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Why dropper posts? And a bit of mountain bike history.

Posted by TranzX Components on


Dropper posts have become all but standard fare for many mountain bikers, ranking up there with suspension and disc brakes for overall ride improvement, even if they only recently have found truly wide usage. In the most basic sense they allow you to set your saddle height for proper pedaling, and then lower it on the fly for descents or other aggressive riding. Dropping the seat height allows for a lower center of gravity and more maneuverability on the bike for better overall handling without sacrificing efficiency for the flats and ride back to the top. Reliable hydraulic cartridge based systems like the ones in TranzX dropper posts are a relatively recent invention, but the idea of on the fly seat adjustment for better descending goes back to some of the originators of mountain bikes and predates most other mountain bike tech innovations.

Back in the early 1980s when mountain bikes were still largely a fringe part of cycling Joe Breeze and Josh Angell brought the Hite Rite to market. “Descend With Conviction.” The Hite Rite was a custom coil spring that attached to the seat post on one side and the seat post quick release clamp on the other, which would allow you to open the clamp, slide the post down with your body weight, and close the clamp. Do it in reverse and the seat returns to the original height. The Hite Rite relied on a well greased and free moving seat post and a quick release clamp set just right — while it found it's way onto many bikes and generally proved the concept it was not without problems and more or less disappeared by the late eighties. It took some technological and manufacturing leaps to make droppers standard equipment, but the idea undeniably goes back to the roots of mountain biking.

Dropping the seat isn't just for maximum descending speed, though it certainly helps. Twisty sections, berms, jumps and log piles are all places where you'll soon find yourself dependent on the confidence and control of a dropper if you've not already.

Today, as dropper posts have become more widely available to more people their uses have expanded beyond mountain bike singletrack. Gravel and other drop bar riders are discovering how much a dropper post can improve handling on descents, while people riding cargo bikes or with kid trailers and carriers are finding how a dropper post can make getting on or off the bike and stopping at intersections easier and more stable. Riders with hip, back, or other mobility issues may also benefit from a lower seat height at some points of the ride, but want to maintain the proper height for pedaling at others. Droppers, like indexed shifting and suspension and most every other bike innovation before them, were once derided as nothing but gimmicks but now it can be hard to find a rider who has used a dropper and gone back to a conventional post. We're proud to be the leading manufacturer of dropper posts for OEM use and contribute to this part of the bicycle technology story.

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