Dropper seat posts for cross country racing
|Dropping into the Stadium in Stellenbosch: Matt Delorme Photo|
I started the 2017 season with a dropper seat post on my full suspension bike wanting to give it an honest test. These days they add about a pound to your bike, which can be well worth it if they help you gain more seconds in corners and descents than you would possibly lose on climbs due to added weight.
But the question is, after years of racing pretty gnarly courses with your seat up, are you able to gain more seconds with it down? There have been courses where I have loved having it and the increased stability pushing the limits on rock gardens and long descents, but others where due to the up down nature of the course I felt using a dropper cost me more time than it gained me.
Seats down for a pure descent is a no brainer, but where xc trails are constantly going up and down, cresting a steep climb in a light gear and turning immediately into a short descent that you must then 180 and head back up, often the first priority is going to be gear selection and opening or closing suspension. Adding one more adjustment can take the time you should be using to attack the next section. Yes, I am talking racing where every second counts. For recreational riding and racing and adventure racing blind stages these seconds may not feel that significant compared to what a dropper can offer, but when you’re striving for the fastest most efficient race and seconds matter, it is definitely something I think about.
More recently I have been leaning towards not racing with one, at least on my full suspension and I lined up for the first World Cup of 2018 in Stellenbosch with seat up. For cross country racing, particularly at a high level you have the opportunity to spend time on course days prior getting descents dialled before you line up to race. You typically become pretty comfortable and as efficient on every feature with your seat up as with it down potentially negating the dropper’s benefits. With South Africa being a new Venue offering a lot of features to learn in a short time and with descents that were aggressive and lead to flat run outs a dropper would not have been regretted though!
|Jumping is just part of the xc game nowadays. Matt Delorme Photo|
I will 100% keep a dropper on my bigger suspension bikes, and look forward to trying one on my hardtail in 2018. For xc racing I think it's still a toss up and seat up still gets the thumbs up a lot of the time.
Article updated from original piece in Pedal Magazine MTB Frontlines