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.
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
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
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 installationHOW 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.
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 VerdictLooks
: 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 5/10Function
: 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 6/10Price
: at ebay prices around £67.99 you cant get much cheaper 9/10Durability
: 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