Dropper Post Short People NSMB AndrewM.JPG
EDITORIAL

Dropper Posts for Short(er) People

Words Andrew Major
Photos Andrew Major (Unless Noted)
Date May 2, 2022
Reading time

No Travel, No Travail

I need to go back a little more than a decade ago, when bikes being ridden downhill in anger all had 26" wheels and it seemed like every other rider on the North Shore owned a proper DH bike with a dual crown fork and a road cassette. I got a call at the shop I was working at from a rider asking what she could do to fix her Specialized Demo 8 because her boyfriend had just given it a 'tune-up' and now the rear suspension was bottoming out very hard every time she landed a drop. Now, I've seen many a husband-hack go awry, and more than a few of those have been rear shock related, but when she confirmed that it was a coil shock and there was no oil leaking out, I'll admit I was at a loss without seeing the bike.

In walks a rider who's 5' if she's not 4'11" tall, along with her size small Demo with not a millimetre of daylight between the head of the seat post and collar of her frame. Her SDG saddle is run quite rearwards and with the nose pointed up. The rear tire, thanks to the efforts of her partner, bottoms out on the back of the seat long before the bottom out bumper touches the body of her rear shock. I point it out as gently as possible but buddy is still living in the dankest corner of the darkest dog house by the time I slide the saddle rails all the way and raise the post just enough that I can bottom the shock and have a daylight allowance for the shock's rubber bottom out bumper.

If your kid and partner both ride hardtails, like mine do, this isn't really a concern. But with so many shorter riders chasing more travel or bigger wheels, mocking up tire to saddle clearance is a vital consideration when fitting bikes. For example, on my wife's hardtail she can easily run a 160mm dropper post with saddle-tire clearance to spare, and she really appreciates the bike body separation. On most mid-travel full suspension bikes, running the same amount of drop is simply not possible with a 27" rear wheel. And I know a few women her height riding 29ers.


I've witnessed broken saddles and torn-off knobs resulting from these forbidden dalliances.
Dropper Post Short People NSMB AndrewM (5).JPG

I recommend you not scrimp on the dropper post remote. Smooth action, solid leverage, and a good position are increasingly important as hands get smaller. I'd also much prefer a nice remote and a budget dropper rather than the other way around.

Dropper Post Short People NSMB AndrewM.JPG

Spatial awareness is key. It's not just about how much drop and the length of dropper body your frame can accommodate. Let all the air of our your shock (or remove the coil spring) and confirm your saddle-to-tire clearance in the event of a hard bottom out.

The controlled feeling of bottoming out a rear shock is very different from the chaos of your tire's knobs meeting the back of your saddle with momentum. For one, the saddle acts as a friction brake so you're also dealing with your tire skidding uncontrollably at least in that moment. There's also the fact that tires and saddles are expensive. I've witnessed broken saddles and torn-off knobs as a result of these forbidden dalliances. Either way, the best practice in setting up a full suspension bike for a shorter rider is to let all the air out of the shock (or remove the coil spring) and cycle the rear suspension to confirm clearances. Sometimes it's as simple as moving a saddle forward or raising the post a little.

Other times it could involve raising a post quite a bit which is where dropper posts with adjustable travel (and corresponding change in ride heights) are a beautiful addition. Your saddle is at the perfect height for climbing but your tire is just bottoming on it? Raise the post a centimeter and reduce the travel by 10mm and you're golden - without spending another dime.

I'm not ignoring body-tire bottom outs either. At 5'9" I can happily ride a shorter travel 29er most anywhere, but I noticed significantly less tire contact on steep terrain when I swapped the 29" rear wheel of the Banshee Titan for a 27". And that bike has long chainstays. I'm not saying here that short riders or kids shouldn't ride full suspension bikes, or even that it's always a trade off between dropper post travel and suspension travel, but they are factors to consider.

Flat-Footed

I borrowed my friend Jac's little Yeti SB 165 for the non-kid bike photos for this piece and I'd like to talk about that for a second. There are too many full suspension bikes that are technically 'small' or even 'extra small' out there that absolutely suck for short riders. If a bike's seat tube is interrupted such that the combination of minimum seat post insertion depth and the average XS/S rider's inseam means they have to run an 80 mm dropper post on their trail bike, then it sucks for short riders. This means that there are fewer good options on the market if you're looking for a small bike but it's useful to narrow down the field. I've known a lot of riders who begin their search with Ibis. That makes a lot of sense since their designer, Roxy Lo, is 5'1" tall. Actually, the Ripley AF is a high-value package and with a 76° seat tube angle and a 335mm BB height it's prime for a mullet conversion if you'd like a bit less tire contact in the steep jank.

At any rate, Jac has owned a lot of bikes over the years and the SB 165 is the first machine I've seen her on that really looks like it fits her. Conversely, it's the first bike in many years that she's kept for multiple seasons. Jac's 5'4" and this is a size small frame with 165mm of rear wheel travel and a 160mm dropper post. With the post fully bottomed out, she can sit on her saddle with her feet on the ground. With the rear suspension fully bottomed out the tire doesn't hit the saddle. If this sounds ho-hum to you then you've probably never been 5'4" trying to buy a mid-to-long travel full suspension bike.

Dropper Post Short People NSMB AndrewM (3).JPG

How much drop is best? The question is less academic the shorter you get. More drop is better, the saddle can't sit higher than your optimum pedaling height and has to be out of the range of the rear tire when lowered. OneUp has an excellent fitment tool but it's still up to you to confirm tire clearance.

Dropper Post Short People NSMB AndrewM (2).JPG

Not all small frames are created equal. The length of a dropper post's body for a given travel is often an overlooked number but any post showing between your seat collar and the seal head of a post could have been travel. With the addition the SI Link, the Yeti is a game of millimeters.

