RockShox's Reverb AXS XPLR Dropper is For More Than Just Gravel

Aug 10, 2021 at 18:47
by Mike Levy  
RockShox Reverb AXS XPLR. James Huang photo.


This whole gravel thing has really blown up over the last few years. Yeah, I know you probably aren't on Pinkbike to hear that, so consider this your gravel content trigger warning. And don't worry, we're not about to start covering curly bars any time soon, but there could be a couple bits of SRAM's just-released XPLR (it's short for "explore") gravel-focused group that make sense on your mountain bike. If you are a gravel rider in hiding, head to CyclingTips for all the details on the new Zipp XLPR wheels, SRAM 10-44 tooth XPLR cassette (and the required derailleur), and the Rudy suspension fork.

We're going to take a closer look at the also-new, $600 USD RockShox Reverb AXS XPLR dropper that, at the push of a button, can also act as a suspension post. I'm sure there will be plenty of clever jokes about that in the comment section, but it might mean that the short-travel e-Verb makes sense for hardtail riders looking to take some of the edge off their body.


Reverb AXS XPLR Dropper

With just 50 or 75mm of travel, and the same AXS battery tucked under your seat, the XPLR dropper looks like a pint-sized version of the standard wireless Reverb.

It even employs the same dual-adjust head as the mountain bike version, and you can also control it with the normal Reverb remote that you'd run on a mountain bike handlebar. Internally, however, it's very different from a standard Reverb. It's only available in a 27.2mm diameter, meaning those who aren't letting go of their steel hardtails now have a wireless Reverb option, while riders who don't need more travel but have larger seat tube (most droppers are either 30.9mm or 31.6mm) can shim the shorty e-Verb to fit.

Thing is, that smaller, 27.2mm diameter necessitated a complete redesign of the standard Reverb's hydraulic internals.
RockShox Reverb AXS XPLR. James Huang photo.
The XPLR dropper offers either 50mm or 75mm of drop and can also be turned into a suspension seat post with the push of a button.

And by "redesign," I mean they decided to not use any oil at all inside the XPLR dropper. Instead, there's an air-based system that can either lock the post into position or, at the push of a button, turn it into what RockShox is calling "ActiveRide" mode. I know it doesn't make it sound as cool, but I'm gonna call it a suspension seat post instead. Without any oil for the air to mix with, RockShox could skip using their Vent Valve system you'll find on the bottom of the mountain version.

RockShox XPLR Reverb AXS
There's no oil inside the XPLR dropper, just air.

Yes, I realize that suspension seat posts probably bring beach cruisers and hybrid bikes to mind, but they still do have a niche following with some hardtail riders. Being more comfortable is more better for a lot of people, but it can also give riders an advantage on choppy climbs where staying seated might be the difference between spinning out and being the only one in your group to clean it. The spring rate is adjusted via the same air valve that controls the return speed; more air means quicker rebound and a firmer suspension post, er, ActiveRide. And I know things can get a bit enduro-centric around here and we're spoiled with droppers that make your seat completely disappear, but there are plenty of places in the world where 75mm of stroke is more than enough.

The other possible upside: Thanks to its air-based internals, the 50mm version weighs 560-grams (with a battery), or about 100-grams lighter than the standard mountain bike Reverb and, according to James Huang over at the CyclingTips, 200-grams less than PNW's suspension/dropper post once the required cable and housing is put on the scale. That might not seem like many grams, but there are plenty of riders and racers out there who always want a lighter bike under them.


Jolanda Neff took advantage of the dropper when things got steep or slick.
Does the XPLR dropper make sense if you're a racer looking for a lightweight wireless dropper?


Let's do a little thought experiment: Pretend for a few minutes that you're a cross-country rider or racer who has zero interest in getting too rowdy, but you also know that a lower seat means more confidence, faster cornering, and maybe a bit fewer of those over-the-handlebar crashes. It never looks good when you're folded in half backward while wearing Lycra. Is the Reverb AXS XPLR something you'd consider, or would you choose a normal dropper or keep up the sketchy high-posting?


