Eightpins' integrated dropper post caused a stir at this year's Eurobike trade show, and more recently it went on to win Pinkbike's Innovation of the Year
award. Dropper posts aren't exactly new, and there are plenty of reasonably reliable options out there, so what's all the fuss about? It's the fact that Eightpins decided to integrate their post into the frame, rather than using the tube-within-a-tube design that's currently the norm. In addition to saving weight (it's claimed to be up to 25% lighter than some of the most popular droppers currently on the market), the design allows for much larger seals and internal parts, which should help increase reliability.
Lighter weight and less maintenance sounds great – so what's the catch? The catch is that you'll need to have a frame designed specifically for the post, since it's held in place by an axle that runs through the lower portion of the seat tube. The design also requires 30cm of uninterrupted seat tube in order to have 170mm of drop, and even more room for the longer travel options. In other words, it's not going to be compatible with frames that have stubby, interrupted seat tubes. Initially, Liteville will be the first company to offer the new post on their bikes, but Eightpins are eager to get others on board.First Ride
Andreas Haimberger, one of the company's founders, rolled into town on a wet and stormy afternoon with three Eightpins-equipped demo bikes crammed into the back of a rental vehicle. He was halfway through a massive roadtrip that had him driving from Los Angeles to Vancouver, BC, all the way down south to Phoenix, Arizona, and then back to LA before flying home to Austria. Those thousands of miles were part of his quest to visit nearly every major bike manufacturer on the west coast, and since he happened to be passing though my neighborhood, I decided to take him up on his offer to give the Eightpins post a try, foul weather be damned.
We headed out for a soggy lap on my local trails, a relatively short loop, but one with plenty of quick climbs and descents where a dropper post comes in handy. But before hitting the trails a few adjustments had to be made. Due to the fact that there's no seatpost collar, setting the bike's saddle height is a little more involved than simply opening up a quick release, although it's still a simple procedure. It requires taking the seat off in order to access a 4mm hex bolt found near the top of the tube; once the bolt is loosened the post can be set at the desired position. After a few minutes of tinkering at the trailhead parking lot everything was ready to go - time to ride.
From the start, the most noticeable trait of the Eighpins post is how ridiculously easy it is to get it to move downwards. On most posts you need to put a good portion of your body weight on the saddle to push it to a lower position, but that simply wasn't the case with the Eightpins. It required the least amount of force out of any dropper post I've ridden, and once the thumb lever was depressed it felt like it only took a few pounds of body weight to get it to drop. Technically, the post doesn't have an infinite number of positions, but it can be stopped and locked into place every six millimeters, which felt close enough to infinite adjustability to me. The post also felt reassuringly solid - there wasn't any lateral slop, and no vertical play or squishiness. It even looks
stout - the 33mm post diameter seems much more fitting for today's bikes rather than the narrow diameter of the upper tube on a 'regular' dropper post.
The post's return speed was smooth and quick, even after being coated with a nice layer of Washington's finest mud. That speed is controlled by an air spring, so it is possible to speed it up or slow it down to match rider preference. As always, one ride can't be considered a review, especially with something like a dropper post where reliability is a crucial factor, which is why we'll be getting an Eightpins-equipped Liteville to see how the post fares in the long term.
Title photo: Stefan Voitl
|This initial ride was only a brief glimpse at the potential of the Eightpins post, but if it's any indication of what the future holds, I'm all for it; on more than one occasion I found myself thinking, "This is how a dropper post is supposed feel." Will any of the major bike manufacturers commit to producing bikes based around this design? I sure hope so - it seems to hold a huge amount of potential. It won't be an overnight change, and there are a few hurdles to overcome, but it would be great to see this technology become the norm sooner than later. - Mike Kazimer|