Bontrager Line Dropper Post AndrewM
REVIEW

Bontrager Line 150mm Dropper Post Reviewed

Words Andrew Major
Photos Andrew Major
Date Nov 1, 2018

The new Line Dropper is a solid choice. The vast majority of rider who purchase this 150mm post will have it come stock on a new Trek Bike. If that is the case I have great news for you. The only reason to spend money swapping it out of the box is to get something with more than 150mm travel. The shifter-style remote is totally serviceable and if that's the worst thing I can say about the post that bodes well.  

Line Post

I like the subtle black-on-black graphic and regular-seatpost aesthetic of the Line dropper. 

Bontrager Line Dropper Post AndrewM

Another simple to service Wintek cartridge setup. Side-to-side saddle play is essentially non-existent. 

Bontrager Line Dropper Post AndrewM

Cable changes are as quick and simple as any post on the market. The base is plastic and I've experienced zero wear or issues. 

Considering how the Line stacks up against other dropper posts, and in particular those in the 250 USD price range, is a bit more complicated. 

 This post has two features that are well tailored to Trek bikes, or to any bike with a relatively slack seat tube angle (STA) or if you need to move forward to get the right fit; travel adjustability and forward offset seat clamps.

If you hate side-to-side saddle slop you will be thoroughly impressed by the Line post. Going back to my much-loved e13 TRS+ post it took me ten minutes to rewire my brain to ignore saddle play. I've ridden posts that are comparably free of slop, but I haven't tried anything that's better than the Line. 

Bontrager Line Dropper Post AndrewM

A zero-to-full extension is quick-enough. Faster than the Crankbrothers Highline 160mm and notably slower than my e13 TRS+ 170mm. 

Bontrager Line Dropper Post AndrewM

Compression feels a bit rough by hand in the shop but out on the trail the Line feels as smooth, up and down, as any post I've used. 

I've used some great posts using a Wintek cartridge, like the more expensive Crankbrothers Highline and the less expensive X-Fusion Manicand the comparative experience is interesting. 

The Highline is much smoother in the shop, equally easy to service, has a better-sealed actuator, a really solid three-year warranty, an arguably more ergonomic remote, better seat-clamp design, and longer travel option (170mm) but it has a slower return speed and adds a 100 USD premium over the Line. 

I had such a great experience with the Highline 125mm I tested that I purchased a 160mm version the next year but I have to admit that the adequate return speed at 125mm is a bit slow for my liking in the longer travel format. 

The Manic has a more finicky and time-consuming initial setup, due to the cable orientation, but otherwise for most riders it gives up nothing to the Line at a savings of 50 USD. 

Forward Offset

One place the Bontrager Line subtly sets itself ahead (ahem!) is the forward offset of the seat clamps. This is great for riders trying to get a more fashionably-forward position over their bottom brackets on bikes with slacker-than-bleeding-edge seat tube angles (STA) like all of Trek's models. 

It makes me think of how many posts, even those with zero-offset at the head, have a rearward saddle bias. Most riders I see on the trail, even on bikes with steep STAs, are running their saddles forward of neutral in the clamps and Bontrager is the only company I see taking that into consideration with their post design. 

Bontrager Line Dropper Post AndrewM

Rail support is forward of the neutral, the way most riders appear to be running their saddles. Look for more companies to adopt this configuration.   

Bontrager Line Dropper Post AndrewM

The difference is subtle, but most posts with zero-offset have increased rail support to the rear of neutral. 

I'm not trying to be uncharitable, since to my knowledge Bontrager is the only company offering a forward-offset saddle position, but what's better than a good thing? More of a good thing. 

I'd like to see Bontrager bias the clamps all the way; as far forward-of-neutral as possible. I do understand the local biases towards steeper seat tube angles and longer reach numbers aren't universal but most folks I know on Trek bikes size up and ram their saddle forward. There are also tonnes of bikes out in the world with really slack effective seat angles and Bontrager could be the go-to dropper post for all those riders.

