Poll: Will Dropper Posts Become The Norm In World Cup XC?

May 21, 2019 at 13:06
by Matthew DeLorme  
Mathias Fluekiger rode a dropper to victory. Was it a tool that made a real difference
Mathias Flückiger rode a dropper to victory. Was it a tool that made a real difference?

In a world where power to weight ratios reign supreme, and on a course that favored the hardtail, we try to deduce whether or not the dropper made a difference. With conditions that varied from slick for the women's race and downright treacherous for the men, could having a little extra wiggle room to manoeuvre the bike make or break a race? Four out of the six ran a dropper post indicating that maybe it did.

Could the dropper become commonplace on the more technical XC World Cup Courses? We will let you discuss. In the meantime, let's take a look at the top three bikes in men's and women's elite racing in Albstadt to see who was running a dropper post.

Mathias Flückiger

Mathias Flueckiger s has a dropper post somewhere under all that. Was that the key factor in staying ahead in the mud
Mathias Flückiger's has a dropper post somewhere under all that. Was that the key factor in staying ahead in the mud?

Mathieu Van Der Poel

Mathieu Van Der Poel second place on Sunday runs a regular post.
Mathieu Van Der Poel, second place on Sunday, runs a regular post.

Jordan Sarrou

Dropper lever on Sarrau s BMC.
Dropper lever on Sarrau's BMC.
Although it may look like a standard post Jordan Sarrau s BMC has a dropper that is fully stealth integrated in the frame. Third place finish for him.
Although it may look like a standard post, Jordan Sarrou's BMC has a dropper that is fully stealth, integrated in the frame. Third place finish for him.

Would a dropper have helped Nino
Would a dropper have helped Nino?

Kate Courtney

Kate Courtney had an amazing race even with a crash. Would things have been different had she not run a dropper
Kate Courtney had an amazing race even with a crash. Would things have been different had she not run a dropper?

Sunday s fastest woman Kate Courtney is said to always ride the dropper on both hardtail and softtail.
Sunday's fastest woman, Kate Courtney, is said to always ride the dropper on both hardtail and softtail.
The AXS reverb of Kate Courtney. Not a ton of drop but it certainly must of helped in the slick stuff.
The AXS reverb of Kate Courtney. Not a ton of drop, but it certainly must of helped in the slick stuff.

Jolanda Neff

Jolanda Neff took advantage of the dropper when things got steep or slick.
Jolanda Neff took advantage of the dropper when things got steep or slick.

Jolanda Neff rode a dropper. Neff typically prefers a dual suspension bike but the course in Albstadt didn t necessitate one. Will she take the weight penalty on a dual suspension rig at future rounds
Jolanda Neff rode a dropper. Neff typically prefers a dual suspension bike, but the course in Albstadt didn't necessitate one. Will she take the weight penalty on a dual suspension rig at future rounds?

Yana Belomoina

Third place finisher Yana Belomoina has a standard seat post on her American Eagle.
Third place finisher, Yana Belomoina, has a standard seat post on her American Eagle.

Will we see a day when all XC World Cup racers run dropper posts on their bikes?




198 Comments

  • + 288
 I think at this point xc racers don’t deserve droppers. They’ve been turning their noses up at them for so long now that they’ve made their bed and should sleep in it. Same with roadies they could have had disk brakes 20 years ago but they did the same thing. I think roadies should be forced to ride rim brakes now especially if it’s wet for all the nasty lies and fake news they spread in the past. Wink
  • + 11
 This is my favorite post on here!
How could it have been downvoted?

I forget their are dirt roadies on here.
  • + 6
 Yeah funny, but companies are now making them XC specific when before they were not. Now, they are much lighter than before, more options in 27.2mm, and shorter travel specially for XC. I have been using one on an XC rig since 2014 and there was only like two companies that made a 27.2mm, now there are a ton. However, it was super funny to read some the alarmist road bike articles on how dangerous disk brakes were because you could get badly cut by rotors. lmao.
  • + 20
 Firm but fair.
  • + 10
 I would argue that the XCO courses of late have become way more technical and the benefits now outweigh the potential drawbacks... Let's be honest, droppers haven't always been the most reliable pieces of kit and unlike in an Enduro race, these guys will be popping them up and down dozens if not hundreds of times in a race and there is no room for risk of the dropper breaking... But the latest ones are as reliable as forks... Droppers have also become lighter and more compact... These guys are all about compromises when it comes to weight and reliability, and no doubt have practiced with and without the droppers... If the lap times are better with the dropper post, then that's what they'll take, simple as that.
  • - 8
flag SlipperySEAL (May 23, 2019 at 23:47) (Below Threshold)
 XC, Road, silly stuff, silly clothing. As a sport how can anyone take this seriously?
  • + 24
 Kind of like downhillers and carbon frames, air suspension, larger wheels, etc, right? Slow to evolve and catch on...
  • + 8
 It's not fake news! It's real! Every time I take my roadbike for a spin i can see a bunch of fingers, hands, legs and sometimes even heads laying down on the grass next to the tarmac. All because this evil disc brakes campaign that even more evil big pharma, sorry, big bike brands are throwing on us poor and unaware cyclists. It's all just one big conspiracy. CIA, Vatican and Bin Laden are laughing at us. I'm sure of it
  • - 5
flag nordland071285 (May 24, 2019 at 3:56) (Below Threshold)
 I'm not a roadie, but when I see some of the crashes they have in groups with wheels flying everywhere.. I often think its lucky they're no sharp disk rotors in the mix
  • + 2
 @Jamminator: not so sure about downhiller's, they seems to test everything permitted or new. Just look at this year [reverse] mullet bike, I remember peaty running a dropper a long time ago, barrel with forward geometry, data while testing....
  • + 10
 Kind of like Alabama senators, slow to evelove and catch on
  • + 4
 @nordland071285: They should also put tennis balls on the end of their grips to prevent any impaling..........
  • - 3
 They are nice and all but once your legs are on fire you might not be attacking descents hard enough to need the dropper anyway, plus xc races Are rarely decided In the descents.
  • + 1
 @Spark24: that, sure. With just a wee bit of thought given to whether one if your big sponsors has an XC targeted dropper they would like you to advertise...
  • + 1
 @tacklingdummy: They were probably just worried because they ride in packs of 60 or more, and are used to falling on other rider's bikes during big crashes. Silly them...
  • + 1
 @tacklingdummy: and since companies are making xc specif stuff of course they'll make every single rider ride one. Because thats what they get paid for.
  • + 1
 @TucsonDon: Well they have blown those worries to the wind because last time I checked all the bike manufacturers were moving to disc brakes.
  • + 1
 @DentistWho: Not necessarily. Podiums are better for their brands. I think the majority of amateur riders who buy newer XC bikes will want a dropper whether the pros have one or not.
  • + 1
 @dobermon: Road bike racers will be using droppers. Lol.
  • + 24
 I just raced a mad XC race on a 170mm Enduro bike...wearing Vans. The XC racers without droppers flew past me on the flats, but on the downhill they were toast. Having that seat way up in the air and bombing a rock garden is a recipe for OTB. Props to the ones who do it though.
  • + 59
 Unfortunately it doesn't even out though. It's always fastest to go faster where you're slowest.
  • + 20
 @sspiff: or when you spend the most time
  • + 1
 Don't be a part of xc leagues that ban pacing on the downhills
  • + 13
 So you won the race?
  • + 2
 Of course he did. His wallet weighed nothing!@lccomz:
  • - 3
 They sound like XC racers who can't handle tech Wink
  • + 18
 Problem is, if you don't get to the top of the climbs first it doesn't matter how fast you can go down when you're stuck in traffic.
  • + 3
 @clink83: that was the underlying subtlety. Even if you're going slower, it's faster to go slightly faster for slightly longer than achieving the fastest speeds for slightly shorter times. Wink
  • + 13
 The problem is you are not comparing apple to apples. If you riding your Enduro bike are close enough to someone on an XC bike to catch them on the descent you are way faster than they are when on equal bikes.

