Throwback Thursday: A Remote Dropper Post from the 80s

Mar 4, 2021
by James Smurthwaite  

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.


152 Comments

  • 403 21
 Still better than a reverb..
  • 60 14
 And not to mention the Spesh Command Post Smile
  • 51 0
 @2pi: man, my old command was a rocket. Still have nightmares from the trauma my jewels endured.
  • 3 0
 @jpwvy5: oh yeah. They made a similar noise to the Hite Rite on top out.
  • 5 0
 @2pi: Seriously. “Known problem” is just the tip of the iceberg.
  • 7 5
 This was the first thing that came to mind. Guess it isn't surprising how bad SRAM continuously f*cks up by not keeping things simple. Fox is the same thing. However, if you keep the Fox Transfer post clean from dirt and dust, it's maintenance free and works 100% of the time.
  • 7 1
 @CSharp: Agreed, after two Reverbs, never again. Fox Transfer isn't simple, but install is still way simpler than RS. My Transfer has been flawless on a few bikes and I have done next to zero maintenance in two years. Still have it on a bike and a Bike Yoke on another. The Yoke is heavier but seems solid so far and simple enough.
  • 17 0
 @jpwvy5: I work at a specialized dealer and we call those "the sterilizers"
  • 3 1
 Another contender enters the ring - Giant Connect. Love my Giant bikes but that post - monstrosity! Kill it, burn it and send it back to hell. Engineering marvel.
  • 3 0
 @PocoBoho: I mean the Giant droppers fail early due to poor seals, but I would not necessarily say they are the devil. It's not like they fail catastrophically and Giant will give you new ones under warranty ad nauseum.
  • 3 0
 @cyclebean

as a reverb owner i can't upvote you more than once, but I would if possible give you +1000
  • 1 0
 @Konyp: Its not like they should come with a reproductive harm warning... unlike spesh
  • 1 0
 You got that right!
  • 3 0
 @CSharp: PNW droppers are pretty awesome, and affordable...
  • 1 0
 Better than the first generation of Reverbs, yes, but the Reverb has come a long way in product development and is one of the better designs on the market now.
  • 2 0
 @RunsWithScissors: Do you work for sram by any chance
  • 1 0
 @Civicowner: No I just own a small bike shop and have had a chance to work on droppers from several different manufacturers and the Reverb just has the best parts and documentation of any of them and it makes them easy to take care of and make reliable. The plastic IFP was a game changer.
  • 1 0
 @jpwvy5: one might say you had no command
  • 128 1
 The obvious flaw is there's no way to charge $350 or sell rebuild kits for it.
  • 10 1
 Wildly underrated comment.
  • 1 1
 If that was the only flaw we'd all be riding it today.
  • 71 1
 Still probably works better than a reverb in sub 40 degree weather
  • 32 0
 shit mine stopped working at 65 degrees..
  • 64 1
 @coop08: He's talking Celcius.
  • 26 7
 @IntoTheEverflow: He's talking about Kelvin
  • 3 0
 Mine stopped working at an enduro training session just below zero degrees celcius. Ruined my weekend.
  • 1 0
 They really do suck at temps approaching freezing. Puts a serious cramp in my winter riding at times.
  • 3 1
 @IntoTheEverflow: that's close to the point of convergence between F & C, so its comparable.
  • 2 2
 @Poulsbojohnny: Any fluid at low temps shrinks. Try refrigerating your fluid before bleeding.
  • 4 0
 Just gotta get the wolf tooth remote. problem solved. i haven't serviced mine in three years. works like a charm
  • 3 1
 @ReformedRoadie: sorry to burst your bubble. but if it stops working at 25K I would be happy with that!
  • 2 0
 @femto505: you got me...
Fired off the comment...and then thought about it. Talking out my ass. Guilty.
  • 1 0
 @ReformedRoadie: happens to the best of us when we try to make puns
  • 2 0
 @deaf-shredder: How am I supposed to refrigerate myself before I wipe out on the trail and gush all over the place? SMH. Internet people.
  • 12 0
 I still use a gravity dropper. It may not look as cool as some of the newer option with it's rubber boot but it has worked without issue for 10+ years on many frames.
  • 9 0
 @enicma: Gravity Droppers were so cool. Actually worked for the 27.2mm seat tubes. They had an interesting made in a shed by a smart person kind of look to them.
  • 9 0
 I still have my Gravity Dropper post thst I bought in 2005. Works like a charm. Had it rebuilt 2 years ago. $32.00, that included shipping.
  • 1 0
 After hearing the Hite Rite operate, it sounds like it literally sparked the fire
  • 1 0
 Agreed. Gravity Droppers were reliable and probably still lighter weight than the current high end dropper posts. Unfortunately the design won't work with internal cable routing and dust boot looks funny. Would love to see an updated mmodern Gravity Dropper hit the market.
  • 3 0
 After the Hite Rite came the Hurricane Components Elevator Shaft(see post below), not Gravity Dropper. We pre-dated the GD by at least 2 years. As a matter of fact, the first GD post almost looked like a direct knockoff of our dropper. The first GD had a pull knob to lower the post, exactly as we had 2 years before. We also had a remote lever. It does bother me that GD gets the credit for being the “first dropper post” and not Hurricane.
I give GD credit though, they took a great idea and ran with it. Something I would have done if I didn’t sell the company in late 2002/ early 2003. We only produced a limited amount.
  • 3 0
 @HurricaneJeff: thanks for the clarification. Sounds like you were way ahead of the times!
  • 29 2
 Reverb? KS brought droppers to the modern world long before Sram...
  • 31 1
 Sorry gravity dropper was way before that and actually worked unlike sram or KS
  • 13 7
 KS still hasn’t gotten it right...
  • 4 0
 Your right about that too haha @DHhack:
  • 4 1
 @freeridejerk888: Second/third that on KS.
  • 6 0
 @bman33: weird, the three reverbs I had all shit the bed. All three withing 1 year of purchase so all were warrantied. The is Lev in had for 4 seasons before sold was solid and the integra for 2 seasons before sold was solid.
  • 2 0
 @freeridejerk888: Hes right you know.
  • 4 0
 Towaro had a proper dropper in 1997, they were way ahead.
www.mtbr.com/threads/dropper-post-before-they-were-cool.1038477
  • 4 0
 @freeridejerk888: My gravity droppers have worked over ONE DECADE basically flawlessly.
  • 26 0
 This invention kicks ass
  • 1 0
 underrated comment
  • 14 3
 Ever since I found out about droppers for bikes I've kind of wondered why didn't they just look at office chairs and be like "let's do exactly that". They've been around for decades, take *tons* of abuse, and just keep working.

