Crankbrothers Highline 7 Dropper Post
This review is ostensibly a look at the new 170mm travel Highline 7 dropper post. It's Teflon-smooth after months of North Shore conditions, tight to twisting forces, and shows no signs of use. I haven't even greased the seal head since my initial teardown. The bigger story however, is that this is simply meeting my current expectations for a Crankbrothers product.
It's another positive step in reconciling my awful, long past experiences with the Crankbrothers brand. Today I choose to ride Mallet DH pedals, I have one of their floor pumps in my basement, and I heartily recommend the Highline dropper lineup to all my friends.
The same basic guts or previous versions get jacked up to 170mm travel and join a new linear actuator that's meant to improve dropper activation speed by reducing friction and lag. This is a better solution than just upping the gas charge and thus reducing the reliability of the post's Wintek cartridge. Speaking of reliability, Crankbrothers has increased the warranty from 3-years to 4-years with the release of the 7.
The actuator and additional travel is invisible once the post is slammed so only the colour change on the seal head distinguishes it from the first Highline posts. It's very smooth in both directions, and while slower to rise than many other options, it's certainly fast enough.
Speaking of seal heads, given that it takes all of five minutes to strip down the Highline I'm surprised Crankbrothers isn't offering this assembly in a range of anodized colours. I preferred the previous pewter colour of the first Highlines over the looks-like-everything-else anodized black of the current generation, but why not offer a stack of aftermarket options?
The Best Stock Remote...
...is no stock remote. Unless if you're PNW and even then it's nice to have a choice. Crankbrothers still sells their remote, which is decent to use and beyond adaptable position-wise, but now it's a separate accessory. Thank You Crankbrothers.
The Highline 7 actually works better with the Crankbrothers remote than the first generation post did, thanks to the simpler actuator, but it still doesn't hold a candle to the cartridge bearing remotes that PNW and Wolf Tooth produce, both of which did a tour with this post.
I've been clamoring for a next-generation Crankbrothers remote for a while now. If they could combine the adjustability of their current unit with the cartridge bearing activation and improved leverage, they'd have the best remote on the market.
While I maintain that the X-Fusion Manic remains the best dropper post on the market by price, if you're thinking Wintek cartridge, the Highline 7 is the nicest overall package thanks to Igus bushings, Trelleborg seals, and a four-year warranty. It's smooth as... and based on my experience with the original Highline, which is still going strong on the original cartridge I started reviewing in 2016, it will go the longest between cartridge replacements.
I've tested a number of posts using the Wintek cartridge system and, while the cartridges themselves are not rebuildable, there's a strong argument to be made that between their longevity and limited oil volume that recycling a cartridge once every few years is about as low impact as a dropper post gets.
I've also ridden the 160mm version of the original Highline and the 170mm '7' is much quicker to rise. Folks that want an instant extension in the vein of the original Fox DOSS or a Reverb won't be satisfied but anyone who liked the first generation Highline but thought it could be a bit quicker in a longer travel format will be happy.
I highly recommend it as a very smooth install-and-forget dropper post. The Highline 7 is 300 USD without a remote and there's more information, including all the dimensions, at Crankbrothers.