I don't think I remember how to ride a mountain bike with its seat post at full mast, but I do recall it being a lot less fun than how most of us ride nowadays. Thankfully, there are a number of different options when it comes to getting your seat out of the way at the push of a button, with Canadian company 9point8 being one of the smaller brands to choose from. Their size hasn't stopped them from offering two completely different dropper posts, both largely manufactured and assembled in their Ontario factory, and both being pretty unique compared to other options on the market.
The $379 USD Fall Line seat post uses an expanding brake, dubbed the 'Mechanical DropLoc', to hold it in place anywhere in its stroke, and is available only in an internally routed style. Travel options run from 75, 100, 125 and 150mm, and the longer versions can also be shimmed down to offer less if the rider doesn't need that much drop or requires a shorter overall length for a certain bike. 9point8 also has built-in a nifty quick-disconnect feature that should make removal a cinch.Fall Line Details
• Intended use: having more fun than tall post'ers
• Stroke: 75, 100,125, 150mm (tested
• Infinetly adjustable through stroke
• Adjustable air spring
• Independant seat angle and fore / aft adjustment
• Titanium seat clamp hardware
• Inline and offset head configurations
• 325, 350, 375, 415, 440mm lengths
• Multiple remote options
• Diameters: 30.9mm, 31.6mm
• Weight: 607 grams (all parts included
• MSRP: $379 USD
While not available quite yet, 9point8 are working on even longer travel versions of the Fall Line, with 175mm stroke (500mm overall length) and 200mm stroke (560mm overall length) options that will bring the total number of choices to seven. I can see the new long-stroke dropper posts being ideal for bikes like Kona's Process range that sport relatively short seat tube lengths, thereby letting the rider have even more drop while also taking care of seat post extension challenges for riders with legs that don't quit.
If you caught our 'First Ride' article on Race Face's new dropper post, you'd know that it uses similar internals to the Fall Line. In fact, Race Face (and, because they're owned by the same people, Easton) have licensed technology from 9point8 to build their Turbine and Haven droppers. That doesn't make either of those the same as the Fall Line, though, and both of the former are manufactured in Asia while 9point8 does a lot of their fabricating, and all of their assembly, in Canada. Race Face and Easton's seat posts will both likely see some OE spec on top of aftermarket sales, whereas 9point8 sells their dropper posts consumer-direct on their website (on top of retail sales at the same price through shops), a tactic that allows them to price it at $379 USD. That's almost a hundred less than what Race Face and Easton price theirs at. You can also order many of the small parts that you might need for the Fall Line directly off of 9point8's website, including optional bits like an offset seat post head and the 1X Adapter remote mount.
The all-black Fall Line post features a four-bolt head that allows for completely independent fore / after and angle adjustments, something that should go a long way to making setup and on-trail changes a simple task. All four of the 4mm hex head bolts are titanium, and it's good to seem them go up from the 3mm bolts that were used for angle adjustments on their older seat post. My Fall Line came with a zero offset head, but there is an option to spec it with a 25mm offset version for the same price, or you can buy an aftermarket conversion kit for $36.00 USD if you find you need to change it up down the road.
The Fall Line's head allows you to adjust your seat's angle while the rails are still clamped tightly, and vice versa.
Internally routed dropper posts make for a nice, clean look and no annoying cable rub that can occur if you don't go to town with zip-ties, but the flip-side to those pluses is that they can be a pain in the ass to install and work on. Depending on what type of bike you ride, routing the housing through your frame may or may not be a dreaded task with the Fall Line, but that's true for every internally routed post. However, 9point8 has come up with a quick-disconnect system that should make removing and re-installing the post an easy task, with the cable assembly screwing into the bottom and the 'Cable Seal Nut' locking it in place. Both are only ever to be tightened by hand, so no wrenches needed, either.
The quick-dissconnect assembly threads into the bottom of the Fall Line. Inside is where the magic happens.
Riders have the option of using one of three different remote mounting layouts, and 9point8's ThumB lever sits on a split perch that lets you remove and install it without having to slide your grip off the handlebar. If you're using a front derailleur and shifter, you'll be best off mounting it above the handlebar in either the vertical or horizontal position, but those using a one-by setup also have the choice of going with a below the handlebar, horizontal position that should make it easy to hit with your thumb. That latter option does require 9point8's 1X Adapter (not included when you buy the Fall Line), which is really just a small sub-mount that positions the lever in the right spot.
| The split-perch remote can be mounted three different ways, which should keep pretty much everyone happy.|
With its 'Mechanical DropLoc' system holding it in place anywhere in its stroke, 9point8's newer Fall Line seat post uses an entirely different internals compared to their older Pulse dropper that I reviewed back in 2013. It's basically a mechanical brake system that sits stationary inside of the outer tube, with the stanchion passing over it as the post goes up and down through its travel. The brake, which looks like a stubby cylinder (pictured to the right), expands against the inside of the stanchion, locking it in place when you release the thumb lever. According to 9point8, the brake compensates for temperature change when you depress the lever to allow the post to go up or down, much like how today's open-system disc brakes are able to.