Dropper Post Short People NSMB AndrewM (4).JPG

Think about where stand over height is measured from or better yet, measure it yourself. From the place you actually stand over a frame. In front of your saddle. Never trust a stand over height number on a geometry chart unless it's explicitly stated to come from where you actually stand over the bike.

The three numbers that matter for a perfect flat-footed fit are your bottom bracket height, seat tube length, and frame travel. A lower bottom bracket means a lower ground-to-saddle height. The best seat tube length for maximizing post travel can accommodate the actuator and body of your dropper post such that your post can be inserted so that the seal head sits on your seat collar. Your tire needs a bit of clearance with your saddle at full bottom out. One thing I'll note in considering these factors is that I've come across several frames with really poorly considered stealth routing exit ports that sit much higher than the max insertion depth of the actuator itself. Don't be afraid to talk to your local shop or carbon expert about fixing this flaw with a lower exit port.

Every Centimeter Counts

I'd love to not love dropper posts. They add cables, complexity, and cost to bikes. But even on my rigid one-speed, where I stand for 85% of most rides, I sure do love having one. And when I started thinking about how much I like having a dropper post - more than suspension or gears actually - the fact my kid's bike was missing one seemed a bit of an oversight. After all, she has a (good) suspension fork and a multi-speed drivetrain. I had considered buying a OneUp head unit and combining it with a post I already had at home, for an extra centimeter of drop, but the shortest dropper I own is a 125mm and that was over an inch too long.

Tire clearance isn't an issue because my kid's on a hardtail. We'll see if I stick to my guns but I've told her that the first full suspension bike she owns will be one she buys herself. But I needed to think about insertion depth and extension height. Also, I'm looking at a dropper post as a multi-bike investment so having adjustable travel was a key consideration. I don't want to say that OneUp is the only game in town, but they are still winning the dropper post arms race for maximum drop for a given height, at the minimum insertion depth, and they can be adjusted down by up to 20mm. So, actually, they are the only product I considered.

One quick note is that my kid weighs less than 60 pounds so she couldn't compress the OneUp post with the recommended air pressure range, whereas she has no problem compressing my Wintek-equipped post by sitting on it. My first reaction was to order a 100mm Wintek dropper to run with OneUp's saddle clamps but instead I lowered the air pressure in the dropper until she could happily lower it. We're around 1/2 the recommended PSI. With the seal head well-lubricated the post still returns to full travel without issue.

At 100mm drop, this post is still ever-so-slightly too tall. I'd consider looking for a lower-profile saddle, as her beloved Chromag Overture is fairly tall but she figured out really quickly how to keep it from coming up all the way. I'd say 90mm would be perfect, and OneUp does make a 70-90mm adjustable post but 90mm is not going to be the right drop on her next bike or even by the summer, so this was the way to go. For the next 2cm of growth, instead of raising the saddle height we'll pull out the travel pins, so eventually she'll be running a 120mm dropper. I bring this up because saddle stack-height is another way for anyone to add some room for extra drop on their seat post setup, but please, not at the cost of comfort. An extra centimeter of drop is not worth riding an ass-hatchet or skipping your chamois (if you like to use one).

There are plenty of great choices for dropper posts these days. Wireless options, budget options, insane amounts of drop, tiny amounts of drop, and, of course, adjustable drop. The folks at 9point8 make the only post I know of with a proper set-back (or set-forward) option but that may change, and if it doesn't I know a few riders who swear by their Fall Line. But all of that comes with the caveat that below a certain height, this whole process really comes down to millimeters. The fact that Jac, The Clairebarian, and most of the short folks I know who've purchased an aftermarket post are running a OneUp tells me they currently own the short-rider game. Not just in a spread sheet, but also on the trail.

That's totally fine. The OneUp V2 is a great product and I think a good value even before taking into consideration the dimensions that set it apart. But I would love to see other brands putting some effort into the short rider game. If you or someone in your life is on the shorter side and needs a dropper post with max travel, then OneUp is probably where your search begins and ends.

Just remember to measure tire clearance before your first ride!

Related Stories

Trending on NSMB

Comments

eriksg
eriksg
3 weeks, 1 day ago
+4 Andrew Major Tadpoledancer goose8 Suns_PSD

You make a great point on adjustability and design. I'm chewing on the question of PNW or OneUp right now for my wife's bike, and it makes about a 10mm difference in total drop. But we're talking about a 170 lowered to 160 vs. a 180 lowered to 170, which is firmly within the realm of luxury either way. Once you're down to barely squeaking in a 120 post it really matters. I find the OneUp actuator a real pain to fit and live in dread of removing my seatpost for any reason, but they really optimized length on those.

I also picked an SQLab saddle in part because of their low saddle stack height. I find them great for comfort myself, but I'd be curious to know what else is out there that has really compact rails.

Reply

AndrewMajor
Andrew Major
3 weeks, 1 day ago
0

The difference between a 170mm and 160mm post is, as you note, much less significant than comparing a 1cm difference on a shorter travel post. It's still not nothing though. What do you find better about the PNW actuator compared to the OneUp V2?

I really like the Crankbrothers Highline 7. The actuator is simple and doesn't require an additional barrel at the cable head. It's beyond easy to pull apart and the after-sale support is great.  I suppose there your wife would find the 170mm too tall and then with the lack of adjustment she'd be on a 150mm.

Reply

eriksg
eriksg
3 weeks ago
0

I don't know that the PNW is better since I haven't used one yet. I'm just looking for an alternative. On the OneUp, the little disc inside the actuator head that transfers pressure from housing to the actuator pin likes to get misaligned. And any drag of the housing against the frame during install (I have a tight bend between two frame ports) means you end up with too much housing or a gap and the post doesn't work.