In XC racing generally technical skills tend to match climbing ability. I am willing to bet that if you were to follow the guy/girls at the front of the field you find that their descending speed is much closer to your own.
  • + 11
 Way more time is spent on the climbs than the downhills. So in order to be competitive in XC, you have to be a Hulk on the climbs.
  • + 4
 If you are crushing XC racers on a 170mm bike then maybe move up a class or two...I'll hazard a guess you should be racing at a higher level...kudos for the vans and big bike move though...always love seeing that at the races.
  • + 5
 @shockdonkey: He was beating the guys at the back of the pack on his enduro bike on the downhills. Wow, what an accomplishment.
  • + 15
 Honestly, while an exciting race, last weeks course didn't need a dropper. Not all courses do.

I used to ride a fair amount of XC, and on tame trails you get used to the high post. Most of these "I pass XC racers on the downs all the time" comments are commenting on XC racers downhill ability in general, not their seat position.
  • + 14
 I completely agree. However, if a dropper isn't an advantage, is it really a true xc course? Albastadt certainly wasn't. I think that if the course is technical enough to be an actual mtb race, then a dropper would help most people (except MVDP though, because he's a roadie/cxs guy)
  • - 4
flag clink83 (May 23, 2019 at 16:35) (Below Threshold)
 @JakinM: dude most of you people saying albstad wasn't a true xc course would choke on that course. Watch the course previews for the XC tracks from last year and this year, and note how most of the commentators can't keep up with the pros who are riding at a recovery pace.
  • + 33
 @clink83: We would all be humiliated trying to keep up with World Cup racers on any course. Or the road. Or a velodrome. Or running up stairs. This fact is separate from whether a course is proper mountain biking.
  • + 9
 @clink83: I would also argue that the point of a world cup course is that only the best in the world can race it. You don't see downhill courses dumbed down so the average joe can ride it. It is the world cup, if you can't ride it, then sucks to suck. Everyone has to ride the same thing. I will admit that the mud made the race super technical and the course changes made it safer and actually ridable, but they shouldn't have to rely on rain to make the course challenging.
  • + 1
 @JakinM: But it must still be XC, right? As in normal everyday trails, not man made stupid stuff to look rad on TV.
  • - 11
flag clink83 (May 23, 2019 at 17:33) (Below Threshold)
 @JakinM: the rider on this year's course preview rode it dry and was still struggling with the "nontechnical" course, not just keeping up
  • - 8
flag clink83 (May 23, 2019 at 17:46) (Below Threshold)
 @R-M-R: the majority of pink bikers who talk shit about "nontechnical" tracks would probably struggle on a normal local XC race on an XC bike. It's just egotistical nonsense.
  • + 29
 @clink83: "the majority of pink bikers who talk shit about "nontechnical" tracks would probably struggle on a normal local XC race on an XC bike. It's just egotistical nonsense."

I don't know that and neither do you. Nor does it matter.

Essentially everyone here likes this sport and I'm sure nearly everyone would agree World Cup XC racers are among the fittest humans on the planet and their technical skills are good to outstanding. The issue is whether the courses - Albstadt, in particular - are as good as they could be for fans and for competitors.

Most fan responses to the course - not the racers, not the discipline - was disappointment. Most competitor responses ranged from diplomatic neutrality to disappointment. It is reasonable to conclude the course could be better. Look at the positive reactions to Nove Mesto as an example.

Let's keep encouraging World Cup course designers to improve the courses so these remarkable athletes can show off their abilities in ways that are more enjoyable for them and for us.
  • + 4
 hamncheez- Exactly. I feel most people don't realize you can send gnarly DH with a pretty high seat, its all about technique. With that written, I can see why droppers would offer an advantage to a bigger scope of riders, especially while cornering which is near impossible to carry good speed with a high seat. It seems rare that you can find someone nowadays who can charge DH with a seat jabbing them in the upper stomach... or someone who actually wants to. It fucking sucks. Droppers will become fairly standard in a few years I think.
  • - 1
 @R-M-R: If the course is so easy why did he current world champ finish 6th and why did Anton Cooper finish 36th? Its like when people in DH whine about Fort William...most of them arent the ones winning. Its racing, some tracks are flat, some tracks are steep and rocky. Not every race should be the same, regardless of if its XC, enduro, or DH. Albstad is/has been a climbers course. As someone who has raced XC I can plainly see that its not a easy course, and its still a "Proper mountin bike track"

I do have a problem with the course changes, but for me it's more that in an attempt to make the track safer they made it less safe.

