PNW Rainer Dropper Post 2020 NSMB AndrewM (10).JPG
REVIEW

PNW Rainier Gen 3 Dropper Post

Words Andrew Major
Photos Andrew Major
Date Aug 6, 2020
Reading time

Most-Min-Maxed?

PNW brings a lot of value to my bike with this third-generation dropper post for 180 USD. Full stop. It's a dropper post. It comes down and stays down. It comes up and stays up. It stops anywhere in the middle. Perfect. I wrote three different fully flourishing intros to this review, because in my mind the Rainier deserves one, and then junked them all because there isn't a single thing about the third generation Rainier to get really stoked about. It just works, really well, for a comparatively little amount of money.

It's not the smoothest (BikeYoke), it's not the shortest for any travel category (OneUp), it's not the cheapest good dropper post (X-Fusion), it's not the flashiest (Fox Factory), it's not the most interesting (Reverb AXS), and it doesn't have the longest warranty (Crankbrothers). But, if I'm dropping cash on a dropper post tomorrow, I think there's a strong argument that the PNW Rainier is the most-min-maxed dropper in the business.

PNW Rainer Dropper Post 2020 NSMB AndrewM (5).JPG

There are still a lot of different takes on dropper post guts but every year Wintek cartridges eat up more market share.

PNW Rainer Dropper Post 2020 NSMB AndrewM (4).JPG

All four lengths of Rainier (125mm, 150mm, 170mm, & 200mm) can be reduced up to 30mm in 5mm increments sans tools.

PNW Rainer Dropper Post 2020 NSMB AndrewM (8).JPG

The Rainier is as simple as dropper posts get. Easy to clean, easy to lube, easy to replace a cartridge when the time comes.

First off, the folks at PNW have a solid reputation for quality products and even higher quality customer support that I don't think can be understated. They offer a three-year warranty on this Wintek-cartridge post and I would be surprised if an issue did come up if anyone will touch their turn-around time on resolving issues. That's certainly one way to differentiate a product and I think there's a lot of value buried in PNW's honest desire to get their customers back riding ASAP.

In terms of the Rainier post itself, I've generally had great luck with Wintek gas-cartridge-equipped dropper posts and the Rainier is no exception. It moves very smoothly, and fast enough (but certainly not fast), and it's beyond simple to take apart to clean-and-lube or replace a cartridge when the tire comes.

The Features List

What does 180 USD | 241 CAD buy me? First off, the Rainer is now available in all three popular mountain bike post diameters including 30.9, 31.6, and the ever more prevalent 34.9. Each size is available in four max-travel options - 125mm, 150mm, 170mm, & 200mm - and each option can then be adjusted down up to 30mm in 5mm increments with no tools required.

A couple of giraffes I know have called this travel-adjust feature superfluous. I say they have obviously never had the experience of measuring saddle stack heights to try and help a rider maximize their drop v. leg length or tire clearance. For some riders, the difference between 165mm of drop and 170mm will make their bike fit. The overall lengths, and above seal head stack, aren't the shortest in the business - OneUp owns both crowns - but the numbers are solid with this 170mm travel post showing 224mm from the seat collar to saddle rails and a total length of 493mm.

PNW Rainier Measurements NSMB AndrewM.jpg

The Rainier has a reasonably short total length and seat collar to rail length for any given size. True, it's not the shortest. But, the combination of price, reputation, reliability, performance, and dimensions is solid.

As I noted in my teardown with Jeff, the new Wintek version of the Rainier doesn't require any bizarre cable measuring voodoo. It's about as plug and play as any dropper post gets other than still requiring the little cable-head receiver at the seat post actuator. Personally, I'd love to see the actuator pre-shaped to accept a cable head because I always seem to drop the little barrel when I'm working on them. PNW is not alone in requiring this extra little widget so that's a fairly universal entry on my wish list.

Otherwise I haven't touched the Rainier since it was installed, other than to swap remotes around in the name of science, and that in itself is, I think, the best feature. Performance is such that the post just disappears when I'm riding and I think that's the life goal for any dropper post.

PNW Loam Lever NSMB AndrewM.JPG

I mainly rode the Rainier combined with PNW's Loam Lever. Not surprisingly, it's an excellent combination that adds 60 USD if purchased with the post.

Rev Grips NSMB AndrewM.JPG

It's a tank but, 73-grams aside, I really like the e13 Vario remote at 50 USD. Great value as an aftermarket option, but if buying with the post I'd pick up the Loam Lever.