I'm sure an engineer can give me a million reasons why that won't work, but I don't get it.
  • 34 0
 Because office chairs don't lock out the spring. And don't have size and weight limits that bikes do, but most of the issues come from the locking out of the post. Written by an engineer bouncing in his office chair.
  • 3 0
 @rclugnut: moments and forces and such come to mind next to material properties and what not...
  • 6 0
 Generally speaking..... isnt this exactly how they work. More oil ,less air of course.
  • 5 4
 @rclugnut: What do you mean office chairs don't lock out the spring? Not sure what you mean by that.
  • 9 1
 @Gristle: You can still bounce an office chair after you set the height. Riders don't want a dropper post that bounces while you pedal.
  • 9 0
 @chrod: funny that the top comment on the Randoms article is lamenting the loss of the extra 10mm of Reverb dropper 'suspension' after getting it serviced.
  • 5 0
 @essessareare: lol, "it's not a bug it's a feature" strikes again.
maybe Cane Creek needs to revive the Thudbuster to compete
  • 9 0
 Office chairs do NOT just keep working! The ones I've used have tons of play, some of them sag, the spring will be too soft or too stiff, some of them don't lock and will jam themselves under the desk by slowly rising to the top of their travel if you're not sitting in it. Maybe they're reliable if you have a nice new office chair - but nice new office chairs cost much more than a dropper post!
  • 1 0
 @chrod: pretty sure PNW has a dropper that has suspension also built into it?
  • 2 0
 @Jagungal: revive? You can get one now.
  • 3 0
 Besides the point made that office chairs don’t lock, that mechanism is WAY heavier than any dropper post, much larger than any seat tube, and made to take vertical loads in an office, not bending loads on an off-road race vehicle.
  • 2 0
 In addition to not locking out, office chairs spin.
  • 1 0
 @mtbskills: lol, now make it a dropper to compete with the old Reverb
  • 13 0
 I was working at a shop at the time and someone brought in a prototype and asked us what they should call it. We came up with Raisin' Buns. Almost a historic moment there.
  • 16 3
 "debuted in 1984 with 4.5mm of travel" - sure about that?
  • 9 0
 The metric system is hard for some people.
  • 14 0
 @DeeHubbs: I'm proofreading for free and I'm getting minused?
  • 8 0
 @BenPea: tough crowd
  • 11 0
 @jaydawg69: yeah, well I won't be helping with all the other PB typos I'd written in my little notebook, so...
  • 1 0
 Guess it's corrected tobe 4.5 inches which is 114mm - not bad in those days. Then, there's the 5.5 incher which is what everyone wants now at 140mm.
  • 1 0
 @CSharp: just upvoted you for all the wrong reasons
  • 9 0
 I was unaware of the KS design from 1998 when we designed our first dropper, with a remote in 2001 when I owned Hurricane Components. The "Elevator Shaft" was a fairly simple, coil spring operated dropper with 75mm of drop. My inspiration come from the Hite Rite.
Back in 1999, we contacted Joe Breeze about re-introducing the Hite- Rite under the Hurricane Components product catalog. at this time the HR wasn't being sold much, if at all. frame designs(the HR needed a brazed on seat post clamp) weight and the need for a seat post to lower fell out of favor. Joe offered them to us for $5 each, which was fair since we had to design our own seat post clamp. we could buy them in as many as we needed. He later called us and said that he talked to Josh and that Josh thought that we needed to buy the whole lot of the HR stock, which ww were not able to come up to an agreement on.
This is when we designed our own dropper. The first being made from a converted RockSkox Suspension seat post.