The constant meme that "xc ___ sucks ____ needs to be look like an enduro ____" on pinkbike gets old. Noone calls out the EWS guys for pushing their bikes up stuff an XC racer could climb.
  • - 6
flag clink83 (May 23, 2019 at 19:33) (Below Threshold)
 @scott-townes: A lot of XC racers arent using droppers to go faster, they use them to drop their HR on the descents and recover for the climbs with them. Pinkbikers don't listen to the XC pros about why they use them though.
  • + 1
 @clink83: That's wild, I'll look into that. The last time I raced XC was well before dropper posts so I'm just assuming the common benefits on descents I've experienced on normal rides.
  • + 4
 @clink83: "If the course is so easy why did he current world champ finish 6th and why did Anton Cooper finish 36th?"

Those have nothing to do with the course being easy or hard. Are you suggesting the finish order *was* because of the course? As in, the course was so hard that Nino struggled and Anton Cooper could barely finish?

I think they finished in those positions due to a combination of fitness and weather-related chaos. How do you explain the results? And how does your explanation relate to the topic of the courses being less exciting than ideal for both the racers and the fans?
  • + 3
 @clink83: everyone has bad days. even Nino Schurter.
  • + 2
 I wonder if it matters much because XC racers need to recover on the descents rather than charge. Most of the front runners, even the ones with droppers mentioned in the article, were descending in a standing position with nearly straight extended legs and back like they were trying to stretch their whole body out vs bent knees and hips you'd see on a DH or enduro racer.
  • + 3
 @R-M-R: How was the race to watch?

In my opinion the men's race was a pretty good race. There were attacks, lead changes, drama, ect... When it comes to race day it is the racers that make a good XC race, the course has very little to do with it.

Take a look at Nova Mesto, generally considered to be funnest XC course on the circuit. It has rocks and roots, high speed tech and low speed tech. A great course. All of those elements though will have a maginal impact on the race it self. Nearly every one of the guys and girls can ride each of those elements within seconds of each other.

The difference maker will be the form that each rider brings. Funny enough bikes have become so good (droppers play a role in this) that be a good technical rider isn't the advantage it was.

Now make everybody race on 26inch hardtails with narrow bars, narrow tires, steep head angles and straight post and then we see riders with skills shine.
  • + 2
 @WhatAboutBob: I agree the racers make the race, but this argument is equally true for XC, road, track - even marathon running. The course has to factor in somehow.

A narrow, rolling, twisting trail may be fun to ride, but it would be a terrible race course due to difficulty of passing. A few wide open, "boring" sections will always be needed for passing and head-to-head battles. The real challenge is to combine fun trails with good racing. Maybe that could come in the form of "A lines" that save considerable distance, but are so difficult that few attempt them. We don't want riders to get hurt, of course, so the lines would have to be built sensibly.

I don't have all the answers, I just feel there are always ways for the sport to evolve and some courses are helping more than others.
  • + 1
 Watching the race it was clear that the riders on droppers were more comfy on the descents and had a far better, lower body position on descents and in corners. It's not a deal breaker but if you're comfy and using less energy you're faster. You can also take those quicker lines like Fluckiger did over the rock rather than the b line. VdP is a cycloroadie racer. A pro at riding stiff legged on the descents in other words. BMC have the right idea!
  • - 1
 Funny comment, considering nasty crashes. Droppers are not just for steep rock gardens, they allow you to utilize hips in corners to a much bigger extent. It is vital in flat corners.
  • + 1
 @clink83: "aren't using droppers to go faster, they use them to drop their HR". That's some next level science shit.
  • + 1
 @R-M-R: Better riders always ride worse on harder courses, duh.
  • - 1
 @matttauszik: his belief systems are falling apart. He’s been an anti dropper XC expert, zealot for years Smile now it appears because he has limited understanding of handling a bike - I can hear the violin plaaaaaay
  • + 2
 I find a dropper post to be useful for a lot more than just technical downhills.

In fairness, 80% of the time it gets used to lower my seat when I stop Wink but it can be used for lowering your center of weight when cornering and maneuvering through tight singletrack, allowing you to keep more momentum and not use the brakes so much
  • + 1
 @clink83: That's because they are elite athletes and the uphills are tough, not because they are so technical.
  • - 2
 @SonofBovril: droppers do make sense for technical climbs, not to mention riding on flat but with roots, if you lower the dropper by 2cm you are winning compliance instead of getting hit in the bum by the saddle each time the rear wheel rides on a root or rock. Yeah there’s a way around it stand up, it’s just then you stop pedaling for a moment, you lose vital pedal strokes. With the seat a bit down you can smoothen your pedal stroke through the bump kind of half seating on the saddle. The advantages are countless. I’d rather race Enduro without a dropper than XC. And I am using the dropper trigger almost as often as the shifter
  • - 2
 @R-M-R: what I'm saying is that money talks, bullshit walks. It's best to let your racing skills speak for themselves, if you bitch about a track and then do poorly, you look dumb. If you talk out your ads about a racing discipline you don't understand, it shows.
  • + 0
 @matttauszik: there are a few interviews where WC riders say exactly that on youtube. Catherine Pendrals husband posts on mtbr.com and said her HR drops 10bpm on descents using a dropper. You guys forget these riders are using HR monitors and power meters, and they test stuff like this.
  • - 3
 @WAKIdesigns: having your seat up in technical climbs can make it easier too, because you can get traction by pushing the seat down with your ads to make the tire get more grip. I'm not anti dropper, I'm anti idiots who don't understand XC. I wouldn't ride a trail bike without one.
  • + 0
 *ass
  • + 3
 @clink83: Like I said, next level...
  • + 0
 @matttauszik: I can't always tell if people are being sarcastic or notSmile
  • + 1
 @dthomp325: Yes, cross-country racers use the descents as an opportunity to recover (a little). That's because there's a lot to be gained by pushing hard on climbs and little to be gained by going flat-out on descents. If the descents offered more opportunity to make time on less skilled rivals, it would be worthwhile to conserve a little energy on the climbs and push harder on the descents.

