Questions about remote seatposts

Our colleague EJ has questions. I have answers (or at least opinions).


Ok…rider profile first.

Moderately aggressive recreational rider who has 5″ travel trail bike trying to get faster/better skills. Primarily rides IMBA created trail with flowy berms/rollers or more technical Southeastern US trails with roots, small drops (<3 feet) with loops on a flow track and/or BMX park thrown in. I do not typically do mountainous downhill runs or long cross country type riding.

1.) Is it your opinion, that dropper seat posts are becoming a neccessary bike component that truly improves a rider’s techniques, or are they another “magic bullet” type of item that gear-a-holics glom on to?

They are not a magic bullet, but they are a fantastic tool.

If you suck at riding bikes, you will still suck with a dropper post. But: Getting the seat out of the way makes sucking less dangerous, and it creates space to help you learn proper balance and range of motion.

If you rule at riding bikes, and you learn to use the expanded cockpit, a dropper post is going to help you braaap harder and carry more speed. You won’t be compromising on your seat height or stopping to fiddle with it.

2.) Given the price range of the newer dropper seat posts, is it really worth the investment?

If you have a dialed bike that fits you, and your bills are paid, and your babies are fed, and your wife is happy, and you know how to ride, a dropper post is a smart place to put some money.

I tell my beginning skills clients to get dropper posts before they get clip-in pedals and shoes. This is after they’ve spent time and money learning how to ride. Skill trumps all equipment.

If you really could use that $300 for something else — and who can’t? — you can always rock a $30 seatpost quick release. You’ll have to compromise seat height or stop to fiddle with it, but it’s not like mountain biking is going to be terrible.

3.) Across a variety of Internet sites, user reviews, etc., there seems to be a high degree of customer dissatifaction with the most common products. (KS, Rock Shock, Gravity Dropper, Crank Brothers). Are the newer generation of posts reliable for long rides in more desolate areas, where equipment failure causes a lot of inconvenience.


Honestly, every adjustable seatpost I’ve ridden for any length of time has eventually revealed itself to be a piece of crap. OK, let’s not go that far. So far every post has at some point disappointed me.

• Original Gravity Dropper was fine until a kid to whom I loaned my bike spayed a bunch of water and dirt into the mechanism. I cleaned and lubed everything, but it became impossible to find the right amount of spring preload. Too little and the post didn’t go up; too much and it wouldn’t go down. I eventually gave up.

• My two Maverick Speedballs have been pretty decent, but they have been failing in catastrophic ways. Note: The Crank Bros Joplin uses the same mecanism. The last time I got the Speedballs rebuilt, the tech told me they would always be a liability, and that I should get myself a Specialized Command Post. I hate to spend money on bike stuff, so I’m switching the last surviving Speedball among Captain America, Stumpy and Enduro. It’s working fine right now.

• An X-Fusion Hilo 100 lasted about eight nice months before spraying oil all over the bike and losing it’s ability to stay up. I’ll assume a rebuild with new seals will give me another eight months. I have real things to worry about in my life; I can’t bother with broken bike parts.

I just put in an order for three Specialized Command Posts, paid for with my own money. The hydraulic Rockshox Reverb seems like it has the nicest function out there, but the mechanical Command Post has proven reliable for a whole lot of people. I plan to slap Command Posts on Captain America, Stumpy and Enduro. Done. No more switching, no more worrying.

4.) Specifically, regarding the upcoming KS Lev post. Have you received any feedback from Brian Lopes regarding his testing? Would he actually use something like this on his daily ride? Has the new cable routing and post proved to be reliable without the common complaints of seal failure or side to side play? Would it be better to wait for the new Lev or get the current models now?

Brian and I don’t sit around talking about bike components during Next Top Model commercials. I’ll say this:

Lopes doesn’t tolerate anything that doesn’t further his goals. He would not run the KS post unless it worked for him. Also, if he senses play or sees oil, he’ll get it taken care of right away — unlike me, who runs stuff until it breaks in the back country.

Right now, in order of proven reliability:

• Old fashioned seatpost quick release.

• Specialized Command Post.