The Line's ability to be travel-adjusted, using simple spacers under the main seal, could prove great for sizing-up as well since it's possible to lower the travel a centimeter if that's what it takes to achieve a proper fit. It's a feature that is probably meaningless for most riders (who doesn't want all the drop they can get) but I suspect for those for whom it matters,  it really matters. 

What It Needs

Clamp talk aside, there are three things I think the Bontrager Line needs to be a threat on the aftermarket dropper post scene. 

First, Trek needs to drop the street price of the post by 50 USD to go tête-à-tête with the X-Fusion Manic. I'll put in the caveat that the price difference is easily negated if your preferred local shop is great at supporting customers and is a Trek dealer because they have the opportunity to provide unrivaled same-day support for these posts if there ever is an issue 

Another way that Trek could earn my 1/2 c-note is by putting a cartridge bearing in the remote a la Wolftooth or e13. It makes activation much smoother, especially when cable and housing has reached its half-life. 

Bontrager Line Dropper Post AndrewM

The saddle clamps are porky. Bontrager could cheaply and easily ditch grams here. 

If I was a betting man - and I'm absolutely just spitballing here - I'd guess for next year Bontrager will have a 175mm+ drop version of this post and they will also have an XC and Gravel 'super light' (SL) model. And I'll also bet that the Line SL post is going to have a carbon outer tube but most weight savings will come from much lighter clamps, which will hopefully be compatible with this Line post and available as a cheap upgrade. What I'm trying to say is the clamps on the Line are porky and would be a cheap place for Bontrager to ditch some weight without any performance loss. 

Bontrager Line Dropper Post AndrewM

Please change the angle of these bolts so folks don't scratch the shaft with their tool. 

Finally, Bontrager* could re-examine the bolt orientation on the Line saddle clamps. The exit angle of the Line post means I have to be very wary of tool-shaft contact with my preferred multi-tool. This is less of an issue now that I have swapped the stock bolts for T25 Torx heads, which lets me cheat on the tool angle after I initially loosen the bolts.  

Bontrager could have a look at how e13 handles bolt-orientation on their TRS+ posts. On the TRS I can easily tighten and loosen the seat clamps bolts with any tool I have. 

*And many other brands

Bontrager?

Before this year, the last time I was interested in a Bontrager product it was a steel hardtail frame on the wall at a shop called 'Mountain And Beach' and I wasn't old enough to qualify for a driver's license. Turn the page and I've had great experiences with a couple of their new tires, for example, the SE2, the best-value-in-the-world Line Comp wheelset, the 100 USD Ion Pro light, and yes the Line dropper post. 

Bontrager Line Dropper Post AndrewM

The 300 USD, 108pt (3.3°) engagement, Bontrager Line Comp wheelset is, in a word, excellent.

Bontrager Line Dropper Post AndrewM

If Bontrager could sell the Line dropper post aftermarket for 200 USD then it would go from a good product to an exceptional value. 

Most riders who end up on this dropper will get one as original equipment with their new Trek bike and they'll get a very functional, well supported, travel adjustable 150mm dropper post that's proven to be very reliable. 

For aftermarket I think Trek needs to use their massive purchasing power to bring the price down a few dollars but otherwise, the Line dropper is an excellent product. 

Trek has more information on the 250 USD Line and I also did a teardown previously. 

Comments

agleck7
0
Agleck7  - Nov. 1, 2018, 4:41 a.m.

Any comparison to the One Up?

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AndrewMajor
0
Andrew Major  - Nov. 1, 2018, 7:11 a.m.

Hi Agleck7, I can talk about a lot of dropper posts but I have not so much as seen a OneUp post to date so I can’t even give you a basic comparison of the trigger.

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agleck7
0
Agleck7  - Nov. 1, 2018, 11:54 a.m.

Gotcha. That really surprises me, I figure BC would be OneUp everywhere

Reply

burnbern
+2 Andrew Major jaydubmah
Bern  - Nov. 1, 2018, 11:30 a.m.