The challenge is to create courses that make it worthwhile to put greater priority on technical sections.
  • + 2
 With regards to last week being too "easy", R-M-R said it best: its passing that makes XC races exciting. No one pulls away on the DH. Half the time you are at the mercy of the person right in front of you since you can't pass. XC courses are intentionally (blame Redbull) shorter with more laps than in the past because that makes better TV. Its also why there are always multiple climbs instead of just one up and one down per lap. Races are won on the climbs and the flat finishes, not the descent (despite what some studies say www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/29343172) because its not a time trial, its a race.
  • + 3
 @hamncheez: Agreed, and this will never change. It would be nice, though, to incorporate some really tricky A lines that offer the potential for time gains with high risk of stalling and losing time. This could apply to climbing or descending A lines.

Good example: the trials lines at the start of this BKXC video and again around 17:00: www.youtube.com/watch?v=VUPl0VMMCq0

It's a short section, so it doesn't require a huge amount of trail building or location scouting - could even be completely artificial. Basically, throw in a few super technical shortcuts to give an advantage to those with technical skills and to add some uncertainty and excitement for viewers. Maybe make some racers consider a burlier bike, long stroke dropper, and/or a more serious front tire to help them hit the A lines.

Speaking of tires, I noticed everyone at Albstadt was using their dry conditions semi-slicks. It's proof of their skills, but I'd like a course - A lines, at least - to be technical enough that a 2.1" Maxxis Aspen, hardtail, and rigid seatpost are a serious handicap in pouring rain.
  • + 1
 @hamncheez: XCO is shorter, but don't forget there is still XCM/endurance, XCE, stage races, and plenty of people still race traditional 2-2.5 HR xc races. XC is the oldest and most diverse mountain biking discipline, you can't use XCO as the standard.
  • - 1
 @R-M-R: if you want greater emphasis on tech sections there is this thing called "enduro". The bikes climb so well that you can get off them and push them uphill.
  • + 1
 @clink83: Yes, but the article and poll is about UCI XC world cup races, which is what I'm referring to.
  • + 0
 @clink83: If you want less emphasis on tech sections, there is thing called "road". The bikes descend so well that you can get off them and walk them downhill.
  • + 2
 @R-M-R: In amateur XC races you used to be able to make up A LOT of time on descents, but mostly because a lot of people plain out sucked, which was probably never the case at WC level. Amateur XC descending skill and equipment seems to have improved a lot over the past 5 years, and it's much harder to make time up on descents now.
  • + 1
 @hamncheez: well, people tend to forget that WC riders are still doing XCM races, about half the big riders did cape epic...World Cup racing=/= XCO.
  • + 1
 @dthomp325: yea, there is a lot of truth to that. I've looked at the difference between my descent times(cat2/3) vs the cat 1 guys and they are less than you would expect...but the time difference on the climbs are huge.
  • + 0
 @dthomp325: It's true the time spread on descents is small now - that's my point: it could add interest to the races if we found a way to increase those gaps. Otherwise, the discipline isn't much different than a road time trial.

There actually was a time when the descents make a huge difference. In the '90s and early '00s, much of the XC field was just road riders who could make more money as top XC riders than as low-ranking (among the top tier) road racers. I attended the most technical race on the circuit, at which Cadel Evans lost a couple minutes per lap to Miguel Martinez on the climbs, then made back that time and more on the descents. Every lap! Evans was a particularly good descender and Martinez was one of the quintessential "plan B" riders. Evans would rip past me noticeably faster than most riders, while Martinez was struggling to get down the trail at all and ran a large portion of it.

