“I don’t need my seat lower on the downhills I ride.”
It’s the most common response I’ve heard to why someone doesn’t run a dropper. That, and:
- They’re heavy
- I like the seat up for stability
- I’m doing just fine without one
And the list goes on. Ironically, many similar comments were made about 29ers, and yet, they dominate the XC mountain bike world now. The long and short of it is, dropper posts make you faster and are way more fun. Get one, stop making excuses, they’re not grounded in reality.
I’ll humor your nay-saying excuses though for a minute. Let’s start with weight. We’re talking about non-rotating weight. The best kind to have on your bike. And at probably an extra 250g, the added benefits you are GETTING are far worth the 3 seconds you would lose on a 60 minute uphill TT from adding that weight. It’s really not worth even talking about (unless uphill dirt TT’s are your wheelhouse, in which case, keep your Ax Lightness post).
For those who think that having your post high on a descent, obstacle or turn is helpful in stabilizing you, you clearly haven't spent much time on a dropper. There is simply no better way to convince you of this than to force a dropper onto your bike and make you use it. But, I’ll do my best with words to convince you.
The beautifies of the dropper is not simply in the downhills, though we can start there. When you are on a slight grade where continuous pedaling is required, then yes, having your seat slammed all the way up for proper leg extension is great. But when the terrain turns down further, gets steeper and faster, having the ability to lower your center of gravity is not only safer, it also gives you the ability to maneuver the bike more severely and properly position your body over the bike. Let’s say you’re going full speed down a trail and realize your going to clip your bar on an oncoming tree. Having your post down will allow you to lean the bike over further, faster, and avoid that collision. Or say you’re coming around a turn and see a big root you don’t have time to properly set up to clear, your back wheel clips it and subsequently your saddle slams into your chamois putting you into a sudden endo. Now, I’m all about a fun endo now and again to keep your grip on reality strong, but you do that coming into another turn and you are not going to be too happy. Alternatively, if the saddle was down low enough, the saddle never would have reached you and the quick bike buck wouldn’t be an issue as you keep flying down the trail, balance intact.
Another perfect dropper scenario is when you’re coming up to that big rock or obstacle. Clearing it has never been an issue, but with the dropper you are not bound to the proper hopping formula (front up, back up, front down, back down), you can simply get the front up, kiss the obstacle with the rear and use it as a ramp, landing both wheels at the same time to keep flying full speed. It’s a much easier motion and can be taken at a significantly higher speed, giving you a faster exit from the obstacle.
Then there is turning, perhaps the most underrated use for a dropper. Think of the physics behind a turn. You need traction, speed, and proper balance to get through a turn quickly. On a road bike that means leaning the bike while keeping your body as upright as possible, and of course the same is true of the mountain bike. The difference though, is that you do MUCH tighter turns on a mountain bike! Imagine being able to lean the bike over twice as far through a quick turn. You’re going to go faster, build confidence and dramatically increase your maneuvering speed.
You might still be thinking, “well, I’m doing quite well without a dropper thanks!” And yes, you probably are. I think Julien Absalon was doing decently well as a rider too. Then he put a dropper on all of his XC bikes. One could argue it might only be marginally faster for the most exceptional bike handler, but I guarantee you that it is WAY more fun than a fixed post on any type of trail, for any rider.