We can’t really use the weight argument any longer can we? Maja Wloszczowska rode to a Silver medal at the 2016 Olympic Games on her hardtail with a dropper seat post. Julien Absalon resumed his winning ways at World Cups again in 2016 also sporting one. When it comes to performance, execution means more than grams.
Maja with her seat lowered, riding with more confidence and enjoying it.
|It so much better, more comfy, and fun! And I think that having fun is the biggest advantage of using dropper seatpost. - Maja Wloszczowska|
Did a dropper make them faster in their races? Maybe. Honestly, most descents on XC courses are short time-wise and XC riders are adapted and pretty darn good at riding with our seats up. You typically can’t win an XC race on a descent, but you can certainly lose one. The difference descending with a dropper in an XC race against an equal rider is likely fractions of a second which you may then lose carrying extra weight up the next climb, but, it’s not just about snapshots in a race, going up or down. It’s the entire 90-minute picture, as well as where we want to take our riding, enabling faster learning and a different ride style with more room to progress.
The ability to drop your seat can enhance your confidence and aggressiveness on features by increasing stability, allowing you to lower your center of gravity, rotating your hips more for cornering and giving you more vertical room to move through while you load and unload your bike for jumping and rough terrain.In the past racers have chosen not to run a dropper seat post for more reasons than just weight:
• Droppers introduce another lever to the cockpit (less an issue with single chainrings)
• another split second decision to get right or wrong…that awkward seat up descent
• another piece of equipment that could have an issue
• we’re fast without them… and yeah, we’re afraid we might like it, get dependent on it and not be able to ride well without it. This is only an issue if you feel the weight penalty or reliability risk is too much, but why their adoption will be gradual and dependent on seeing others adopt them successfully.
As XC racers, we're pretty adapted to riding with our seat up, but could we gain more with a dropper? I tested my Orbea Oiz with a Fox dropper on a twisty, three minute descent at home. The time difference was only one second, not that significant, until you compare my heart rates, 10 beats lower with the dropper. I would call that a difference maker in racing. Image by Waldek Stepnioski.
After spending more time on a trail bike with a dropper I can relate to the growing masses that feel their bikes are neutered without them. That saddle thing just gets in the way when you’re cornering, jumping and riding steep or rough stuff. They enable bikes and riders to be capable of more.CP
Have you ever or would you personally use one for XC racing?JN
I’ve used one in training and liked riding with it yet found it too time-consuming to push the button and drop the post to actually use it in racing.
|I think in a few years time it could actually become standard, because you have a lot more room to move your body in downhill sections. - Jolanda Neff|
Like any skill you want to use in racing, you need to train it so that when you’re racing it is second nature, there is no additional cognitive demand slowing you down. You also can’t become so dependent on it that you freak out if it doesn’t work, forgetting the skills that enabled you to ride well with your seat up for years. But, if you do believe that a dropper enables you to ride more aggressively and precisely, then it probably does make you faster.
Catharine is wishing that she was using a dropper going into this rock section in 2015.
Droppers are here to stay. People are growing up learning to ride with them. Once you develop your ride style around them, you are unlikely to go back because of one pound. So, let’s see where they take XC racing. My guess will be to fatter tires and more stylish, aggressive riding.
- Catharine Pendrel