With modern bikes and riders dedicated to off-road riding, this level of disparity is unlikely to ever happen again. Still, we've seen several cases where Annika Langvad and Jaroslav Kulhavy, for example, have lost time and notably fast descenders like Jolanda Neff, Nino Schurter, and Mathias Flückiger have gained time on descents. Careful course design could increase this factor and add another element to the racing.
  • + 11
 Am I the only one who saw the headline and thought this was a poll on whether they should drop the Albstadt course from the WC circuit???
  • + 1
 I would have voted yea if they don't beef up the course soon
  • + 1
 At least that would have been a relevant question, as if a PB reader poll has any bearing on what the xc pros are going to use.
  • + 6
 Droppers are an amazing innovation for pretty much all of us but there will still be some courses that would not really require one. So yes, I believe every world cup racer will be riding them, but still not on every course and I think this change might already be happening with pretty much everyone running a suspension line up that comes with a dropper or they are working on it. However I do think that more top level XC pos will be created to reduce weight ad in turn possibly reliability but just go up to full extension if they do fail mid race. Oh and yeah could somebody make a dropper that the lever pulls down as well.
  • + 5
 I regularly use it in XC, my personal experience is that it is very useful not only in the steep and/or technical sections. I found it even much important in very fast and curvy descents where a low center of gravity can help you to keep high the speed while cornering.
No matter if using ht or full, my opinion
  • + 4
 Early on in MTB history, Charlie Kelly said automatic seatpost would revolutionize the sport. Soon after Joe Breeze partnered to create the Hite Rite. Before the 80s were over, IRD created a mechanical remote that released the seat post quick-release that worked with the Hite Rite to allow dropping and raising the saddle without stopping. It took almost 25 years for the dropper post to re-emerge in its modern configuration. It will become as standard equipment on a mountain bike as shock forks, index shifting, and disc brakes have become.
  • + 4
 It's simple, is the 300 to 400 grams of extra weight worth it?
Say dropper makes you 3 to 5 seconds quicker on the downs per lap. Is the 300 to 400 grams of extra weight going to make you 3 to 5 seconds slower on the climbs per lap? You can also factor in the fact dropper may save you from a OTB crash on a track that has steep technical sections also.
  • + 1
 As we’ve seen extra weight didn’t stop anyone on climbs on the least technical course of the year.
  • + 1
 It depends on the rider and the course. Risk vs reward, strength vs weakness.
  • + 1
 @clink83: except as I told you 2 years back majority of racers will be on droppers by 2020
  • + 1
 @clink83: with all due respect I am not interested in opinions of singular athletes at the wake of the “trend”. The examples of them throwing crap at something and then becoming “late adopters” are countless even in case where advantage is obvious to everybody but them. Disc brakes in XC (2000-2005) wide bars in XC (2010-2012). Roadies and disc brakes, is there a better shit show to watch? Hubbie of my sister in law, Cesare Benedetti, who had a stage win at Giro yesterday, had a crash three years ago, where his front tyre blew up braking at 60km/h. His carbon clincher gave up after rim brakes heated them up too much. Right after that I asked him about disc brakes. He told me, never, they are dangerous. And that was his 3rd crash of that kind. No, sorry. I respect Catherine for her riding results not opinions on equipment. That article is just silly.
  • + 1
 @WAKIdesigns: Yea I don't get it, what's the down side? If it doesn't help you, don't hit the lever. They are going to get lighter and lighter so the weight penalty will be less than it was 2 years ago. Do we test lap times with a full water bottle vs. laps where they ride with no bottle and wait for a feed zone?
  • + 2
 @WAKIdesigns: It seems like the problem she has with them isn't whether they make sense for her riding, but apparently ergonomics is an issue. Shifting and locking the suspension (with a remote switch) is just a switch. To slide the seatpost down requires some finger-butt coordination and if you do it wrong (the saddle comes up again) it may psychologically put them in a worse situation than they would have been with a high rigid post so they knew up front that they'd be riding that section with a high saddle.

So if that is the case, what needs to improve is the ergonomics. I've got a number of Magura forks with their Flight Control on the fly travel adjustment. It is really quick. Flick the lever, load the fork and release it with the fork low and you've reduced the travel. Flick and release the lever with the fork unloaded and it extends to full travel. I like it (not meant to go into the sense of fork travel adjustment here) and it works just fine for me. But apparently it was too hard for a large number of customers so in their later models they changed it. The lever stays locked and no matter when you load the fork, it will stay low when you reach that point. Press the release button and the fork will extend when you unload it. But you don't have to synchronize it anymore. Same story actually as we currently have with the Canyon Shapeshifter system. On the older model you had to time your weight shift with the lever, on the current model you lock the lever and the geometry changes when your weight shifts at some point.

So maybe that's what may be needed in those droppers too for at least part of the target audience. Considering it is already in forks and that Shapeshifter system and considering the number of new dropper posts each year, I expect a dropper with such a system in the next year or the year after that. That may take away some of the issues she has with them. What they'd use this way of course are the intermediate positions. It would take some more complex valving to build that in too. Though maybe it would be something they could more easily build into those electronically controlled droppers.
  • + 0
 @yupstate: Down side is the weight, 300 to 400 grams is quite a bit of weight to world cup XC racer and could cost them like 5 seconds a lap.

Comes down to skill level on the downs. Some riders can rip the downs on a regular seat post (Nino) and would not benefit from a dropper. So riders lack skills and will benefit from a dropper quite a bit on the downs.
  • - 2
 @vinay: this is a ridiculous argument. I am just telling you as an online friend. How clumsy do you have to be to crash because of slamming the dropper down. Such person shouldn’t go near a mountain bike then, since that must be the least of their problems with keeping balance on the bike. Your pardon for the word cluelenssness about droppers making you write long essays is cute Smile

@in2falling - you could make exactly same argument about having and not having a front brake. Just replace dropper word with front brake. You can actually do quite a lot on a bike without the front brake. Just because you can doesn’t mean you should. Just because Nino can be the best downhiller on the planet with the xc bike and high saddle, doesn’t mean he is the fastest downhiller on xc bike. He may be if he uses a dropper. And Ninos ascetism used to go deeper. No longer than 3 years ago at Nove Mesto, in wet piss mud, he was using tubular tyres with shittiest thread pattern conceived by man. And he won. Right now, he is using actual offroad bicycle tires like ikon or Ardent Race. Just because Nino or whoever uses something, doesn’t mean they know what the hell they are doing
  • + 4
 @WAKIdesigns: who gives a rats ass what you think? You might want to put your ego in check for once, when a pro XC racer who has rainbow sleeves gives a balanced reason for why dropper work or don't work in XC you should listen instead of running your mouth.
  • - 2
 @clink83: yeah. Just like my buddy Cesare knows better than me that disc brakes are unnecessary on a road bike. Sorry I don’t need to get my ego in check when my intelligence is high enough.
  • + 2
 @WAKIdesigns: says the guy who has such a high post count that it's physically impossible to have enough training time to podium in a cat2 local xc race.
We're not talking about road bikes here, it's a red herring.
  • - 1
 @clink83: your opinion about me is as relevant to me as for you my opinion about what Mrs Pendrell likes. The issue is there’s fewer and fewer people like her which will simply make her... wrong. An me... right.
  • + 2
 @WAKIdesigns: the difference is that I race XC and actually know how the sport is, so I know your full of shit. That's how I know CP knows what she's talking about and you don't. It's XC, sometimes riders will use a dropper, sometimes they won't. Sometimes a hardtail is faster, sometimes it's not. Anyone who is actually has a clue about XC knows it's a pretty diverse discipline, and there are lots of times a dropper is just dead weight. That's not going to change because pink bikers think you have to have them.
  • - 2
 @clink83: The thing you don’t get is that we could have the same conversation about wide bars around 2010 where I would tell you wide bars are better for 90% of situations like I am telling you now that droppers are better for 90% of situations. And perhaps you would have arguments about bar ends being essential. You can actually tell it to me now because I am quite sure you rose races recently where bar ends would come handy.

