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REVIEW

2021 Fox Transfer Dropper Post - Reviewed

Words Dave Tolnai
Photos Dave Tolnai
Date Sep 14, 2020
Reading time

There was a time, not that long ago, when a seatpost was a big deal. Why this was, is both odd, and important. Important, because a bad seatpost sucked. A bad seatpost was short and it bent if you sneezed on it, and it had a head that was impossible to adjust. And then it broke. So, considering these points, spending a bunch of money on a seatpost for your late 90's hardtail made a lot of sense.

Looking at things a different way though, it did not (make sense, that is). Somehow, through that era, a seatpost became more than a seatpost. it became a statement! It became something that made your bike better than those other bikes. It was the difference between something that rolled off a shop floor, and something that had been put together to bomb down a mountain (slowly and uncomfortably, but it did truly feel like you were "bombing" at the time). And it held your seat in place.

For years and years, a Syncros seatpost was the only way a discerning bike rider would dare to hold their seat in place. It was a long, black (or silver) shaft of awesome. It was the spark that kicked off an arms race of incompetence, where companies tried to figure out newer and better ways to hold onto a seat. Race Face had a pivoting monstrosity (I owned one...I will back up this opinion if challenged), with a bulbous head and a shit tonne of setback. Answer threw their hat into the mix with an equally shitty exercise in complication. Even Syncros spent several years trying to figure out a way to throw their baby out with the bath water by replacing their long standing two bolt design. The thought was to split the two functions of a seatpost head; holding the seat in place, and adjusting the tilt of the seat. It was an ungodly thing, with pivots and locking collars and all kinds of shit. This was the new Coke of seatposts. There are no photos of this post on the Internet, because nobody ever bought one (they went bankrupt shortly after launching this seatpost, which is probably not an isolated incident). And then Thomson swooped in and beat everybody at their own game by selling us the same damned post that Syncros had been making for a generation.

This is a lot of information, but it is relevant. I'm telling you all of this because this, this is the head that should have existed from the start. This is the head that people should have been making. This is the only seatpost head that we will ever need, from this day forward.

I'll admit, it looks a bit funny. The ears seems to be a fair bit more prominent than they need to be. It has the ears of a wrestling champion, or a rugby player. But from a purely functional standpoint, the looks do not matter.

This is, by a margin, the easiest two bolt seatpost that I've ever had the pleasure of mounting a seat to (the Race Face XY was ugly...and slipped if it sniffed oil...and the heads tended to pull out...but holy crap could you swap a seat quickly on that thing). There are lots of posts that have slotted bolt holes, but most of them result in catastrophe and parts juggling if you ever get that far. The captured nuts and custom hardware on this post are beautiful and easy to use. They slide right out, and then you slap your seat in there, tighten it up and you're golden. It's a wonderful experience.

But even nicer is the angles that those cauliflower ears give you to get at that hardware. Who knew that sticking the bolts a bit further out and increasing the angle would make it so much easier to adjust the post? Well, anybody that has ever worked on a two-bolt seatpost head with a Y-tool knows this, but it seems like none of them ever designed a seatpost. And, as an extra special added bonus, this head design allows Fox to dramatically reduce the stack height of their post. So, here we are, twenty-five years later, and Fox finally won the seatpost head wars of the late 90's.

On the Inside

Of course, this is all obvious stuff that anybody can see with a cursory inspection of the seatpost. What about the inside? What I can pull from the website is that it has "proven Transfer internals with even easier serviceability than the 2020 model." Looking through the rebuild instructions for the 2020 model, that feels like a pretty good thing indeed. Those instructions suggest that taking on an Andrew Major type post teardown would require an advanced degree and several drawers of specialized tooling.

Popping the head off the post reveals nothing more than a tamper-proof hex head bolt, and the instructions linked above suggest removal of this bolt will result in death, so I assume this post retains the same 275 psi nitrogen charge and Fox voodoo of the previous generation. If you're a home tinkerer and want to retain the ability to fix anything and everything on your bike all by yourself, this might not be the post for you. But then again, the Transfer seems to have a fairly good reputation for reliability, so you should be okay.

Not quite on the inside, but another feature that I felt I should mention is that I appreciate the nice, deep cable stop at the bottom of the post. I've noticed a few other manufacturers minimizing this depth (I assume to reduce their overall post length). By doing so, I've had a couple of posts where the cable falls out pretty easily if any sort of slack is introduced into the system during installation. With the Fox, everything stays put with no challenges. I prefer this over a 5 mm reduction in overall length.

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The cable stop is very deep and sturdy. It's quite easy to thread a cable through here, and it easily stays in place as you lower it into your frame.

