Can't seem to get enough carbon fiber and titanium in your life? Crankbrothers' new Highline 11 dropper post is here to help satisfy that exotic material addiction. Available in 60, 100, 125, 150, and 170mm travel options, the post is designed to everyone from gravel to enduro riders looking for a lightweight dropper post.
The stanchion and head of the post are constructed from carbon fiber, and the seat mounting bolts are titanium, weight-saving measures that allow the 170mm version to come in at just 520 grams. That's 84 grams lighter than Crankbrothers' own Highline 7 post, and 119 grams lighter than a 175mm Fox Transfer post.
Highline 11 Details
• Drop: 60mm / 100mm / 125mm / 150mm / 170mm (tested)
• 30.9 & 31.6mm diameters
• Carbon quill & head
• Titanium mounting bolts
• 4 year warranty
• Weight: 520 grams (170mm, 31.6mm)
• MSRP: $399 USD (remote sold separately)
• More info: www.crankbrothers.com
Not surprisingly, the use of carbon and titanium does increase the price; the Highline 11 retails for $399 USD without a remote.DETAILS
Other than the carbon fiber stanchion and head, the rest of the Highline's construction is identical to what's used for the aluminum Highline models.
The heart of the dropper post is a hydraulic cartridge that Crankbrothers developed with Wintek. It can easily be removed by removing a 2.5mm hex head bolt from the top of the post, and then using a strap wrench and pliers to unthread the bottom of the post. The hydraulic cartridge itself is sealed and not serviceable, but if an issue did arise it can be swapped out in a matter of minutes.
The carbon stanchion moves on Igus bushings – there's an upper and lower bushing around the stanchion, and then two vertical 'keys' that allow the post to slide up and down. Dust, mud, and other contaminants are kept out by a Trelleborg dust seal.
Crankbrothers' actuator system allows for a very quick setup – the fixed end of a derailleur cable slots into the bottom of the post, without the need for any easily-lost cable bushings.
At the top of the post, the two bolt head is also very user friendly. I'm constantly amazed by how little thought seems to go into the design of some seatpost clamps – it seems like it should be simple, but too often the bolts are at an angle that makes seat installation or removable more difficult than it should be. That's not the case with the Highline – the rearmost bolt is at an angle that leaves plenty of room for an Allen key, and once it's partially loosened a slot at the back of the head allows it to flip up and out of the way.PERFORMANCE
Crankbrothers included their $60 flat bar remote with my test post. It's billed as the 'world's most ergonomic remote', and while that may be a stretch, the ball and socket design does allow for a wide range of lever positions. The split clamp makes installation easy, but one of the downsides to the remote is the fact that it's not Matchmaker compatible. Crankbrothers has had this remote in their lineup for years, and while it was novel when it first came out, there are now better options on the market that have a smoother, lighter action. PNW Components and Wolftooth make some of my favorites, and I also get along well with Fox's newest Transfer post lever.
A dropper post really only has two main functions – go up, and go down, so let's start with the 'up' part. The post raises fairly quickly, settling at the top of its travel with a soft 'thwunk'. It's not the absolute quickest return speed, and there's no way to speed it up like there is with some other posts, but it was fast enough for my needs, reaching full extension at what I'd consider a very reasonable rate.
Now for the down part. When the lever is pressed the seat lowers out of the way like it should, but it's not as silky smooth as I'd like - there's a noticeable amount of friction as the carbon stanchion slides into the fixed tube. It seems to be a combination of factors causing the extra resistance. To figure out the cause (after making sure that the cable was kink-free and that the remote was functioning properly) I unthreaded the post's collar and pulled up the dust wiper and upper bushing to see how much influence they were having. That helped, but the friction was still present – the Igus keys and lower bushing simply don't slide as effortlessly as I would have liked.
Out on the trail, I didn't really think about it that much – I was still able to get the seat down and out of my way whenever I wanted without too much effort. However, when going back-to-back with a BikeYoke Divine post the BikeYoke moved much more easily into its travel. This may seem like splitting hairs, but remember, the Highline 11 is $399 – at that price my expectations for buttery smooth actuation are much higher.
As far as long term durability goes, it's too early to make a definitive verdict, but the Highline's design makes it simple to service, and after six weeks of use the post is still free of any unwanted lateral play (as it should be). PRICE & WEIGHT
The Highline 11's $399 price tag is on the higher side for a cable-actuated post, but it's still much less expensive than the $861 SRAM AXS post, and it's more than 100 grams lighter. Here's a brief list of other competitors:
OneUp: $229 / 545 grams (180mm drop)
BikeYoke Divine: $300 / 560 grams (185mm drop)
Fox Transfer Post: $359 / 639 grams (175mm drop)
Looking at that list, the Highline 11 is the lightest, but not by much – OneUp and BikeYoke aren't all that far off, and both of those options have adustable travel. You can also knock 10 grams off the Divine's weight by adding a titanium bolt kit.
Light weight without sacrificing drop+
Easy to use saddle clamp design
No adjustable travel or return speed-
More friction than other options while it's being lowered