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The Best Dropper Posts for Gravel Bikes (27.2mm)

If you're riding gnarlier gravel, a dropper post makes a lot of sense. But do you need one on your gravel bike? We explain the pros and cons, and what dropper posts are worth considering for your gravel bike.

Written by: Bruce Lin

Published on:

Posted in:Guides

Fact: dropper seatposts are rad. If you’ve ridden a modern mountain bike, then you already know this. Droppers let riders instantly lower the saddle at the push of a button. This gets it out of the way so you have more freedom to move and position your body on descents and technical terrain. Droppers are so useful that, in recent years, we’ve seen them make their way over to the curly bar side of the sport, with riders equipping their gravel bikes (and even road bikes!) with droppers. 

As gravel has evolved, riders have started venturing onto gnarlier terrain on their bikes, so dropper posts actually make a lot of sense. You don’t even need a huge amount of dropper travel like you do with mountain bike droppers. 40-100mm is more than enough to get huge handling benefits on a dropbar bike. But do you need a dropper on YOUR gravel bike? We’ll explain the pros and cons, and cover the dropper posts we think are worth considering for your gravel bike. 

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Gravel Dropper Seatpost Pros

Best Gravel bike dropper seatpostsDroppers lets you get sendy. Photo: Travis Engel/The Radavist.

  • Faster descending and cornering
  • Extra maneuverability in technical terrain
  • More confidence and room for error
  • Easier remounts
  • Cool factor

When descending, cornering, or riding technical terrain, having the ability to instantly drop the saddle is incredibly useful. It lets you lower your center of gravity and position your body to maximize traction. You can maneuver the bike over and around obstacles more easily and it’s easier to pull out a foot or use body English to save a crash if you wash out your front wheel or get hung up on a feature. This will improve your confidence and safety when riding off-road, which means you’ll go faster and (probably) have more fun. 

Another benefit that I feel doesn’t get mentioned enough is how droppers make remounting your bike easier. If you’re forced to get off your bike and hike, which can happen on brutal climbs, technical singletrack, or while bikepacking, it’s nice to drop the saddle so you can easily step over the bike and have both feet on the ground to get restarted. Finally, droppers just look cool. Nothing makes a gravel bike look tough, capable, and ready to send like a dropper. I can’t tell you how many times having a dropper on my gravel bike has sparked conversations with stoked riders. People just think they’re cool!

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Gravel Dropper Seatpost Cons

Best Gravel Bike dropper seatpostsWill the weight hurt your climbing? Photo: Travis Engel/The Radavist

  • Extra cost
  • Extra weight
  • Extra complexity
  • Less compliance

Compared to a basic rigid seatpost, a dropper seatpost will cost more. Depending on the model, you can also expect most droppers to weigh anywhere from 200-400 grams more than a rigid seatpost. For many riders, that won’t matter. But for weight weenies, it’s a huge penalty. 

Because a dropper post is a moving part, it also adds complexity to your bike. Modern droppers are incredibly reliable, but they still need occasional maintenance and add a potential failure point. For some riders, additional levers and cables are something they don’t want to deal with. 

Something else to consider is that a large number of gravel bikes rely on seatpost flex to provide rear-end compliance. If you’re someone who struggles with rear-end discomfort, replacing a rigid seatpost with a dropper can actually make your bike less comfortable.   

Does Your Gravel Bike Need a Dropper Seatpost?

Best gravel bike dropper seatposts descendingDroppers are amazing for navigating loose and dusty turns. Photo: Josh Weinberg.

If you’re here, reading this, then it might be worth trying a dropper on your gravel bike because there’s probably some aspect of your riding that has led you down this line of thought. Here are the two main reasons to install a dropper on your gravel bike:

  1. You regularly ride chunky, loose, technical gravel, or explore singletrack trails.
  2. You want more confidence/speed for descending and cornering off-road. 

In both those cases, adding a dropper post to your gravel bike will push it closer to the mountain bike end of the spectrum. This will make it easier to tackle tough and technical terrain and increase your confidence and speed on descents and corners. I also think most riders would agree that using a dropper just makes riding more fun. 

So why wouldn’t you add a dropper to your gravel bike? Here are a few good reasons:

  1. Your terrain or riding style doesn’t necessitate a dropper.
  2. You want your bike to be as light/simple/cheap as possible.  
  3. You can’t fit one onto your bike (more on that in a moment). 

If you mostly ride smooth, hardpacked dirt and gravel, then a dropper post probably won’t get much use. If you’re a competitor or racer, then you’ll have to carefully consider your terrain along with your own strengths and weaknesses. For example, if you already have excellent descending and cornering skills, then it might make sense to stick to a rigid post to save some weight.  

Can Your Gravel Bike Fit a Dropper Seatpost?

RockShox Reverb AXS XPLR best gravel bike dropper postThe wireless RockShox Reverb AXS XPLR works on bikes without dropper cable routing. Photo: John Watson. 

Dropper posts only work on bikes that use round seatposts. If your gravel bike has an aero or d-shaped seatpost, or it uses an integrated seat mast, then sorry, cross a dropper off your wishlist. Your bike will also need to use a 27.2mm diameter or larger seatpost. This is because 27.2mm droppers are the smallest common diameter available. Fortunately, bike with 27.2mm seatposts are extremely common, and the vast majority of gravel bikes already use this size. 

Every bike has a maximum seatpost insertion length and it’s possible that some dropper posts will be too long, especially if you ride a smaller sized frame. If you’re concerned, check/measure your seattube to see how far a seatpost can be inserted and compare against the total or insertion length of your desired dropper seatpost. Some droppers like those from OneUp and PNW Components have adjustable travel if you need to shorten a long dropper to achieve the necessary saddle height. 