Up and Down

Getting back to our discussion of late 90's seatpost technology, we must consider that seatposts now do much more than we ever dreamed of. It's like comparing a caveman walking to a break dance battle. Posts now go up, and they go down and...well... that's about it. So, not really a whole lot different than what a seatpost used to do, but now they do it automatically, and they do it often. A fancy head won't get you very far if your up and down game isn't on point. Luckily, this here Fox seatpost does that pretty well too.

In fact, I will go as far as saying that this Fox is one of the smoother posts I've used in quite some time. Buttery smooth, really. I'm not sure how much the action of a post makes in the real world, but I also can't think of a time where I found myself hunting around for that "just right" mid-point setting on this post.

Return action is what I would describe as "medium", but it tops out with a fairly noticeable "Thwack!" Finding the release point is easy (more on that in a moment), but it does seem to require a fairly small amount of cable pull to get there. There is a bit of play in the head, but it definitely falls into the "manageable" category. It all combines into something that works really well and just goes about its uppy downy business.

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With a seat mounted up, the ears are less obvious. You can see how low the top section of the post retracts into the post, which is one of the tricks Fox used to reduce stack height.

The Lever

Fox does talk a fair amount about the new lever they created along with this post, and it's a big improvement over the previous generation. While new to Fox, the lever follows the formula that we are now familiar with. It looks a lot like what you'd buy from Wolf Tooth, One Up, Bike Yoke or (my personal benchmark) the PNW Loam Lever, but with a few key differences.

First, the cable mounting for the new lever is a bit finicky. It feels like you need to thread the needle (a few times) to get your cable into this lever. The part I really don't like is that the cable needs to push through a small hole after you clamp it. It took me a while to figure out how much cable to leave and where to wrap that extra length. As well, there's not a lot of room to adjust or play once you have a cable end in place. This system seems more challenging than it needs to be.

Once the cable is in, mounting the lever is easy enough. Mine came with both a standard clamp (which I used), as well as an i-Spec version. There is a Matchmaker version available as well, so you should be able to figure out a way to put the lever where you need it to be.

Next, the geometry of the Fox lever is a bit different than the Loam Lever (or others). The length seems roughly the same, but in order to get the Fox into the right position, I had to run the clamp a fair amount more outboard than I expected to (outside my brake levers, compared to inside for the Loam Lever). I think this is down to the lever sitting at a greater angle to the pivot location and I think this plays an important part in how the lever ends up functioning.

Since the lever is sold as a stand-alone piece, I figured that I should use it on a few different posts, so I cycled it amongst a few different bikes. No surprise, I found that the lever worked best with the Fox post and its short pull/low resistance actuator. It was with other posts with less polished action that I started to notice some differences.

On the worst end of the spectrum, I needed to shoehorn this lever in for a couple of rides with an old 3-position post. It worked, but it wasn't smooth and it felt like the lever was struggling to keep up with the force required. When I swapped in the Loam Lever, things worked much better. It was easier to brute force through the crap mechanism of that post and everything worked much better for it. Of course, Fox didn't design this lever to work with a crappy old 3-position dropper, but I thought this was an interesting test for it.

Back on the Fox post I noticed a slight difference in action as I swapped between the Fox, the Bike Yoke and the Loam Lever. The Bike Yoke and the Loam Lever proved easier to actuate, while the Fox felt like it was slightly easier to find the transition point where the post started to move. I don't think either is necessarily better than the other, but they each provided a distinct feel.

Conclusions

Based on the price tag and the logo, it would be surprising if this post was anything other than solid and predictable. Thankfully, Fox seems to have figured out not to mess too much with the parts that worked well (the internals) while offering up some refinements and improvements throughout. The head of this seatpost is wonderful to work with, and allows for a much lower stack height that may allow for certain people to move up in length. The new lever works well enough, even it if won't become my go to for swapping on to new builds. If this combination showed up on my new complete (which is probably how it will reach most users) I'd be a pretty happy camper.

The post comes in 30.9 or 31.6 mm diameters, in 100, 125, 150 or 175mm drops and can be yours for US$349 (CAD$459). There's a slightly cheaper, non-Kashima version for US$299 (CAD$389). Levers are sold separately for US$65 (CAD$89).

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Comments

Ganderson
0
Greg Anderson  - Sept. 14, 2020, 8:33 a.m.

Although the Fox Transfer has a smoother feel through its stroke and a lower effort lever action, 2 things I really didn't like vs the OneUp V2 post:

Slower return speed and longer lever throw.

It doesn't look like either of these things has changed.. too bad as it looks really nice.

Reply

davetolnai
0
Dave Tolnai  - Sept. 14, 2020, 8:53 a.m.

Just set up a One Up V2 as well.  That does indeed seem to have a super short lever throw.  I didn't think the Fox was too far off of that, but I prefer having a bit of room to play with on the Fox.