The Rockshox Reverb seems really solid (and the function appears to be the sweetest), but we’ll see how it fares over time. Fox is working on something; I doubt it will suck.

Also read: Top 3 adjustable seatposts

Thanks in advance!

You’re welcome. Rip it!


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23 replies
  1. max says:

    The Specialized command post has been rock solid for me. It is a component I never have to think about, which I like.
    I had bad luck with the Reverb (1st and 2nd generation), but for some people they have been solid. Luck of the draw I guess.

  2. Jeff says:

    I have very high hopes for the KS LEV. I love my bike w/ 27.2 seatpost so the Reverb and Command Post are not an option. I am running an X-Fusion remote now and have trouble with the seat clamp (single bolt) but can’t go back to a fixed post. If I get the KS I will be keeping the X-Fusion as a back up. I know there are some trails I just don’t want to race w/o the extra room. As far as price some think they are way over priced, taking advantage of the market. Well it is a lot cheaper than buying a new bike because when you drop the seat on request that’s what you get, a new bike. Seat down and descending or cornering = DH bike, seat up and seated pedaling/ gradual climbing = XC bike, seat down for standing climbing/ attacking = Rock Crawler (not a bike but best comparison) bike.

  3. EJ says:

    Thanks for taking time to write this up! Based on your reply…I decided to invest $35.00 of my equipment budget in your “Teaching MTB Skills” book. It will probably pay more dividends in the long run.

    Thanks again for spreading the word!


  4. Eric says:

    Now I’m really considering one of these, particularly for the couple of fairly technical endurance races coming up this season. Really don’t want to ride 50+ miles with a low post, nor do I want to want to confront a lot of the terrain with a mile-high XC seat position. Seems more than worth the small weight penalty.

  5. the curmudgeon says:

    Those fancy new fangled seatposts really stick in my craw. Maybe I’m old and crabby or maybe I am older but wiser. $300-$400 for an expletive seatpost is stupid. Especially for a component with a proven record of short service life. Use your quick release and take that 1 extra minute to stop and smell the roses. As amatter of fact, when the trail heads downward you can drop your seatpost and leave it there even if there are some undulating or short up hill sections along the way down. Use those conditions as an opportunity to work on the standing while pedaling technique. Once your body adapts standing, it really isn’t any more work than sitting and improves braap. Sitting down and pedaling is for sissies.

  6. Feldy says:

    I was a HUDGE skeptic of dropper posts until I picked up a GD at a bike swap for less money than I knew I could resell it for when I decided that I hated it. Well, I didn’t hate it. Or rather, I don’t hate it entirely. It’s heavy, sloppy, and overall clunky. But I practically can’t ride without it anymore. On a scale of not picky to 10, I’m probably a 7 or 8 on proper seatpost height (Lee, for your benefit, I have a college buddy who’s an 11), so I hate adjusting my post mid ride. And I don’t need a dropper post for getting down steep stuff (as a point of reference, I’ve ridden down all of Mr. Toad’s in Tahoe with my post jacked at full height). But the overall feeling of getting low and being able to lean the bike in corners without the seat running into my thigh is a massive benefit for smoothness and flow.

    In contrast, I still don’t like flat pedals for trail riding (or even DH, really). Last summer, I did a ride with a little bit of everything (through Boulder, up the Canyon Link, around both loops at Betasso and back — okay that’s not quite everything) and had forgotten my shoes so needed to borrow some flats. Not being able to pull up is one thing. Staying on the pedals through bumps isn’t that much of an issue. But making sure my foot was in the right position all the time was really annoying. As mentioned in another post, maybe I need to suck less. OTOH, I didn’t really see any benefit in being able to move my foot around that’s analogous to a low saddle. (See, I totally brought that full circle and thus do not need to apologize for thread drift…or something)

  7. leelikesbikes says:

    Today I washed and prepped Captain America to fly him to SoCal for teaching this weekend. My Speedball is so damn iffy, and it’s bleeding oil, and I don’t trust it, especially on a work trip … but do you know what? I’m bringing it! I just love being able to move the seat on the fly.

