An Average Riders Review of the TMARS Dropper Post

Jun 16, 2014 at 13:47
by Euan Taylor  
Hi Everyone, for my first 'Blog' I thought that I would do a solid and review the TMARS dropper post.
As stated I'm not a professional rider or writer, I hate to admit it but I'm pretty much a weekend warrior, as you can see from my roots and rain profile I am a consistent 20-40% slower than the fastest guys.
https://www.rootsandrain.com/rider8212/euan-taylor/results/

I work a decent 9-5 job but the lure of spending £200 of my own money on a seat post still concerns me. At the end of the trail I still have bills to pay and a dog to feed.

Here is the Average Bike it is attached to
My Iron Horse Hollowpoint MKiii

For those of you unaware of TMARS they are a Taiwanese company who Design and build bicycle accessories, mainly in the form of Handlebars, Seat posts, Clamps and some swish looking basket/Handlebar combos.
According to their website and the 5 minutes I spent looking at it for this blog, they have been around since 1994.

I have been on the Fence when it came to purchasing a height adjustable seat post, mainly due to the cost the premium brands are charging, but also due to being the proud owner of two Iron Horse Bikes. As anyone who owns an Iron Horse will tell you, they are the best bikes that second hand money can buy, however they also come with an industry anomaly 30.0mm seat post size. Now this Limits you on the dropper post front, as only a select few come in the 27.2mm and the grand total of zero (in my research) come in a 30.0mm. So the choice ahead was settle for a 27.2 and a shim, or get a 30.9 and ream out the Iron Horse Seat tube.

For me, the main reasons for purchasing a dropper seat post is because I am entered in the Mega Avalanche this coming July. This 25km mass start race is, in my mind the reason these things are made.

So as you can see I settled, I couldn't risk writing of a bike for the sake of an adjustable seat post with an event such as the 'Mega' so close.

So after many an hour searching on-line, the T-mars was chosen, based on a combination of price and diameter. (insert rude joke here?)

The Seat post arrived promptly, but horrifically packaged, nothing more than a postal bag and the plastic wrapper it came in, no cardboard, no foam, just two plastic bags, the post however had arrived undamaged,

Photo of Packaging and Instructions
Instructions for T-Mars Dropper Post

So along with the seatpost I obviously needed a shim, and due to all my brain power being spent on picking a seat post I ended up stumping up around £7 for a plastic number from Wiggle. Mounting this and the seat post was easy. The key point to note on the installation instructions is not to insert the post too far down, as this will cause fouling of the cable entry onto the seat clamp, and prevent smooth operation.
The cable for this unit is fixed which was another reason for buying this, I was not a fan of the loops of cable that are common on other sorts of mechanical dropper.

As you can see below, the minimum insertion does mean that you cannot 'Slam' the seat, which concerned me as I do like to ride with my seat far out the way when descending.

A close up of the installation
Close-up of the Tmars Dropper post

HOW DOES IT WORK!

So after fitting I went out on a quick local spin with the dog, living on the edge of Edinburgh I have really quick access to the Pentland hills which have both good climbing and descending, so a worth test. and it was muddy... rotor deep muddy.

I found the seatpost interesting to get used to, due to the pin actuated system, you have to sit on the seat to lower it (obviously) but also to raise it up. a slight dip is needed with the lever pressed to unlatch the pin, this can be a bit of a nuisance to get used to, but after a few rides becomes just an interesting show for anyone following you.
On my first ride I had a few issues, the first being the plastic shim, which kept allowing the post to slide into the frame, I had to really tighten this up with an Hex key to the point where i thought I must be crushing the post, frame or stripping threads.
This slipping started to cause the cable to foul on the seat clamp which did cause difficulty raising and lowering the seat. After noticing this I spun the seat clamp around (backwards from the above picture) so the cable lay through the gap where it pinches, and tightened up the clamp to nun like proportions.