9point8 is the option that might really solve that, with firmly attached housing at the actuator.

Reply

AndrewMajor
Andrew Major
3 weeks ago
+2 Mammal Velocipedestrian

I’ve installed a lot of OneUp V2 posts and I can’t picture the issue you’re talking about. You’re definitely thinking of the V2 actuator not the V1?

Reply

eriksg
eriksg
3 weeks ago
0

I have a V1, so I guess that's something that has been improved in the new version. The actuator in mine is the old style with an O ring coupling two metal parts.

Thanks for the info, I don't mean to spread FUD about things that have been fixed.

Reply

AndrewMajor
Andrew Major
3 weeks ago
0

Cheers! Yes, V2 is a very different animal. Really simple, reliable, product.

jd
JD
3 weeks ago
+4 Andrew Major ohio Andy Eunson Tadpoledancer

When it comes down to millimeters, don't forget about crank length - arguably, if not already factored in, shorter riders could benefit from or prefer a shorter crank length, and it buys you dropper stroke at the same time. Thicker pedals isn't really a win-win, but still may be a good compromise for some.

9point8 Fall Line may not be as compact in "stack height" as the OneUp, but they're fairly compact in terms of insertion depth, and offer a dedicated 75mm chassis. While there is a "seal nut" that protrudes from the bottom of the post, there are no moving parts there, so you can potentially be, uh, more aggressive with fitment, or even run without the seal nut*. Other than the 75mm, they are also shimmable for reduced stroke, though it is a bit more involved than some of the others.

*EDIT - I should say, running with no seal nut is not necessarily officially endorsed, but it is possible.

Reply

AndrewMajor
Andrew Major
3 weeks ago
+1 Raymond Epstein

Yeah, we splurged on cranks for the Clairebarian’s bike. Combo of parts shortages and a lot of stuff being overpriced boat anchors. 

She’s running 150mm Canfield cranks with a NSB 24t ring. 

Reply

Tjaardbreeuwer
Tjaard Breeuwer
2 weeks, 6 days ago
0

I was about to say the same thing, but then I thought for a minute, and realized that I bet  Andrew has already fitted shorter cranks to all the bikes in the house that could use them.

I have been happy with the Trailcraft cranks for my kids. Light, fits SRAM spider/direct Mount (which I have quite a few of, so makes swapping easy) and not to expensive.

They were out of stock for a while though, like so many bike parts.

Reply

AndrewMajor
Andrew Major
2 weeks, 6 days ago
0

It’s interesting, my wife is ~5’ and she tried both 165mm and 170mm and settled on the 170mm (blind test, multiple rides). I used to run 180mm on my SS but I’m happy with 175mm + oval.

I tried to get into shorter cranks (lots of meat there to write about) but learned behaviour, after months on 170mm on two different FS bikes I was happy to be back on 175. It’s funny because I have friends over 6’ who swear by 165mm cranks now - not shuttlers, they ideal all over.

Reply

Tjaardbreeuwer
Tjaard Breeuwer
2 weeks, 4 days ago
0

Haha, I am also in that camp: 6’5”/196cm and switched to 170mm cranks to gain a tough more ground clearance. I have not noted a difference. Same when I tried 180mm cranks in the past.

Of course, 5mm is a pretty small change, especially for my long legs

Reply

Jotegir
Lu Kz
3 weeks ago
+3 Andrew Major Timer imnotdanny

> when bikes being ridden downhill in anger all had 26" wheels and it seemed like every other rider on the North Shore owned a proper DH bike with a dual crown fork and a road cassette.

Somewhere at the top of a shuttle run or lift access bike park, there's a long haired, scruffy looking dude in a flannel clutching his 2013 V-10 while dozens of trail bikes roll past him.  A single tear rolls down his cheek.

Reply

dirtnapped
dirtnapped
3 weeks ago
+5 Lu Kz Andrew Major Lynx . bishopsmike imnotdanny

I think my favorite memory of my North Shore trip a few years ago was riding Cypress, and seeing 2 older guys on VP-Frees, wearing mesh tops with either old Dainese or hockey pads, shorts normally not seen as acceptable, and hiking boots. A buddy and I just kinda looked at each other, thinking "Should we say something or warn them?" They quickly humbled us as they tore down the trail.

Reply

AndrewMajor
Andrew Major
3 weeks ago
+6 Vik Banerjee Lynx . taprider shenzhe Timer imnotdanny

That’s totally awesome. The first time I ever rode CBC we were caught by a group of dudes on DH bikes chasing their buddy on a rigid, steel, rim/-braked Nishiki with this crazy grin on his face. There was no way they were going to catch him but they were giving their all. 

Sometimes I can picture the bike - white with a matching white fork? I try to envision if it had been upgraded to v-brakes or still had cantis, as if that mattered. 

Riding the Shore is humbling when you see what some folks are riding on some bikes but you learn quick about books & covers.

Reply

mammal
Mammal
3 weeks ago
0 Andrew Major Timer

VP-Free or was one of them on a dark blue Driver-8 with Fox 40's? If it's the latter, it's one of the OG builders up there, and yeah, they know the lines.

Reply

AndrewMajor
Andrew Major
2 weeks, 5 days ago
0

Such a mis-understood and under appreciated bike. I had a couple of friends with Driver 8s.

Reply

AndrewMajor
Andrew Major
3 weeks ago
+2 Lu Kz Timer

Hahahahahahaha. Somewhere on Fromme there’s a similar looking dude, or a similar bike, who pedalled up Mtn Hwy standing in the 36x25t low gear. And I’m still just as impressed now as I was bitd.