139 Comments

  • 124 2
 You're telling me a Verbrator with a 75mm stroke (2.95 inches) and no lubricant can take the edge off my body, as long as I don't want to get too rowdy?
  • 28 27
 That's what she said
  • 36 8
 @erg6k: yep. That’s the joke. Bravo
  • 30 107
flag Almostredbike (Aug 11, 2021 at 3:57) (Below Threshold)
 Can we do dildo jokes? I have another one about Gwin:

Turns out Gwin has been married for 20 years, and every time he and his wife had sex the Gwin would always insist on shutting off the lights. Well, after 20 years his wife felt this was stupid. She figured she would break him of the crazy habit. So one night, while they were in the middle of doing it, she turned on the lights. She looked down and saw Gwin was holding a dildo. She gets very upset, and screams, "You impotent bastard," she screamed at him, "How could you be lying to me all of these years. You better explain yourself!" Gwin looks her straight in the eyes and says, calmly, "I'll explain the dildo if you can explain our three kids.

True story… Wink
  • 26 0
 @Almostredbike: Bruh why?
  • 15 0
 @Almostredbike: oddly specific and also what
  • 1 1
 @Shred-BC: not sure…
  • 110 3
 Not Kashima coated, will clash with my new Kuat bike rack to transport my decked-out firebird.
  • 27 0
 Damn, today was a meme
  • 12 1
 I'm still waiting on the announcement for Kashima helmets, kashima tires, kashima condoms..
  • 2 0
 @stumphumper92: not sure the latter would have much success though as it's supposed to reduce frictions XD
  • 6 0
 @DabaZei: I hope for the sake of your significant other you appreciate the merit of some sort of friction reducer in that scenario…
  • 2 0
 @mtallman2: [LIGHT BULB ON] Ooooh, that's why I got the full Fox factory elite kit for our anniversary! I knew there had to be more to it
  • 95 1
 inb4 my Reverb has had suspension for years every winter...
  • 70 0
 No, only 4 months of the year. The rest of the year it's away on warranty / getting rebuilt.
  • 35 3
 Unbelievably, against all challenges, SRAM engineered a design to make the reverb even less reliable.
  • 6 1
 You’d think they’d at least change the name of the reverb. My taint won’t touch another one of these saggy posts for the rest of my life.
  • 7 3
 @DoubleCrownAddict: The AXS models really are a whole dif thing, super reliable in my crowd of friends.
  • 1 1
 lol my dropper wiggles side to side 3mm
  • 7 0
 @gticket: Change the name to Rebuild.
  • 8 2
 @manhattanprjkt83: your crowd of friends all ride AXS Reverbs? Two questions:
1. How much use, abuse and mud do their bikes see?
2. Which of your friends charges the least for a dental inspection?
  • 1 0
 @DoubleCrownAddict: Haven't seen you in a little while. Just back from a ban?
  • 59 4
 PSA: U dnt nd $600 drpr pst 2 go xplr-ing
  • 13 3
 kthx bye Smile
  • 29 0
 I still want a dropper that goes down at the push of a button, no butt pressure required.
  • 4 1
 We all do
  • 36 1
 Got butt pressure that won't go down? Get the new gAS-X.
  • 30 2
 XPLDR
  • 13 4
 In Canyon dialect that is ‘Exploder’
  • 11 1
 Good to have you back at the keyboard, Mr. Levy. As to the seatpost, the only thing about it that irks me is that "XPLR" is shorter by 3 letters, but longer by 2 syllables, than "explore". BH HMBG.
  • 12 0
 This is all fine, but RockShox can you please release a 210mm version of the regular AXS dropper.
  • 4 8
flag sherbet (Aug 11, 2021 at 9:51) (Below Threshold)
 How tall are you/what frame are you running with that sort of insertion and low enough standover? It honestly feels like 200mm+ droppers work for 0.01% of the population.