Anyway, we had one on a bike at 2002 Sea Otter, but were not showing it in our expo booth, but some keen eyes saw it.
We had people either love the idea or comment that we are "fixing a problem that doesn't exist"
At the end of 2002 we decided to sell Hurricane due to a growing family. We made a very small production run of the Elevator Shafts. The new buyer/ owner did not continue on with this product.

Some people point at the Power Post from the 90's as the first dropper, but that really wasn't a dropper as we know today.
  • 5 1
 It is common knowledge in my area some long years ago the budget dropper post just placing a pneumatic spring from a trunk door inside your seat post, and placing a bottom end at the desired height on top of the bottom bracket.
  • 5 1
 You can buy a brand new HiteRite from Joe Breeze on eBay right now - if you need one DO IT! They offer some larger sized clamps to accommodate more current seatposts. I run a HiteRite on all my bikes - except the one with a hydraulic dropper.
www.ebay.com/itm/Vintage-HITE-RITE-Saddle-Dropper-New-Sealed-In-Package/183231146016?hash=item2aa96d6820:g:o6oAAOSw~1pgNJIB
fyi I am not affiliated with HiteRite in any way but I met Joe Breeze once and he is super cool. It looks like these are all NOS so quantities will be limited. Cheers -
  • 3 0
 Nice! I had one of those. Seatpost on my GT--the kind with a U-brake under the seatstays--still completely worn out from it. Don't know what happened to it. Bike still rides though. Had to have quick release set up perfectly then they worked great. Sort of. Surprised there was such a gap between them and today's dropper posts. Get to the top, lower the post, and flip the pedals so the cages were down. Ha.
  • 5 0
 U-brake under the seatstay was the fucking worst fad. I remember pedaling downhill in the mud in my first mtb race as a teenager. So soul crushing.
  • 2 0
 @mkpfaff: I totally agree. The Canadian winter with heavy salting on the roads just corroded away two sets of U-Brakes.
  • 2 0
 @mkpfaff: I had a Nishiki with a u-brake under the chainstay. With a front derailleur. Just because there wasn't enough going on down there already, I suppose.
Mud would churn out through the (3!) chainrings like a pasta maker.
  • 3 0
 @CarbonShmarbon: ha. Mine a red GT Avalanche XL. Standover was about 35 inches. It was 850$ in in 1988 or 9 which I had to pay my dad back all summer for. Working a job for $4.65 an hour. Thought it was the coolest bike in the whole world. Got stolen and replaced with a Karakoram Elite that is still rolling. U brake on the seatstays at least.
  • 1 0
 @Edgibson: actually, that Nishiki broke and the frame was replaced with a Norco Pinnacle that is
my city bike now.
  • 7 2
 I think its safe to say that SRAM has never had an original idea aside from ensuring expensive bikes have shitty drive drivetrains.
  • 2 1
 Shitty drivetrains used to be an issue. The newer drivetrains have been pretty solid. But they do still produce shitty brakesband overrated forks.
  • 18 2
 @BeerGuzlinFool: NX and SX are shit, GX is arguably shit and they all come specd on new bikes until you basically hit the absolute top build level. Top level bikes are $10,000+, oh but if you can't afford that here's the $9,000 model but instead of XX1 you get GX.