Reply

mammal
Mammal
3 weeks ago
0

I chatted up a guy with a ~2010 Demo, who "hadn't been up Fromme for 15 years" (not sure about flannel, but he definitely had cargo pants and hikers). It sounded like he was completely out of the scene for that whole period, and was looking forward to some classic Fromme skinnies and hucks... He presented a very honest sad-face as I agreed that things have changed quite a bit since then.

Reply

AndrewMajor
Andrew Major
3 weeks ago
+1 Lu Kz

Ah, I don't know. Bookwus is still Bookwus, same for Grannies, Boundary, Lower Crippler, Pipeline. Upper Oil Can is great and still has some big commitment. Digger - or I guess better to call it Upper Digger - is still rad. Can't wait to get back on those trails. 

I guess I'd agree a lot has changed since Y2K but not so much since 2010?

Reply

mammal
Mammal
3 weeks ago
+1 Andrew Major

It was last year, and he was saying "15 years ago" so who knows when he was actually up there last. He was on the lookout for meaty, sketchy hucks, and super high skinnies, so yeah, he was in for unavoidable disappointment.

Reply

AndrewMajor
Andrew Major
3 weeks ago
0

Yeah, fair enough. What mountain did you point him too? Woodlot? Actually everything there is so nicely built, can’t really call it sketchy. 

I was never into the high-high stuff and I suck at the huck, but I appreciate that stuff still exists. The same way I hope folks who love flow trails can appreciate keeping the old slow tech stuff around. Plenty of third-growth front-country forest for everyone.

Reply

mammal
Mammal
3 weeks ago
+1 Andrew Major

I didn't point him anywhere, we just chatted about changes (in trails and bikes). I like a good huck every now and then, but not having started riding on the shore, I don't have a deeply embedded love for high skinnies like some do. I agree that variety should be embraced, as long as it still includes both ends of the scale.

AndrewMajor
Andrew Major
3 weeks ago
0

For me it’s a ‘simple’ matter of building new trails instead of cannibalizing existing ones. Trails per capita I think we could use a pile more in North Van.

khai
khai
3 weeks ago
+3 Andrew Major Tjaard Breeuwer Velocipedestrian

...bike companies, if your seat tube is interrupted such that the combination of minimum seat post insertion depth and the average XS/S riders' inseam means they have to run an 80 mm dropper post on their trail bike then you suck for short riders.

PREACH IT, BROTHER!!!  A combination of the One-Up dropper and fairly short cranks allow this 165cm "tall" / 75cm inseam dude to rock 180mm of drop.  I've discounted a lot of bikes over the years due to dumb bends in the seat tube and it strikes me that most don't need to be there for engineering/packaging reasons.  Pedals of varying thicknesses and shoes/insoles can also contribute to/exacerbate this situation.  As well as saddle height as you mentioned, and the presence/lack of a chamois.  I've spent more time than most pondering this situation, and have had many iterations of spreadsheets with various calculations of max insertion/post drop/crank length/...  Some people may never change shoes and notice a difference in fit - others notice within 3 pedal strokes.

I've also had my tyre buzz the saddle on full compression and while it wasn't the worst sensation in the world, I did fix it pdq.

Reply

AndrewMajor
Andrew Major
3 weeks ago
+2 khai Velocipedestrian

"A lot of bikes"... because you know! I think it's so important to keep driving these points home in person, in shops, and in pieces so companies are held accountable to their customers. If you want to make a Trail or Enduro rig for short riders do it right, or don't do it.

Reply

andrewbikeguide
AndrewR
3 weeks ago
+2 Lynx . Andrew Major

Air pressure, for smaller/lighter riders, so that they can compress the post, is another plus for 9point8: 23 psi is about the max I ran (advised range is 20-30 psi).

Also less air for the seals to deal with so everything lasts longer and the lube stays where it should be for longer.

Also very competitive insert to drop ratio and for @AM it is fully home re-buildable with very cheap 9point8 tools or even a free "print it yourself" 3D print file.

And finally, properly Canadian, not designed in Canada and made overseas.

Reply

AndrewMajor
Andrew Major
3 weeks ago
+2 Vik Banerjee Lynx .

The quality of 9point8 stuff is very high, I haven’t installed one of their posts in ages but if the opportunity ever came up to test-write one I’d be in for sure - as you note, serviceability. 

I love the fore/aft offset option too. I wish more companies did it both to accommodate riders who don’t love the steeper STAs on new bikes and riders looking for a more upright position on older bikes. 

The low pressure is a great point too. 

Insertion is fine, it’s just that nothing competes with OneUp’s collar-to-rail height which is really important in maximizing drop in a case like my kid’s. Or even on the large Titan where I could score an extra cm of drop over any other post and 2cm over many. Admittedly all less of an issue possibly on a small FS bike where the saddle v. tire contact comes into the equation.

Reply

Tjaardbreeuwer
Tjaard Breeuwer
2 weeks, 6 days ago
+2 Andrew Major Velocipedestrian

Insertion was where I screwed up with my 14 year old daughter’s build. At 6’0”, she is not short, and the S4 Stumpy Evo frame I bought her has a very short seat tube for someone with that leg length, but that is actually  what created the problem with the Bontrager 200mm dropper I bought: the insertion depth was too short (probably due to the suspension linkage axle blocking the seat tube).

Reply

Lynx
Lynx .
3 weeks ago
+1 Andrew Major

Yeah, complete rebuild kit for my FallLine is right around $100 including tools, can't wait to get it and that post back up and functioning, especially for the setback head.

Reply

neil-carnegie
Neil Carnegie
3 weeks, 1 day ago
+1 kcy4130

You could pick up a Bontrager post. Their 120 (or 125, I forget) can be reduced by 10 or 30mm via spacers very easily. Gets you down to 90mm now with plenty of growing room. 

