It wasn't that long ago that you could count on your dropper post to stop going up and down sometime between when it was brand new and an hour into your first lap on it. Thing is, they added so much flow to a ride that the piss-poor dependability was sorta accepted back then. Riders would fix or replace them, but who went back to a tall posting? No one, I'd guess. These days, a dropper has to not just go up and down, but also do it for a long time without needing any attention.
SDG's new Tellis post needs to do exactly that in order to be considered a contender, which is exactly why I've had the $269.99 USD dropper on a high-mileage bike for the last six months. The cable-actuated, hydraulically-controlled Tellis can be had with 125mm or 150mm of drop, and there will also be a 170mm version available early in 2019.
• Travel: 125mm, 150mm (tested), 170mm (Jan, 2019)
• Hydrualic w/ non-indexed
• Routing: internal only
• Lengths: 390mm, 440mm
• Diameter: 30.9mm, 31.6mm
• Warranty: two years
• Weight: 552g (30.9 x 150mm), 36g (lever)
• Replacement cartridge: $44.99 USD
• MSRP: $269.99 USD
• More info: www.sdgcomponents.com
Inside the Tellis
Can a dropper post be reasonably priced and still be reliable? SDG's Tellis is exactly that.
There are loads of different dropper posts to pick from these days, but what isn't widely known is that many of them use the same, or at least very similar, hydraulic cartridge from Wintek to control their stroke. The cartridges are relatively inexpensive - SDG asks $44.99 USD for a new one - but they've also proven themselves to be pretty damn reliable. Sure, they're not serviceable for the most part, but is that a bad thing when they seem to run smoothly for ages? I don't think so, and the rest of the post is easy to service when the time comes.
Alignment is done via a key-way system, and the actuator at the bottom of the post, along with the remote itself, is designed to deliver a very light feel at the rider's thumb. Up top, a 3D forged head is home to a twin, opposing bolt system to clamp the seat rails, which is much more reliable than a single bolt running from left to right that'll eventually let the seat rotate backward.
It's also worth noting that SDG says there are more than thirty international distributors and service centers who offer support backup, all of them stocked with parts that are also readily available and accessible online. On top of that, SDG has created a bunch of how-to videos
that cover everything from a basic installation to a 400-hour service or a full cartridge replacement. That's how it should be done.
The Tellis' lever can mount in just a single orientation: On the left and under the 'bar like a remote should be mounted.
The Tellis' remote isn't one of those that can be mounted every which way to the point of it working on your drop bar-equipped recumbent. Instead, it's a simple thumb paddle that's designed to sit where your front shifter used to be back when dropping your seat meant getting off the bike. The clamp is split, of course, and the paddle sports a braille-like textured section for added traction.
The cable is clamped at the lever (the head slots into the actuator at the bottom of the post) via a rather small set screw, and while it isn't the most elegant way to get the job done, it works.
With flawless reliability, simple construction, and a remote that requires next to no thumb pressure, the Tellis is a worthy dropper to consider.
Besides slipping the cable's head into the actuator, then pulling it taut and clamping it, there isn't much to do. That first install took fifteen minutes, at most, and the tension hasn't needed any tinkering since.
There was essentially no side-to-side play at the post's head when it was first put on the bike, and there still isn't any six months down the road. That bodes well for long-term performance, as does the smooth action and no hiccups at any point in the stroke. SDG says that the Tellis works well in temps as low as -20c, and while it never got that nippy, it does seem to be indifferent to what the weather is up to. The touch of top-out at the top of the stroke is nice, too, as it lets you know that it's back up to full mast.
SDG touts a very light feel at the lever and they're not lying - the thumb paddle might depress if you blew on it. The shape of the cam is key here, and it'll be boon on any bike that has terrible cable routing that adds friction into the system from the bends being too tight. It should also help keep the lever moving decently when contamination has gotten into the line, although the real solution there is to do some maintenance. Pinkbike's Take: