically, if FD's have gone away because they were too complicated, then surely droppers are next.
    That is not what I said. I said that droppers take time to learn how to use and add complexity. And just like a FD where you have to plan ahead to make sure you are in the right chain ring before you apply power, with a dropper you need to drop it BEFORE you need it because if you are in the sh!t and need to drop the post you can't do it. I am sure companies are working on droppers where you don't need to sit down to lower them. The trick to do it fast enough to be useful. For now sitting is best solution, but it does not mean it will always stay that way.
    Joe
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    Quote Originally Posted by ACree View Post
    So then logically, if FD's have gone away because they were too complicated, then surely droppers are next.
    Pot.

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  25. #25
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    During some races, it's faster for me to put in a couple brief pedal strokes when riding up to a double/tabletop/step-up in an XC race, rather than take the half a second it takes to drop the post, but then on longer sustained downhills I can go faster or go as fast with much less fatigue when I drop the post, then there are the tech downhill sections that while not long, you can descend much safer and usually faster with a dropper. A crash at high speed or in tech during a race can quickly end your chances. So it just depends. Sometimes yes, sometimes no.
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    Thanks Mate, that sounds good!

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    I have a dropper on my bike, and I found I rarely use it in xco races. I do use it trail riding, training, and during endurance races where the downhill is long. It's weird because I ride worse downhill with the dropper down racing but worse with it up any other time. I think it's benefitial because you can have a slightly better climbing position uphill and then lower the seat slightly for tech downhills, although I don't think it makes that big of a difference compared to fitness, bike skills, mental will power, etc.

  28. #28
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    Quote Originally Posted by JoePAz View Post
    In my opinion the benefits don't counter the extra weight for the XC riding/racing I do.
    The difference in a carbon post and some of the lighter droppers is only ~200 grams. The weight penalty is well worth it.
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  29. #29
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    And here is (what appears to be) a fairly unbiased review with actual data. 16 seconds a lap (even with the weight penalty) seems fairly significant.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=y74Gqv_erec
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  30. #30
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    If you watch that video he says the time difference really isn't much, but he enjoys the fun factor of it. He also says at the end he's not used to using it, it may help once he gets better with it.

    I think that sums up this thread

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  31. #31
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    Quote Originally Posted by phalkon30 View Post
    If you watch that video he says the time difference really isn't much, but he enjoys the fun factor of it. He also says at the end he's not used to using it, it may help once he gets better with it.

    I think that sums up this thread

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    And I totally agree with those findings. I have a bike with and a bike without. The bike with is definitely more fun and easier to maneuver. The weight "penalty" is not even noticeable. Anyone worried about 1/2 a pound could cut back on the post ride brews and save that weight in no time!
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  32. #32
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    Quote Originally Posted by Stalkerfiveo View Post
    The difference in a carbon post and some of the lighter droppers is only ~200 grams. The weight penalty is well worth it.
    It's more like at least 3/4 of a pound, ~350-400g. There is that one carbon dropper, but it only drops 60mm, so hardly worth it to me. Most complete droppers are around 600g, most light XC seat posts around 200g. So significant weight, but again, worth it to many of us. I see lots of people racing with them these days.
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  33. #33
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jayem View Post
    No, it's more like at least 3/4 of a pound, ~350-400g. There is that one carbon dropper, but it only drops 60mm, so hardly worth it to me. Most complete droppers are around 600g, most light XC seat posts around 200g. So significant weight, but again, worth it to many of us. I see lots of people racing with them these days.
    This
    Swapping from a Easton carbon post to a Lev is 403g. Not insignificant. I like racing with it but don't always run it.

  34. #34
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    Quote Originally Posted by phalkon30 View Post
    My new Stache (is it really xc?) came with one, but I haven't found a use yet.
    Been riding for 20+ years, never felt the need for it

    I feel so at home in this crowd! So many places and forums are so horny for dropper posts that I feel like the dude with the 3rd eye because I removed my dropper from my Stache.