The best travel / bottom out interference  mod on a bike I’ve seen recently was a friend who added a tube strap under his downtube which met the front tire before fork bottom with a result just as dramatic as you might imagine. He doesn’t keep it there any more.

Reply

AndrewMajor
Andrew Major
3 weeks, 1 day ago
+1 Lu Kz

That's an impressive oops!

At 90mm the Bontrager post would still be taller than the OneUp post at 100mm. The V2 post is a minimum of 1cm shorter than any other post for the same travel. 

The Bontrager Line post is a solid product though. The one I reviewed is still going strong with regular usage.

Reply

zigak
ZigaK
3 weeks ago
+1 Lu Kz

Maybe I'm biased, but I never had any problems with stand over height. When in trouble on trail, I always dismount to the side (preferably uphill side). On very rare occasions, I dismount over the bars, or let the bike in front of me.

Enlighten me?

Reply

AndrewMajor
Andrew Major
3 weeks ago
+1 ZigaK

Stand over height is never an issue until it is, generally when you screw up on a skinny, log, or ladder and need to put your feet down or when life goes sideways and you find yourself riding the top tube down some steep jank.

I’ll agree s/o height gets less important as your skills advance and you’re dismounting in more controlled fashion or flying off separated from your bike. But I think it matters to a lot more riders locally than it doesn’t matter to.

Reply

Jotegir
Lu Kz
3 weeks ago
0

standover height becomes less and less of an issue as more people seem to copy Ibis and other slightly ahead of the curve brands like Norco with their bike designs. It used to be something we'd consider when bike shopping with my girlfriend (she's also 5' 4", but she rides like a big 5' 4". I accidentally put her on a medium instinct a couple weeks ago and she enjoyed it and said felt pretty good, aside from the bars being way too wide and not knowing how to corner it as well as her normal bike. Weird!) When we were looking for something enduro-y in 2015 it was an issue, but when she updated 2018/19 it pretty much wasn't a concern anymore.

That said, you're far less likely to fall in to a pit of mud after screwing up and panic-bailing off a skinny than you are in your neighborhood. The odds just aren't that high!

Reply

AndrewMajor
Andrew Major
3 weeks ago
+1 Lu Kz

Not a concern because she’s a more aggressive / confident rider and s/o height doesn’t matter as much or not a concern because most bikes have better stand over now?

If it’s the latter then I thinks it’s still a real concern, there are just more good options than their used to be. In the same vein that most bikes accommodate decent post insertion on their smaller sizes. Some don’t and it’s still possible to make a bad buy in terms of dropper insertion - just less likely. 

Still something to be aware of though, I think.

Reply

Jotegir
Lu Kz
3 weeks ago
+2 Andrew Major Velocipedestrian

In her case, it's a column A/column B situation. But good point, you certainly still need to be aware of it. I guess my point is more on the lines of "it's less likely to be an issue on any given bike someone's shopping for because the number of bikes in the XS-M category with acceptably low stand over heights and short seat tubes is higher than it's ever been".

But certainly I'll accept that it's still on the list of concerns - maybe the bike a particular rider is looking at doesn't do it. That's still very possible, especially in the age of internet window shopping and the continued inability to go down to stores and sit on and pedal every bike in each size you're interested in.

There's still a lot of relatively modern bikes which when viewed as a chart online are like flypaper to short riders. The 2017-2019 Fuel Ex, for example looks pretty good.... until you realize you can't even slam a 75mm dropper post in the small sizes. Hope you didn't get one shipped across the country or drive too far to pick it up. It's a trap!

Reply

AndrewMajor
Andrew Major
3 weeks ago
+2 Velocipedestrian Lu Kz

It’s a trap!”

Exactly. And it’s almost like enough bikes are good now (s/o and insertion) that’s it lulls folks into not being diligent.

mhaager2
Moritz Haager
1 week, 6 days ago
0

Thank you for addressing a pet peeve of mine. I feel that the bike industry as a whole could do a better job at addressing the needs of shorter riders.  At 5'6 standover for me has always been an issue and only exacerbated by the advent of 29ers. I 100% agree with your sentiment that standover doesn't matter, until it does, at which point its suddenly becomes critical. Unfortunately SOH as a metric is poorly comparable between brands, and often not measured where it actually matters. Why you would put 175 mm cranks on your XS bike same as the XL also makes me crazy. The issue has been well studied and shorter crank length does not result in any signicant loss of power,  but does decrease how much your pelvis rocks during pedaling and increases comfort and affects saddle height.

I don't own a long travel bike for a few reasons, the most obvious being that I don't ride terrain that calls for it.  However if I lived on the shore, I think my choices for a longer travel bike would be more restricted than if I was 5'10. As it stands I'm very happy with my medium Forbidden Druid built up with 165 mm cranks,  a 180 one up dropper reduced to 170. Still waiting to take it into more gnarly terrain but I doubt I would trade the fit for more travel.

Reply

Lynx
Lynx .
3 weeks ago
+1 Andrew Major

Andrew, was going to ask how come not PNW as their drop/lower system to change actual available drop is really simple and easy and on some of their posts you can get 30mm of drop, but then I checked the tech drawings from both companies, did not realise One Up was over 40mm shorter in overall post length compared to PNW, that's quite significant, especially with all the manipulated STs these days.

Glad you touched on that whole, just because you can slam the saddle to the collar because it has a really short ST, doesn't mean you can actually literally slam the post to the collar.

Props to your daughter for quickly figuring out how to raise the post to her needed height without having to do any more fussing around, seems like this one's headed for a bright future with bikes and life.

Reply

AndrewMajor
Andrew Major
3 weeks ago
0

Cheers, but I’m chalking that to a combination of basic physical literacy and kids’ adaptability. She’s already pretty handy with the tools though so I’m sure she’ll figure it all out.