    Feldy: And yes I’m bringing flat pedals. Just to tie it together, flat pedals seem to work better with the seat down. The added range of motion helps you move your feet with the terrain. It also helps you pop your feet off the pedal to reposition it just right.

  8. Feldy says:

    In addition, I wonder if seat-down goes with flats because you have more weight on the pedals? I.e. less likely to bounce off.

    Also, I understand *that* other people like flats (for reasons other than just fear of being stuck in clipless pedals) but I still don’t understand *how* moving one’s feet around translates to more control. “Light hands, heavy feet” kinda implies not moving those feet too much. Maybe that’s my mis-perception.

  9. leelikesbikes says:

    I’m with you Feldy. I see no benefit to moving your feet around on the pedals. That’s more of an inconvenience than anything.

    One exception would be for cornering. Flat pedals let you tip your foot on the pedal, which can help you access more range. The same would apply for throwing style in the air.

  10. Flatlander says:

    I’m of the impression that flats should pair with the dropper and sticky rubber, Just like clipless come with cleats and a hard sole: package deal.

  11. Tjaard says:

    Opponents say:” I don’t need that, I can get down any descent and corner and jump without it.”
    Or: “That’s only for downhillers. It’s heavy and way more expensive than rigid one, I ride easy trails and XC”.
    All valid arguments.

    But: Notice how these very same arguments were used in the not so distant past regarding (front)suspension! Yet, now-days, almost every rider uses front suspension and many rear suspension as well.

  12. mzeatwzad says:

    I’ve been riding Joplins on both my Reign X and Trance X for 2 and 3 years, respectively. Probably have 800 miles on the one, and so far the only failure I’ve experienced was a broken cable. I’ve been hub-deep in the Creek riding up Sycamore Cyn in March, and haven’t had to rebuild yet. In regard to the issue of lateral motion of the post; you don’t even notice it after the first minute in the saddle. Regardless of which post you decide to go with, the convenience of dropping the post on the fly just enhances the riding experience so much that any concerns of monetary or weight cost should be cast aside. I found both my posts on the interwebs for about 190 shipped. My friends all cluck their tounges at the thought of the extra weight, but I’m rolling with a Camelbak with at least a liter, innertube, pump, c02 (overkill), sundry tools, snake kit, phone, etc., and I’m still beating them back to the car, all because I can ball ass down the hill with confidence!

  13. Aussie Chris says:

    I moved to a Giant Switch a few months ago and I’ve found it is essential for racing XC and marathons. The more tired you get, the more rest I want on the hard-earned downhill runs and with a lower seat I can relax a little more. I take it down about half an inch for normal XC riding, and when we hit the fireroads it is at my road riding height.

    And when I go out to play on my it is essential too. I no longer go past a jump and think “I can’t be bothered stopping to lower the seat.” I just hit the lever, send it, and then go back to pedalling at whatever height I desire.

  14. Aussie Chris says:

    As I use flats, I move my feet forwards on long non-technical climbs, a la Joe Friel/Goetz Heine. Because it is just grunt-work, I can use the big muscles and save my calves for the tea party. And on long rides change is as good as a rest.

  15. Wacek says:

    I would say that it is very easy to get over enthusiastic about dropper posts. For an amateur like me it is a ticket to moar fun, moar control but also to fat build up… Current AM bikes and 29er XC are so effective and make it so easy to put your bum down while riding on rough terrain that a dropper post takes “too easy” over the edge. I ride a hardtail more often now (with high post and flats) as I just need that test of truth of my skills. I lower the standard post 3-4cm under my “on-road” pedalling height and do my homework.

    Reliability will always be an issue with posts (dropper is more complicated in construction than standard, so it has ways more chance to break – period), and I’ve already had trouble with my Reverb. If it breaks again, I just buy Thomson Elite and train more…

  16. Bob says:

    I like clipless because I can pedal circles and gain power on the upstroke. But I am a XC rider. As Ned Overend said in his book, drive the knees towards the handlebar. I know that on my road bike, I can concentrate on my spin and pick up 1.5mph at the same heart rate. Same thing goes on the XC bike, especially on extended climbs.

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