Crankbrothers Highline Dropper : First Look
Welcome, ladies, gentlemen, and mountain bikers to Crankbrothers Highline Postricide. An ‘until death do us part’ review series on the California brand’s fourth attempt at delivering the dropper seat post goods. And, sporting a three-year – 450+ hours of riding – warranty it’s a bold attempt indeed.
Awesome looking post. Awesome looking packaging. Awesome looking features. Crankbrothers logo.
I’d like to think that I’m an excellent candidate to review the Highline. On the one hand, I have a lot of experience with Crankbrothers products having owned two generations of Joplin, various pedals, and having dealt with other products for years working in shops. On the other hand, none of those product experiences have been much good.
BUT, I’ve always appreciated the excellent, friendly, and helpful customer service and their concepts, (if not their proofs) and even their fantastic packaging. The Highline packaging is lovely and the instructions are clear. In general, I’d love to see this latest post be a huge success.
“On the subject of installation. The ‘Tool-Free Quick-Connect System’ on the Highline is awesome. Removing the post from my bike or changing a cable takes way less time than any other dropper post I’ve used.”
More on the very cool 360-degree swivel / 22-degree angle adjustable remote in a minute. For now we’re talking about the “3-year warranty” printed on the box.
Three Year Warranty
This is bold. BOLD! Not only is it two years longer than the closest competitor but Crankbrothers calls a year ~150hrs of riding where the industry standard is ~100hrs.
In fact, given that boiled down the Highline is a 125mm dropper post with a two-bolt head and stealth routing (basically: yawn, yawn, and yawn), the big reason we’re talking about it is a combination of a relatively low retail price of $350 USD and the epic commitment to reliability (or at least free replacements).
In addition to relying on a couple of major brand name global manufacturers in Trelleborg and igus, Crankbrothers has made some performance decisions that I’ll talk about below to maximize the life of their product.
I personally like the off-center height mark graphic, but if you’re a bit more OCD they may bug you. Likewise, I’m happy with the silver sealhead but it may give you nightmares about your first generation Reverb if you owned one. Chromag Moon saddle – still my favourite.
Crankbrothers Highline Postricide
As we go forward I’m feeling a little bit like Robin Hood and a little bit like Prince John. On the one hand I have a more reasonably priced dropper post that should have a seriously low ongoing cost of ownership and on the other hand I just want to TAX, TAX, TAX the blasted thing. I’m going to politely ride the sh*t out of it.
The plan for this review period is pretty simple. After this first look I’ll be doing a teardown and lube with mechanic-instructor Jeff Bryson of BikeRoom and putting together a review when I hit the basic service interval for the post (~150hrs of riding). I’m going to run the post in this bike until it dies and report back. The review period ends when the result is a complete Crankbrother Highline Postricide and if it makes it to ~450hrs of riding I’ll be amazed, impressed, stoked, and a bunch of other positive adjectives because even my stalwart Gravity Dropper needs a full rebuild including bushings in ~100hrs of riding.
Very sweet remote. Left, Right, Top, Bottom. 360-degree swivel and 22-degree of angle adjust. Narrow clamp. Smooth action. I’d like it to be a touch longer (leverage) and I feel it would benefit from a two-bolt set-up where one binds the swivel and the other attaches the remote to the bar.
Sweet Remote – Simple Installation
To say the Highline was easy to set-up is an understatement. It is totally plug & play and the remote is a big part of it. Ergonomics are excellent and easily sorted for usage in any position – top or bottom / right or left.
While the remote is very user-friendly, I would like it to be a touch longer lever blade for increased leverage. Being a cable actuated system I found the amount of force needed to engage the post to be at the upper end of the acceptable range. That is to say, it was fine for me but would keep me from recommending it to many riders. I swapped the stock Jagwire housing out for some premium Shimano 4mm and that made a very positive impact, but I’d still love a bit longer lever/lighter action. Some of the friction may come from the angle of the housing with the stealth routing on my frame and other’s results may vary.
The Crankbrothers remote interfaces perfectly with the long-levered Magura MT series brake. The thin clamp and huge range of adjustability should allow it to mesh with any setup.
One last note on the remote. You have to really crank the single bolt clamp to keep the remote from swiveling when activated. Not so much that you would be concerned about doing any damage to your bar but if you like to leave things loose so your controls can all spin with contact then be aware this is not an option with the Crankbrothers remote. (Tip – a little grease on the threads will make it easier to achieve the required clamping force). It would be more complicated, but I’d like a two bolt set-up where one tightens the swivel and the other tightens the clamp (loosely) to my bar.
If I’m allowed one last niggle: the clamp screw is a 3mm and the cable retention screw is a 2mm. In my world they would both be the same size (2.5mm?).
Well designed Tool-Free Quick-Connect System. Cable changes are very simple. Removing/installing the post from my bike is a breeze. Just keep an eye – of hand – on the thread on retention ring.
On the subject of installation. The ‘Tool-Free Quick-Connect System’ on the Highline is awesome. Removing the post from my bike or changing a cable take much less time than any dropper post I’ve used.
Best In Class.
Watch out for the threaded retention ring. When un-threaded it can slip over the rest of the system and fall down into your seat tube. There it may get caught on your bottle cage bolts and refuse to emerge, no matter how many times you shake the bike upside down shouting toddler-appropriate curse words like “POOP.”
Trelleborg & igus are mentioned by name. Quality components and smart design are some of the features backing up Crankbrothers 3-year warranty. Another is the slow return speed.
The action – up & down – is smooth but the return speed is slow. I am definitely used to some of the fastest posts on the market – Fox DOSS and Gravity Dropper. The Highline is notably on the slower end of competing products.
Trelleborg seals, igus bushings and keys, and the slower speed, and lower charge in the cartridge, were chosen on purpose as they significantly enhance the life of the post’s cartridge internals. If it lasts three years (450 hours of riding) then I’m totally good with it.
I have one complaint. It sounds like: “OUCH!, BALLS!, F#CK!”
OUCH!, BALLS!, F#CK!
I cut my, leathery, finger the first time I carried my Highline equipped bike out of my apartment. This was easily resolved with a file. It could also be easily resolved by Crankbrothers with a minor spec change. Yes, I know it’s not somewhere you would generally be grabbing your bike. I get the low profile head may not allow for full cylinders. The pointy, sharp, corners on the bolt washers are definitely not welcome. Ouchy.
“Welcome ladies, gentlemen, and mountain bikers to Crankbrothers Highline Postricide. An ‘until death do us part’ review series on the California brand’s fourth attempt at delivering the dropper seat post goods. And, sporting a three year – 450+ hours of riding – warranty it’s a bold attempt indeed.”
Redemption or Revenant?
I’ve recycled the packaging and disembarked on a relationship with a product that – on the trail – is as good as any 125mm dropper post I’ve used. It goes up, it goes down, it stays anywhere I want in the middle and if it didn’t have a Crankbrothers logo on it I’d be pretty excited about the whole affair.
As it stands I’m choosing to be cautiously optimistic; for the record, that’s going to result in an absolute lambasting from any of my riding friends that can read.
Three years, three months, three weeks, three rides: any bets?!