The brake is an expanding cylinder that locks against the inside of the post's stanchion tube to hold it in place.
The brake works via a spring loaded plunger that enters a fluid-filled cylinder, causing it to expand and lock against the inside of the stanchion. Depressing the remote lever reduces the pressure and lets the cylinder contract, allowing the post to move up and down. This means that if the actuation cable breaks, or if the post ever sprung a leak from its air spring, it would still be able to be locked in place.
| The fluid-filled cylinder can be seen in the top right corner. This is the brake that locks against the inside of the stanchion tube to hold it in place.|
The mechanical brake depends on a coil spring to activate it, but 9point8 went with an air spring to bring the seat back up. The recommended pressure range is relatively low, between just 20 and 40 psi, and you adjust it via a Schrader valve at the post's head. The seat has to be removed (or at least unclamped on one side and rotated out of the way) to make an air pressure change, although it's not something that you'd be doing too often. Less air pressure will make for a slower rebound speed whereas higher air pressure will obviously have the seat coming up quicker.
Here's a list of things that are easier to do than installing the Fall Line seat post: removing a motorbike tire with only one hand and no tools, running a sub-four minute mile, raising a child. I jest, but getting the Fall Line up and running isn't a quick and easy job, and it takes a good amount of patience on the first go. It's not technically difficult - some hex keys, common sense, and the included (nicely made) instructions will see you through - but the post's design, specifically how the housing and cable attach to the quick-disconnect mechanism, make it a tricky affair. Quick-disconnect it might be, but quick assembly it most certainly isn't.
You start by feeding the supplied cable housing through your frame and making sure there's enough length there for the handlebar to spin around when you crash on your next ride. 9point8 says that you'll need about six-inches of housing protruding from the bike's seat tube so as to have enough slack to thread the housing into the actuator. Yes, the housing threads into something called the T-nut (it cuts its own threads into the housing) that needs to be positioned halfway through slots in the actuator while you clamp the cable with near microscopic set-screws. It's critical that you nail this part of the process. Sadly, I didn't do it correctly on the first go, having positioned the T-nut too high and causing it to top out before I could apply enough cable tension to activate the seat post. My bad.
No big deal, right? Just re-position the T-nut and be done with it. The rub is that you need to unthread the quick-disconnect assembly from the seat post after first unthreading the cable seal nut, and that you've had to cut the exposed cable so short (9point8 says to leave just 2mm or less exposed due to clearance requirements) that it's a bit tricky to get it right on the second try. I did, thankfully, otherwise I would have had to un-lodge the Fall Line seat post from my workshop's wall. I ran into another problem when I couldn't get the quick-disconnect unit to thread back into the bottom of the post, and in my panic began to believe that I had damaged the threads hidden up inside of it. It took twenty minutes and an entire bag of nacho chips before I realized the problem: the opposing set-screws that clamp the cable need to be tightened down an even amount. In my frustrated state after the first issue, I had dialed one of the set screws all of the way in before tightening the opposing one until it stopped, but the latter was protruding by the smallest amount, probably less than a millimeter. That was enough to keep the quick-disconnect unit from being able to slide deep enough into the post to grab the threads, and it all went together easily after I figured that one out.
Riding the Fall Line Dropper Post
There's something awesome about being able to go from cross-country bandit to downhill hooligan with the push of a button, which is exactly what the 150mm stroke Fall Line lets you do. The seat disappears under you as soon as you push on the sizeable remote lever, and it drops down easily under your body weight. I started with the maximum recommend air pressure, which is 40 psi, thinking that I'd want the quickest rebound speed I could get, but I did have a bit of trouble getting the seat to drop the last inch or so at this air pressure. A firm push with the ass and it would go down all the way, but I found that 30 psi was the ideal pressure for my 165lb weight. The post's rebound speed was still quick enough that I never had to wait for my perch to return - slower than a D.O.S.S. or Command Post, though - but it also fully lowered with next to zero effort. Lighter riders than me can run even less pressure, down to 20 psi, and the post will still come up quick, if maybe just a touch slower.
| The Fall Line was trouble-free during my entire time on it.|
An audible top out clunk lets you know that it's at full mast, which I never thought was that important until I used a dropper post that was nearly silent. Was it up, or did I need to push the button again? No, I want to hear it top out so I know I can release the lever, and the Fall Line does exactly that. No guessing here.