I'm yet to have a single person in store that it would work for, yet I'm always seeing people ask for them online. What's the combo that makes it work?
  • 3 0
 @sherbet: I am 6'3 and ride a XL Privateer 161 with 300mm insertion, which currently has a 180 oneup installed where there is like 55-60mm sticking out of the seattube. Overall I am a pretty average guy where I live.
  • 3 0
 Yes please, I've been waiting since the original release for a 200mm+ version. I thought for sure it would be right around the corner, but they sure have been slow to put it out...
  • 1 0
 @sherbet: me. 6’1”. Large Transition Spur. I love it!
  • 4 0
 Appreciate the responses dudes!
  • 2 0
 @sherbet: I'm 6'2" running a 200mm on a xl transition patrol. I could easily bump up to 210mm
  • 2 0
 @sherbet: What brands do you sell?

I'm a 183cm rider on a size L Strive 29er, with a 150mm reverb - although I don't feel like I need a 200+mm dropper there is plenty of room to run one.

A quick look at the Yeti/SC/Pivot/Specialized/Giant/Norco/Kona/Intense websites suggests that the same would apply to all of their trail and enduro bikes in a size Large or above.

Designs like Evil without much insertion are in the distinct minority these days.
  • 1 0
 @sherbet: 6'2" here and need a 200mm dropper on my large Rocky Altitude. I have long legs and shorter torso, so the 200 works perfect for me. Newer frames generally have very short seat tubes anymore so if you are a tall rider and in-between sizes like I am with my long legs and shorter torso, it makes sense.
  • 1 0
 Just replace the reverb with something like a Bikeyoke... I did and won't look back. Problem solved!
  • 1 0
 6'3" with XL forbidden druid and a 210mm OneUp V2 dropper post works great
  • 1 0
 I do sell Kona and Santa Cruz. I can confirm that you'd have to be 6'4" and above to make a 210mm post work correctly on them. I'm downsized on my frame, and am still mostly maxed out on a 170mm post. Between insertion and stanchion length, a 210mm dropper isn't going to work on an XL SC unless you're nearing 6'5". I can confirm the same for Kona.

I'm not saying there's no case where a longer post makes sense, it just seems to be such an infinitesimally small market that it kind of makes sense why many brands aren't getting into it. Again, I'm yet to have a single rider by that would make use of a 210mm dropper, and we deal a fair few brands.
  • 1 0
 @sherbet: idk my experience says something else, given everyone I know on SC have 200-210 droppers on their "XXL" (which is basically a XL in many other brands). Seeing how often and fast the 210 oneup sells out also tells a different story.

I think the majority of bikes in size L and XL that have gotten a update recently and fall in the trail and enduro category can fit a 200+ dropper for most people, just based upon forums, discords, riding buddies and people I meet at races.
Personally then I don't "need" a 210 dropper, since my 180 is fine and I don't hit it, but at the same time I think it looks better when I don't have so much showing and I want AXS, but I don't want to get AXS and get 10mm less drop.
  • 1 0
 @NordicRider: Interestingly, we have a dude from a major company on the forums who touched on this a few months ago. EDC always being out of stock came up, and was mostly boiled down to low production count. The company he represented said they wouldn't be making 210mm droppers as there's such little demand for them. They surveyed and found the figure of rides it would be relevant to is well under one percent, and in those cases, a 170mm dropper is still more than functional.

I hear you loud and clear, and as the market moves forward, I see them becoming more popular for sure. Right now, between insertion depth and frame standover, there's just such a small market for it that it doesn't currently make sense.

This is just me attempting to answer why this hasn't become more common with my own anecdotes. We will all have our experience, but I feel my anecdotes line up fairly factually with what the industry is saying and selling.
  • 1 0
 @sherbet: By far the majority of "demand" comes from the OEM market. OEM demand is always for the lowest cost part they can get away with. OEMs aren't demanding 200mm droppers, because they can can sell a bike just as well if it has a cheaper 150 or 175mm post - nobody is going to switch to another brand of bike just because of the dropper length on the stock build, let alone under current market conditions.

As far as the retail level demand for 200mm posts, it pretty hard to measure when nobody has stock of anything. All we know is that supply can't keep up with demand so there's a market niche there for someone to fill, even if your big industry player doesn't think it's worthwhile for their company.

