debuted Crankbrothers' Highline dropper seatpost last April and it was their most significant development since the brand was reorganized under the Selle Royal Group. The Highline represented more than a new product from the Laguna Beach innovators. It was a mission statement—a demonstration of its redoubled engineering, testing, and quality control processes—and it was impressive in every respect.
In the Crankbrothers style, every part is beautifully machined and finished. Inside, its cable-operated mechanism can be disassembled and serviced by average home mechanics with a few simple tools. The primary element of the Highline is an easily replaced cartridge (backed by a three-year warranty) which ensures that in a worst-case scenario, customers won't be waiting for their dropper post to be serviced by the factory. I posted a favorable first-ride piece
shortly after the Crankbrothers launch and promised a long-term follow-up report, so here it is:
The cable actuates a spiral driver (left) that turns the Highline cartridge's rotary valve.
• Weight: 580g (includes remote and cables)
• Infinite travel adjustment - 5” / 125mm
• Diameter: 30.9, 31.6mm
• Length: 400mm
• 50mm clamp-head height
• Internal routing
• Quick-connect mechanism
• Quick-release, two-bolt clamp head.
• Jagwire Elite Ultra-Slick cable and housing
• Self-contained hydraulic cartridge
• Igus LL-glide bearing and keys
• Trelleborg seal
• Three-year warranty
• MSRP: $350.00, €350.00
• Contact: Crankbrothers
Someone put some thought into the Highline's installation process. To begin with, it's cable operated, and Crankbrother's decision to use Jagwire's best cable and housing means you may never need to service it, but if you do, a gear cable and some housing can be purchased at bike stores worldwide. I found that the lack of end fittings made it much easier to internally route the cable housing than a hydraulic Reverb hose, with its threaded metal ends. The fixed end of the cable slides into the actuator mechanism at the base of the post, which can be unscrewed by hand. The free end of the cable is fixed to the remote lever with a set-screw, which makes it simpler to fine-tune the housing length between the lever and the frame.
|Positioning the Highline's remote is facilitated by its ball-and-socket clamping arrangement, which allows the lever to be rotated about its axis and angled to accommodate just about any rider's preference.|
Positioning the Highline's remote is facilitated by its ball-and-socket clamping arrangement, which allows the lever to be rotated about its axis and angled to accommodate just about any rider's preference. The low-profile handlebar clamp is only ten millimeters wide, so it can be nestled inboard or outboard of most any brake lever perch. The shift lever itself is quite comfortable, and its smooth, low-friction action made micro-adjusting the seatpost height a very intuitive process. Nuances, perhaps, but they add up. Extensions and retractions became seamless events—and returning to a competitor's dropper post was not always a pleasant transition.
Two-bolt seat-rail clamps have proven to be the easiest to micro-adjust, and the most secure method to retain a saddle. The downside, however, comes when it's time to replace or remove the seat, which often becomes a wrestling match unless one or both of the clamping bolts are completely removed. Crankbrothers eliminated the need to remove bolts (and the resulting shower of specialty hardware) by slotting the back of the seatpost head. Loosen the bolt, swing it free, and the saddle slides off and on in a more civilized manner.
|Crankbrothers eliminated the need to remove bolts (and the resulting shower of specialty hardware) by slotting the back of the seatpost head.|
I ran the Highline dropper post on two different bikes in mostly dry weather for nearly a year. I did manage to find a few mucky and rainy days to ride, but nothing like a serious rider would encounter in British Columbia's temperate rain forests. The post scores top marks for durability. It survived some impressive crashes in the boulders without any indications that harm was done. The sliding bushings are still intact and the post does not rock. The two-key indexing system also held well. To date, the side play is negligible—pretty much what I experience with reputable brand's posts when they are fresh in their boxes.
Crankbrothers say that the seal-head should be unscrewed, and the post lubricated each year. I didn't bother, as the protected area inside the post looked nearly new and was still moist with lubricant when I checked it for this report. The seal-head can be unscrewed by hand should you be curious about the health of your post.
As mentioned, the action of the remote lever, in combination with the post's smooth-operating rotary valve makes for one of (if not the best) modulating posts I've used. part of that control is due to the fact that the Highline extends at a metered rate—fast enough to satisfy most riders, but not so fast that it can't be stopped with a degree of accuracy mid-way through its stroke. Riders who demand an instant extension may find the Crankbrother's post to be too slow, but the Highline is what it is. Its cartridge system is not adjustable for speed like a RockShox Reverb with its manually charged air-spring. I prefer a faster post, but I grew to like the ability to precisely adjust the Highline's extension for technical trails that demanded a lot of pedaling.
The free end of the cable tucks into a slot beneath the remote lever.
Crankbrothers began the Highline project two years before the trend for longer-stroke dropper posts became the norm and there is no hiding that a 125-millimeter-stroke dropper post is the absolute minimum requirement today. The push for ultra-steep seat tube angles has upped the ante and the 150-millimeter post has eclipsed the 125 as the baseline standard for all-mountain and enduro style mountain bikes. If there was any complaint that I could level at the Highline, it would be that it desperately needs a big brother. Crankbrothers suggested that a longer-stroke version was in the testing stages at the launch, so I hope to see it sometime this year.Pinkbike's Take:
|Crankbrothers did well to make the Highline an exemplary dropper. If its only reason to exist was to assure loyal fans that the brand has returned stronger and more committed than it has ever been, the Highline would be a win. That said, if I didn't know anything about Crankbrothers, I'd still recommend it to anyone in search of a pro-quality 125-millimeter-stroke dropper post. Now, where's that 150-millimeter version? - RC|