Not sure about return speed.  The Fox isn't slow, by any means.  But if you do want a super fast return, there isn't a way to adjust it.

Reply

cxfahrer
0
cxfahrer  - Sept. 14, 2020, 8:45 a.m.

Still no 200+.

But I did like my Transfer post at the time I had it.

Reply

IslandLife
+2 Grif Andy Eunson
IslandLife  - Sept. 14, 2020, 11:09 a.m.

$139 (CAD) more than OneUp for non kashima (with levers included) or $207 more than OneUp for the kashima version.  Is that post $200+ better than the OneUp V2?

Or...

$163 (CAD) more than the PNW for non kashima (with levers included) or $233 more than PNW for the kashima version. Is that post $230+ better than the PNW?

Fox must be getting a good amount of OE spec because there doesn't seem to be a compelling reason to spend $140 - $233 more for this post over some of the best posts out there that also offer drops greater than 170mm.

Would be interesting to hear about a side-by-side between the kashima version vs non-kashima... is the kashima where the smoothness is coming from?

Reply

xy9ine
+5 AJ Barlas Velocipedestrian Andy Eunson Timer twk
Perry Schebel  - Sept. 14, 2020, 1:41 p.m.

kashima on a seatpost is goofy from a performance / value added perspective. really, it's all about cosmetics (matching your shock / fork).

Reply

davetolnai
0
Dave Tolnai  - Sept. 14, 2020, 4:07 p.m.

Yes.  I would think the smoothness of this post has a lot more to do with what Fox is doing on the inside, than on what coating they put on the outside.

Reply

robnow
0
robnow  - Sept. 14, 2020, 11:10 a.m.

Working at the shop, swapping out saddles and making adjustments has been a breeze with the new head, however, we've had one come by where the customer mushroomed one of the slotted openings from too much force on the saddle. Rare occurrence for sure.

Reply

Cambo
0
Cambo  - Sept. 20, 2020, 6:34 a.m.

We’ve also had a customer destroy the plates on the head. It might be too early to tell but I suspect that’s going to be an ongoing issue with this post.

Reply

WalrusRider
0
WalrusRider  - Sept. 14, 2020, 11:22 a.m.

The head on these new Fox posts is sweet. I always felt like mounting the seat was such a pain with all the loose nuts and bolts falling on the ground while trying to get the seat in place. I still find it very difficult to justify spending more than the cost of a OneUp v2 , PNW, or similarly priced dropper post. They just plain work and are easy and cheap to service.

Reply

davetolnai
0
Dave Tolnai  - Sept. 14, 2020, 4:12 p.m.

I tried not to make too much of a judgement on the cost or the value of this post.  People are going to make up their own minds on how much they want to be spending on a post.  If it were my money, I'd probably be thinking in a similar way as you.  There are definitely posts that work really well that cost a lot less money.  It does work well though, and if I was going to be doing a head-to-head, back-to-back seat shootout, it would be the post I would run.  

It would be interesting to find out what percentage of these things Fox sells OEM vs. aftermarket.

Reply

Endur-Bro
+2 Metacomet LWK Andy Eunson Jonas Dodd
Endur-Bro  - Sept. 14, 2020, 11:22 a.m.

9Point8 has the best head game in town. That 4 bolt system means tilt and clamping are independent. Stack height be damned. Also allows for a quick and easy top up of the air cylinder

Reply

LWK
+2 Endur-Bro Jonas Dodd
LWK  - Sept. 14, 2020, 2:04 p.m.

I also really liked the 9.8 seat bolt system.  but that may be mainly because the thing will not hold any air and so have had to take the seat off constantly to pump up the air chamber.

Reply

Endur-Bro
+2 LWK Jonas Dodd
Endur-Bro  - Sept. 14, 2020, 7:27 p.m.

Ha. I’ve had a similar experience. 

When’s the last time you’ve done a rebuild on it? Mine was 500km before needing a rebuild. ¯\(ツ)

Reply

LWK
+1 Jonas Dodd
LWK  - Sept. 15, 2020, 8:01 a.m.

I had two.  the first one was bomber.  the second one had issues out of the box and was sent back to 9.8 to no avail.  I've just dealt with it but I'm done.  the rebuild kit might help but at this point I'm just not willing to spend more time and money for unknown outcome

Reply

jonas-dodd
0
Jonas Dodd  - Sept. 15, 2020, 2:33 p.m.

I bought my 9.8 in the spring of 2018 and it was great for the first year, then it started needing the top nut re-lube every few weeks (using their proprietary grease of course). By mid-summer it was leaking air slowly and I had to top it up every ride or so.

I ordered the rebuild kit in January this year for $100 and that brought it back to life. However, the customer service was slow to respond and shipping was expensive and no-one stocks any parts other than 9.8 themselves.