To get back to one of your points, yes XC does not equal XCO, I don’t race but I go to watch local races (saw XC World Cups in VDS and Hafjell too) and anyone seeing both doesn’t need a PhD to realize that there is no invention in this world, not even a dropper post and disc brake could take those XC folks of various belief systems to the level of XCO. All those silly race formats have more to do with gravel than Mountain biking. Some of them used to call themselves Enduro not so long ago. Joey festivals to support muscle atrophy for folks without hope in anythigng ele than pushing on pedals. Yes oh yes. So pardon me, I have much better things to do than this. Life is short, my kids are more likely to do wow when their daddy is doing a tuck no hander or sending a fat whip than saying he worn off the last bit of skin on his rectum on a 24h race.
  • + 2
 @clink83: "the difference is that I race XC and actually know how the sport is, so I know your full of shit. That's how I know CP knows what she's talking about and you don't."

As far as I can tell, you've done one race in Clydesdale (200+ lb) class and one in Beginner - but please correct me if I've missed some World Cup results where you had a chance to chat with Catharine Pendrel. Even if you did have impressive racing credentials, please stick to the merits of the arguments.
  • + 1
 @WAKIdesigns: I didn't really make an argument there. I tried to identify the problem she seems to have with using a dropper seatpost in an XC race situation and proposed a solution. Apparently she is very comfortable with using a dropper seatpost on a trail ride in conditions where most PB visitors find themselves in, apparently the chances of messing up increase when one hour into a race, just after giving all on a long steep and rough climb and just about to drop into the descend to try and stay ahead of who she just overtook. A product designer could see that as an opportunity in the crowded dropper post market. To make a product that suits her where all competitors products don't.
  • + 1
 @vinay: Mathias Fluckiger made his own dropper years ago:
www.pinkbike.com/news/xc-pits-world-champs-2015.html

Hydraulic, wireless droppers sure are sexy, but a hollow chamber with a little air pressure and a spring-loaded pin to lock it in place would save half a pound.
  • + 3
 If you want to call it mountain biking, the courses should be such that there isn't any debate about whether or not a dropped is worth it or not, they should just be standard equipment because of the benefits they offer for technical descending.
  • + 3
 What is this poll about? It used to be "what do you want", "what do you like" or "what do you have" kind of stuff. Stuff you know or at least can decide for yourself. "Will there ever be a time that all UCI WC XC racers ride a bike equipped with a dropper seatpost?". That's right up there with "Will ... with rear suspension?", "Will ... with at least 120mm fork travel?", "... with at least three bottle mounts?", "... with a single ring up front?", "... with tire inserts?" and "... with 30.5" wheels?". What do us keyboard warriors know? Ask the pro athletes who actually go out there racing or just wait and see.
  • + 3
 Droppers are superior to a standard post. Other than a small weight penalty, they only add an option. It's like; what's better? Having hot and cold water, or just cold water? Now, many riders may be so used to fixed posts, that its awkward for them to switch after 10, 20, 30 years or riding. I ride with several people who have droppers and never touch that lever, even on 5-10 minute descents because they feel awkward not having a seat up their a$$ for support. But the way I see it, why NOT have it? Use it if you wish, don't if you don't.
  • + 2
 Current droppers are all essentially the same, just different lengths. It's possible we'll see simplified, extremely light, short stroke droppers for top level cross-country racing. At that point, the arguments against dropper posts essentially disappear.

Even with current designs, the weight difference slows the rider only a couple of seconds per lap. It's easy to image that could be recovered on the descents. The real difference is whether a dropper will ever prevent a crash: if even one crash in a career is prevented, that time/points difference will never be recovered by climbing faster without a dropper.
  • + 4
 I would like to see a dropper that goes down without needing weight on it. I always have a hard time using mine when I'm really pushing for time because the terrain I ride is death by a thousand small hills. It really ruins the up down up down flow when I have to drop the seat. I typically end up only using it on the rare occasion that I get to an extended descent.
  • + 1
 @Thisisbenji90: that's another issue with dropper in XC, the time you spend pushing your seat down is time you could be attacked and dropped into a downhill.
  • + 4
 If the course doesnt require a dropper post, it should not be on the calendar. XC is mountain biking not cx. It should be gnarly.
  • + 1
 Definitely think it will be the norm since XC tracks are getting way more technical and steep. The risk of a crash is much more detrimental than the weight penalty. Plus, I'm sure they will be faster on the downhills. Used one on my XC rig since 2014 and will never go back to using standard post.
  • + 1
 The 3 people who said that droppers are unpredictable where have you been for the last 5 or so years clearly having a dropper that drops all the way to the frame would be much better than not having one on the descents. Also surely the added weight would be overshadowed by the increase in downhill time.
  • + 1
 Oh from the title I thought it was going asking if we want to drop Albstadt as a course, and considering what they have done to it, I was gonna vote yes. If anything that mud on wood recipe made it more dangerous. If courses get more dumbed down we will soon just need drop bars and thin tyres...
  • + 4
 Hopefully all the courses necessitate dropper and aren't gravel walking paths....
  • + 1
 I think it's more of a question of how will the tracks dictate the xc bikes we see in the future? If they continue to get more technical and the terrain requires them, they will be there. If, for some terrible reason, tracks get less technical, then they will leave if not needed. But as things stand now, they're going to become very very common I believe.
  • - 1
 images.app.goo.gl/mdYCSD8orqKcZ3MXA