Like I said in my post above, I don't see any particular need for a 200+mm post. When my current 150mm Reverb gives up the ghost I won't be giving post length over 175mm any particular benefit in my value considerations, so I agree on the market size being limited by demand. But that's a _completely_ different thing to saying it wouldn't work, which was what your first post was about.
  • 10 0
 Coming to a bike repair shop near you this season, the new RockShox reverb ASX XPLTV! For when your ride gets cancelled by another faild dropper post!
  • 12 1
 suspension dropper seatpost? my old reverb could do that lmao
  • 10 0
 AXS XPLR 4 MVDP
  • 2 1
 underrated comment of the day.
  • 5 1
 I think the anyone buying this want a 27.2mm short travel dropper post, because if you want other sizes theres lighter, less expensive short travel dropper posts available for less money. bikeyoke divine sl costs 150 less & weighs 200g less
  • 7 2
 Yup, there are lighter and less expensive droppers out there, but I think the wireless control and suspension action will be the two selling features for this.
  • 2 0
 @mikelevy: the bikeyoke divine sl also has suspension action. my bikeyoke divine & revive posts have been faultless. I warrantied 3 reverbs.
  • 2 0
 @scantregard: Yeah, but it doesn't come in 27.2mm, which is the diameter the vast majority of gravel bikes use.
  • 11 4
 $800 for a stick of air Wink
  • 33 2
 wait till you hear about air forks!
  • 4 0
 @VanDork: unless it's a lefty, at least you get two sticks of air for your moneySmile
  • 3 0
 As an XC racer, the 75mm travel version is tempting. I think PinkBike should add in the weight of a shim as almost all XC bikes these days are 30.9 or 31.6.

The big question for me - is there a new AXS Reverb dropper release just around the corner? Perhaps shedding some weight, faster electronics, etc...
  • 3 0
 Nothing new on the Reverb front that I've seen, aside from that prototype that we weren't sure who made...
  • 2 0
 27.2? Isn’t that the standard on many older hardtail bikes? If so, this would be an awesome option for resto-modding that old classic… no cables needed.
  • 6 1
 could the cartridge redesign foreshadow a rework for future full size reverbs?
  • 3 0
 I wonder of this dropper can be used with a blip as a trigger.... for those of us that have 2X gravel bikes, that might be the biggest selling point, because the vast majority of drop bar remotes suck.
  • 5 3
 just save the extra weight by ditching your normal Seatpost and taping memory foam to you top tube and wearing a chamois with 2 inches of extra foam for approximately 700 dollars less. Logic
  • 10 1
 Logic is not welcomed in the bike industry nowadays
  • 5 0
 Or you could just stuff yourself silly with food during your covid lockdown, and develop your own padding
  • 9 0
 @short-but-sweet: Lay off me, I'm starving.
  • 1 0
 A 9Point8 Fall Line R at 75mm is a claimed 322g. I can add a remote to that for well under the post-only weight of this thing. Plus it's much cheaper and probably better-designed and better-built. However, it doesn't give that suspended effect, which could actually be pretty appealing to many people who ride hardtails and low-travel xc rigs.
  • 3 0
 Yup, there are lighter and less expensive droppers, but I think it'll be the wireless control and suspension action that sets this one apart.
  • 2 0
 I own a 9point8 Fall Line R, great post, but it won't fit in the 27.2mm hole on my gravel bike. AKA, as by far the most common size for gravel bikes...
  • 1 0
 @krka73: Good point. I totally wooshed on that.
  • 4 0
 Making bikes with 27.2 mm seat tubes and no cable routing relevant again... - It just needs more Droop!
  • 2 0
 This is on sale on eBay for much much better price!!!!

www.ebay.com/itm/284400664480?hash=item423799bfa0:g:14YAAOSwu3BhAUxo
  • 3 0
 The large area near the clamp would make packing it up for a warranty claim a bit of a nuisance.
  • 3 1
 Astonishingly few comments for such a rich and ass saving article on the topic ditching of hydraulic anal pressures, no?
  • 3 4
 At 560gr and 600$ the only thing lightweight is your wallet. That is the weight of a 150$ tranzx dropper that has the double of travel and is much more reliable. It doesn't make sense in a gravel nor a mountain bike. And Transzx 50mm hot lap dropper is 430gr.

