Ask Pinkbike - Which Dropper and Hot-Rodding a Habit

Feb 21, 2017
by Pinkbike Staff  
Ask Pinkbike Header

Here at Pinkbike we get inundated with all kinds of questions, ranging from the basic "Can I have stickers" to more in-depth, soul searching types of queries like if you should pop the question or what to name your first child. Ask Pinkbike is an occasional column where we'll be hand picking and answering questions that have been keeping readers up at night, although we'll likely steer clear of those last two and keep it more tech oriented.




Which Dropper?

Question: Pinkbike user cjkj1999 asked this question in the all-mountain, enduro, and cross-country forum: I'm heading out to do a European road trip this summer and I want to get a new dropper post. I've currently got a 125mm-travel Reverb but it's pretty far gone; it has about 2cm of sag, is out of warranty, and also doesn't have enough travel. I'll probably rebuild it and put it on my hardtail, but I was looking at a 170mm Reverb and the 175mm 9point8 Fall Line droppers. Does anyone have any experience with either of these or have any other recommendations? It needs to have at least 150mm of travel, but preferably 170mm or more. Also, because of the kink in my Canyon Strive's seat tube, there can't be more than 262mm of post in the frame and about 260mm out of the frame.

bigquotesBoth the Reverb and the Fall Line can be had with the travel that you're looking for, but you sound like a good candidate for the latter. The Fall Line has proven to be more reliable than the Reverb, but the real reason I'd recommend the 9point8 dropper is because you can use spacers to alter its travel, a system that allows riders to insert the post in their frame as deep as possible and then adjust the travel so it matches what they need at full extension. In other words, the most drop for your particular bike and required seat height. - Mike Levy

9Point8 Fall Line review test
The Fall Line's reliable performance and custom travel options make it good option.




Hot-Rodding a Cannondale Habit

Question: Torilovesweed asks in the All Mountain, Enduro & Cross-Country forum: I currently have a 2016 Cannondale Habit SE, and am looking to make it more aggressive. It has a 130-millimeter Lefty fork and 120 millimeters in the rear. The tires I have on it are Continental Trail King 2.4" and that is all I have swapped out. I have been riding bike parks with it and racing enduro, and want to make it more aggressive. Any tips?


bigquotesSorry to say that you are at the end of your options. Cannondale designed the Habit to be a lightweight cross-country trail bike with modified geometry to boost its technical descending and handling at speed. The takeaway here is that the Habit SE's handling and performance has already been stretched as far as it can go towards the aggressive all-mountain realm.

You could gain some technical descending and high speed performance by transplanting its Lefty strut with a 160-millimeter unit from a Cannondale Jekyll, which would slacken the head angle by one degree and give you some extra cushion in the big stuff. But, there is no fix for its rear suspension, as its shock-stroke and wheel travel is engineered to work with its flexible pivotless seat stays. There is always the looming threat that, after repeatedly pounding your lightweight chassis on downhill runs, that it could fail at the least opportune moment and sideline your budding enduro career before it gets started. Sell the Habit and buy a dedicated all-mountain/enduro bike. You will progress faster and live a longer, happier life. - RC

Cannondale Habit Carbon SE review test Photo by Clayton Racicot
Cannondale's Habit SE Carbon ranks highly as a technically capable cross-country trail bike, but it was never intended to spend its life as bike-park shredder.




Have some unresolved tech questions? Jump in the Pinkbike Forum and we'll look to answer it for next time.