Shimano SLX runs circles around GX but if companies want to put that on their mid-level bike then SRAM charges them 3x the amount for the fork and shock and the bike can't be priced to compete with even the XX1 build.

SRAM has single handedly ruined getting into new bikes that have a good cost vs quality ratio.
  • 3 0
 @warmerdamj: Preach brotha preach! Big Grin
  • 1 0
 @warmerdamj: Believe me . I'm not a sram fan at all. When I built my DH bike a few years ago I made sure there weren't any parts from sram. The levo I bought last year came specd with all sram parts. So far the drivetrain has been solid. The brakes are inconsistent and the lyrik is not bad.
  • 4 0
 As a Downhiller turned (old) and trailrider i can say that the original 1x11 (xx1, xo1) was a huge improvement to my bike and basically to bikedesign in general. The cassette is still the best out there; xd driver is also way easier to handle then the shimano stuff. Directmount, especially the 28 t steel one, was a blessing too. I also own an old short-cage xo1 drivetrain from 2010 (prob.) that thing is art and the best shifting thing i have ever owned.

All other sram stuff is garbage (reverb, brakes, my old pike,12 speed GX, 11 Speed NX on my sons bike...just bad)
  • 2 0
 I am currently rebuilding a 1988 MBK that did one of the second world MTB championships in Switzerland vimeo.com/19655581 generationmountainbike.com/project/1988-mbk-trackerhightech The bike was not shipped with a dropper seat post :-(
  • 2 0
 There was a way to lower your seat while riding before this was invented too.

You would bolt on a Dia-Compe hinged seat post clamp on the seat post itself. Adjust it so that when you release your actual quick release seatpost clamp on the frame, the post drops down until the Dia-compe clamp hits the frame and stops it from dropping any further.

Ride like hell down your favorite trail, then right before that downhill rock garden, reach down while you are riding and open your quick release and let the seatpost drop, then close the quick release. Keep cranking, do not let up. It all happens real fast in pretty much a single motion to flip the quick release open then back closed.

Sound sketchy? That's why this was invented....
  • 2 0
 The first video is of the IRD remote to use with a Hite-Rite. It was the best thing you could put on your bike in the late 80s. There was a titanium Hite-Rite for a brief period, but it cost about 5 time as much.
  • 2 0
 I still have my HiteRight, in it original packaging, complete with a small sticker. I purchased it in Durango, CO around 1985. I need to put it on one of my two antique Stumpjumpers soon!
  • 1 0
 Actually Joe Breez/Hite Rite didn't make the remote dropper option it was made by Ray and Ron at the original IRD lair. I had one of their full strokers, with 225mm cranks, bitd and had that setup on it. Made riding Slick Rock much more fun! As well as the torque those cranks threw down....
  • 1 0
 I remember those from the 80’s, and couldn’t see a problem with them. Though I don’t remember the remote.
Thought the weight penalty was high, back when Mtn bikes were well under 30Lbs.
Maybe I should go to eBay..
  • 1 0
 Funny how much the DT Swiss D232 has in common with this, though this hiterite job has infinite adjustability, whereas the D 232 is up or down only. Still, simple spring does the job for both.
  • 1 0
 Wonder why he didn't order one with the remote level actuation. It's a pain in the groin to have to use one hand to steer on rough terrain or just before a jump and the other hand flips open the lever and then closing.
  • 2 0
 Really glad Fat Chance was mentioned in here. My dad still has his Wicked Fat Chance with one of these specced on it. Great looking bike.
  • 1 0
 Still have my gravity dropper, it's about 13 years old