Xc races have been technical all a long.
XCO=/=XC though...XCO was created to make watching races more visually appealing.
  • + 2
 My thoughts exactly. My chosen response would have been "Yes, at least I hope so" because I would like to see more technically challenging tracks (trails?) on XC courses.
  • + 1
 We will see more droppers as head tube angles keep getting slacker. The slacker the head angle, the more you have to lean a bike over to make the same radius turn at the same speed. It's not about having it out of the way for drops. It's easy and quick enough to compensate for drops once you know how, even if it's more comfortable and safer with the dropper, there's typically only a couple big enough drops per lap that you would even worry about at all. Cornering on steep downhills though, you can lean the bike over more and still stay centered over the bike for maximum traction instead of having to lean with the bike. Essentially it lets them corner more like DHer's (or BMXer's), rather than cornering like roadies. The slacker the head tube angle, the more important that becomes because you have to lean the bike over farther. XC racers got away with fixed posts for so long because the head tube angles were still so steep.
  • + 1
 The head tube angles aren't going to get much slacker, it's XC not enduro. You win on the climbs, not the downs.
  • + 1
 @clink83: They're already slack enough that the dropper is an advantage. That's my point of why you're seeing them on most bikes now. This new gen of XC racers is about 68 degrees give or take a half degree. They don't have to get any slacker, they're already here.
  • + 1
 @TucsonDon: head angles don't have anything to do with droppers being useful. Being able to tilt your bike side to side without having a seat up is more useful than being able to plow through rock gardens. Riding super tech stuff is slow, it if you are a second faster in each turn on a descent that's going to make a much bigger difference.

If anything it's the front center:rear ratio that makes dropper more effective. A dropper would work equally well on my FS with a 71* hta vs my scale with a 68* hta because they both have similar reaches. The 3 degree difference in HTA doesn't affect handing all that much, people's emphasis on it is overrated.
  • + 4
 Droppers will be on all bikes weather they are needed or not. The athletes need all the sponsor dollars they can get.
  • + 1
 No trail worthy bike should come without a dropper nowadays. The weight gain is negligible, they're incredibly reliable, and make riding easier and more enjoyable. The prices range from $100 to over $400 so there is a dropper post for every budget.
  • + 1
 I remember when the first Gravity Droppers came out people didn't think they were necessary unless you were racing the Megavalanche or Downieville races. And now they're heralded as the most important thing in MTB since decent suspension and working disc brakes. Give it time and they'll all be using them.as the XC tracks become more technical
  • + 1
 Gravity Droppers were'nt the first droppers. My company at the time Hurricane Components, produced a small run dropper posts in 2000. I heard all the negative responses at the time, there are too heavy, not needed, fixing a problem that doesn't exist, etc. We had a hard time convincing riders of their benefits.
Look at droppers now.
GD practically introduced their post which was almost a exact copy of my "Elevator Shaft" which at first had a pull knob in the front to lower then we switched to a handlebar remote shortly after.

Getting back to the story, I believe droppers will find there way on most riders and most course.

To those who think that XC is stupid or lame, Nino could probably place in WC DH or enduro if he wanted or needed to
  • + 1
 @HurricaneJeff: Highly doubt nino would even qualify for those WC events.
  • + 2
 The only way to know is to answer the question: "Can I get around the course faster with a dropper or without?" It will be a different answer for each course and for different riders on the same course.
  • + 2
 All the arguments against dropper posts are the same that were used against suspension forks. How many folks are using suspension forks these days?
  • + 1
 My answer would be: I don`t care as dropper posts exist for such a while now, and XC is kind of late because of its orthodoxy.

Yet another question: why do XC racers use hardpack tyres when it`s muddy?
  • + 2
 If UCI would introduce a minimum weight like on road bikes I think we would see a more interesting evolution of XC bikes. Droppers, heavier brakes, more travel etc.
  • + 2
 Yes I Beelieve they will, & I have high hopes the XC crowd will push the tech forward making more reliable posts and lighter weight posts with good amounts of travel
  • + 2
 If you don't use a dropper, you are leaving time on the table... or you are old and claim you don't need that "new fangled tech"
  • - 9
flag Lugers (May 23, 2019 at 19:17) (Below Threshold)
 And while you're dealing with your warranty , I'll be out training.

I do love the lateral play dropper posts all seem to acquire. (Within a week). Maybe a rigid seat post with that feature could be the new standard?
  • + 1
 @Lugers: While you are training, I'll be drinking a beer. Your comment makes you sound like you haven't even had a bike with a dropper post. They are pretty reliable these days and make a difference when you are riding.
  • + 1
 @Lugers: Because that lateral play ever affected anyone's race result...
  • + 1
 seeing the splits of the top ten finishers I don’t think a dropper would have helped that much
  • + 1
 Oh, I'm old! Old enough to have a shed full of that newfangled tech. As for leaving time on the table, I guess that's why we should race! Cheers!
  • + 1
 @mkotowski1: tire selection and pressure will make a bigger difference in XC than a dropper, but pink bikers never care about that.
  • + 1
 @clink83: Pinkbike isn't exactly XC focused either.
  • + 4
 Yes, because World Cup pros will be paid endorsements to run them.
  • + 0
 Totally. One year 60mm drop will be in. The next it’s 54mm. Year after that it’s 45mm but vibrates when you’re too high for the terrain. Etc etc and then it’s Super Boost again.
  • + 0
 Different riders need it more than others. Kate Courtney has always been a mountain biker and she never rides without a dropper. MVDP, on the other hand, started out as a roadie/cyclocross guy, so his style doesn't necessitate a dropper.
  • + 4
 This is the first season she’s regularly used one...
  • + 0
 @LeDuke: but she likes it because it suits her riding style. Dropper posts didn't become world-cup worthy until a few years ago, so it's not like they've always been essential, but it will still benefit riders with "standard" mtb style more than riders with a cyclocross style.
  • + 1
 I wonder if MVDP got used to riding one in XC if he would start using one in CX.... hmmm...
  • + 1
 @SonofBovril: nobody would ever use one in cx.
  • + 0
 I think a proper c.f. course should include some technical down hill sections making it faster to use a dropper and rough enough to want to use full suspension. The bikes should be closer to what we use to ride trail, not a road bike.
  • + 4
 Are you suggesting that WC XCO racers would be incapable of riding “trails” on their bikes? Do you understand how ignorant you sound?
  • + 1
 @LeDuke: No where did I say incapable, I think you misread my post, make the trails rougher so that they are faster on a full suspension bike with a dropper. I can ride some pretty steep and rough trails on an xc hardtail with the seat high, but I would be faster on one of the newer slack xc bikes with a dropper.
  • + 3
 So you mean because 80% are overbiked on mellow trails XC Pros should be, too?
  • + 1
 @Muckal: I think what he is trying to say is that if the course can be ridden easily on a CX bike then it probably shouldn't be a MTB race course. It's called mountain biking for a reason, the riders should be required to have a certain degree of skill and not just be dirt roadies.