Push On Grips SQLab 711R NSMB AndrewM (4).JPG

I also had great results using my beloved light-action Wolf Tooth ReMote. It is 70 USD with a 22.2mm bar clamp or the Magura mount shown here.

PNW sells the post sans remote and gives the option of purchasing their budget Puget lever (50 USD) their excellent Loam Lever (70 USD) or any one of their gravel-roadie options at a discounted price. The ultimate min-maxing-move is to hit up friends for whatever dropper post remotes they have lying about from past uppy-downy experiences and trade them for beer or coffee. It saves them from having to relieve awful memories and the Rainier post is happy getting friendly with every remote I've tried. For a few bucks more I think the Loam Lever is a worthwhile investment but I understand trying to stretch those dollars when choosing a 'game-changer.'

Juneuary and Julyuary rain! The start of our summer was wet-wet-wet and it was just the other day the slightly slower than normal Rainier told me it would like a bit of Slickoleum under the seal head. It's a sub-one-minute, tool-free, job including finding the grease. I like to service my own stuff and time is of the essence so I think this is an important feature. When it comes time to swap a cartridge, install new seals and keyways, and fully clean & lube the post it will seriously take longer to remove it from my bike than to do the work. That's a win.

PNW Rainier NSMB AndrewM.JPG

I can't think of a reason I'd spend more on a dropper post than the PNW Rainier's 180 USD, plus remote, price tag.

Rainier Games

Personally, I've found my dropper post sweet spot to be at 150-170mm on all bikes. I used to be solidly in the 150mm camp but it's amazing how once I was used to riding a 170mm post there started to be situations where 150mm just felt too short. For me 200mm posts drop decidedly too far. Would 180mm be better than 170mm? I guess I'd have to try lowering a 200mm Rainier to find out, but I have to say that 170mm is about perfect. I ran the Rainier at 160mm and 155mm to play with the adjustment setting. My legs are long enough that it's not a feature I'd need on any modern size large bike. I certainly don't need an infinitely adjustable post - all the way up and all the way down are the only two settings I generally use - and I could see riders in the same boat playing with the adjustable travel feature to find their perfect point for fully-dropped.

As mentioned, the Rainier isn't quick, but it's plenty fast for me and I'm guessing most riders. If you like to feel a cold rush of air as your seat comes within millimeters of your bits there are much faster options on the market.

Overfork NSMB AndrewM (3).JPG

I used the Rainier at full extension and slammed. It is happy to stop solidly anywhere in between but that's how I use dropper posts.

Faultless for less. The real question here is two-fold. If I owned a Rainier would I buy something else? No. Even if money was no object I can't think of any reason I'd replace a generation three Rainier. If I was in the market for a dropper post would I buy the Rainier over other posts? There are some great options on the market that don't use Wintek guts - including PNW's excellent Bachelor post - but the combination of price, reliability, and ease of service of a cartridge post is hard to argue against. The Highline 7 from Crankbrothers uses a fancier Wintek cartridge and is excellent but at a significant premium over the Rainier.

With specific product goals in mind like weight, speed, or absolute smoothness I can absolutely make strong arguments for other posts. If I just want something that supports me - up, down, and in between - for the longterm with minimal fuss, maximum support, minimal cost, and maximum customer service then I don't see how I can beat this option comparing SRP prices.

Performance, quality, and impressive customer service per dollar check. Check out the current top value in dropper posts at PNW.

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Comments

WalrusRider
+1 Andrew Major
WalrusRider  - Aug. 6, 2020, 6:56 a.m.

It was between the PNW Rainier and OneUpv2 for me. I eventually chose the OneUp due to the longer length and lower stack height. At this point I see no reason to spend more on a dropper. Easy to service and they just plain work. I couldn't ask for more.

Reply

AndrewMajor
0
Andrew Major  - Aug. 6, 2020, 8:21 a.m.

Most riders I know aren’t down to the wire even sizing up but certainly I’ve met a few folks with slammed OneUp posts where nothing on the market would have worked to deliver the same travel (though a couple times I have been left wondering if the installer tested saddle v. tire clearance at full bottom out).

Reply

Tjaardbreeuwer
+1 Andrew Major
Tjaard Breeuwer  - Aug. 6, 2020, 10:52 a.m.

I bought a Oneup V2 last year for my Wife’s bike. As an older bike, the seat seat tube is on the longer side, so getting max drop was great. She has the 170mm reduced to 160, with a few mm to spare. Also, this PNW V3 wasn’t out yet.

But when it was time to replace my own post (I am tall), the PNW V3 fits in the 200mm length with room to spare, and was a few bucks cheaper.

When I had a weird issue with my new post on it’s second ride, I got a new one in the mail within 3 days.

