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REVIEW

9Point8 Fall Line R Dropper Post

Words Mike Ferrentino
Photos Mike Ferrentino
Date Jun 22, 2022
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Dropper seatposts are arguably one of the most significant innovations to hit mountain biking in the past two decades. There are very few people who still try to argue that they do not dramatically improve your bike’s manageability in the steep and deep, to say nothing of enhanced bike handling across the whole spectrum of the not so steep and not so deep. Those people who do try to argue against them – claiming that they are not necessary, or are too heavy, or are too problematic – well, they are wrong. However, it cannot be ignored that dropper posts do add weight, along with a measure of complexity, to one’s ride.

A decade ago, the failure rate of dropper posts was pretty grim. Almost everyone was trying to spool up their own idea of “the right thing” and the dropper post buying beta-test public was awash in slopped out heads, seat tubes full of hydraulic oil, and countless variations of the stuck-somewhere-between-up-and-down theme. Things are, thankfully, a lot better now. That mostly across-the-board reliability, though, comes at the expense of diversity. A huge number of the posts on the market these days use some variation of the Wintek dropper post cartridge as central to their design, and many brands outsource the entire manufacture of their posts to one of a few factories that specialize in this.

Then there’s 9Point8. Located in Ancaster, Ontario, 9Point8 boasts Canadian designed componentry, and approaches dropper post design from a somewhat different perspective than most everyone else. Light weight, light action and low internal air pressure all sounded pretty interesting to me, so, when my old twice-rebuilt Reverb burped an internal seal and stuck itself down again, I jumped on the chance to mount up a 9Point8 Fall Line R.

9POINT8 falline R dropper 1

Out Of The Box

First off, the Fall Line R is not for everyone. Available in either 30.9mm or 31.6mm diameters, and four predetermined lengths (275x75mm, 315x100mm, 375x125mm and 435x150mm), it is not likely to appeal to the “I need 200mm or more travel, and not a millimeter less” crowd. I’m stumpy, though, and until pretty recently I thought even 150mm travel was overkill. So, 150mm seems just right for me. ESPECIALLY WHEN THE SEATPOST WEIGHS 128 GRAMS LESS THAN THE REVERB IT IS REPLACING! If you want longer drop travel, the standard “non-R” Fall Line is available in 175-200mm travel lengths, but weighs 125 to 170 grams more, which puts it kind of in line with everyone else.

It does bear mentioning that the Fall Line R also costs $424US, and that if you don’t already have a cable actuated remote, you’ll need to pony up for one of those, too. The Digit 2.0 lever is a very nicely made piece of kit, but it’ll tack another $60 onto the price. So those 128 grams were not shed for free. But still, that’s a quarter pound of weight up high on the bike, and now it’s gone. Sweet. If you want the longer travel “non-R” Fall Line, the price tag drops by $80US. * (There's some clarification from 9Point8 on country of origin and pricing at the end of this piece)

9Point8 also offers a choice of heads for the post, allowing for inline saddle mounting, or offset 25mm to the rear, or offset forward 25mm. People seeking to modernize their effective seat angle (at the expense of reach - oops, make that at the expense of effective TT length) can run a Forehead mount and scoot an inch forward. Similarly, riders who think that 78 degree seat angles are the work of the devil, can get their hips and knees back into a more natural orbit by running a rear offset clamp.

The clamp mount itself is very nicely machined and well thought out; a standard two-bolt tilt adjustment holds the head in place, while the saddle rails are clamped from the sides by individual pinchers, meaning you can slide your saddle back and forth, or even replace it, without having to mess with your tilt. This also makes removing saddles very, very easy. The cartridge’s Schrader valve is located at the top of the post, and this ease of saddle removal helps access that. Lots of nice etched height marks, bolt-torque specs, and reminders not to cut the post down for length, round out what is a very cleanly presented seatpost.

9POINT8 falline R dropper 5

Inline? 25mm layback? 25mm forward? You decide...

Installation

If you do some searching around on the googles, there is some grumbling about how the Fall Line is kind of a pain in the ass to install. I’m not going to spend too much time arguing that point, since I think ALL stealth routed droppers are kind of a pain in the ass to install. But, to be fair, the 9Point8 is different enough in its cable routing and release mechanism that it can be a bit of a head scratcher.