Needed a rebuild around 2015

Works perfectly whatever the temperature

"CLUNK'"

m.pinkbike.com/photo/20232013
  • 2 0
 Followed by GD and black mamba which allowed insane by that time reliability and performance
  • 3 3
 Haha, these were awful. In fact everything about bikes in the 90's was awful. I still remember racing mt snow on like 11mm wide rims, with 1.95" tires at 40 psi. So dumb, thanks for the trip down memory lane!
  • 2 0
 More mtb history lessons please! Love learning about these types of things that really got the sport to where it is today.
  • 1 0
 Tell us what you want to see at the Vintage MTB Festival vintagemtb.org The MTB Museum has plenty of collector stuff...
  • 1 0
 I sold about forty NOS ones on ebay for more than their original MSRP a few years ago. They're one of those old school parts which appreciated in value as time went on.
  • 2 0
 May look primitive but it worked every time unlike some RS hydros .
  • 2 0
 Ever wanted to give yourself a prostate exam?
  • 1 0
 moving the post up and down scars the tube so ended the life of said Hite Rite
  • 1 0
 ”...and, frankly, it always worked.” Wish I could say that about my Reverb.
  • 2 0
 Had one on my 1988 Bridgestone MB-3
  • 1 0
 With a Hite-Rite, you will all the room you need to pull up super hard with your clipless pedals to clear any drop!
  • 1 0
 Spring loaded grundle crusher. Also, screw reverb. The one on my wife's bike showed up DOA.
  • 1 0
 Chapel Hill NC trails in the video, never thought id see my local trails on PB
  • 1 0
 Is that Briar Chapel?
  • 1 0
 Well technically it's not Chapel Hill, but yeah close enough.
  • 1 0
 This is probably the lightest dropper post you're gonna get! I can see the XC and gravel bike riders going back to this.
  • 1 0
 My hiterite never worked that well ever and that was opening the qr for the seat post not that cool lever version.
  • 1 0
 Imagine the hole in your ass if that upper spring mount let go while compressed. Oooch.
  • 1 0
 I regret giving away my HiteRite in the early 2000s. I never had the remote however. Rad
  • 1 0
 Still got a couple of these in a bin someplace. Ran one up till 2002. Great product and worked well.
  • 1 0
 Original mullet and dropper post. Ibis ahead of the curve.
  • 1 0
 Why haven't I heard of this before?
  • 17 0
 You’re a youngling
  • 4 3
 "debuted in 1984 with 4.5mm of travel" - sure about that?
  • 2 0
 I've still got one.
  • 6 1
 #metoo
  • 1 0
 Same here.
  • 1 0
 This and a Thudbuster back in the day and you were king!
  • 1 0
 A thudbuster or similar type suspension on a gravel bike is a back saver. They are great and really work well in this context.
  • 1 0
 I've got one on my 87 Mountain Goat Deluxe. Oh yeah baby!
  • 1 0
 Joe Breezer's son still ships these out. Pretty rad.
  • 1 0
 next week a stem that flexes .... oh wait a fucking minute
  • 1 0
 That looks virtually indestructible. Does anyone still make them?
  • 1 0
 Isn´t this the lighter by far? I would still prefer it for XC racing...
  • 1 0
 X Fusion Manic dropper posts are solid reliable!!!
  • 1 0
 Does no one else remember the Power Post? Probably ‘92 or so?
  • 1 0
 Had one of these on my first cannondale
  • 1 0
 What is the song from the Nashbar video? It's driving me crazy!
  • 1 0
 How many reverbs will still be working 30 years later!
  • 1 0
 I LOVED LOVED LOVED my HiteRIte!
  • 1 0
 I had a Hite Rite on my Reflex ALX 89, it was worth having at the time.
  • 1 4
 IMO over time it will wear the inside of your seat tube and cause fatigue to the seat clamp area of your frame. Not where you want an aluminum frame to see a lot of cycles. Great 80s technology.
  • 3 0
 On my old frame, which saw 12 years of three times a week use, and about 10 seatpost height adjustments per ride, the post was very worn but still worked the same way as day 1.
  • 3 0
 In the 80's, MTB frames were mostly steel.
  • 1 0
 I want one!!
  • 1 0
 The HiteRite, yes!!!
  • 1 3
 Better than a Reverb

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