127 Comments

  • + 164
 Hot Rodding a Habit....God bless that dude....
  • + 35
 user name "torilovesweed" checks out
  • - 2
 120mm in a bike park??? Either your bike park sucks, or the only hot rodding you're going to end up with will involve duct tape or a garbage bag.
  • + 97
 Go that guy for not letting his bike hold him back from riding how he wants to ride. Reckless?...maybe. Awesome?...definitely.
  • - 16
flag QuantumIce (Feb 21, 2017 at 13:21) (Below Threshold)
 I have a Cannondale Scalpel, and I have been known to ride that in a bike park... works better than you would think
  • + 51
 I'm racing EWS on a hardtail haha
  • + 30
 I agree but I have to ask : why would anybody in the world buy a Cannondale in the first place? It's expensive and it has a lefty on it.
  • + 19
 @NotDannyHart: I just looked at your hardtail and concluded it's a f*ckin weapon! Id rather race on yours than that cannondale ????
  • + 20
 @NotDannyHart: you totally are Danny don't lie
  • + 11
 @Bigwill13: cheers man! I want to stick a works -2°headset to bring her down to 65° and I'll be sorted!
  • + 3
 @NotDannyHart: did you increase the travel on that thing? The honzo? And does it have a droper post?
  • + 12
 @NotDannyHart @Bigwill13 Dave Harder won the BC Enduro series a few years back on a Chromag! Don't let anyone tell you that you can't Enduro a hard tail!!!
  • + 6
 @robjames: yep, went from 120mm to 140mm, but I still have a Revelation. So much easier to set up now because with the 120mm it was hard to find a balance between initial stroke suppleness and not bottoming it out the whole time, without ramping up the spring rate big time. Revelation is also plenty fork for me anyways because I'm about 65kg kitted and never find it flexing. Don't mind the motion control dampener either thankfully!
  • + 2
 @ratedgg13: cheers man Big Grin
  • + 6
 @Aprilfisheye: Their aluminium frames are as light as carbon but unfortunately not as strong. Also the Lefty SuperMax is one of my favorite forks ive ever riden. I think it has a 36 or 38mm stanchion, needle barrings, carbon body, and dual crown with 160mm of travel. Its one of the stiffest, strongest forks out there.
  • + 6
 @QuantumIce:
I ride park on a 29er sometimes
  • + 6
 @FrozenTreads56: How dare you say something like that!
  • - 3
 @SpinningAddiction: where would a fork use needle bearings? Seems that they would be going the wrong direction for up and down action, but maybe I'm overlooking something. Headset? Hub? They would work there. Please help my brain...it's hurting now.
  • + 3
 @NotDannyHart: nice! I've got a steel honzo with a 140 mrp on it. Best bike I've ever owned, faster than I can ride for sure!
  • + 3
 @Warburrito: You might want to check this website out: cannondale.zendesk.com/hc/en-us/articles/219101147-Lefty-Hybrid-Needle-Bearing-System

"Cannondale's Lefty forks featured a new hybrid bearing technology. This new system combines our patented needle bearings with a single lower glide bearing and Durathon seal."
"Needle Bearings: Sandwiched between hardened, polished steel races on the inner and outer legs, these friction-free bearings handle the bulk of the forces, allowing the fork to stay super-active under all loads. "
  • + 2
 @NotDannyHart: Yeohh!! You'd better win the hardtail category lad!
  • + 2
 @NotDannyHart: Check out the Guerilla Gravity Pedalhead. It's 65.5d with a 120 pike. Nice Honzo!
  • + 3
 @Aprilfisheye: Cannondale is push the envelope of mountain biking for years. They are one of the most Innovative cycling companies out there. Maybe this was all before the sellout.
  • + 1
 @NotDannyHart: cool. I have had my eye on a honzo for some time know. I might try and get a coil fork on it too when I get the cash. It will be so easy to maintain that way, and should ride nice.
Thanks
  • + 2
 @robjames: honestly i don't think I'd bother with a coil fork. It's a heavy enough bike as it is! My fork gets little attention anyway, it was due its yearly service months ago and it's still riding fine!
  • + 0
 @NotDannyHart: A dropper post is likely a better investment anyways. But I like having a reason to catch my breath at the top of every hill.
  • + 1
 @robjames: I gave up on droppers. All my riding is a straight pedal up and I straight run down. Dropping my seat by hand ruins the "flow of the ride" as much as chatting to people or putting on my goggles haha
  • + 1
 @NotDannyHart: droppers don't last as long on a hardtail I think, they take more of a beating when your seated.
  • + 2
 @brncr6: and especially in Ireland where there's always wet mud getting inside everything
  • + 26
 Reverb start to block below 0deg. I had the problem this saturday morning when it was freezing.
  • + 91
 honestly reverbs kinda suck... i dont know why they are so highly regarded.
  • + 20
 @adrennan: Because hype
  • + 4
 I'm running an Easton haven dropper. It's been excellent initially I worried because many reports said it was difficult to set up. I'm not sure why because the instructions and video are very easy, installation was a doddle. To date it's the smoothest easiest dropper I have had. Only complaint I have is the cable adjuster at the top is a bit unwieldy.
  • + 4
 @adrennan: probably because most people dont ride when its mucky or freezing out, and the post will work fine for a very long time if that's the case.
  • + 12
 @adrennan:
100% agree. When they work (fresh from rebuild), they work well. But as soon as you get that chronic sagging, which happens sooner than later, you know you're in for an expensive rebuild. The Reverbs are overly complicated and over rated.
  • + 11
 Never been my experience. Had one for three years. No service no issue. Ride in below zero numerous times. It didn't come up one morning and turned the adjustment and off I went. Maybe I just got a lucky one.
  • + 20
 it isnt just reliability (which is the obvious complaint), the ergonomics of the remote is worst in class as far as i am concerned. and i like a faster post myself. oh and for the lazy home mechanic (i.e. myself), I dont want to have to bleed a dropper just to install it. cables work for everyone else just fine.
  • + 4
 I had a reverb for 18 months. Never failed. I did get the 1/2" of sag when I sat on it before it was serviced. But evidently, that could have been avoided by not picking up the bike by the saddle when the post wasn't in full extension.
  • + 1
 @adrennan: Likewise, KS Levs seem to get a bad rap, but my Lev Ti is one of the lightest posts you can get and it has been working flawlessly ever since I got the air pressure dialed. Maybe I just lucked out.
  • + 6
 0 C? mine stops working at about +4 C. Really should sell it and get a 9point8.
  • + 1
 @garrettstories: this was exactly what I suspected caused the sag, pulling up on the dropper to extend it, from a lowered position. Interesting that you say it as a statement. Is there a more official statement about this somewhere, from someone that knows the post inside and out?