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  35. #35
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jayem View Post
    It's more like at least 3/4 of a pound, ~350-400g. There is that one carbon dropper, but it only drops 60mm, so hardly worth it to me. Most complete droppers are around 600g, most light XC seat posts around 200g. So significant weight, but again, worth it to many of us. I see lots of people racing with them these days.
    9.8 has a 125mm dropper that's 440g installed (cable and lever included) so that's a 240g difference from a 200g carbon post. 240g is almost dead on 1/2 pound.
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  36. #36
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    Quote Originally Posted by JoePAz View Post
    they do take time to get used to. Just like a front derailleur they take planning to know when to use when not to use. I have gotten better, but it always takes me a second or two hit the button and lower by butt to get the seat down. Last week I was riding and came to steep roller and should have lowered the seat, but it was too late. By the time I realized how steep and long the roller was I was pretty much over the edge and could not lower the post. So I just did it the old fashioned way and let the seat move alot. Still cleaned it, but I would really love it if the dropper would lower without needing to sit on it. Makes it more useful in mixed terrain.
    I'm sorry Joe, but I still think you haven't grasped how to use the dropper yet. If you say it is too hard to lower, well then that is a key factor. I could lower mine at any time because my natural descending position is to get my ass about 3" lower than my pedaling position. You only stand up tall when you need to absorb some big chunk... and I can push the button and let the bike push into me and lower the saddle if I need too... but I never have... looking ahead seems to be enough for me and the squat position is where I start.
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  37. #37
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    Having a good remote is key to dropper timing. I tried the stock KS lev remote with an older cable and it was really inconsistent. it would FUBAR my timing and then I would be blasting off stuff with my post in the air and no way to weight it. Made the dropper post a pain instead of the joy it is normally.

  38. #38
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    The Lev CI is only about 225-250 grams heavier than a light carbon post. Granted it only has 65mm of drop, but that still helps a ton in technical terrain and twisty singletrack. Droppers aren't just for downhilling or you're not getting the best/most use out of it. Dropping the seat 2.5 inches or even less allows for much better COG and the ability to get the saddle out of the way much easier. WELL worth the extra half-pound or so, especially since I finally took the time and effort to learn how to use it to its' advantage.
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  39. #39
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jayem View Post
    I've lowered the dropper while climbing to help clear crazy tight/steep switchbacks.
    x2

    in some climbs they are helpful. downhill is obvious, same with technical. that's like a 2.3/3 score

    like disc brakes over V, droppers are worth the weight increase

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    Quote Originally Posted by racebum View Post
    x2

    in some climbs they are helpful. downhill is obvious, same with technical. that's like a 2.3/3 score

    like disc brakes over V, droppers are worth the weight increase
    This. Glad I'm not the only one who admits to using, and being helped by, droppers on tough, tech climbs.
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  41. #41
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    2014 called - they want their interweb debate back.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Smithhammer View Post
    2014 called - they want their interweb debate back.
    That's all? They are always asking for the lottery numbers when they call me.

  43. #43
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    One thing that's often overlooked about droppers is on a long ride you can just give a little drop to change the way you stress your leg muscles and give yourself a break.

  44. #44
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    The culmination of the summer XC series was at the ski resort today, involving 1000' of climbing over 3.5 miles and repeating this 4x for expert category (which I raced). The downhills were on the mountain bike park trails, so a dropper was about the best thing ever. I even styled off quite a few jumps, drops and hips for fun. A couple sections would have been very sketchy without a dropper and the guy in front of me said he'll definitely run one next year. True XC involves up and down and both should be challenging. That's the whole point IMO.
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  45. #45
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jayem View Post
    ... A couple sections would have been very sketchy without a dropper and the guy in front of me said he'll definitely run one next year. True XC involves up and down and both should be challenging. That's the whole point IMO.
    Yes. Courses should be challenging on both aspects. And it's always faster when you don't crash.

    I've had a hard time getting into the routine of thinking about/using the dropper. I had a failed dropper attempt a couple years ago and went back to a solid post. This summer I had two bikes. One owned by the shop I work for with dropper, one my own bike with carbon fixed post. I spent about equal time on the two, and did some big techy rides on the fixed post bike. Sometimes I got scared because of near crashes and realized pretty clearly that a dropper would have allowed me to be in a better control situation.

    I'm an old guy. In my current life, I don't have room for a big-ass injury. For lots of reasons. It's complicated. These are personal matters.

    So I'm trying to ride whatever challenging terrain I still can and stay upright and in control. A dropper helps. For us old farts who managed to ride and race for a couple decades without d@mn droppers, at first they just seem stupid and heavy and high maintenance. And they are some of that, but they also can keep you on the bike, and they can get you through some things quicker (I have strava data on that).

    Most of us can take on some weight to offset medical bills. If you're making a living doing this bike riding sh!t you probably are not reading this. Otherwise, learn to stop worrying and love the dropper.
    Tom Purvis - Salida, CO - http://teamvelveeta.tom-purvis.com

    "I like my wimmen like I like my beer--cold and bitter!"

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    Quote Originally Posted by TomP View Post
    Otherwise, learn to stop worrying and love the dropper.
    Yes, droppers are the bomb

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    Quote Originally Posted by Some1callthekomsquad View Post
    One thing that's often overlooked about droppers is on a long ride you can just give a little drop to change the way you stress your leg muscles and give yourself a break.
    I'm just getting used to a dropper for the first time and that's already an obvious advantage. A minor height adjustment could really help out a fatigued or cramped muscle by changing the fit of the bike and shifting the load around.

