Crankbrothers Highline Dropper : Teardown

Words Andrew Major
Photos Andrew Major
Date Feb 12, 2017

Windup

I’m well past the 150hr/yearly service interval and the Crankbrothers Highline dropper post was starting to sound a bit crunchy. The seal head unthreads easily by hand and I’ve greased it a few times but it was time to tear it down for a full cleaning.

How easy is it to service the Highline dropper? A full teardown for cleaning takes less than five minutes. It almost (almost) isn’t worth opening a beer. All that’s needed is a wrench and a 2.5mm hex key. It’s such a simple service that when some of my photos didn’t turn out the first time I took it apart again at home.

Crankbrothers Highline Dropper Post

With well over 150hrs of riding on the Highline it was definitely time to strip it down for a clean & lube. The cartridge still functions perfectly. The keyways are still tight.

Crankbrothers Highline Dropper

There is no easier post to remove and re-install. Feed housing through the frame until the post is out far enough to grab the actuator. The lockring un-threads by hand. The actuator unplugs.

The cartridge in my Highline still functions perfectly. It goes up. It goes down. There is no dead spot. The big surprise is that the keyways have only slightly degraded. There is a minute amount of side-to-side saddle play that wasn’t present when my post was new. It’s less movement than some posts have fresh out of the box.

I’ve never had a comparable dropper post experience in terms of performance or reliability.

That Remote

I mentioned it in the First Look, Follow Up, and my Best of 2016 list. I really wish the remote lever was a touch longer. I did recently have a re-think of my remote position after watching this video of Cedric Gracia’s bike setup and I much prefer the more vertical position that he uses.

Crankbrothers Highline Dropper

Early in the test I found a remote position I liked and stuck with it. Recently I’ve adopted a more vertical lever position after watching Cedric‘s bike setup. I much prefer it.

I suppose that is the challenge with having such a range of adjustment for remote position. It’s easy to find a good position but without playing with different options who’s to say what’s the best position?

The Full Cleaning

It’s ridiculously easy to do a full service of the Crankbrother’s Highline. For the record, I did not replace the keyways. They are a wear item and something that I will need to replace down the road as more play develops. Also, the cartridge is not a serviceable unit – a choice made to lower costs and increase robustness.

The only tools required are a wrench and a 2.5mm hex key. A light grease like Slickoleum will make everything slide great again.

Crankbrothers Highline Dropper

Round one. I clamped the post in a bike stand and used a wrench to unthread the cartridge from the body.

The first time I clamped the post in a bike stand at Bikeroom and used a wrench to unthread the cartridge from the body. At home, when I needed more photos, I clamped the saddle between my legs and unthreaded the cartridge from the body the same way. No special tools or clamps required.

Crankbrothers Highline Dropper

Once the cartridge is unthreaded remove the 2.5mm screw from the top of the post head. The cartridge pulls straight out of the bottom of the post.

Crankbrothers Highline Dropper

I cleaned everything and reapplied a light grease. I used Slickoleum on the keyways, post shaft, and seal head.

The Cartridge

Open up enough of the newer dropper posts on the market and one thing becomes readily apparent. Wintek is the go-to provider of gas cartridges for many brands. Crankbrothers has their excellent and unique actuator system but otherwise the cartridges are outwardly identical.

Crankbrothers Highline Dropper

The Wintek cartridge Crankbrothers uses has a unique actuator and a lower charge than other posts using a similar cartridge system spec.

I mention it because one of the other posts I’ve tried with a Wintek cartridge is, in my experience and by most accounts, a piece of garbage. Why has the cartridge been perfectly reliable in my Highline? First off Crankbrothers specs a lower charge for their cartridges. The Highline returns more slowly than other posts using Wintek cartridges and this is a conscious decision to maximize reliability.

The Highline also remained much smoother, much longer than other posts that sound like they are eating themselves after a few rides. All that extra friction from the dropper post grinding up and down can’t help the longevity of the guts.

Crankbrothers Highline

What’s missing? The obvious answer is a longer travel 150mm version of the Highline. Assuming Crankbrothers can scale up the travel without sacrificing performance or durability I think the demand is there. With companies like Evil and Kona going to the 35mm internal seatpost diameter, shimming in a 31.6 or 30.9 post is always an option; however, it would make more sense to take advantage of the extra space and release a 35mm post.

Crankbrothers Highline Dropper

How long can the Highline keep going up and down and down and up? How many hours of riding until the keyways need replacing? The cartridge? Crankbrothers’ post has exceeded my high expectations and any past dropper experiences I’ve had.

It’s still my intention to ride the Highline until the day comes when the cartridge is toast and the keyways need to be replaced. At this point it’s as much about curiosity as actually testing the product. How long can it keep going? All the way to the end of its 3-year warranty?

The post has exceeded any previous dropper post experience I have had. I think it presents a strong value at an SRP of $350 (USD). I strongly recommend it to my friends.

For more information check out the Highline here.


Is the best 125mm dropper post on the market made by Crankbrothers!?

Comments

finn-the-antipodean
0
Finn the antipodean  - Feb. 13, 2017, 8:29 p.m.

So which cartridge post is junk?
Asking as my giant switch is due a cartridge warranty.

Reply

metacomet
0
Metacomet  - Feb. 13, 2017, 11:07 a.m.

Wow that looks like a dead simple tear down! That's pretty awesome. Sounds quite promising. Any time spent on it in the bitter cold? Would you be willing to put it in the freezer for a few hours and test it out if not?

Reply

drewm
0
DrewM  - Feb. 13, 2017, 1:40 p.m.

The coldest I had it out was ~-5/-10 (guessing based on the guage in my car being -5 in the parking lot so not scientific… was colder up the mountain) and it was a little bit slower for sure. That could be moisture in the old cable/housing too though.

I'll try and make time to freezer test it for you this week.

Reply

GladePlayboy
0
Rob Gretchen  - Feb. 13, 2017, 10:39 a.m.

Knipex pliers FTW!!

Reply

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