Reply

neologisticzand
+1 Andrew Major
Chad K  - Aug. 6, 2020, 2:05 p.m.

@WalrusRider - In my case, I bought a full price BikeYoke Revive, but I also purchased it at time when there wasn't such a plethora of posts on the market and the available posts were not known for their durability. Safe to say I have been exceptionally pleased with the post, which has now lived on multiple bikes and treated me well since the day I bought it 3 years ago, almost to the day.

Having had such pleasant experiences with both the BikeYoke post and the company/owner, I would definitely consider buying another one to support a company I like.

Reply

velocipedestrian
0
Velocipedestrian  - Aug. 8, 2020, 12:52 a.m.

I'm waiting (covid speed shipping) for a OneUp v2.1 too, did some very careful measuring and I'm pretty sure I won't have to shim it down from 210. Pretty excited to feel the extra 60mm of breeze between my knees.

[edit] 

Just swapped tabs to the cornering from 2006 article, and the leg position of the front rider in the header image shows why I want 210mm of drop, my saddle is a little high for that knee angle over my 150mm post.

Reply

rigidjunkie
+2 Andrew Major Tjaard Breeuwer
Allen Lloyd  - Aug. 6, 2020, 7:25 a.m.

At my house we  have 2 PNWs and they are exactly 14.7643 times smoother than the 2 Reverbs we have.  Amazingly easy to setup, their service is insanely good.  We will be down to 1 Reverb in the near future when I swap for one of these when my stupid plunger needs bleed again.

Reply

Masacrejoe
+2 Andrew Major Tjaard Breeuwer
Michael Klein  - Aug. 6, 2020, 7:59 a.m.

On my second ride with the Rainier Gen3 the actuator stuck, leaving the post unlocked in any position. I reached out to PNW who replied: "We have identified that some of the Rainier Gen 3 actuators have a rough machining issue on the moving parts causing them to intermittently stick. We have also found a repair for this issue that 100% fixes the problem." This was on sunday (four days ago), and today I received a replacement actuator. Considering, that there's nine hours time difference and half a world between Denmark and Pacific North West, I reckon that's pretty fast. PNW have even made a video showing how to install the new actuator. If you know what a wrench is, and wich way to screw-unscrew, it's a walk in the park (only it won't take so long).

By the way, I had the defect actuator running again with some thin lube. So allmost no downtime.

Reply

AndrewMajor
0
Andrew Major  - Aug. 6, 2020, 8:23 a.m.

Every story I’ve ever heard about an imperfect PMW products is similar. I think that’s impressive turnaround for a fix. Glad you didn’t miss much riding!

Reply

tdmsurfguy
+1 Andrew Major
tdmsurfguy  - Aug. 6, 2020, 8:08 a.m.

I have the Gen-2 Rainier and love it. Has been completely faultless over this last year. I can’t say the same for the 9point8 that it replaced that required air added every ride and multiple warranties. I also want to add that PNW is a great company that gives back to local trail groups and nonprofits.

Reply

metacomet
+2 Andrew Major Chad K
Metacomet  - Aug. 6, 2020, 9:53 a.m.

The new PNW posts are definitely super nice. I really love their design for the travel adjust, and the price point is...on point! Ha! One thing I would see as an improvement is to have an audible cue at top out. For whatever reason, I like hearing and knowing that the post has come all the way up.

Reply

AndrewMajor
+1 Metacomet
Andrew Major  - Aug. 6, 2020, 5:52 p.m.

Hahahaha you’re the third or fourth person I’ve seen mention liking a little THWACK at top out (and maybe a ‘light’ tap between the legs?). Are you a past Fox DOSS owner by any chance?

The first DOSS I ever mounted, I pumped it up to the listed max pressure, torqued the seat clamp, and when I hit the button it pulled itself 2” out of the frame like a slide hammer.  Even with half that pressure it could shoot coins impressively.

Anyways, apparently some folks really miss the hard here-and-now of a properly crisp DOSS post (specifically), which this certainly is not!

Reply

neologisticzand
+1 Andrew Major
Chad K  - Aug. 6, 2020, 8:24 p.m.

I've never owned a DOSS, but I also feel the same way. I like hearing the post top out from a fast return. But them again, I'm touchy about post return speeds as I ride in areas with a lot of quick undulations in terrain, so I'm often putting my dropper up and down.

Reply

AndrewMajor
0
Andrew Major  - Aug. 7, 2020, 8:39 a.m.

What’s your current preference for a dropper Chad?

Reply

neologisticzand
0
Chad K  - Aug. 7, 2020, 7:53 p.m.