That said, I've experienced the reverb locking up in cold. Didn't help that it spent an hour in the cold, on the drive up to elevation in the early morning. It worked once I got to a more open part of the trail where there was direct sunlight and it warmed up.
  • + 2
 @dlxah: I've always had a good record with my ks posts too. Most reviews are positive but for some reason pb was negative on them in the past, seems to have changed now though
  • + 6
 @chrisrobin: don't lift the bike with the saddle unless fully extended....It causes the IFP to leak, and causes sag.
  • + 2
 @adrennan: I've been very happy with my KS Lev Integra? I don't know why they are so poorly rated... Ours have been flawless, no tune ups, years of use. I had a Reverb and had to bleed it once a season, always had "sag".
  • + 5
 Ive seen a friend stick his by the camp fire to get it working again..thats called pit skills.
  • + 1
 @cstishenko: I had to send my KS Lev Integra back after a couple weeks of use, but it has been flawless since for 3 years....The reverbs are great if you have the updated IFP....
  • + 3
 @Jokesterwild: My experience with the Reverb is the same. Six years and counting without a problem. Maybe I got the best Reverb in the history of Reverbs.
  • + 5
 @dlxah: really good luck with KS lev here too..
  • + 4
 @TheR: I guess we can just keep enjoying our ups and downs.
  • + 1
 @deiru: mine went really slow when the cold weather came, to fix I left it outside at night for an hour then rebled it whilst the post was still cold.
  • + 2
 @dlxah: my KS lev integra works flawlessly since about 1 year, the rotational play just keeps growing (but stil only a few mm and unnoticeable while riding)
  • + 1
 @Jokesterwild:
If we believe the mongs ,I also have 2 lucky reverbs
  • + 1
 @zooey: come on acessory makers what about a thermal sock for the reverb
  • + 1
 @jrocksdh: Makes a better marshmallow stick than a dropper.
  • + 1
 @kiksy: hmm... might try that in the spring.
  • + 1
 @takeiteasyridehard: oh I know. I did that with the first Reverb I ever used and it sagged. I'm on a longer Reverb now and it just recently developed the 2mm sag on its own.
  • + 3
 As a used bike parts dealer of sorts (hobby of mine), I have had in my possession 12 Reverbs. Of those, ONLY ONE worked correctly. The other 11 all needed something, everything from a bleed to a cartridge replacement. The Reverb is by far the worst dropper post that has ever come through my workshop. I've also had six Lev's without a single issue, 9 Command Posts, no problems (no surprise there though), two Thomson Elites with no issues (again, no surprise there), and even two Kronologs with no issues!

So i'm sure there are plenty of guys with Reverbs that have had no issues, but it's pretty apparent now that the Reverb on the whole is a disaster of a dropper post.
  • + 3
 @TheRaven: cartridge replacement.they dont have a cartridge. sounds like you have been very unlucky or confused
  • + 0
 Don't lift your bike with your saddle... what a joke!!! lol Don't even understand why somebody would think about spending that much money into such a product!