E13 has a similarly easy and awesome travel adjust system with the same issue. A OneUp dropper scored me a couple extra cm of drop over the E13 Vario on the large Titan.

Reply

AndyJK
Andy Krull
3 weeks ago
+1 Andrew Major

I picked up a small 2014 26" Enduro for my son two years ago and faced the similar issues.  

First things to figure out were cranks and dropper post.  

Post: At the time, not a lot was available with very short max insertion length.  The reverb C1 in 100mm drop was the only one at the time that could fit fully inserted, and had a low stack height too.  One up just released their 90mm post that would now fit ok, but with less drop.  Upside is that the Reverb gets more drop; downside is that it's a Reverb and requires regular maintenance.  I'd rather the One Up v2...

Cranks:  the 155mm SRAM NX cranks worked, but also required a PF30 GXP BB.  Tough things to source out these days.  Trailcraft 152mm also works with 24mm (have those on a Ripcord 24" for my daughter), as does the Spawn cranks.  Those Canfields look nice!

Hardest thing to source now is 26" rims...  They are now as hard to find as a good 24" rim.

Reply

AndrewMajor
Andrew Major
3 weeks ago
0

The Canfields are nice and 24mm as well. Originally I'd considered the Trailcraft cranks but there was no inventory. 

For 26", Stan's still makes a whole lineup of options but they're not available at the moment. 

For 24", I'm running Duroc 30 rims on Claire's bike. They've been great, they're light, and they laced up nicely. Claire did a lot of the lacing herself, so value-added as a family project.

Reply

skooks
Skooks
3 weeks ago
+1 Andrew Major

Timely article Andrew. We recently bought a used bike for my 5'3" wife. Her most important requirement was adequate standover clearance, and most bikes didn't have this. We ended up with size small Comencal Meta 27.5 and she is happy with the fit.  Unfortunately the rocker pivot goes through the seat tube, and really limits dropper post insertion.  A short travel post isn't necessarily the answer since we would have to raise it enough for the pedalling position that she couldn't get it low enough when dropped. We spent a long time looking at dropper dimensions, and the optimal solution is a 120mm travel v2 one up which we may need to shim down 10mm. I'd love to see her on a longer travel post but it just won't work. Sure makes me appreciate my Knolly, which easily takes a 180mm dropper in a size small frame.

Reply

AndrewMajor
Andrew Major
3 weeks ago
+1 Lu Kz

Commencal could have used that pivot location without interrupting the seat tube. Lots of frames do. Bearings in the link, threaded post on either side of the seat tube, thread bolts in, and then running a straight seat tube, at least on the smallest sizes. 

I've seen some cool napkin drawings of tube-in-tube telescoping droppers and I heard once that Giant was working on one for their LIV bikes, but I've never seen a prototype from anyone.

Reply

skooks
Skooks
3 weeks ago
+2 Andrew Major Lu Kz

The telescoping dropper would be very cool. I built a telescoping seatpost using 2 quick releases for my kid back in the day when his bike had the shock running through the seat tube. Clunky but it did the job.

Reply

xy9ine
Perry Schebel
3 weeks ago
0

vintage flashback (early days of the shore) - i recall tyler (super-t) klassen cobbling together what we believed was the first telescoping (non - dropper) seatpost. lots of the bikes we were on at the time (dh rigs, more or less) had short / interrupted seat tubes, and this was a kind of brilliant hack that made them much more viable uppy, as well as downy rigs. seemed intuitive, but there was nothing like it at the time, and though we agreed it was probably a viable product to bring to market, said venture never progressed beyond the tailgate beer swilling stage. lo & behold, norco started selling them a year or so later.

Reply

AndrewMajor
Andrew Major
3 weeks ago
+1 taprider

*edit: I thought that the telescoping post-in-post idea was patented by a mechanic at the Cove named Ralph, and that Titec bought that patent for their Scoper post.

Reply

AndrewMajor
Andrew Major
3 weeks ago
+1 Perry Schebel

It’s Axiom, so as with R+D’ing NSB Hanger Bangers, etc, I think it’s fairly safe to assume it was Norco doing Norco things.

AndrewMajor
Andrew Major
3 weeks ago
0

Here’s what I could find on the patent. Dec, 1999.

xy9ine
Perry Schebel
3 weeks ago
0

cool! i was hazy on who was responsible for the first production version, but thought it was locally derived. i think vps's were the first bikes i saw with them (axiom) as stock spec. curious how ralph made out.

AndrewMajor
Andrew Major
3 weeks ago
0

Sorry, Rod,

I'm happy to be proven wrong, but I feel your comment comes with a burden of accountability to produce a patent number or a link. I can't find any information that backs up your narrative.

Norco appears to be the owner of record for two patents.

taprider
taprider
2 weeks, 6 days ago
0

you are right Andrew

Norco does not have a Canadian patent for a telescoping seatpost

taprider
taprider
3 weeks ago
-1 Andrew Major

I believe Ralph went for the US patent first, but in the mean time Norco scooped under the US patent for Canada (which Ralph did not have the resources to enforce legally for Canada)

edit: based on hazy memories of word of mouth info from before the Turn of the Century

just6979
Justin White
3 weeks ago
+1 Andrew Major

"I recommend you not scrimp on the dropper post remote"

Very agree. And that OneUp in the photo might have the best position possible. For those that don't know, it's designed to be closer to the upshift lever (the little one) position of a rear shifter instead of the downshift lever (the big one). I swapped back to a PNW Loam lever after my first OneUp disappeared when my bike was stolen, and though the Loam is a great lever, it's MatchMaker mount just doesn't have the range to get it comfortable after a while on the OneUp. 