In fairness most of the new tracks are starting to become more technical and the development of the latest XC race bikes reflects this. I for one am happy about the direction this is going.

And the fact that it was some of the racers not the fans that were complaining about the course at Albstadt is an indication that this is not just an entertainment driven change.
  • + 1
 @SonofBovril: i'm absolutely for more tech in XCO, no doubt, but it should still be world cup level XC (so about what most Pinkbike keyboard heros would use a 160mm full sus bike for), not another World Enduro.
  • + 1
 Im by no means an XC racer, however Ive noticed in my riding when I get the seat at the right height on certain corners/decents etc my speeds are far more consistant.
  • + 1
 Same when I first got a dropper is was down for decents up for pedaling. Post was all the way up or all the way down. Now I am using it almost as much as my gear shifter. Mostly this is cornering too me a huge advantage when riding tight weaving pedally bits lowering your center of gravity just the amount you need but can still pedal efficiently enough.
  • + 3
 At this point if I had to make a choice I'd give up suspension before my dropper post. And yes I know if you ride dh mostly you won't feel the same.
  • + 1
 @reverend27: true I second that, gone thru 2 hardtails with droppers, way too much fun
  • + 2
 I’d dare say that I’d even give up 12 spd as well, just give me my dropper
  • + 1
 Nah man, it's for controlling your heart rate...
  • + 1
 I think the longer bikes make it more likely to mount a dropper post. The more stretched out one is the more difficult it is to get behind the saddle.
  • + 1
 Welcome to modern times. There is a dropper so commuters can stand at a light. Gravel bikes are getting them sorted. KS has a lever that sits inside a brifter.
  • + 1
 I'd like to see a rule added that if anyone in the top 10 was on a fixed post, the race is thrown out because the course was too easy.
  • + 1
 Course are getting tough, and manufacturers are developing parts to foster such an atmosphere. It will be used absolutely at least in the XCO games.
  • + 1
 Of course I'm one of those developers....Seatposts are being developed that can change the angle and position of the saddle according to the angle on the course. Smile
  • + 3
 Couldn't care less. Dance for me Circus Clown...Dance!
  • + 1
 Which is to say....the variety of bikes and components chosen for races is a good thing. How boring would "spec" racing be?(identical bikes...only difference being the rider)
  • + 1
 Looking how XC is going with tougher courses and dropper posts, next thing you know they'll realize they don't need spandex and it'll be like real mountain biking.
  • + 3
 Is there any reason why one wouldn't use a dropper other than weight?
  • + 1
 That's what I'm thinking. Why NOT have it there? You don't have to use it, but you CAN. It adds about as much weight as having a half full water bottle in your frame.
  • + 1
 @yupstate: you see the racers grabbing a bottle as they go through the tech zone, having a sip and biffing it. I'd say they appreciate not having any extra weight if they can. Personally I would accept the weight sacrifice as im not good enough to smash downs without it. WC racers in a other league though.
  • + 1
 It'll be just like flat pedals in WC DH, a few savages will still ride a standard one. Also, a dropper just makes a bike more fun.
  • + 2
 if I cared any less about this, I would be asleep...
  • + 1
 I'm still surprised that that droppers aren't used all the time because I need mine when I ride xc
  • + 7
 I don't know how I used to get (mildly) rowdy without one. I now get nervous going down a curb without a dropper.
  • + 1
 "No, other (specify in the comments!)"
Yeah thanks, that's literally what the comment section is for.
  • + 1
 I put a 100mm dropper on my Epic and my speed on the descents improved greatly, they all need droppers.
  • + 1
 wait for it..... wait for it..... wait for it..... e-xc, coming right at ya.
  • - 1
 I don't know why the bikes aren't slacker than they are, surely it'd be faster going downhill and not make any difference going up? Are XC bikes still stuck in the NORBA days?
  • + 1
 It's Because slack angles and long front centers are to make a bike go downhill more stable when out of the saddle, which makes the bike climb like shit. XC is an endurance sport, so you need middle of the ground geometry that allows you the highest average speed. You spend most of your time climbing, so you need geometry that is good for climbing more than ripping the descents.
  • + 1
 Should all bikes have sealed drives!, dropper are optional?
  • + 1
 Matthew McConaughey voice: "It'd be a lot cooler if they did"
  • - 2
 Yes. They will all use them because they have support staff who can run down to the post office to send their blown post back to the manufacturer. It only breaks if you use it! I guess I just ride too much.
  • + 1
 What dropper post on the market besides the old reverbs and the Bontrager drop line consistently have problems?
  • + 1
 I would have thought xc would the first to want dropper posts...
  • + 0
 Yes dropper will be a norm soon....and we, the smart people of Pinkbike, suggested it first few years ago.
  • + 0
 You know Gravity Dropper has been making them since at least 2007, right?
  • + 1
 dirt-world problems
  • + 0
 It would ba a norm soon since xc courses are becoming more rad.
  • - 1
 Yeah just put a dropper instead of learning how to ride.
More $$$ for wigs.
  • + 0
 “Dropper posts are slightly weak on hills under 800 feet”
  • - 2
 What is the point of having a dropper that is really small, why wouldn't you go for the longest one possible?
  • + 4
 The reason is you only need a few cm of drop to get the saddle out of the way ‘enough’ and a longer post means a bigger squat and more work for your tired legs. Ideally for xc it drop without needing to squat.
  • + 1
 @mcvittees: thanks makes sense
  • - 1
 Xc not c.f.
  • + 1
 You mean down country?
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