9Point8, to their credit, provide very thorough installation instructions with the post (along with a sweet little torque wrench for the seat collar), as well as a pile of videos on their website that tackle everything from mounting to service to rebuilding. For my part, it took two tries for me to get the cable clamped correctly in the little actuator assembly in order for the assembly to thread into the bottom of the post and actually do the job of making it clamp and release. Now, having done it a couple times, it seems super sensible and well thought out (to my way of thinking, anyway), and it doesn’t try to kink the cable housing or dislodge the cable head when trying to wiggle the post into the frame while also trying to massage the cable through whatever little hole it needs massaging through. Once set, it’s super easy to remove and reattach the assembly from the post, making removal and service relatively painless.

One of the reasons I was compelled to try out this post (aside from it being really light) was air pressure. Or, in this case, the lack thereof. 9Point8 recommends running between 20-40psi in their Fall Line posts. I believe, perhaps erroneously, that lower air pressure will always outlast higher air pressure in terms of seal life and overall product longevity. I’m not an engineer, so I don’t really know jack about this. Anyway, I pumped 30psi into this post upon assembly and it’s working fine now and I can’t really say much about longevity until maybe this time next year, right?

Yeah, But Does It Work?

Yep.

One of the things about low air pressure (again, just my opinion here) is that it can lend itself to a lighter overall actuation. Meaning, less butt pressure required to drop the thing when the lever is pushed. At 30psi, actuation is very light, borderline effortless and buttery smooth. I can discern a teeny bit of ramp near full compression, but only if I’m sitting in the garage trying to determine exact breakaway points and engaging in some pretty heavy self-faff. On the trail, it just sinks out of the way without any thought. Rebound is similarly smooth, and snappy enough to clunk on topout. I weigh about 185 pounds ready to ride at the moment, and would rate the 30psi behavior of this post as lighter and smoother by far than a Fox Transfer (since they are notoriously “high effort”), and slightly lower-effort than the Reverb it’s replacing. I have a hunch very light riders would be stoked on this post at 20psi.

The post was installed on the trusty Falconer hardtail in April, and promptly ignored, since I was heading into back to back bike tests. The yellow bike and I have been sneaking out and playing around again lately, though, and everything is working just fine. But it is very early days to say anything about down the line performance. From a design, execution and support perspective, I am impressed with everything to this point. So far, I dig it. Let’s see how it goes.

*** Post post editorial editification here...

I was in a time crunch yesterday to get this posted, and had a few questions that I'd emailed to Darren Manning over at 9Point8, but, as usual, I had sent them in at the very last minute and he didn't have a chance to respond before I caved to the deadline pressure. So, here is his clarification of my clarification, straight from the 9Point8 pulpit:

"The individual components of our post are manufactured or “Made in” Taiwan. Those components are then sent to our shop in Ancaster Ontario. When an order is placed, (since we offer custom stroke length and head offset options) the post is assembled to order, put through a series of tests for leaks and holding strength (tested to hold 700lbs) and once it has passed they are shipped to the customer. Laser etching is also done inhouse for the Fall Line series.

The original Digit was a rebranded Wolftooth lever. We worked with them to come up with their “Light Action” version then they produced some for us with our logos. The current Digit2.0 is our own product which is also manufactured in Taiwan. 

As far as what type of cartridge do we use? We don’t. Our entire post is the air chamber, almost like the air side of a fork. And you are correct, that does put less stress on the seals."

In the interest of clarity and honesty, Darren took pains to point out that the actual manufacture took place in Taiwan, and final assembly and pre-ship testing was done in-house in Canada. My apologies for misrepresenting things there. Darren also mentioned that an equal length, 150mm travel Fall Line post, as opposed to a Fall Line R, would be $100 less expensive.

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Comments

Carmel
Carmel
6 days, 10 hours ago
+9 cxfahrer Kyle Smith Timer Mike Ferrentino Andeh Pete Roggeman Velocipedestrian Lu Kz Andy Eunson

"People seeking to modernize their effective seat angle (at the expense of reach)"

I would argue that reach is unaffected but that the effective top tube length is reduced. I reckon you meant that though.

Reply

mikeferrentino
Mike Ferrentino
6 days, 6 hours ago
+3 Pete Roggeman Lu Kz Andy Eunson

Shit. Right. My brain was having trouble yesterday. I spend probably too much time thinking about ETT length vs reach and why reach is suddenly so much more important for people to think about than ETT and all I can say is that mentally I eddied out a bit while writing this. Thanks for the catch!

Reply

Vikb
Vik Banerjee
6 days, 12 hours ago
+8 Peter Tjaard Breeuwer Andrew Major pedalhound Mike Ferrentino Andy Eunson Niels van Kampenhout Pete Roggeman

I've got ~7 years combined use between my two 9point8 droppers [not the lighter R version]. No issues. They just keep working. I do love the 1" setback head for the STA slackening ability. 9point8 seems to be the only quality option with a 1" setback.