Besides the great position, I really like the kinda push-button feel of the OneUp vs the lever-sweep feel of every other lever, so of course eventually grabbed up another one, and it'll be my choice until I find a better dropper (OneUp V2 180 maximizes drop in my Stumpy size L @ 5'10"/178cm) that needs more pull.

Speaking of, one thing is that the OneUp might not work quite as well with a dropper that needs more cable pull as that push-button-like action gets more like a lever-sweep. In that case PNW Loam or WolfTooth levers are great, just don't be afraid to ditch the MatchMaker or iSpec stuff and go band-clamp in order to get the rotational position just right.

Reply

AndrewMajor
Andrew Major
3 weeks ago
+1 Justin White

I was prepared to install my WT ReMote on the Clairebarian's bike since it is lighter action but the OneUp post is light-enough action that the shorter throw of the OneUp is perfect for the little hands. Claire's stoked. 

Absolutely, if I was using the ReMote on this bike - even with the horizontal adjustment that it has - I'd be using the hinged clamp to dial in the position. I actually thought I'd use a SRAM hinged clamp with the OneUp remote but there's enough adjustment that it works great with the MMX mount.

Reply

Brigham_Rupp
Brigham_Rupp
3 weeks ago
+1 Tjaard Breeuwer

I am sorry for the challenges faced by short folk, but as a tall fellow, I’m so grateful to finally have a whole compliment of bikes and parts that actually fit. It’s been a long time coming!

Reply

AndrewMajor
Andrew Major
3 weeks ago
0

I don't see why it would have to be either or? XXL bikes with 240mm droppers, XS bikes with the longest possible dropper post that will clear the rear tire at bottom-out. Maybe have real mediums and real larges by adding a medium-large size for us mid-height T-Rex's looking to split the difference. Sounds lovely.

Reply

Brigham_Rupp
Brigham_Rupp
3 weeks ago
+1 Andrew Major

Agreed. No reason we can’t cater to both ends of the spectrum.

Reply

Tjaardbreeuwer
Tjaard Breeuwer
2 weeks, 6 days ago
0

As a tall bikefitter, I too like the fact that bikes have gotten longer for my tall clients and myself, but the small size bikes have also gotten longer, which is not good for the shorter riders. I hope brands start dialing that back.

Also, stack/height is still too tall for short riders and too low for tall riders, just like it always has been.

Basically, what I want to see is a wider spread in stack and reach between the smallest and largest sizes.

More related to this article, standover clearance of frames has improved. One ‘trick’ that can help with that is using a saddle with a “lopped” of nose. I use the Specialized Power, but many brands make one.

This has become even more important as we slid our seats further forward. Long saddles force the rider to straddle the frame closer to the head tube, where it is taller.

Reply

AndrewMajor
Andrew Major
2 weeks, 6 days ago
0

I think the biggest issue is bike companies trying to accommodate the longer Reaches demanded but without adding sizes. If Reach numbers were distributed over more sizes - add S/M, M,L, L,XL for example - then an XS could be a true XS. 

Stack is bizarre to me, especially companies still doing one headtube length across their size runs. There’s a reason 50mm+ rise bars are in fashion.

Reply

Tjaardbreeuwer
Tjaard Breeuwer
2 weeks, 4 days ago
+1 Velocipedestrian

Yeah, if we think that each frame size is meant for a rider ~2”/55mm taller, and we think their hands end up somewhere around half that height, stack should increase about 12mm per frame size. 

So on a 6 size range (XS-XXL, which seems to  be the biggest range available), stack would increase 72mm!

On the Stumpy Evo I just bought for my daughter, the range is 41mm! The steps are only 9mm per size, except for the S1(XS) to S2(S), where it is only 4mm.

It is understandable that there is a lower limit to stack with longer travel forks and big wheels, but then the reach should have a bigger jump shorter to compensate.

And there is no reason the biggest sizes can’t be taller, creating more spread in the rest of the size range.

Trek Fuel does great, especially  for short people, with a range of 82mm*, and quite low stack on the smallest sizes, by switching to a 27.5 wheel.

They also add an extra frame size in the middle to create a smaller size step there.

*on the alloy frames, which come in XXL, carbon frames don’t.

Reply

kos
Kos
2 weeks, 6 days ago
+1 Andrew Major

Insightful article.

Just dropped in to say that the best way to lube any cable is by "sawing" the cable itself through a piece of good ski wax, then feeding it through the housing.

Reply

AndrewMajor
Andrew Major
2 weeks, 6 days ago
0

Interesting, it doesn’t get all gunky, or stays smooth anyway if it does?

Reply

Tjaardbreeuwer
Tjaard Breeuwer
2 weeks, 6 days ago
0

Never thought of this, but waxing chains works well, so why not cables?

Reply

taprider
taprider
3 weeks, 1 day ago
0

now try adding a bikepacking seat bag ;-)

Reply

Vikb
Vik Banerjee
3 weeks ago
+1 Andrew Major

If you want to bikepack with a dropper and you are on a hardtail get a minimalist rear rack. You'll be so much happier than any bag to saddle solution.

Reply

AndrewMajor
Andrew Major
3 weeks ago
0

There are a few different rear rack options I’ve seen for FS bikes too. Haven’t tried one myself but they look solid.

Reply

AndrewMajor
Andrew Major
3 weeks ago
+2 Vik Banerjee Tjaard Breeuwer

Hahahaha. Let’s blanket that recommendation for any long ride? Test your bike, as you’ll ride it, on a short ride before you take it on a long ride.

#IgnoranceIsBliss

Reply

Vikb
Vik Banerjee
3 weeks ago
+1 Andrew Major

I haven't seen one that I would actually want to tour with. There are a lot of touring shaped objects that look great in a photoshoot, but make life challenging when you are smashing your loaded bike down a trail. 