And at 600$ I expect Kashima coating.
  • 4 1
 I think the wireless bit adds a little to the price...
  • 7 1
 @mikelevy: and very little to the functionnality.
  • 1 0
 @mikelevy: wireless makes a lot of sense for anyone wanting to upgrade an older bike that doesn’t have built in internal dropper post cable routing.
  • 1 1
 Never felt the need for a dropper on my gravel bike. On my alu HT proper tyre psi (2.2" RaceKings), carbon post, and good riding compliant saddle hasn't made me want a suspension post either.
  • 2 0
 Same, I'm not a dropper on my gravel bike kinda guy, either. I can ride my mountain bike on the sketchy stuff, whereas my gravel bike is more for covering ground.
  • 3 0
 @mikelevy: it lets you super tuck so comfortably though. having a dropper on my gravel bike has made road descents more fun
  • 3 0
 I commute on my "gravel" bike.

I run a dropper on it.

Makes stoplights easier.
  • 5 0
 @sdurant12: Totally, you can corner so much better! But is it a super tuck if your lycra doesn't get caught on the seat while you're trying to get back up to save the speed wobble?
  • 2 0
 @sdurant12: This. It's two years away from being on the pro peloton as a solution for the super tuck. I have a dropper on my commuter just for the stop lights basically, but I found out soon after that you can get a pretty sweet aero position if you drop the post and tuck in.
  • 1 0
 @rmbarrows: can confirm. dropper post for commutes. have sold several to customers and they all love it!
  • 1 1
 Have the mentioned button options? I know there was the hack using the blip box to make a low profile button, but given this targets drop-bar and weight weenies, do they have a lever?
  • 1 0
 I didn't mention those! You can use a normal Reverb remote, road shifter, or even a blip button. I have my blip buttons under my bar tape and set up as remote shifters for when I'm holding onto the top of the handlebar, but it'd be easy to switch them over.
  • 2 0
 A dropper on a gravel bike? So you're saying these bikes are just becoming more like a mountain bike? Weird.
  • 2 3
 "SRAM's just-released XPLR (it's short for "explore")"

A little news from adjacent industry shouldn't offend anyone, but seriously, explaining the "explore" contraction is leaning that way. We're mountain bikers, not idiots.
  • 9 0
 Really, offended? Some people say it as "explorer," so a quick line about how it's pronounced 100% makes sense, especially given that mispronouncing things is my specialty. I would also suggest that being offended by that sentence is kinda idiotic Wink
  • 1 0
 @mikelevy: Maybe start with setting the record straight on SRAM vs SHRAM.

