First it was tubeless tyres. Then disc brakes. Then 29-inch wheels. Then 2x drivetrains. Then 650B and 650B Plus wheels. Then 1x drivetrains. Then Boost-width hubs. Then slacker geometry. Then e-Bikes. Then electronic shifting. Mountain biking is undoubtedly progressive and the current area of focus is dropper seatposts. Know this though, you don’t need one. Here’s why…
By Sean Badenhorst
It’s hard to get through any bike conversation these days without someone mentioning dropper seatposts. And walk around a bike shop and see that around 50% of the mountain bikes now come standard with a dropper seatpost. Watch a World Cup XCO race and see most of the riders using dropper seatposts… Dropper posts are undoubtedly not a fad. They’re here for good.
Gravity and slopestyle riders generally don’t know life without a dropper seatpost, but in South Africa, the masses that ride marathons, stage races and endurance events, are yet to fully understand and embrace them.
Curiously, I have come across a number of mountain bikers who have bought a bike with a dropper seatpost, but they don’t actually use it. There are two main reasons for this. The first, they’re not actually certain how it works and when it’s best to use it. The second is they’re not experienced enough; and while riding they’re so focussed on staying upright, braking and shifting that an extra thing like managing their saddle height isn’t possible.
It’s a pity, because using a dropper seatpost enhances your riding. Actually, it does more than enhance, it noticeably changes the way you ride. A dropper seatpost, used properly, gives you more confidence, more manoeuvrability, more control, more traction and, obviously, more speed.
Unless you’re a single-digit body-fat rider, don’t come to me with ‘but what about extra weight’ comments. Trim a couple of hundred grams off your body weight by adjusting your eating! The additional weight of a dropper seatpost is well worth it.
When I teach mountain bike skills, I point out to my students that their saddle is for sitting on when pedalling. The rest of the time, it’s largely in the way… Yes, that’s a simplification, but it’s essentially what it is. Your saddle is your pedalling perch. When you can move it down and out of the way, you can change your position on the bike on descents, through turns and over jumps and drop-offs.
This allows you to move forward, backwards and from side to side without your saddle obstructing your movement. Anyone that chooses to ride with a dropper seatpost knows just how much of a difference this makes. Anyone that doesn’t use one won’t know what they’re missing.
Frustratingly, a dropper post isn’t like a saddle, which you can just attach in five minutes and try out for a while to decide if you like it. It’s a bit more complicated to fit, which is why there aren’t dropper seatpost demo units easily available. And even if you could get demo dropper posts, you may need to spend quite some time riding with it to get into a dropper-post riding mindset, for some, a few weeks. Easier to adapt for for more experienced, skilled riders; fairly formidable for others.
And this is where I get to my point. Everyone can ride a mountain bike just fine with a normal seatpost. And if fine is all you want, then you don’t need a dropper seatpost. Your riding is a bit limited, but it’s fine. But if you want more than fine. If you want more confidence, if you want more manoeuvrability, if you want more control, if you want more traction and if you want more speed, then you don’t need a dropper seatpost, you want one!
WANT A DROPPER NOW?
If you’re interested in fitting a dropper seatpost to your bike, you’re looking at an investment of anything from R3000-R9000. There are a number of brands that sell ‘droppers’ these days; and not all droppers are equal, but consider these external-cable remote droppers, made by two South African brands that sell for under R3000, both of which we have ridden and have been impressed with:
Lyne Components: https://www.lynecomponents.com/external-droppers