(Last updated on April 25th, 2023)
My first mountain bike—now over 20 years old, resembles today’s hardtails and gravel bikes. It has wide tires and flat bars with bull horns, but it doesn’t have a suspension system or a dropper post.
Mountain bikers are often at the forefront of cycling technology with great mountain biking gear, with their inventions slowly trickling over into gravel bikes and finally into road bikes. But, whether you ride a mountain bike or a road bike, you might wonder: What is a dropper post? And do I need one?
A dropper post is a type of seatpost on a mountain bike and some other types of bikes that enable the rider to easily drop the bike seat out of the way while riding. While dropper seats started as just a simple spring attached to the seat post clamp, the technology has improved quickly, making dropper seats easier to use and safer.
In this article, I will talk about what a dropper seat is. Then, I’ll go over when you should use it and when you shouldn’t. Then, I’ll talk about how it works and, lastly, whether or not you need one, too. Let’s take a look.
What is a Dropper Post?
Dropper posts are also known simply as droppers or dropper seats. A simple dropper post replaces the bike’s standard seat post. With a dropper post, you can quickly and easily change the height of your saddle without getting off the bike or stopping your ride, increasing your maneuverability and braking power on the bike.
Travel is the amount that the dropper posts move when you pull the lever. This is usually expressed in mm – a typical dropper post will have 100 to 200mm of travel.
How a Dropper Post Works
Some dropper seat posts are electronic or wireless, but many are adjusted with a cable and lever. The lever is usually found on the handlebar alongside the shifters. Many times, mountain bikes only have a single chain ring. So instead of a shifter for a second chainring, you’ll find the lever that operates the dropper post.
When you move the lever, the cable pulls on the dropper post actuator to move the post up or down.
For example, drop the post, stay seated, and push the lever. Your body weight will cause the seat to drop, giving you more room to maneuver your body on the bike.
If you need to raise the seat, get out of the saddle and pull the lever. The dropper post will return to its normal position.
When riding a mountain bike, you may need to shift your body weight back over the back wheel to control the bike. The dropper seat will quickly move out of the way so you can have more freedom of movement to keep the bike stable.
When descending, even on a road bike, the dropper post will get out of your way so you can lower your center of gravity. As a result, you’ll be more stable on the bike as you descend. You’ll also be able to throw your weight backward if you should need to stop quickly.
At the end of the descent, you can stand out of the saddle, flick the lever, and the seat will return to its normal riding position.
It takes practice to get used to riding with a dropper post.
Pros and Cons of a Dropper Post
There are plenty of good reasons to purchase a dropper seat post or not. Next, I’ll discuss the pros and cons of using a dropper post.
Dropper Posts Improve Your Position for Technical Riding
When riding on a trail, you may need to get the saddle out of the way to handle rough terrain. This gives you more room to shift your weight down and back for fast descents or keep your balance over obstacles.
Dropper Posts can Return to a Preset Height
After you finish the dropped saddle position, you can stand out of the saddle and move the lever. The seat will then return to a preset height.
This way, when climbing or riding easy sections of the trail, you can put your seat back to the optimal position without having to get off your bike and reset it. Instead, you can set this position beforehand to always return to it.
Dropper Posts Make Stopping Easy
If you really want to be efficient, you can drop your seat when approaching a traffic light or stop sign. Then you can put your foot down without getting off the seat. Are you get moving again, you can return the seat to its normal position.
Dropper Posts can be Very Expensive
Dropper posts aren’t always cheap, and it is an investment to upgrade one. First, you have the cost of the post and the cost of installation. You must also adjust and maintain the dropper post as you use it.
Dropper Posts Add Weight to Your Bike
Mountain bikes are naturally heavy, but gravel and road bikes are not. If you consider adding a dropper post to a bike, remember that it will add more weight than a traditional seat post. If you are worried about every ounce or gram of weight on your bike, a dropper post might not be a good choice.
Dropper Posts Require Extra Maintenance
Dropper posts are one more moving part on your bike, which means additional maintenance after you install it.
Suggested Droppers for Your Bike
After reading the pros and cons of dropper posts, if you still want one, you might be interested in one of these:
- Bike Yoke Revive Dropper Seatpost Black, 30.9x484mm, 185mm Travel $439.95 125 or 160 mm of travel
- OneUp Components V2 Dropper Post $199.50 90 – 210 mm of travel
- RockShox, Reverb AXS, Dropper Seatpost $861 150 mm of travel
- Crankbrothers Highline 3 Suspension Seatpost $83.99 100mm of travel
Do I Need a Dropper Post?
Dropper posts are an excellent tool for rough terrain and fast descents. If you ride a mountain bike downhills and over obstacles, a dropper post might be a great upgrade for you.
If you make a lot of technical descents on a gravel or road bike, you might also want to consider upgrading to a dropper post.
A dropper seat post will enable you to lower your center of gravity, which makes you more stable on the bike. It also reduces your frontal mass, which reduces wind drag. So a dropper post will help you descend more safely and more quickly.
However, since dropper posts are typically created for mountain bikes, they might not be a good fit for an aero bike frame. They may increase aerodynamic drag, and they may not work correctly within the frame of an aero bike.
If the wires on your road or gravel bike are internally routed, adding a dropper post to your setup may be difficult. And you may not have a good spot to install the lever if you ride a bike with multiple chainrings.
If you don’t like doing your own maintenance, like lubing your bike chain, you might not want to take on another bike part that needs to be adjusted and maintained.
Although dropper posts are excellent upgrades for mountain bikes, you might also want to consider other upgrades. For example, you may want to consider mountain bike pedals, new handlebars, or even adding a motor to change your mountain bike into an EMBT.
Final Thoughts on a Dropper Seatpost?
Mountain bikers have known for a long time that dropper posts are a helpful tool for cycling down steep hills and over rough terrain. That technology has trickled into gravel cycling and professional road racing.
If you’re interested in a dropper post, you’ll need to consider whether it fits your riding style, budget, and, especially, bike.
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Frequently Asked Questions
Unless the bike rack holds the bike by the seat post, it shouldn’t affect putting it on a bike rack.
Yes, many modern mountain bikes will come with dropper posts already installed.
Dropper posts that are cable-actuated do not need a battery. However, if you have an electronic or wireless dropper post, it will have a battery that either needs to be charged or replaced regularly.
You can adjust your dropper posts, and you may need to if the cables begin to stretch. LIV bikes provide clear instructions on how to adjust your dropper post.
The dropper post replaces the seat post on your bike. If the dropper post fits into the seat tube and you can wire it correctly, you can put a dropper post on a gravel or road bike. You can take your bike to your local bike shop for assistance.
Amanda Whittington is an expert writer, impassioned cyclist, and musician. Coming from a diverse educational background, Amanda discovered a deep-rooted passion for encouraging others through her love of all things cycling, writing, and inspiring hope.
You’ll likely find Amanda pouring over bike specs, comparing the hottest cycling tech, and sporting the latest jerseys while juggling the demands of her editorial calendar, training schedule, tiny homestead, and 6 busy kids.
She spends her free time absorbed in her own gardening and fitness, cycling, and reading, all while encouraging adoption and foster care, championing the underdog, and of course, working with her chickens and goats.