It is SRAM btw. There is no SH sound in the name.
  • 2 0
 @bogey: Wait, it's not S-RAM?!
  • 1 0
 @mikelevy: maybe Simano?
  • 1 0
 @bogey: She-mano or Shah-manao?
  • 1 0
 @mikelevy: mar-ZU-chee. Triple Trees.
  • 2 0
 All my reverbs have been suspension seatposts. Its the locking out at the top thats new.
  • 2 4
 I don't (and won't) get it.
1. Would you to drop $500 and 500g on a short travel suspension seatpost or spend that extra money and weight on a dualie instead? A dualie will help you climb and descend with more traction, this will just make climbing more comfortable (they'll both decrease efficiency somewhat when active).
2. I don't see how a suspension seatpost can help you clear tough sections. It won't allow the back when to move relative to the cranks, you won't get more traction. I don't remember having much weight on the saddle on the last really tough climb I did.
3. This might get use on a few steel hardtails with 27.2 seatposts. On the other hand, it's not hard to add a dropper port to the seat tube of a steel hardtail and run any number of 27.2 internally routed droppers. Aren't wireless contraptions the antithesis of the classic steel hardtail anyway?
  • 7 1
 I just got a 27.2 PNW with 125 drop for £150 for my HT.
  • 1 0
 @fartymarty: so what if you have a carbon or alloy hardtail from a few years ago, with otherwise complete high-end build? start drilling holes in it? buy a new bike? or get a new piece of bling that completes your blingtastic package?
  • 1 0
 @sammybikes916: I would drill an Al frame and run an external on carbon. This would look super clean tho
  • 4 1
 $10/mm
  • 5 1
 Cue David Lee Roth singing Just A Gigilo.
  • 3 0
 @dlford: Since he's on your radar, I read 'Crazy From The Heat' a few months back. It's very interesting and easy to read (anecdotes ranging from a paragraph to several pages).The guy is a wild wild genius. If he lived 100 years ago he'd be making his own monsters in a not-quite-abandoned castle.
  • 2 1
 I'm excited to see this new design come to the MTB reverb. The oil design needs to go.
  • 2 0
 I thought it was a clever design to expel air.
  • 3 1
 I’m still waiting to purchase my gravel gloves and shoes.
  • 3 2
 A suspension dropper post is awesome. There is nothing left to say.
  • 1 0
 Will there be 'Rudy Butter' for the fork?
  • 1 0
 Does this mean they'll be releasing a drop bar axis remote???
  • 3 0
 With drop bars, you have two shifters that can perform 3 commands. left = 1, right = 1, both at once = 1. If you are running 1X with dropper, you can shift up/down by using a shifter and use the both shifter command to actuate the post. This is the command generally used for front der shift. I am assuming not many people will be running both derailleurs and a dropper post. If they are, they can use the Paul 31.8 bar clamp that can be used to hang an MMX compatible item from the bar to add in the 4th command needed.
  • 1 0
 24K comment section *chef's kiss*
  • 1 0
 i just want a 250mm dropper.
  • 1 1
 "could the new gravel-focused AXS XPLR dropper also make sense on your mountain bike?"

No.
  • 1 0
 ***Sram’s new guy back program for all their saggy post starts tomorrow
  • 1 0
 You won't even be able to say "I've got 2 inches of hard post"
  • 1 0
 AXS XPLR FR TH CNYN CLLCTV
  • 2 2
 I need the full 2 inches!
  • 1 0
 That’s what she said.
  • 1 1
 What about the dropper lever?
  • 2 0
 It uses any AXS Controller
  • 1 0
 @pedalt0themedal: Is there already an AXS controller for the curly bars?
  • 3 0
 You can use a normal Reverb remote, a SRAM road shifter, or a remote Blip button to control the dropper. I use blip buttons hidden under my bar tape as remote shifters for when I'm holding onto the top of the handlebar. They're hidden under my bar tape and could be used to control the dropper.
  • 1 0
 @mikelevy: Idk if you or any other roadies could speak to this, but does a dropper help with tucks? I was talking to a friend who's never ridden a road bike (I ride sometimes), and he was saying that with the UCI lower weight limit, some riders actually weight their bike. Why not run a dropper (like this) since super tucks are banned (assuming a dropper-assisted tuck is not considered a super tuck AND it actually does help)?
  • 2 0
 @hamncheez: Having the seat out of the way could only help to descend, I think. But they might not want to put something else on their bike that could break? I'm not sure. There was an FSA height-adjustable post that used a big had collar that road riders turned to raise or lower their seat, but I haven't seen it in ages.
  • 2 0
 @hamncheez: This is still up for debate in the roadie world. Given how much consternation there has been with accepting disc brakes, who knows...

Personally, I want one of these for my gravel/road bike, although it'll depend on how the control can be integrated into non-SRAM controls (I run Campy).
  • 1 0
 @IanJF: "or a remote Blip button" seems to cover it.
  • 1 0
 @hamncheez: Need the blip box and that thing is a beast.
  • 3 4
 560 grams light! Or 200 gram post and 20 gram lever. How did people mountain bike for 20 years! Insane!
  • 1 0
 Zzzzzz….
  • 1 0
 AXS is for GX
  • 1 0
 How about a 200mm post?!
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