(This is the first of a new partnership series we’re doing with The Gravel Ride Podcast called Tech Corner, garnered from my 18 years as a mechanic, racer, product developer, and industry insider. You can listen to the full episode here.)
Today, I’m going to share with you why I think dropper posts are a game changer for gravel.
It starts with control.
Because a dropper post lets you drop your saddle out of the way, you’re able to shift your center-of-mass down and back over the rear wheel. This in turn lets your front wheel to roll and sail while your legs are acting as suspension, and your rear brake, not your front, is doing most of your speed control. Because you’re not asking your front wheel to brake so much, your front tire is less likely to wash out, and if you come into a corner to hot, you’ll be able to fully utilize both brakes to slow down without lawn-darting over your handlebars.
Now, of course, if you have more control, you’re going to be faster through technical terrain. However, just as important when it comes to speed is the fact that you don’t have to compromise your saddle position to get that control. Instead, you can optimize your fully-extended position for pure power and efficiency, then drop your saddle as needed when things get rough.
Finally, a dropper significantly extends the capability of your bike. Especially if you’re just getting into gravel, a dropper is going to give you that extra bit of confidence and margin of safety that lets you really push your limits. And because you’re not introducing any suspension slop into the system, you’re still getting that snappy feel when you swap in a set of road slicks.
Now, the weight-weenies are going to worry that a dropper is going to add almost a pound relative to a standard post, and…yeah, sure. Keep in mind, though: that pound is just a fraction of a percent of the total weight of your body, bike, and gear. Whatever hypothetical impact it may have on the climbs is going to be more than made up for by the extra control, power, and capability you’re gaining everywhere on your ride, including on the climbs.
So what do you think about droppers on gravel bikes? I’d love to get your feedback.