If anyone is thinking about that sort of setup I'd HIGHLY recommend some extensive trail testing at home before you need to count on it for a trip.

Reply

khai
khai
3 weeks ago
+1 Andrew Major

I have no experience with this product but it has caught my eye and looks to be a viable option...  Aeroe Spider

Reply

velocipedestrian
Velocipedestrian
2 weeks, 5 days ago
+1 Andrew Major

We have a Thule tour rack in use. It's solid so far.

AndrewMajor
Andrew Major
2 weeks, 5 days ago
0

The Thule looks solid. Lots of interesting (looking) options for the easy on/off rack market.

ham-bobet
hambobet
2 weeks, 6 days ago
+1 Andrew Major

Tailfinn products look promising...

Reply

AndrewMajor
Andrew Major
2 weeks, 5 days ago
0

Tailfin mounts to the seat stays and seat post so it would only work with a hardtail, yes?

khai
khai
2 weeks, 5 days ago
+1 Andrew Major

(Can't reply directly to Velocipedestrian so I'm doing so here)
My wife had one of those Thule racks that we used for a road tour.  Once I got it tight enough it held up well, but I really had to crank down on those fasteners - far more that I liked on a carbon fork.  It had slipped down after a few hours and I tightened it more, then later in the day after it slipped again I really had to reef on it (I think I improvised a cheater bar to use with my full size allen wrench to get more leverage).  After that it held up for a couple of weeks of touring with no issue, and it worked well.  But I didn't like how hard I had to crank on those straps to get it to hold, and that was a road tour.  I wouldn't personally trust them on a gravel/dirt based trip for that reason.

Reply

velocipedestrian
Velocipedestrian
2 weeks, 5 days ago
0

Fair enough, ours has been on road only so far. I'll keep an eye on it when adventures get bumpier.

AndrewMajor
Andrew Major
3 weeks, 1 day ago
0

With all the sizes and shapes of frame bag options these days, I'm not sure why I ever see seat bags or tubes hanging off folks' saddles. Stuff hanging off the seat tends to get gross, it affects dropper post-performance, and people lose stuff all the time. There are so many flexible in-frame solutions for folks that want to ditch or downsize packs.

Reply

Vikb
Vik Banerjee
3 weeks ago
+1 Andrew Major

There is a limit to what you can fit into a frame [especially a lot of these modern low slung TT frames and in the case of FS there is a shock to deal with] and the best stuff to put there are heavier items like food, water, tools, etc... After that bars and behind saddle are the next spots to put stuff. There are also a high % of touring folks that are allergic to wearing packs so they really want everything on the bike.

A seatbag or rack acts like a fender which some people like. I have my bike setup so I can use my rack and a Mudhugger fender. Keeps me clean and stops my bike from being stolen. ;-)

There is also a fascination with gear in the newb touring part of the world. They spend a lot of time researching and buying widgets to deal with "What Ifs?" and then those widgets have to be stored somewhere on the bike.

Anyways sorry for the long OT. This has nothing to do with shorty droppers.

Reply

AndrewMajor
Andrew Major
3 weeks ago
+1 Vik Banerjee

It’s true, especially as it seems full suspension bikes are becoming more popular for off-road/gravel touring (or maybe it’s just ride what you own?). Cycle touring has never really appealed to me but we want to do some little family overnights this year maybe so it’s been on my mind.

Reply

Vikb
Vik Banerjee
3 weeks ago
+1 mrbrett

If you have or can borrow a kid's bike trailer/chariot they make great cargo haulers for those non-singletrack family weekends.

Reply

Tjaardbreeuwer
Tjaard Breeuwer
2 weeks, 6 days ago
0

Better than that, a tag along , WILL  go on singletrack. Takes a bit more effort to pack, but it can be done.

We did that for a family bikepack with our full suspension mtb’s two years ago.

worldtravelerplus
worldtravelerplus
2 weeks, 6 days ago
0

Hi Andrew , great article. I have lived (and still living ) through trying to optimize kids bikes to be more user friendly for the kids . My kids are now 9 and 6 .  I’d be happy to share with you what I have done to make my kids bikes as user friendly as possible for them. Both on FS bikes . They did start on hard tails . To give you an idea , my son is 6 and can now climb up Burnaby mountain from the bottom to the top with no towing anymore . Maybe we can work on an article together . Msg me if you want some interesting ideas . Keep up the great articles !

Reply

AndrewMajor
Andrew Major
2 weeks, 5 days ago
0

Hi there, glad your kids are enjoying mountain biking. Have they tried any of the local(ish) single track climbs like Good Sir Martin or King Of The Shore? Maybe IMBY? I haven’t taken mine to BBY MTN but my understanding from talking to other parents is their main challenge with heading up Joe’s is the kids get bored?

As a general rule I don’t write about full suspension rigs for kids, thanks for your offer though.

Reply

worldtravelerplus
worldtravelerplus
2 weeks, 5 days ago
0

All good no worries about the FS thing .  We live on Burke mnt so we usually ride lots of Burke and other Tricity area stuff. Haven’t hit up IMBY yet , as that climb is a capital B lol. I agree the BBY mnt climb is a bit mundane at times , we mix it up with some single track head up different routes etc.  We use the main climb up now as endurance building and learning how to climb up steeper stuff (ie body position etc ) .  I will give a first hand experience to all those reading this Re kids FS bikes . If you can find one and if it’s in your budget I have found the FS bikes with both my kids have insanely elevated and accelerated their riding abilities far beyond what I would have though. My kids both started on Hardtails and of course my son got the hand me down hardtail. He complained that everyone else had a FS bike in the family and why not him. So I got him one and at age 6 he is far far beyond my daughters riding abilities at the same age. Good luck 👍

Reply

Please log in to leave a comment.