I've spent years and years on Reverbs (and rebuilding them, sigh) and have tested most of the other popular droppers on demo/friend's bikes, but just recently switched to the OneUp 170mm. I am in love with it. We will see if I am still in love with it after a long season of wet/muddy winter riding.

On my first few rides I found the lever required more action/travel to engage the dropper than the Reverb remote, but my brain quickly got used to it and now it's one of my favorite levers, very smooth. The post itself travels smoothly and I really like the speed at which it travels up. The post also doesn't seem to care where your weight is on the seat and doesn't get "hung up" when you are trying to go down like some of the KS posts and my Reverb as it approached rebuild time.

The best part, it only cost $85 more than my last rebuild (including shipping) on my Reverb.

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AndrewMajor
0
Andrew Major  - Nov. 1, 2018, 1:33 p.m.

Reverb service/kits seems expensive until you do one (and see what’s in the kit) and then it just seems overcomplicated. Kudos for having the first legit ~ reliable post but it’s hard to argue with the value of a Wintek cartridge post.

I know it’s too early to comment on the post itself, but how do you find the plastic remote?

Reply

burnbern
+1 Andrew Major
Bern  - Nov. 1, 2018, 2:50 p.m.

I like it. It's small, understated and works.  Texture works well with gloves, though I prefer a more dimpled feel (like on an XT shifter) than the sharp lines without gloves. So far so good with mud baths...

Reply

IslandLife
+1 Andrew Major
IslandLife  - Nov. 1, 2018, 9:36 a.m.

Nice review, and timely... I bought a second-hand but unused 125mm Bontrager Line that came straight off a new Trek (they needed a 150mm) for a bike I'm building up for my wife.  In testing it out a bit, I was pleasantly surprised by how well this post works and the build feels rock solid.  Good to see and hear that it should stand up.

But then again, I seem to be continually surprised by all the budget droppers (Brand X,  Trans X, X Fusion), while at the same time continually let down by some of the much more expensive and complicated droppers from some big brands.  It just reaffirms to me that there seems to be no good reason to spend more than a couple hundred on a dropper, then drop a little extra to get a good lever like a Wolftooth.

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AndrewMajor
+1 IslandLife
Andrew Major  - Nov. 1, 2018, 9:49 a.m.

Thank you!

Along with price and reliability, a lot (but not all) of those less expensive posts are easier to service (read cheaper if a shop does it | don’t need special tools to do it at home) as well.

It’s crazy to me how many dropper posts are approaching the price of a basic, but off-road enjoyable, suspension fork when you think of the different responsibilities of the two products.

Re. Wolftooth ReMote - yes, it’s a bit like putting an XTR shifter on an SLX drivetrain. Pretty amazing difference at a fraction of the price of an XTR drivetrain.

Reply

mammal
+1 Andrew Major
Mammal  - Nov. 1, 2018, 10:40 a.m.

Glad you mentioned the forward saddle position, and I'm surprised that more companies don't design their clamps with that in mind.

A little off topic, but I don't get to ask around about this much...  With the Manic, have you heard anyone complain about not being able to achieve a level saddle, on bikes with an older-school slack seat tube angle?  I have the 150 on my '13-'16 Trance, and with it's normal saddle angle range, I can't quite get the saddle flat (nose slightly too high). It's only a bit of additional adjustment needed, but the only way I've found to achieve this is to add some flexible plastic spacing between the seat rails and upper clamp to effectively space the clamp surfaces further apart which allows a bit more angle adjustment... Seems pretty hokey, but it works.  Any idea if I'm the only one with this issue, or if there's a better (less hokey) solution?

Sorry to derail a thread about a seemingly well thought out Bontrager post.

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AndrewMajor
0
Andrew Major  - Nov. 1, 2018, 10:51 a.m.

No worries. It’s not something I’ve experienced and I’ve ridden the Manic on an overforked Stache and an overforked Honzo which are both pretty slack STA. Either way, if that’s what you’re experiencing it’s what you’re experiencing.

