Gravity's Cost Conscious Dropper
Reliability and high costs are the two main issues that detractors of dropper posts like to point out, and while I'd tend to agree with them when it comes to those topics, I also believe that dropper posts are too much of a necessity, at least for me, to not use for day to day riding. Gravity, FSA's arm of components intended for more argo riding styles, says that their new dropper seat post addresses both reliability and cost concerns by retailing for $299 USD and being über-reliable. They also stressed that the new seat post isn't the lightest or fanciest out there, but it's those very factors that allow them to nail its cost and dependability.
Internally, Gravity have gone with a completely sealed and non-serviceable cartridge that provides both the hydraulic control that allows the seat to be positioned anywhere in the post's stroke, as well as a nitrogen charge that acts as a spring to bring the seat back when you need to pedal. That means that riders won't be able to adjust the pressure in order to speed up or slow down the post's return speed, nor will they be able to perform a full rebuild from the inside out, but it does allow Gravity to build a cost-effective dropper post that can be repaired quickly and for very little money - replacement cartridges will retail for just $25 USD. No bleeding here, and Gravity says that the system has proven to be extremely reliable so far. Other bits - replacement brass keys, seals and small parts - will also be readily available.
Gravity says that they're going to go with a thumb paddle remote (it wasn't quite ready for the show
) that will provide plenty of leverage to overcome contaminated cables or funky routing, and when pushed will depress a plunger at the bottom of the post that opens the hydraulic bleed port, thereby allowing the post to go up or down. Nothing groundbreaking here, but that's not the company's goal. To replace the cartridge or access the post's internals, you simply detach the actuation assembly at the bottom of the post and then use a spanner tool to unscrew the cap - everything slides right out.
The $299 USD dropper post will be available in March, and in 100mm and 125mm travel options that can be had in 30.9mm and 31.6mm sizes.Renthal Makes it Sticky
There's a few different variations when it comes to locking grips onto your handlebar, but grip design seems like a pretty settled deal these days. But what if a company said they had a grip design that actively helps to keep your paws where they're supposed to be? You might think that would make for less hand and arm fatigue, or even shrink the chance of a hand slipping off the grip, but Renthal isn't making any of those claims about their new Ultra Tacky lock-on grip. Instead, Renthal's Ian Collins is simply saying that their new sticky grip material means that you don't have to hold on as tight as you might be doing now. He also let slip that a Troy Brosnan has actually been rocking the Ultra Tacky grips since the later part of the 2014 World Cup season, although the only way anyone would have found out is if they had grabbed hold of one of them - they're noticeably tacky to the touch, enough so that you might suspect something weird is going on.
The very large majority of grips out there are manufactured with thermoplastic elastomer, but Collins has gone with something else entirely. He wouldn't explain exactly what the material is, but he did say that the idea behind the it is based on the same principles as the sticky hand toys that you might have played with as a kid. These toys are sticky enough to hold onto a wall or window if you chuck them, but they'd eventually lose their holding abilities as they got dusty from being played with, something that you'd fix by simply putting them under water for a second and then letting them air dry, after which they'd be like new again. The Ultra Tacky grips are the same: they're noticeably tacky in your hand but will lose some of their grabbiness over time. Get them a bit wet, though, like when you wash your bike, and Collins' says that the tackiness returns.
The Ultra Tacky grips have the same durometer material as Renthal's softest grip, and they also retail for $32.95 USD, the same as the company's Kevlar grips. Availability should happen around mid-October.