After more than four years of abuse (mounted on numerous frames, both full suspension and rigid) my Gravity Dropper Classic Adjustable height seat post has given up the ghost. And while I’m a bit bummed, and a bit disappointed, I honestly can’t say there are a lot of products I’ve owned this long. It’s been a long run, and while it is currently out of order, it’s been a great product, and I would buy one all over again.
I currently own two adjustable height seat posts from Gravity Dropper. (I actually own a total of three adjustable height posts- including a Crank Bros Joplin) The first one Gravity Dropper was a 3 inch adjustable model- one of the first. I was an early adopter to the adjustable height seat posts- I’ve always wanted one, to the point where I had sketched and doodled my own designs for a telescoping seat post. I never had aspirations to build and market them, I just wanted to be able to rip a trail and drop the seat without pausing.
When the 4 inch model was released, I picked one up right away. Three inches was good. Four was even better. In my ideal world, I’d be able to slam my seat all the way down with the flick of a switch.
The benefits of having an adjustable height seat post should be obvious to anyone that stops and lowers their seat at any point during a ride. After riding with one, I can’t imagine riding without an adjustable height post. Have you ever had a stupid crash late in a ride, because you were too lazy to lower your seat? Those don’t happen anymore. (At least not because your seat was too high) Push the lever, slam the seat down, and get as tech on the trail as you want. (on burly descents you can still lower the seat post at the QR for maximum clearance.) The product is extremely simple to use as well. Just stand up, push the lever until you hear the click in your post, (that is the sound of the pin dis-engaging) then sit on the post, lowering it. Then release the lever. Once you do it on a ride a few times, the motion is mastered and you can lower your post easily at any point, even in technical sections.
In the time that I’ve owned the posts, they’ve stopped working a few times due to mechanical failure. For the most part, it has been an easy fix. (As long as you have the .050 allen wrench still- these are not easy to find, so don’t lose it.) Because the remote actuates the post via a derailleur cable, it is prone to contamination like any cable and housing. Muddy rides and frozen temperatures have both taken my post out of commission, but each time it was relatively easy to repair. Admittedly, I do have a number of years as a professional bike mechanic that most people don’t, but if your post goes wack, you can always take it to your local bike shop and they can get you sorted out.
Unlike other posts on the market, the Gravity Dropper is a mechanical system. It is pretty basic: a tube with a seat mount slides up and down inside another tube, much like a fork. To control the side to side play, two plastic shims sit inside a groove in the inner tube. The outer tube has a matching groove. It is a simple system, and it works well. I have never noticed play in my saddle.
The height of the post is set via holes drilled in the inside tube. When you pull on the lever on the handlebar, a magnet pulls a pin out of the inside tube, allowing the saddle height to be changed. When the lever is released, the pin is pushed back in by magnet with the reverse polarity.
The only drawbacks to the seat post is that with all the moving parts, things wear out, and eventually break. Besides having to replace worn out derailleur cables, I’ve also had the Gravity Dropper unit (part #80 in this diagram) separate from the lower seat post tube. I sent it back, and Gravity Dropper covered the repair under warranty.
Last time I inspected the post, I found cracks in the top seat clamp in both of my posts. They have yet to fully fail, but recently the inside tube on my 4″ post did, cracking halfway through. Because of the resulting bend, the post no longer will slide up and down, and it will cost me about $50 to get the post running again. I will also probably replace the boots on both posts at this time.
I have been holding off on replacing the cracks in the top seat clamp, as Gravity Dropper has been experimenting with an I-beam compatible head. (update: it is now out, and it is awesome.) Seeing as how this seat post has already out-lived several sets of Ti-railed WTB Laser team saddles, I’m looking forward to the upgrade. (note: a call to Gravity Dropper has confirmed that the replacement I-beam compatible head is now available and shipping out)
The Gravity Dropper Classic Adjustable post is a 27.2mm post. It is easily shimmed to fit most full suspension frames. I have a number of shims in my tool box, as I’ve used the post on a number of frames including the Intense Tracer VP, Trek Remedy, Fisher Roscoe, Specialized Enduro SL 2007, Enduro 2006, Enduro 2005, custom Wolfhound hard tail, On-One Inbred, and custom Jericho hardtail frame.
Even though I’ve had more than my share of frustration with this post, the majority of the time it has worked as intended, and is my favorite upgrade to any bike. It allows me to focus on the ride, and less on stopping to change the height of my saddle. Before I had this product, I’d often get lazy and ride with my saddle lowered a few inches, which ended up causing knee pain on long rides. Obviously, it isn’t an issue now.
I do wish I had the ability to drop the seat all the way down. With the Gravity Dropper Classic, it gets fairly low, but the mechanism restricts how low it can get. The newer Gravity Dropper Turbo appears to have addressed this somewhat, and I’m looking forward to trying one at some point in the future. I also wish the post had at least another inch of drop- 5″ would be ideal (if not more). I’ve been trying to milk this product until the next generation is released, but with the recent failure, I may be forced to simply repair the post I currently have.
I also have a Crank Brothers Joplin R post that I am testing. Stay tuned for a follow up comparing the two seat posts. Since I’ve been using this post, a number of other products have been released that I’m also hoping to get my hands on, including models from Rock Shox, KS Suspension, and Rase.
My seat post is down, but not out. I’ll be ordering the replacement parts tomorrow.
(updated 6/21/2010) I just got off the phone with Gravity Dropper and I’ve found that the cracked inner tube will be covered under warranty. I’m having them upgrade it to the i-beam head, which they are doing for a small charge. Kudos for the customer service.