Do you think dropper posts are something that only emerged in the last ten years? Well, the idea has actually been around much longer than that. SRAM may have opened the floodgates with the Reverb in 2010
but it was only refining an already existing idea. Models from Gravity Dropper and Crankbrothers already existed around the same time and KS claims to have invented the first modern dropper in 1998
but if you go even further back, to the 1980s, you find the Hite Rite.
The Hite Rite was invented by Joe Breeze, one of the pioneers of modern mountain biking
and the winner of 10 of the 24 Repack races. Along with Josh Angell, he created a system that may look primitive compared to modern hydraulic droppers but this simple spring and collar arrangement basically functioned the same and, crucially, allowed riders to drop and raise the saddle at will.
The premise is simple, the saddle is held in place by a locking collar. If the rider has their weight on the saddle and unlocks the collar, the seat lowers and the spring gets loaded. Next time the rider unlocks the collar without their weight on the saddle, the spring unloads and the seat returns to the top of its travel (and at a pretty dangerous speed if you're not careful!)
The product debuted in 1984 with 4.5 inches of travel but there was later an Xtra-Hite version with 5.5" travel and Race Hite with 3.5". Before long it was stocked as original equipment by brands including Fisher, Breezer, Specialized, Trek, Cannondale, Fat Chance, Salsa, and Ibis, and also bought as an aftermarket upgrade by many more riders. On the original versions, you had to reach between your legs to operate the seat collar but later versions came with a remote lever, as shown in the video at the top of the page, and the modern dropper was born.
Despite stories of seat tube wear, wonky saddles and finicky adjustment, they are generally remembered fondly by mountain bikers from that era. In fact, you can still buy them today with eBay accounts regularly finding treasure troves of New Old Stock
that have been left sitting since the 90s. Although you may struggle to fit one on your modern-sized mountain bike, we reckon they would make a great addition to a gravel or townie bike to give it a bit of retro flair.