I like the fact 9point8 will sell all the rebuild parts and that I could tear one down and put it back together if I had an issue. That said having replaced a cartridge in an another dropper recently I think that approach is much simpler/easier. Especially if I had to do it at night in a campground post-ride on a road trip so I could ride the next day.

We've got PNW, One Up, Bike Yoke droppers in the garage right now as well as having used Reverbs, KS & Crank Bros droppers. In use the 9point8 products work as well as anything else out there and it's pretty rare to get to buy Canadian made stuff in the MTB world so that's a nice bonus.

Reply

LWK
LWK
6 days, 4 hours ago
0

Glad you've had good experience but I'll offer additional anecdotal evidence in the other direction. 

I was late to the dropper game due to the never ending reliability horror stories with the early ones.  I bought a 9point8 as the original reviews were great, including reliability.  My first one basically met those expectations.  I then bought a second one for my other bike.  Nothing but trouble.  Would not hold air, no warranty response, etc.  Agree the seat clamping mech is genius but that was only because I had to take the seat off every 2nd ride to add air to the stupid thing!  One of their marketing claims was they work well in the winter - mine didnt...  According to my LBS, my experience mirrored their larger sample size.  If you got one that worked it was great.  But it was 50-50 odds if that happened and manufacturer/warranty support was poor.  They were close to $500 each and not sure I've ever been so disappointed in a MTB equipment purchase. 

This was several years ago and maybe (hopefully) the newer ones are better.

Reply

kcy4130
kcy4130
6 days, 9 hours ago
+3 Mike Ferrentino justfrogurt Pete Roggeman

I can't stop giggling at the "DO NOT CUT" printed on the post. I know ignorance is infinite and liability etc, but really?..... I mean, really?

Reply

jt
JT
6 days, 5 hours ago
+4 justfrogurt kcy4130 NealWood Pete Roggeman

The fact they did indicates someone once did. Never underestimate the ability of people to amaze you.

Reply

kcy4130
kcy4130
6 days, 4 hours ago
+3 ohio Pete Roggeman Velocipedestrian

I just keep imagining a quintessential 90s mountain biker explaining to a new rider that you only need 3 or 4 inches of post inside the frame, anymore than that and you're just lugging around unnecessary weight while he takes a hack saw to his new dropper.

Reply

mthomaslee
Matt Lee
4 days ago
+1 kcy4130

I worked at an outdoor store with a big green square logo. Someone once tried to return a canister stove and container of isobutane that they had detonated after putting a heat shield around the entire apparatus. The depths of human stupidity are boundless.

Reply

justfrogurt
justfrogurt
6 days, 5 hours ago
+3 kcy4130 Timer Pete Roggeman

Right up there with packages of peanuts that say "contains nuts"...

Reply

taprider
taprider
4 days, 7 hours ago
+1 kcy4130

@""DO NOT CUT""

there was an earlier version of the regular 9Point8 that could be trimmed on the bottom to fit shorter tubes (or save up to 30 gm)

Reply

taprider
taprider
4 days, 7 hours ago
0

This comment has been removed.

chris
Chris
6 days, 7 hours ago
+3 Andy Eunson Mike Ferrentino Pete Roggeman

I was first in line for the 200mm FallLine when it was released 6,7? years ago?  Fantastic post I ran for4-5 years but the X ring air seal wears far too fast and replacement is a bit of a PITA.  With everyday use I was having to replace it every few months.  I finally grew tired of that routine and went with a OneUp.  Cartridge failure is maybe 1x every 2 years, warranted, and way easier to replace.

Also are you sure OneUp is manufacturing the digit remote?  Maybe that's changed but it used to be WolfTooth.

Reply

andrewcashew
andrewcashew
6 days, 7 hours ago
+3 Andy Eunson Mike Ferrentino Pete Roggeman

Came here to echo the second statement. Pretty certain the 9Point8 lever is a Wolf Tooth made lever. 

Also, they're made in Ancaster, Ontario, not Oncaster. Ya got "O" happy over there. Hahaha.

Reply

mikeferrentino
Mike Ferrentino
6 days, 6 hours ago
+2 Pete Roggeman Sandy James Oates

No more drinking while posting for me, obviously...

Reply

pete@nsmb.com
Pete Roggeman
6 days, 1 hour ago
0

A few minor errors here and there is well worth the benefit of your brain on a beer buzz.