Other than this the main issue I had was the thumb actuator fouling on my brake housing which prevented it from pushing far enough for the pin to disengage, again a quick fiddle sorted this out.
Thumb Actuator1
Something I will mention, but again, I think this will be just a set-up issue, is that finding the middle height can be an issue. As on more than one occasion now, I have convinced myself it has snapped into the middle position fully, only to stand up and half a second later have my saddle sack tap me at what feels like Mach 2. As if having your tender danglie bits treated like a ping pong ball wasn't enough, you are inevitably heading towards a downhill that you would rather not have your seat up for. However, with a little adjustment and more careful attention to the locking sound and actuator position I think this could be avoided.

Since this initial set-up ride I have done quite a few varied miles, many in trail centres where the advantage of a dropper post really shows, and many on local push-up trails. I have also had 3 over the bars and blown the rebound on my 44's, so to say that the durability of the post has had a decent test is fair. The post has some play in it, which is more obvious when fully extended, I however have not noticed it while riding the bike, only when standing and wobbling the seat by hand.


The Verdict

Looks: this is definitely not the nicest looking seat post on the market, with the rubber boot making it look like a mid 90's fork, however the boot does prevent mud from entering the system and keeps the motion smooth and slick, the red thumb actuator also happens to work with my colour scheme so points gained back there 5/10
Function: for the price of the unit it does what it should, it goes up and down on request, however sometimes finding the middle height can be terrifying 6/10
Price: at ebay prices around £67.99 you cant get much cheaper 9/10
Durability: While I am hesitant as I only purchased this on the 25th of May to give a rating on this, this unit came with a 12 month parts warranty (excluding wear parts- which interests me as i think that would be the parts that would fail...) However have a friend who owns a similar version that has outlasted some of the premium posts on the market used by others in our group. (a cautious) 6/10 - but I will revisit after the Mega avalanche and some further miles.
Overall: 6.5/10

Would I buy it again - Yes
Would I buy another one - No - but I only say this as I expect this to last a year at least. after which I am hoping some of the more expensive posts will have come down to the £100 pound price point
Would I recommend one to a friend - Yes, with the proviso that they do not already have a more expensive dropper post. This is definitely a starter post, but please don't let that take away from how much benefit and enjoyment you will receive from having this. Even if it is just that moment where you start to roll in a trail and think "oh I've left my seat up" and you no longer have to stop and hold up the trail or lose your friends as they drop off ahead.

I'm Glad someone is bringing at least a reasonable and affordable option to the table, I know it has been said many times before, but these really do make riding trails more enjoyable.

Anyway I hope someone gets some benefit from my review, I have enjoyed writing it, and I promise that if catastrophe strikes soon, I will update this as quickly as possible.

P.S On a side note if anyone has anything they would like me to review over at the Mega Avalanche next month (some 150mm trail forks would be great!) Send me a message and I would happily assist.

Have Fun Riding
Euan.


13 Comments

  • 5 0
 Hey,

The Mega went ok, I think it was the wettest on record, which was a shame. The seatpost worked well and has continued to work well, I had a big crash in my Qualifying race which ment I missed out on the 1st group by about 3 places, so ended up racing in the 2nd group, which ran on the Saturday not the sunday, due to the poor weather, they ran a 3/4 length event.
If you have seen any pictures of the race you will know how muddy it was. The top section was great, and I felt like I was pushing on well and gaining places. As soon as you dropped over the back of the mountain, the rock turned to mud, and everything ( I thought, started to fall apart) I lost count how many times I slipped out, including one wash down a bank that felt like the old travelator from gladiators as I tried to climb back up. It turns out that everyone was having the same issues, and I finished in 17th, out of 100. A load of the guys I was riding with had reverbs which had a few issues with the altitude and the cold, with a bleed at altitude all the posts worked fine, but sometimes ran slow.
Since the Mega, I had my shed burgled and loads of bikes and parts stolen, as a result I have just received a new bike with a stealth reverb.

