Thomson Elite Dropper Seatpost
Thomson might be a latecomer to the dropper post world, but they wanted to make sure their entry was as close to perfect as possible before its release. The company has a reputation for manufacturing high quality, well designed products, and understandably didn't want to sully their name by rushing a hastily created seatpost to market. We reviewed the Elite Dropper to see if it was worth the wait.
• 125mm of travel, can be stopped at any point
• Sizes: 30.9 x 400, 31.6 x 400
• 5mm setback
• Passes EN seatpost test
• Weight: 592 grams including lever, cable, housing
• MSRP: $449.95
The Elite Dropper post uses a cable actuated cam to control its 125mm of travel. Pushing on the svelte-looking aluminum remote pulls down on the lever mounted to the side of the post, which in turn activates the centrally located cam inside the post. The motion of the cam pushes down on an internal plunger, allowing oil to flow through a valve and for the post to move downwards. A nitrogen return spring is used to control the post's upward motion. The post's rate of return is adjustable depending on how far in the remote lever is pushed – push it further in and the post returns faster.
One of the most noticeable features of the Elite Dropper post is its lack of side to side or vertical play, a common trait on other dropper posts. This is achieved by using three keyed slots on the inside of the post. Thomson experimented with different designs, but chose this one because it allowed them to increase the wall thickness of the outer tube and increase the seatpost's strength. In addition to the lack of side to side play, the post also remains in place even when lifting the bike by the seat. The post's internals are not user serviceable, but durability was high on Thomson's list of priorities, and they back it with a two year warranty. A side mounted, cable actuated lever controls the cam found in the center of the post (the rubber plug that keeps dirt and grit out has been removed to show the internals).
The inner post's construction is nearly identical to that of Thomson's popular, non-dropper seatposts. It's constructed from one piece of aluminum instead of having the upper portion bonded on. The seat clamp mechanism design will also be familiar to those who have had a Thomson post before – a bolt is located fore and aft of the post, and the seat angle can be adjusted infinitely from +5 degrees to -29. The Elite Dropper is available with either a remote lever or an under the saddle actuation lever.Installation
Installation of the Elite Dropper is quick and simple, aided by the fact that the lever is on the side of the post, which means it isn't necessary to remove the seat to change or adjust the remote lever cable. The remote lever snugs onto the handlebar with one bolt, and the cable is attached to the lever with a small set screw. Thomson also offers an under the saddle actuation lever for those who don't want to deal with a remote or who don't have routing for a dropper post. Ride Impressions
On the trail the Elite Dropper proved to be a rock solid performer. The post's action is smooth throughout its travel, and the return speed is easy to control with the thumb lever. The post is nearly silent when it reaches full extension, which meant that at first we found ourselves looking down occasionally to see if it had fully extended. Since the post relies on cable actuation there is the possibility of dirt and grit getting in and affecting the lever feel, but we didn't need to change the cable or housing even after a number of extremely wet, muddy rides, and the post still felt smooth even after those mud baths. We also spent time running the post with the under the saddle actuation lever. The shape of the lever made it easy to find, minimizing the time we had to spend riding one handed, and the post was quick to move to its fully extended or dropped position.
A plastic, clip on guide helps manage the loop of housing, and height indicators are found on the moving portion of the post. Issues
The actual performance of the post was flawless, and it remained wiggle free even after countless up and down cycles and a number of sloppy rides. However, there are a few refinements we'd like to see, the first relating to the remote lever. We liked its trim profile, but it would be nice to have a little larger paddle with more rounded edges. The squared off edges the lever has now are fairly sharp and not so friendly to knees or other appendages. We also found that the lever can get rather slippery and hard to activate in really wet (read: pouring rain
) conditions, but this is something that a little time with a dremel tool or some grip tape could easily remedy. It would also be nice to have a barrel adjuster located either on the remote lever or the side of the post to get the cable tension just right. Our final minor request would be to have height indicators on the fixed part of the post – we didn't find having them on the moving portion to be necessary. Pinkbike's take:
| The Elite Dropper isn't a radical departure from what's already out there, but it does bring Thomson-level quality to what has become a must-have mountain bike accessory. Durability and construction are top notch, and the post is certainly worthy of bearing the Thomson name. It would have been nice to see the cable mounted to the fixed portion of the post, but a stealth version of the Elite Dropper is expected to be available by March, effectively taking care of that request. We had a few minor quibbles with the remote lever design and the lack of a barrel adjuster, but those points aside, Thomson has introduced a solid contender into the dropper post market, a strong, low-maintenance seatpost that should remain trouble-free for multiple seasons. - Mike Kazimer|