Just went and grabbed the Manic and without a saddle mounted the obvious point of restriction at the front is the top clamp hitting the post. The clamp is thick (and relatively cheap to replace) so I’d be tempted to remove a bit of material where it contacts if I needed to drop my nose a bit more.

Hope that helps!

I’ll be surprised if many other companies don’t follow Bontrager’s lead with saddle position.

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mammal
0
Mammal  - Nov. 1, 2018, 11:48 a.m.

Thanks for the reply Andrew. The bike has a slack-ish seat tube, more travel than intended (155mm with a "normal" stroke shock, so likely just a pinch more sag) and is over forked with a 160 Mattoc. And yeah, saddle position slammed up front.

I had considered removing material, but comparing the thickness of plastic spacing used, to the clamp thickness, I was hesitant to do that much dremeling... If the plastic solution starts to creak due to lack of clamp force, I'll reconsider.

Cheers!

Reply

AndrewMajor
+1 Mammal
Andrew Major  - Nov. 1, 2018, 1:35 p.m.

Cheers! I have a veritable bucket of old seat clamps accumulated over the years so when I have a minute I’ll see if there’s a compatible option with a few more degrees of nose-down tilt adjustment.

Reply

mammal
+1 Andrew Major
Mammal  - Nov. 1, 2018, 4:35 p.m.

Thanks, and that's actually a really good idea. 

The only spare I have is a really old laid back Thomson post, and it's actually got chunkier upper clamp plate. They've smartly compensated (of course they did) by cutting away the profile of the post, on both the front and back, where the Manic interferes.

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AndrewMajor
0
Andrew Major  - Nov. 1, 2018, 9:28 p.m.

I should have asked how far fast the +15° you're sitting, but in any case here's where I'm hitting with an e13 upper clamp (at least a couple ° nose down past stock). Stock lower clamp and stock hardware. 

The interface of the receivers and the top clamp isn't perfect but it would take 15-seconds with a file to get it there. Everything is snugged down (rideable) in this photo. 

velocipedestrian
0
Velocipedestrian  - Nov. 2, 2018, 3:16 p.m.

I like this idea too, I have a Giant Contact dropper (min-maxing on my Spitfire) which I recently turned the lower clamp back to front.

It gave me ~5mm of extra forward adjustment, but it's still bottomed out on forward tilt. Post/upper clamp is the limiting factor, but I'm nervous about getting the dremel onto it. I tried a few saddles, and some are too nose high still - especially WTB. Bel-Air 2 is working for now.

Reply

doug-hamilton
-1 Andrew Major
Doug Hamilton  - Nov. 11, 2018, 4:39 p.m.

Hi Andrew, I hate to burst your bubble on the Bontrager seat clamp, but it's a stock clamp for that post that's used by other players, but with different branding of course. All my sub $4k CUBE bikes in my shop have the same post, but with CUBE or RFR written on them, SDG uses the same post with SDG on it. Syncros too. Its been around for 3 model years in CUBE bikes already. It's a Tranz X as far as I can work out. The only difference between the Bontrager and the CUBE one is the price. You pay an extra $50 for the Bontrager logo. Nothing new at all.

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AndrewMajor
0
Andrew Major  - Nov. 11, 2018, 5:51 p.m.

Couple thoughts:

1) If you read the review you’ll note that nowhere do I claim that this product is an exclusive design.

It’s a good dropper post, a significant improvement over Bontrager’s previous Drop Line model, which means a notable improvement in the value of their bikes on the floor.

Cube isn’t a relative brand in North America so I don’t have first hand experiences with them (we all have the internet) but I will say that in my experience Trek goes a long way to support their products so I would personally pay a small premium up front for that support longterm if buying aftermarket.

2) Why do people say “I hate to burst your bubble” when clearly they’re giddy as f**k for their big reveal?