I used to swear that I needed a dropper post with an infinitely adjustable stroke, somehow convincing my brain that my seat needs to be dropped just 7mm more so I feel comfortable on a technical climb or another 15mm for those rolling trails, but that's not the case at all. A three-position dropper works just fine, and I've come to like the set "cruiser position" that sees the seat dropped a touch from the full height - it leaves nothing to think about. But getting on the Fall Line took away that dependency on knowing exactly where that seat height was, and I ended up thumbing the remote until I got it just right. Riders will have their preferences when it comes to using either a three-position or infinitely adjustable dropper post, but I'm convinced that it doesn't make a difference at the end of the day, and that we'll just get used to whatever is under us so long as we can get the seat out of the way when it's time to jump and skid. Now that I'm very familiar with the Fall Line, I can get my seat exactly where I want it to be quicker than I can shift to a different gear, and I do appreciate being able to have the seat anywhere between DH mode and 'Ugh-I-have-to-climb-that.'
The infinite travel adjust lets you lock it anywhere in its 150mm of travel. Party mode: engaged.
I wasn't a big fan of 9point8's previous remote that was basically a pint-sized brake lever, so it's good to see them use something different to control the Fall Line. I mounted and used their ThumB remote every which way but had expected the horizontal, below the bar position to work best, especially because there's no front shifter on my bike. That wasn't the case, though, as I ended up preferring the vertical position more, but it's not a stretch to see that most riders are going to like the lever oriented to mimic a shifter.
Most riders will probably end up preferring the under the bar mounting that works well if you don't have a front shifter. You might end up running it on top of the bar if you have a front derailleur, although the vertical position will also work well.
I used the Fall Line for about a month with the remote set up in the horizontal, below the bar position before swapping it to the vertical mount, a change that took all of two minutes. This felt absolutely spot-on for me. When used this way, it looks and feels a lot like an up-sized and sturdier version of KS' remote, and I would have preferred to leave it as it was but for having to give the horizontal, above the bar mounting a go for testing's sake. This didn't work for me at all as the lever felt too far away, and I had to unwrap my hand even more.
It's cool to see 9point8 taking Burger King's old motto to heart and giving people the option of having it their way, and the flexible mounting also means that the remote will play nice with all cockpit setups, even if you're running three shifters, an aero-bar and a bell on each side. You can even use the brake lever-style remote from the older Pulse seat post if you'd like, although I suspect that nearly everyone will end up preferring to bolt up the Fall Line's stock remote as a mock shifter.
| I'm a fan of the remote's vertical position, but the ability to mount it three different ways is a huge plus.|
It's getting better every year, but it sometimes seems that a lot of dropper posts still have a worse reliability record than 1970's era Volkswagen vans, although at least the vans are easier to work on than these seat posts. Given that installing the Fall Line nearly gave me an aneurysm, I expected to run into some sort of trouble down the road... but I didn't. Not a single iota of bother after six months of pretty intensive use in nearly every sort of weather, including the kind where you spend all your coins at the car wash blasting mud off your bike. No joke, I haven't even needed to adjust the Fall Line's cable tension, which is ludicrous and shows that the 9point8 dropper isn't overly sensitive to adjustments. The post is also just as smooth through its travel as it was the day I unboxed it, and I haven't even heard the post's head make a single creak or groan of disagreement.
Not one single squeak or creak from the Fall Line's head. It's tricky to reach the schrader valve with the seat on, but undoing one rail clamp lets you rotate the seat out of the way if need be. Issues
I've got nothing; the Fall Line is an awesome dropper post once you get it set up. And that's the only complaint that I can level at the Canadian-made dropper. The average home mechanic will need to take his time and have some patience (and maybe play some calming music or one of those relaxing audio tracks where all you hear is the ocean and seagulls and dolphins being happy
) when installing it. Pinkbike's Take:
|When I reviewed 9point8's older Pulse dropper post back in 2013, my final line read, ''All things considered, the Pulse requires some refining before we'd choose it for our own bike over other dropper posts.'' Well, 9point8 decided to design a completely new seat post instead, and the finished product is reliable, works extremely well, and is damn good all around. It doesn't hurt that it's also one of the least expensive high-end options out there, despite being largely manufactured in Canada. In fact, I might argue that the Fall Line is the best dropper post on the market right now given all those facts.- Mike Levy|
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