Reply

Joey_C
Joey_C
6 days, 6 hours ago
+1 Morgan Heater

I had a very similar experience - had to replace that air seal fairly often, which was a bummer, and I had to relube the post (super easy, just unscrew the colllar) much more often than with a Fox Transfer or OneUp. Those two things along with the finicky installation caused me to switch to a OneUp.

Reply

mikeferrentino
Mike Ferrentino
6 days, 6 hours ago
0

Shit, again! You are right. Change is noted in the draft...

Reply

Tjaardbreeuwer
Tjaard Breeuwer
6 days, 10 hours ago
+2 Mike Ferrentino Pete Roggeman

Hi Mike,

Just saw your chiseled physique come by sleeveless in Single track Magazine (the English one). Chips wrote an article about a box of old slide film he found and developed, and it was from a Maverick camp that he went to with you, in ‘01 or ‘02.

For any one else, looking for a good MTB magazine, check it out, one of the few remaining, and worth a subscription:

https://singletrackworld.com

Reply

pete@nsmb.com
Pete Roggeman
6 days, 1 hour ago
+2 mnihiser shenzhe

Post the photos!

Reply

mikeferrentino
Mike Ferrentino
6 days, 6 hours ago
0

Chiseled like a bowling ball, no doubt. Man, that trip was fun. I'm almost afraid to see the photos, could be incriminating...

Reply

NotEndurbro
Dustin Meyer
5 days, 5 hours ago
+1 Mike Ferrentino

Something that I learned when I owned this post was that if your shock pump has ingested any fork oil in the past, a small amount can be transferred to the seat post when airing it up, and it will eventually contaminate the friction surfaces inside the post on the mechanical brake it uses to lock in position. The result is that sitting down hard on the post can make it let out a squawk and drop an inch or two. I eventually passed along the post because of this. I weigh 140 pounds, so I don't think that was the issue.

Reply

mikeferrentino
Mike Ferrentino
4 days, 8 hours ago
0

Good to know. I noticed in the instructions that there was specific language about this: "Ensure that the pump is not contaminated with shock oil."

Reply

taprider
taprider
4 days, 6 hours ago
0

I haven't had any problem with my 9point8 or pump, but wondering how you clean a pump just in case?

open it up and fill it with alcohol then spray it out a into a paper towel or clean rag a few times until the spray looks clean? or any other better  technique?

Reply

morgan-heater
Morgan Heater
6 days, 4 hours ago
0

I've got a couple that need servicing at 170mm if anyone is looking for a 3 beer project. I also got tired of rebuilding them every 6 months. Although it is nice that they are user serviceable.

Reply

geraldooka
Michael
4 days, 5 hours ago
0

Have 3 of the original design in active use the first one an early model had the original gasket design that was prone to air leakage which they replaced at no cost, no questions with the redesigned one. Since then I haven't had any issues with any of them and they must be 6+ years old now... One key maintenance change I would recommend to anyone is to clean and lube the stanchion of the post only DO NOT remove the collar every time you do this its simply not necessary. Faster, simpler and may put less wear and tear on the gasket since I have not had a leaking post in years and they just keep working well. The posts are super smooth, simple and cheap to service when needed and reliable.

By contrast a OneUp post arrived with a crap ton of wobble in the head like old school dropper wobble... For another bike that required an external cable I picked up a PNW post and that thing is so clunky and loud in operation its almost embarrassing to use in public. The KS on my sons bike simply stops working if the seat post clamp is at a tightness level required to keep up an adult sized human (thankfully he's not yet). Finally $300 to service a Reverb?

Reply

ornery
ornery
3 days, 15 hours ago
0

Most disappointing piece of mtb kit I've ever bought, crown seals leaked very early and very often, no replacement parts available. sad because for the short time it worked it was nice to use.

Reply

RideEverything
RideEverything
1 day, 15 hours ago
0

I had two of these droppers.

They worked well until they didn't. Both had air holding issues and they were supposedly the generation after that issue was fixed. I did get them both warrantied. I sold them promptly after that.

The two other things that made me dump these posts was (1) I could never get the seal to sit properly in the collar when putting it back together after a lube. There was always a tiny bit of the seal squeezed out no matter how careful I was with screwing the collar back on.

And, (2) all of their bolts were soft as cheese. I rounded out almost all of the hex heads because of the amount of service these posts required. And, no, I am not a hamfisted home mechanic. I treat my tools well and have a couple decades worth of bike mechanics skill under my belt.

Reply

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