I noticed a new sound coming from somewhere related to the post / saddle area and investigated to find a crack in the eyelet on the post that the head bolts to. I contacted 9.8 and was told that they only replace that part (the stanchion) in the factory and only for original owners and that it would cost about $200.

Instead of putting more money into the post I bought a one-up 210mm and it's been flawless so far.

Having dealt with the design short-comings of the 9.8, I looked more closely at the maintenance procedures of the one-up. They seem to be easier to work on and parts are easier to get, so kudos to them.

Reply

jonas-dodd
+1 Velocipedestrian
Jonas Dodd  - Sept. 14, 2020, 12:24 p.m.

Re. Syncros colours:

They made a run of white stems, posts and forks for an aluminum Rocky Mountain model called the Nimbus, I believe around '91 or '92. It was supposed to be a super lightweight xc race bike.

I saw one at the '92 Vedder Mountain Classic and lusted after them almost as much as I did for a RM Thunderbolt, Brodie Sovereign or Off-road Toad. In those days I had a RM Avalanche with a (black) Syncros fork, chainstay U-brake and acerbis rear fender. I loved it but due to living in Vancouver it of course was eventually stolen, as were the Brodie Romax with second gen Manitou fork and black and white splatter paint and RM Blizzard with Halson inversion elastomer fork and Suntour mircodrive that I subsequently briefly owned.

In '95 I lucked into buying a green DeKerf with matching Rock Shox Judy, Syncros stem and "pro" post (425mm), Selle Italia ti Flight saddle (of course), green ano Race Face bars and cranks and Magura John Tomac edition rim brakes (neon yellow). Also my favourite tires of the day: Matsuboshi "super-heat", front and rear. Wheels were Mavic SUP with rasta Ringle hubs and skewers and alu rasta nipples that eventually started shearing off. Topping it all off was a black Roach top-tube pad that I thought was bad-ass. That bike somehow never got stolen and despite how much I loved it I sold it around '99 and quit mountain biking (no idea what I was thinking). Thankfully I regained my senses in 2005 and have been back and deeply in love with our sport ever since. 

But I digress...

Reply

davetolnai
+1 Jonas Dodd
Dave Tolnai  - Sept. 14, 2020, 4:14 p.m.

Oh man...Superheats!  Do you happen to have a pair still?  Was it Matsuboshi?  I remember it being some company I had never heard of (and never heard of again) but can't quite remember what it was.  I tried to do a search but nothing comes up.

Reply

xy9ine
+2 Andy Eunson Jonas Dodd
Perry Schebel  - Sept. 14, 2020, 4:28 p.m.

google-fu: 

https://static.mercdn.net/item/detail/orig/photos/m73657943712_3.jpg?1568622301

Reply

velocipedestrian
+1 cxfahrer
Velocipedestrian  - Sept. 14, 2020, 9:23 p.m.

26x1.95.

Fat tyres. There are things I don't miss about the old days.

Reply

jonas-dodd
0
Jonas Dodd  - Sept. 15, 2020, 1:09 p.m.

Oh wow, thanks for digging those up despite my misspelling of their name!

I found this image as well:

I remember thinking the front and rear specific treads were what made these tires so good, but looking at them now I think the name "superheat" and even more importantly the rasta-themed label was what really sold it for me at age 20. The rasta colour scheme for me and my riding buddies was a very important symbol of what we thought was cool: biking, reggae, weed. Even though I didn't think of it that way back then, or even smoke!

Thinking back to actually riding with these tires (or any others of the the day: panaracer smoke / dart, onza porcupines, ritchey z-max), what I clearly remember was how easily they slid on even bone-dry woodwork or rock. My strategy for successfully clearing a feature was to find the right speed and trajectory in order to avoid having to pedal or brake or steer once on it. Make any correction and I would invariably slide off whatever skinny thing I was trying to ride. I'm amazed I was never seriously injured.

In those days I mainly rode in spandex shorts and jerseys too. Didn't have any armor until my return to riding in 2005.

It blows me away how good tires have gotten since then. Not to be cliche, but everything about mountain biking now is light years ahead of what it was like in the 90s. Despite being in my 40s I have way more fun now on much more difficult trails than I did back in the day.

Reply

andy-eunson
+1 Jonas Dodd
Andy Eunson  - Sept. 15, 2020, 5:38 p.m.

Advised by Paul. I found that very strange way to phrase that. Paul Chetwynd is the Paul. He had moved to Japan a long time ago. I think he raced over there and I guess had a sponsorship with Mitsuboshi. Pretty sure I had a pair in all black.

I just bought a new Oneup post today. Waiting for parts for my Bontrager post so I needed something. Price is right and their website lists all spare parts in stock which is what one looks for. Home shop rebuildable is also a big plus.

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