Been on 2 different 9point8 Fall Line for 2 years now and never had one single problem! You can even ride it in winter if you want... Will never buy anything else! Smile
  • + 1
 Woohoo - just sold my brand new warranty-replacement Reverb thru PB to a nice chap visiting SF from Poland!! Now I can say I'm done with hydraulic actuation remotes!! It sure felt smooth when we tested it. When they work, they are buttery. Makes me kinda sad now that I think about it. I bet those '17s are tight and last a lot longer. My Fox+Wolf has been titz though, so off to Poland with it. Thanks Griz
  • + 17
 Pivot less seat stays? Those have a habit of crack-and-fail.
  • + 16
 Sell the bad Habit
  • + 9
 @Torilovesweed I tried hot rodding a Trigger 29er for the same reasons as you. The bike did get marginally better... But the biggest thing I noticed was the dollars leaving my bank account. The best money I ever spent on the Trigger 29 was trading it in on a real heavy hitting Enduro bike.
  • + 6
 I wouldn't even put the 160mm on it. The increased leverage on the frame could end in catastrophic failure. Just for reference, Specialized voids their warranties if a fork with more than 20mm of extra front travel is installed. Not only that, but I personally feel that going over 20mm on the front starts to make the bike feel real uneven.
  • + 1
 I have a 150 mm Fox 36 on my SB95c. So far no issues. Maybe I'm risking the frame though....don't know
  • + 1
 @msmtime: yeti recommends a 120 or 140 fork so I wouldn't worry about problems with a 150
  • + 1
 I rode a 2013 Salsa Horsethief with flex stays for 2 years. I rode it in XC, and Enduro races. I even took it to Mountain Creek bike park New Jersey, and Seven Springs bike park Pennsylvania. I did end up cracking the rear triangle at Mountain Creek because I ran to little air pressure in the shock.
  • + 1
 I've been holding out on a dropper post for a loooong time because of reliability issues and the reverb has one of the worst track records for that. E*thirteen is about to release a mechanical, serviceable by anyone, affordable, and internally routed dropper. It comes out next month. That's the one I'm gong to try. I'll have to shim my seat post, but I'm betting it'll work just fine.
  • + 1
 Running gravity dropper (excellent) on slack steel hardtail and yes, 26 in wheels. More fun than any dual suspension I've ever ridden. Also a Revelation at 140mm and no issues or maintenance to it in the 3 years I've had it. Extremely low maintenance bike and bomber on anything from XC to N.C Mountain downhills. I'm 160lbs fully kitted.
  • + 3
 Giants dropper is the best I've used hands down. Reliable, looks good and not hydro
  • - 1
 Super underrated for sure. Hate a 100mm Giant post, and while the travel was too short and I hated the alien bolt(which they no longer have), the thing was bulletproof. I opted for a RaceFace(a rebranded 9PointCool 150 and when it gets cold I have to reinflate the thing before every other ride. Warm weather is fine.
  • + 1
 I have to agree. I was curious how I would like the one on my new bike but comparing it to my past reverb and Lev, I'm really liking everything about it. (besides the lever.... that can go to hell)
  • + 2
 @Kenfire24: try mounting the lever upside down so that the cable butts up against the bottom of your brake reservoir- i like it a lot better that way
  • + 2
 @xeren: Yeah, I tried it both ways but I'll probably end up either making or buying something that suits my needs better. I just don't like the actuation of the factory lever.
  • + 1
 @Kenfire24: yeah, i'm picking up the cane creek one soon. i'm not too mad about that, though, the post has given me nearly 3 years of problem free use, the levers have definitely improved since then
  • + 4
 @tokarsky268: The raceface turbine is not just a rebranded 9point8, it just uses the same patent tech. Apparently though the RF and easton versions are not as reliable. At least these original releases/gen.
  • + 1
 Not the best I've used. I guve that to KS lev but definitely the best value and a good post. I had to change the cartridge in mine once and that was super easy too.
  • + 4
 @inverted180: I own all three - the Raceface/Easton variants have been an absolute nightmare while I have had zero issues with 9point8.
  • + 1
 @Kenfire24:

Agreed

Wolftooth lever solved that Smile
  • + 1
 Nope, worst bit of kit I've ever had on a bike and it's only 6 months old.

Aside from not working on rainy days (slickoleum under the collar helps heaps but still an issue) there's now lateral movement on the saddle. It moves about 10mm side to side and is noticeable when pedaling in the saddle. Being doing that for a couple of weeks but had a race so only sending it back this week. The coatings all gone from the post where it moves too.

Wolftooth is a must too as the standard lever is rubbish to use.

It's cool that it comes in 150mm though.
  • + 2
 +1 on the giant Switch. I've had each version for at least a year and put thousands of miles and therefore shifts on each one. No problems. I now have a Fox Transfer and I think the Fox is no better or worse, just more expensive. Why the Giant gets no traction from Pinkbike reviewers is beyond me.

