I got my first dropper post on October 14, 2015, the day that changed my life. The instant I dropped my saddle, I transformed from a zero to a hero. With room to maneuver my bike and react to terrain, fear was replaced by an addictive mix of confidence and control. Riding with a dropper is not only faster and more fun, but safer too.
With that in mind, I’ve got an idea bomb to drop on you: All bikes should have a dropper seatpost. Yup, even road bikes.
If you’re still reading, you haven’t thrown your device across the room or gone straight to the comments to yell at me. So please, hear me out.
Dropper posts help riders shred, especially on gravel bikes like this Cannondale Topstone Carbon Lefty. Photo credit: Cannondale.
First, nearly every mountain biker has already seen the light when it comes to droppers. (Could a dropper have saved Mathieu van der Poel’s Olympic XC race?!) Gravel is clearly the next discipline to benefit from dropping the saddle.
With bigger tires, suspension forks, and progressive geometry, new gravel bikes are more capable. Gravel riders are pushing limits and events like Grinduro are getting gnarlier. Even on mellow gravel, a dropper will pay off. A lower saddle means a lower center of gravity. This lets you use good cornering technique for more traction and speed. A lower saddle also frees up your body to move dynamically as terrain gets steeper.
Skilled roadies can corner fast, but could things be better? Motorcycles don't have sky high saddles for a reason. MotoGP photo credit: Gold & Goose / Red Bull Content Pool.
I know this is a hard sell, but the same is true for road bikes. On paved roads, dropping the saddle will let you move around on the bike, corner, and descend like a MotoGP rider. Not only does that sound immensely fun (which is the most important thing), but the lower center of gravity gives you more traction to attack corners and room to absorb road hazards like bumps, potholes, and debris.
Plus, imagine the aero benefits! Now that the UCI banned the super-tuck position, a dropper post is the only way to achieve an ultra-aerodynamic position while remaining in contact with the saddle. It will also provide a safer way to actually pedal in a super-tuck. With the super-tuck ban, I wouldn’t be surprised to see some daring racers experiment with droppers on stages with big descents.
One of the peloton’s most feared descenders, Vincenzo Nibali, has already tested a height-adjustable post at the Tour de France. No, it's not a true dropper like we're talking about. But it's telling that a rider like Nibali was willing to accept the weight penalty.
After all, teams can easily build 6.8 kg bikes (the UCI weight limit) with a dropper. New, ultralight bikes like the Specialized Aethos can easily be built into the 14 pound range with off-the-shelf components. Teams with underweight bikes have to add weights to the frame. Why not add a component that's actually useful? Riders being equal, I would bet my house that a dropper-equipped bike will always out-descend a bike with a rigid post.
Maybe you’re not a dropper believer yet. I think I know why:
- Extra weight
- Extra complexity
- Extra cost
- We’ve ridden without droppers for years and change is scary.
Here are my responses:
- The lightest posts like the KS Lev Ci (400g), Bike Yolk Devine SL (385g), and Fox Transfer SL (327g) already weigh well under a pound. They’ll only get lighter. Plus, I’m a recovering weight weenie, who insists bike weight doesn’t matter. Droppers will help with my recovery.
- Meh, you get used to the complexity. Once you do, it’ll feel weird to ride without it. Using the dropper is already second-nature on my mountain bike.
- I own aero socks. I think it’s fun to spend my meager disposable income on geeky products for marginal gains. Join me.
- Okay, no one really needs a dropper. But if it can help even one rider go faster, feel more confident, have more fun, and stay safe, that’s a good thing!
Speedy but versatile bikes like this dropper-equipped Cervélo Aspero showed me how amazing droppers are, even when riding pavement.
It will be a few years before droppers are common on gravel bikes. For road bikes, it will take longer. Some newer gravel adventure bikes already come equipped with or have routing for dropper posts, and we have exciting new options like the forthcoming ENVE post and RockShox Reverb XPLR. I can’t wait for more lightweight, short travel, road- and gravel-focused droppers to come to market.
Some think my opinions are too radical. Just look at the comments readers left after I said 1x drivetrains are the future for road bikes. But when I say, “all bikes should have dropper posts,” it doesn’t mean your dropper-less bike is garbage, or that I want you to buy a dropper right now. Ride whatever bike you want, however you want. If it makes you happy, I’m happy!
If you’ve never thought about putting a dropper post on your bike, try to be open to it. I didn’t know I liked GPS head units, power meters, or hummus until I tried them. The future might surprise you in a good way. I, for one, will gladly bend the knee to our new dropper post overlords.
Is Bruce completely off his rocker? Or is he actually on to something? Let us know what you think in the comments!