I haven’t opened a Cube branded post but I’ve certainly opened at least one other post they brand. If one of their options is the same as the Line that’s great - it’s a great post and that means this review is relative to even more riders.

Thanks for reading/sharing.

Reply

doug-hamilton
0
Doug Hamilton  - Nov. 11, 2018, 8:02 p.m.

I wouldn't say I'm as giddy as, for bring to your and other readers attention that this post is seen with other branding and in other brand bikes. It's more of calling Bontrager/Trek's bluff for trying to make customers believe they have been doing some good R&D on making a new post, when in fact they haven't. They've just bought an already well established post in the market and put their branding on it, which I believe is a bit miss leading. Yes I know the bike market is full of it, but consumers have the right to know that the extra coin they slap down for a new Bontrager branded post pays for the marketing guy's salary and no real work from Bontrager.

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AndrewMajor
0
Andrew Major  - Nov. 11, 2018, 6:17 p.m.

As to the clamps specifically, I’ve purchased branded product before. For Bontrager, or any company, buying the numbers of posts they’re acquiring it would be nothing to get different clamps made or to have additional machining done to the stock ones:

Reply

doug-hamilton
0
Doug Hamilton  - Nov. 11, 2018, 8:04 p.m.

The clamps are exactly the same as the stock ones. They just put an arrow and 'Front' on  them for those that can't work out you can switch them around.

Reply

wishiwereriding
+1 Andrew Major
John Keiffer  - Nov. 1, 2018, 1:19 p.m.

Hi Andrew, Sorry to be off topic, but is that a Koda saddle? If so, what width and how do you like it? I have been considering the wider 150mm version...

Reply

AndrewMajor
0
Andrew Major  - Nov. 1, 2018, 1:40 p.m.

Hi John, no stress at all - it is a Koda and I’ll be submitting a review soonish.

Compared to the Deva it has a different shape but actually feels similar except for the addition of more generous padding. I don’t ride with a chamois so I appreciate the additional, still supportive, degree of give.

Durability is as I’d expect from WTB. The thing still looks new. Actually so does the Deva I’ll be comparing it to and that saddle has a couple hundred hours of riding on it in all conditions.

Fire me a PM if you need any measurement etc. Happy to stick a tape on it for you. I’m running the narrower option. 

The Deva is my all time favourite saddle and this is a close second.

Reply

wishiwereriding
0
John Keiffer  - Nov. 1, 2018, 2:13 p.m.

Can you just let me know if you are using the same width (142) as the Deva, or whether you went to the wider 150?

Reply

AndrewMajor
0
Andrew Major  - Nov. 1, 2018, 2:21 p.m.

I’m running the narrower option (142). That’s my happy spot with most saddles.

Reply

wishiwereriding
+1 Andrew Major
John Keiffer  - Nov. 1, 2018, 2:40 p.m.

I'll look forward to your review. It should be great as usual, and comparing the same sizes will make the comparison a lot easier. Thanks Andrew!

Reply

jonas-dodd
+1 Andrew Major
Jonas Dodd  - Nov. 1, 2018, 4:25 p.m.

No photo of the lever?

Reply

AndrewMajor
+1 Jonas Dodd
Andrew Major  - Nov. 1, 2018, 7:29 p.m.

Hi Jonas,

My first photos didn't turn out and, in an oversight, I never bothered to grab more. After the initial test period I moved the post to my Walt and ran it with the Wolftooth ReMote I always have on that bike (it interfaces directly with Magura or Formula Cura brakes). 

Here's a stock photo from the media package and I'll grab one of my own when I have a chance. It's frankly both totally okay and completely unremarkable. Ergonomics are good. 

Cheers!

AM

Reply

jonas-dodd
0
Jonas Dodd  - Nov. 3, 2018, 12:14 p.m.

Thanks Andrew, I appreciate the update. I agree that it looks to be in keeping with the post's low price.

I also like the wolftooth lever and have the 'digit' version for my 9.8 175mm dropper (which has been 100% reliable and a pleasure to use for the 10 months that I've had it).

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