The other major consideration is cable routing. Most modern dropper posts use internal cable routing, and most gravel bike manufacturers will state whether their frame is compatible. If you have a frame that doesn’t explicitly say it’s dropper compatible, there’s still hope. In some situations, frames still have enough space inside to route a cable down the downtube, around the bottom bracket, and up the seattube. This will take some investigation to confirm. 

If it’s impossible to route a dropper cable internally, the main alternative is to use an externally routed dropper post. This will require securing the cable and housing on the outside of the frame, usually with zip ties. If you’re lucky enough to have SRAM AXS, a wireless AXS dropper post is the best option. 

The final piece of the puzzle is figuring out what lever or remote to use with your dropper and where to mount it. Some droppers come with a remote (check with the manufacturer), usually using a 22.2mm clamp. Most gravel bike handlebars are 31.8mm at the stem clamp, and then they taper to 22.2mm at the tops and drops. If you want to attach a remote closer to the stem, you’ll need a remote with a 31.8mm clamp. 

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If your dropper doesn’t come with a remote, or you want to upgrade the remote included with your dropper, I like the gravel-specific remote levers made by ENVE and Easton. These are designed to fit under the shifters and can be actuated from the hoods or drops, which makes them ideal for dropbar gravel bikes. 

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If you ride 1x Shimano GRX or 1x SRAM Force or Rival mechanical, the cleanest setup is a left lever designed to work as a dropper remote. 

The Best Gravel Bike Dropper Seatposts

There are a lot of good dropper posts on the market. But some are better than others. The dropper posts listed here are droppers that we’re using on our own bikes, or droppers we've had good experiences with testing and servicing. We inspect and service more pre-owned bikes than anyone, so we’re familiar with the reliability and feel of many, many droppers. These are some of our favorite 27.2mm droppers that feel smooth, work reliably, and have the gravel-friendly features we look for. 

ENVE G-Series

ENVE G-Series dropper

Travel: 40mm
Total length: 350mm
Weight: 395g 
Price: $325.00

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ENVE’s G-Series dropper post is pretty slick. It uses an inverted design that sheds mud easily and allows for excess length at the bottom of the post to be trimmed off for additional weight savings. It can be cut down all the way to 222mm, saving up to 50 additional grams. Though it’s not included, I think the G-Series lever is the best mechanical dropper lever on the market too.   

Easton EA70 AX 

Easton EA70 AX Gravel dropperTravel: 50mm
Total length: 350mm / 400mm
Weight: 400g 
Price: $214.99

Easton’s AX series is designed specifically for gravel racing and adventures. It comes in two lengths — 350mm and 400mm — to suit different frame sizes. If you want to save about 60 grams of weight, or want to bump up to 70mm of travel, Easton makes the EA90 AX dropper for $314.99, but I think the EA70 is the best deal. 

RockShox Reverb AXS XPLR

RockShox Reverb AXS XPLR gravel dropper

Travel: 50mm / 75mm
Total length: 350mm / 400mm
Weight: 542g / 562g 
Price: $633.00

[product-block handle="rockshox-reverb-axs-xplr-dropper-seatpost-27-2mm-350mm-length"/]

This is the most expensive dropper here by a very large margin, but in my opinion, the wireless electronic design of RockShox’s AXS droppers is as good as it gets. I ride the full-length version on my MTB and absolutely love it. There are no cables to futz with. You just insert, pair, and go. It’s super smooth and fast, and it works with SRAM’s AXS Shifters or Blip buttons.  

OneUp Dropper V2

OneUp Dropper V2 Gravel dropper

Travel: 90mm / 120mm
Total length: 290mm / 360mm
Weight: 337g / 435g
Price: $199.50

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OneUp has been killing the dropper game recently and the Dropper V2 is actually what I currently recommend to most mountain bikers. It’s light, easy to service, and it has a super low stack height/total length. The travel can be adjusted down in 10mm increments without tools, so it’s perfect for getting the maximum amount of drop on a smaller frame. 

PNW Components Rainier Gen 3

PNW Rainier V3 27.2mm gravel bike dropper

Travel: 125mm
Total length: 450mm
Weight: 452g 
Price: $199.00

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PNW’s Rainier Gen 3 is the option I’d pick if you want maximum travel. 125mm is as long as 27.2mm droppers get, and that’s exactly what the Rainier provides (it's adjustable like the OneUp also). The Gen 3 has an updated cold weather-proof cartridge that provides extra reliability for more diverse trail conditions. If you happen to need an externally routed dropper, I’d look at PNW’s Pine dropper. 

X-Fusion Manic Gravel

X Fusion Manic Gravel bike dropperTravel: 50mm / 100mm
Total length: 350mm
Weight: 410g / 465g
Price: $199.99

The Manic Gravel came on my old Diverge, and it completely changed my opinion of X-Fusion. They’ve really stepped up the quality of their suspension and dropper posts in recent years. The Manic Gravel is a no-nonsense post that's smooth and reliable, and I never felt the need to upgrade it. It has a good, ambidextrous remote too that works really well on drop bars. 

FOX Transfer SL

Fox Transfer SL XC MTB Gravel bike dropper

Travel: 50mm / 70mm
Total length: 350mm / 370mm
Weight: 327g / 338g
Price: $399.00

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This is the top pick for weight weenies and bling-lovers. The Transfer SL is the lightest post here, and Fox achieved that by using a spring-loaded design instead of an air cartridge. This does mean there’s no infinite travel, but for short-travel gravel droppers, I only use the full-up and full-down positions anyway. Then there’s that golden Kashima coat. That’s literally the main reason I bought it. Match it with a 32 Taper-Cast Factory fork, and you’re ready to post on r/bikeporn.