I've owned probably five and many of my friends have had them too, and never seen or heard of the issues KiwiXC mentions. Sounds like they got a bad one. Stanchion rub is an issue, I'll admit, but keeping the stanchion lubed, as mention, is key.
  • + 1
 @inverted180: was the cartridge expensive and easy to get hold of ?
  • + 2
 @KiwiXC: mine started developing play after about 2 years, I finally took it apart, regreased everything, torqued it all back to spec and the play was gone.
  • + 1
 @nick1957: You can order one through a giant dealer. It was 60cad at the time, which is pretty reasonable IMO.
  • + 2
 E-ten integra cheap as chips works pucker just had to sort the nut where the cable pulls but that's it .only 100mm but I'm 5 foot 8 so never been in the way
  • + 1
 Someone recommended offset bushings to me. Is this a good idea and how would this impact the bike's performance? I know it would slacken the head tube angle, but is there anything else?
  • + 2
 It'll lower the bb a small amount as well. It'll help but it's never going to be great for what you want to actually ride by the sounds of it.
  • + 1
 @el-nombre: Ok. Thanks for the help anyways.
  • + 3
 Fall line probably is the best all-around, but ease of setup and use goes to Fox Transfer.
  • + 4
 Or Giant Contact or Crank Brother Highline or Specialized Command Post IR.
  • + 5
 The best "all-around" dropper post? What does that mean?
  • + 6
 @passwordpinkbike: well some are more for enduro use than for all mountain use Wink
  • + 2
 @passwordpinkbike: The Fall Line has the widest range of sizing options, the best saddle clamp by a mile, and a nice lever with excellent feel. The one down side I would give it is that it's a bear to set up correctly. Once it's dialed, though, it's tough to beat. I tried out the Transfer and found it much easier to set up, it requires very little maintenance, and just works. But it's only available up to 150 and the seat clamp is good but not as good as the Fall Line.
  • + 3
 @DrPete: i have a transfer and i have a couple complaints but nothing huge. coming off the rock solid doss, there was more play at the saddle with the transfer. the transfer remote is also kinda meh and not very durable. but there are other remote options. replaced mine with the wolf tooth and it is great
  • + 1
 @adrennan: Good to know. I've had zero play so far and have been happy with the remote but I'll keep a lookout for problems.
  • + 1
 @adrennan: Cool, i want to try the Wolftooth remote with my Transfer. I like that Fox gives the option to purchase the remote separate. Mine has been working great, but it's only been a month.
  • + 2
 Did he just tell the guy to sell his bike?!

What's he been smoking? Save for a new one
  • + 1
 I got a lefty pbr 160mm id sell. Really like it but would like to have more backup options for racing.
  • + 1
 Anyone have any long term insights in the the Fox Transfer dropper post - like any issues with looseness or sagging, etc?
  • + 2
 I had mine for about a month and while I was climbing a transfer to the net stage my remote fell apart. Lucky the guys at shimano put a temporary fix on it. The post is buttery smooth and is nice. The remote not so much
  • + 1
 3 months int the non-Kashima with Wolf Tooth no problems at all, and the installation was a breeze. There is a tiny, tiny bit of lateral play at the saddle that I feel like pretty much every dropper post has.
  • + 1
 Get a Jekyll 4 for £1350 new like forks , tubeless tyres, shimano slx,wtb wheels.Dyad is the pain but keep it serviced .
  • + 1
 RC's comment should have been "Buy a new bike, please!"
  • - 2
 So much can be done to improve the handling. Wider bars, shorter stem, get some beefy maxxis 2.5's, throw an Angleset in there to slack it out, bigger fork, dh air shock would make it killer.
  • + 3
 You can't put on a angle set because of a proprietary cannondale headtube. You can't get a short stem for the same reason it's called OPI. They don't even have preload on the headset, it all just kinda squishes in place. They don't even have headset spacers available for purchase, it is not 1.5" trust me. And it will not clear 1.5 tires. It sucks, get a proper bike. Having to work on these things is always a bad day in the shop.
  • + 0
 @smaptyjohnson: thanks for shedding the light. had no idea the lefty caused so much proprietary crap!
  • + 2
 @smaptyjohnson: Why I bought the 2017 Habit 3. They swapped the lefty for a pike on the SE and the 3.
  • + 1
 E13 TRS dropper review please...
  • + 1
 Brand-x Ascend anyone?
  • + 1
 I'm really tempted by the brand x as well. I haven't read a bad review about one yet, and you could buy 3 of them for the price of some of the others.
  • + 1
 @DJ-24: I have one (couldn't pass it up for the price), and I can't imagine needing anything more. It's been faultless for the few months I've had it - still perfectly smooth, quick action, and not much force to drop it, though it does have a minuscule amount of rotational play (maybe a millimeter or so side-to-side at the nose of the saddle).
  • + 1
 @Neechy: That's great, another happy customer. I've been following dropper post reviews for the last year and like you said, this is too good a deal to pass up .
  • - 1
 Which dropper ?
  • + 1
 All of them
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