So... would I still recommend the TMARS?
Yes. If your uncertain of wanting a dropper post, and dont have the big bucks to spend, I certainly would recommend.
However, having used an expensive dropper post, I would say they are worlds apart, but for ease of use and cost, the TMARS is a great starting point, and will make your rides more enjoyable.

Anyway hope that the review helps and guides you if your looking for a dropper post.
  • 1 0
 As an additional note, I'm just back from a weekend riding in Fort William and Lagan, where I competed in the NoFuss Events Enduro! Enduro! where the seatpost helped me complete the 6 stages within 3 minutes of the leader (28min 27Seconds to my 31min 31seconds) There were some climbs and some long fire roads where the seatpost definately made a difference, and the ability to drop the seat out the way for the "Blue Crane" rock garden was a blessing. Overall I am still impressed and pleased. Departure for France in 9 Days now so any comments on how to do well at the Mega are welcome!
Euan.
  • 1 0
 I own one of these, the 2015 model and have never used a premium dropper. My initial thoughts were good, but after about 6 rides the cable has snapped at the actuation lever. It turns out this is not a normal gear cable, it has a thinner barrel on the end. I haven't managed to find out where to get another one yet, and even if I do, I can't see how it fits into the lever. Also it is sometimes hard to get the post to click into position and it will randomly smack me in the bits. My advice is, if you're a tinkerer with little cash, go for it, but I kind of wish I'd saved up for a 'proper' post.
  • 1 0
 I've had one of the TMars droppers on my Krampus since Jul 13, 2014 and it's still going strong. There's a ton of rotational play in the seatpost, as there was from the factory, and I had several of the same issues as Euan here, though not the shim related ones since the Surly is 27.2mm. He's right, you can't reef on the seatpost collar if it's inserted all the way into the bike or it'll bind. The lever leaves much to be desired, but can be actuated by pushing any direction and works once it's set up. My cable popped out of the lever too, but after really torquing on it it's been good for nearly 2 years now. It's also important to get the cable length exactly right or you get the issue where it pops out of the middle position like he describes. Too long and it won't disengage when you push the lever, too short and it pops out and extends on its own. Some fiddling with the barrel adjuster took care of that for me, and again it's been fine for 2 years.

I had a 27.2 LEV that broke, which is what prompted me to get the Tmars. I have a Reverb on my trailbike as well. I have not felt the need to fix the Lev (I should really fix it to sell though...) or replace it with something better. I tell people who ask about it "The user experience leaves much to be desired, this is not an Apple product, but it goes up and down and that's what I bought it for". I've been pleasantly surprised with its longevity, and honestly the rotational play might even make the seat more comfortable for long spins.
  • 3 0
 Its now a year, I am really thinking about getting one. Can you please give us a 1 year review/

Thanx
  • 1 0
 Lever style has changed for the new models. Still got the ugly boot, though.
  • 1 0
 The boot is nothing, can be removed. Or keep it if you ride in dusty conditions..... I want to know how its been holding up!
  • 1 0
 I thought with the boot removed it would be kind of a grey color that stands out like a sore thumb? It's also got big holes in the back where the pin fits into.
  • 1 0
 Looking at the pics in this review:
www.attackmtb.com/review-tmars-dropper-post
it would not be that ugly, I have also seen on forums that peeps take them off the Gravity Dropper line and the mechanics in these are supposed to be the same.
Yes if you ride in some hard core dirty areas stuff will get in there and it will need to be cleaned.
As with all the parts on your bike right?
Some peeps prefer how things look and will just clean them more.....
  • 2 0
 Another note is that along with the revised remote on the 2015 models, the port with the locking mechanism has changed.
  • 2 0
 great review. way better than many on pinkbike. Congratz, you held a sixteen year olds attention for 10 minutes.
  • 2 0
 So how did the Mega go? Still liking the seatpost?
  • 1 0
 yes! tell us about!

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