    Also, everyone keeps pointing at lowering the seat to go faster downhill as the big win, but for me it's been the ability to run at max height that will probably be the biggest overall gain. I've always run my seat a little low as a compromise between efficiency and maneuverability, now I'm able to run the seat at the full extension normally reserved for road biking. Downhills are more fun and may get a little quicker but there is a really noticeable gain in efficiency when it's time to raise it all the way up because it's higher than I'd ever want to run a static post.

  48. #48
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    No dropper = no ride

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    Quote Originally Posted by slimphatty View Post
    No dropper = no ride
    Wasn't that a Bob Marley song?

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    Well, I got my new Stache 9.7 out over the weekend which has a line pro dropper. Even on Midwest relatively flat trails I did find a few times that a dropped seat actually helped me. Obviously in steep downhills and pump track style dirt whoops, but also in slalom style twisting downhills I liked the clearance

    I still wouldn't spend $300 to get one, but having a 1x drive train really frees up that left hand to think about other things like dropping the seat. I won't be taking mine off to sell it like I thought I would

    Sent from my Nexus 6P using Tapatalk

  51. #51
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    Quote Originally Posted by JoePAz View Post
    The only way you could argue they do is if you are now able to run your seat at the height it should be for pedaling vs slightly lower.
    Well, isn't that one of the main benefits? You can run the seat at the proper height for the climbs which generally make up 70% or more of the time you spend in a XC race, and still be able to lower it out of the way for faster cornering, descending, and tech.

    I use a dropper constantly in XC racing. I think what a lot of people don't realize is, the bike you're on makes a big difference in your need for a dropper. The slacker the HA on a bike, the more you have to lean it over to make a turn. That's why you can get away with a fixed post on a traditional steep XC rig. I think the turning point is about 68.5deg, where once you go slacker than that, you're really putting yourself at a disadvantage by not running a dropper. You can still go around corners, you just have to go slower, because either a) you don't lean the bike as much, so you have to slow down to make the corner or b)you're leaning with the bike to achieve the lean angle, so you have less traction, and less forgiveness to regain traction if you lose it.

    A lot of people try droppers, and say they don't gain any advantage from it and go back to fixed because they don't change their riding style to take advantage of the dropper. It sounds sort of obvious when you actually say it, but to gain an advantage from using a dropper, you have to change your riding style to take advantage of the dropper. If you continue to corner and ride as if you had a fixed post, then of course you won't gain any advantage from the dropper. It will just be extra weight. You essentially have to learn to corner like a downhill rider, instead of a like a XC rider. The reason DH, BMX, and DS riders all ride with dropped posts isn't because it's slower. The makeup of any given course will determine however whether the advantage to be gained from the dropper on the corners and descents outweighs the additional weight on the climbs. Once you learn how to corner like a DH'er though, it feels awkward to go back to a fixed post and have the seat always be in the way, so although I've swapped back and forth for different courses, I'm going to be going 100% dropper this year. KS Lev Carbon 30.9 125mm at only 380grams according to their site seems like a reasonable increase.
    Fall is here. Woo-hoo!

  52. #52
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    Quote Originally Posted by BmanInTheD View Post
    The Lev CI is only about 225-250 grams heavier than a light carbon post. Granted it only has 65mm of drop, but that still helps a ton in technical terrain and twisty singletrack. Droppers aren't just for downhilling or you're not getting the best/most use out of it. Dropping the seat 2.5 inches or even less allows for much better COG and the ability to get the saddle out of the way much easier. WELL worth the extra half-pound or so, especially since I finally took the time and effort to learn how to use it to its' advantage.
    You can get them up to 175mm drop now. The 30.9 125mm is only 385g. KS | LEV Ci
    Fall is here. Woo-hoo!

  53. #53
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    Quote Originally Posted by alexbn921 View Post
    Having a good remote is key to dropper timing. I tried the stock KS lev remote with an older cable and it was really inconsistent. it would FUBAR my timing and then I would be blasting off stuff with my post in the air and no way to weight it. Made the dropper post a pain instead of the joy it is normally.
    A 1x style remote is key. Using the stock KS remote, or the Reverb remote mounted on top of the bar (the worst, why do some manufacturer's still spec the wrong remote on their 1x builds?) makes it much more difficult to use.

    If you get a paddle shifter style remote, it becomes so natural to use that you barely even think about it. I probably use it almost 100 times during a 20 mile ride. I use it far more than I've ever used a shock lockout.
    Fall is here. Woo-hoo!

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