Dropper posts are becoming standard equipment on mountain bikes nowadays, and even hard-to-categorize bikes like The One from Coastline and The Stuntman from Raleigh offer a dropper post in the OEM spec.
If you think Hite Rite when you hear dropper post, or keep your technical riding constrained to cyclocross courses, perhaps you don't see the need for a dropper post. We won't try to convince you they're essential. And frankly, sometimes on not very technical terrain we find them to accelerate leg fatigue spending more time out of the saddle. But they're here to stay, undoubtedly make some riders on some terrain faster and can fill a need even for cyclocrossers and gravel cyclists, especially when faced with a long descent or timed segment (think Grinduro segment #4).
We had our first look at Magura's innovative ANT+ wireless Vyron eLect dropper post at 2015 Interbike, and at this week's 2016 Magura Press Camp, we got our first ride on it. Before diving into our impressions, let's dig into the numbers.
The Vyron weighs about 600 grams, depending on which of the two diameters (31.6 or 30.9mm) you're weighing. That's about 300-400 grams heavier than a lightweight alloy post.
The post offers 150mm of travel, in unlimited increments. The travel is actuated through a simple handlebar remote button that communicates with the seatpost via ANT+ wireless technology.
The built-in battery is a Nickel-Metal Hydride (NiMH) battery, an older battery technology than the popular lithium ion batteries found in many devices currently. NiMH may be older, slower charging, heavier technology and more memory than lithium ion batteries. But they're also more durable and affordable than lithium ion batteries, and less temperature sensitive. After all, it can get quite warm inside your frame on a hot day.
Magura said one of the biggest motivations in choosing NiMH batteries for the Vyron post is the simple fact it's easier to import NiMH battery-powered devices into more countries, as a handful of countries ban the more power-dense material. Either way, the battery lasts for 400 actuations on just one charge, which takes about three hours. Four hundred actuations might be about two months, for an average rider, the company says.
Magura told Cyclocross Magazine the battery is said to last for 1000 charges. If we did our math right, your saddle can go up and down 400,000 times before it's time to change the battery, which your shop will be able to do without sending it back to Germany.
The post has a zero setback head, with two bolts front and rear to secure the saddle. The two bolts allow for easy, precise angle adjustment and should hold the saddle securely during remounts.
The Magura Vyron eLect wireless dropper post is 446mm long, and offers 150mm of travel. With all that travel, cyclocrossers or gravel cyclists will need to make sure there's post showing on their bike before purchasing one of these, as they'll need about 230mm of post to maintain a constant saddle height. Owners of bikes with sloping top tubes and/or cyclists who prefer to ride smaller frames will have a better chance to swap in a Vyron and maintain saddle position.
Magura eLect Ant+ Wireless Dropper Post Ride Impressions
Who cares about the specs of a dropper post if it doesn't do its job, right? After riding an Intense Tracer 27.5 full suspension bike on a mix of terrain in Sedona, including some rocky, technical trails, I had plenty of opportunity to put the Vyron to work.
Without claiming to be a dropper post expert, I see some clear advantages and disadvantages to the wireless Magura post. Let's start with the upsides of this design:
- Installation is a snap. There's no wires or housing to route through the bottom bracket, nothing to pull or adjust should your taller buddy want to ride your bike. The remote switch clamps to your bar with a simple rubber O-ring. You can swap the entire unit (saddle, seatpost and switch) to another bike in under a minute!
- Lots of travel. While the 150mm of travel will limit its compatibility with certain bike setups, with all that travel, your saddle height won't be what's stopping you from chasing your fully suspended buddies down steep drop offs on your cyclocross bike.
- Secure saddle clamp and angle. Longtime readers know that we're huge fans of two bolt (fore/aft) saddle clamps. They hold saddles securely at your intended angle, even during a botched remount or big hit.
- Smooth operation. The ideal speed of drop and rebound of a dropper post is a matter of personal opinion, but I liked the controlled, smooth, dampened rebound of the post when I wanted to raise the saddle. I didn't fear being ejected, and had plenty of time to stop the saddle before it hit maximum height.
As might be expected with a brand new, innovative product, I have a few nitpicks with this early model.
- No 27.2mm option. With 150mm of travel, Magura probably didn't expect many to want to install such a big travel post on older mountain bikes, or cyclocross/road/gravel bikes. But the wireless nature of this post makes it the ideal (or only) dropper post that works with frames not built for dropper posts and doesn't require an external cable or lever. This is an untapped market, as Specialized's Command XCP post comes in a 27.2mm size but only has 50mm of travel, requires internal cable routing and only has a flat bar remote mount, while Thompson's Elite 27.2mm dropper post requires external cables, and KS' 27.2mm versions require internal cables or a head-mounted lever. Magura could own the gravel/monster cross market with the wireless dropper post if it offered the smaller diameter. But I realize 27.2mm is a small portion of the market, and it offers less real estate for the internal mechanism.
- Slow actuation. If you're used to modern dropper posts you'll probably find the wireless controlled hydraulic actuation of Magura's post to be frustratingly slow. There's a one-second delay after pushing the button before your saddle starts falling. It's a smooth, controlled drop, but if you're about to enter a rock garden or big drop, that second delay may feel way too long, compared to cable-actuated dropper posts. But that's the key—it's slow compared to others—but likely something you can get used to pretty quickly. And for our gravel and cyclocross enthusiast readership, that delay will likely be a non-issue. Know that you're about to hit a three-mile gravel descent? One second won't matter at all. Magura maintains that riders will get used to the delay, and they'll enjoy more control and safety, since a quick button push takes less time away from your typical riding position than a cable-operated lever.
- Remote can pull your eyes of the trail. This is another mountain-bike-specific complaint, but when riding technical terrain, especially with long finger gloves, it's pretty easy to either miss the small round button, or to hit the two other buttons that allow control of Magura's front and rear shocks. I suggested to Magura to offer an option of a remote with a larger actuation button, without the shock adjustments, and representatives agreed it should be a future option, so that's promising.
- Play. The saddle has a minor amount of play when mounted to the Magura Vyron eLect post. While I didn't feel it during riding, I did hear it rattle a bit when out of the saddle at certain vibration frequencies. It didn't bother me, but for such an investment, I'd expect tolerances to be a bit tighter.
Given that #2 and #3 are really mountain bike-specific complaints, the Vyron eLect Dropper Seatpost might be the ideal dropper post for gravel bikes, provided your bike can take a 30.9mm or 31.6mm post and has enough post showing.
I'd bet that if this first iteration of the Vyron eLect Dropper Seatpost is successful, other sizes, travel options and remotes will follow. In the meantime, I'll wait in line for one for a longer review, and hope it's in place for this year's Grinduro. Magura said the post is shipping soon, and some online retailers here and here already show the Magura Vyron in stock.
Magura eLect Wireless Ant+ Dropper Post Specs:
Sizes: 30.9mm, 31.6mm
Post Battery: NiMH, one charge lasts 400 actuations. Battery to last for 1000 charges.
Charging: Micro USB, 3 hours charging time.
Remote Battery: CR 2032
Saddle Clamp: Two bolt, fore/aft
Other: Manual actuation switch if low battery level
Warranty: 5 years
More info: magurausa.com
See all the new products and first ride reviews from the 2016 Magura Ride Camp here.