I've been using a BikeYoke Revive for the last 3 years. That post and company have treated me very well over those three years, too.

Additional note: I also run my post at max pressure.

Reply

metacomet
+1 Andrew Major
Metacomet  - Aug. 7, 2020, 8:30 a.m.

Haven't ever owned a DOSS.  I'm using 9point8's and OneUp's.  Neither of those are soo fast or loud, but they come up quick enough and have just enough of a thunk to know they're definitely at the top without needing to give it any more thought.  Same with the Bike Yoke's I've tried.  Smooth and quick with a little thunk at the top.   I think the scariest post I've ever stood over was the Command Post from Specialized.   Those things could do double duty as a pneumatic hammer! KAPOWWW!  You do Not want to have your bits be anywhere near the saddle when you press that trigger! Sounds like a similar experience with the that DOSS.   

The PNW has a nice speed and very smooth operation, but its Dead silent when it hits the top. I kept thinking it wasn't coming up all the way the first time I tried it on a friends bike.   Awesome to have so many good options these days.

Reply

AndrewMajor
+1 Metacomet
Andrew Major  - Aug. 7, 2020, 8:43 a.m.

The Command Post moved pretty fast but I’ve see a dude drop himself with a DOSS (knees a little too bent when he hit the up-switch) so I think I’ll give it the award for ‘biggest’ return :-).

Reply

Jotegir
+1 Andrew Major
Lu Kz  - Aug. 10, 2020, 8:52 a.m.

Oh man, Andrew you've reminded me about the DOSS!

I remember we had two Intense bikes in either 2014 or 15 (before MEC scooped em', good riddance anyway), a carbine and a tracer. Both had DOSS posts on them. Many a slow morning on the sales floor was spent seeing which of the two bikes could fire gels, tubes, or whatever else we had on hand farther across the store. It was impressive indeed!

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AndrewMajor
0
Andrew Major  - Aug. 10, 2020, 9:36 a.m.

Hahahahaha. This is awesome! I think I remember the guys at LVB shooting some coins into the ceiling of their workshop too. DOSS posts - more fun in the shop than on the trail?!?

Reply

tehllama42
+1 Andrew Major
Tehllama42  - Aug. 7, 2020, 7:50 a.m.

Giraffe squad checking in - back in the dark days of the original Command Post, I couldn't figure out why people were unhappy that posts only did maximum up and maximum down... but there are a few cases where I can sustain a high tempo aero (ish) position at almost all the way down, so it is nice.

Reply

metacomet
+2 JVP Andrew Major
Metacomet  - Aug. 7, 2020, 8:44 a.m.

Personally speaking, my post is full up or full down 90% of the time I'm using it but I definitely want to have the infinite adjust.  Not So much for the ability to constantly vary the height, but to be able to just quickly get the seat down and out of the way without Needing to get it all the way down. If I lower it, I want it to stay wherever I lowered it to.  With the indexed posts, you either hit that spot or the post comes back up with you when you stand, which is a very scary thing when you need and expect the seat to be down and out of the way during very quick situations involving committing moves with consequences and high potential for things to go wrong.  There's other times such as on tech climbs where I'll drop it just enough to move around a bit more freely, while still being able hover and get some weight on it for traction when needed.

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neologisticzand
+1 Velocipedestrian
Chad K  - Aug. 7, 2020, 7:58 p.m.

Metacomet, somehow despite all my years of reading bike articles, I've never heard someone mention that indexed posts might return back if the indexed part is not reached appropriately. I've always used infinite adjust posts, so that was never something I've considered. That sounds horrifying. 

That said, despite infinite adjust, I really only use up and fully down.

Reply

JVP
+1 Andrew Major
JVP  - Aug. 8, 2020, 10 a.m.

+1 on dropping the post slightly on tech climbs. Makes a huge difference.

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AndrewMajor
0
Andrew Major  - Aug. 10, 2020, 9:24 a.m.

I tend to drop it all the way and just stand on any bike - single speeder - for actually tech climbing bits and then pump it back up as soon as I’m through a section.

It’s interesting though. Was chatting to a couple friends yesterday who mentioned once they went to 200mm droppers they started using mid-positions way more often and rarely slam the posts.

Reply

AndrewMajor
0
Andrew Major  - Aug. 10, 2020, 9:31 a.m.

I never had an issue (e13, Command Post, DOSS, Ritchey) hitting the index points. Not even a learning curve as the collets slap in so hard. Infinite adjust obviously won over consumers (and Wintek is just so good/$).

Actually, I’ve seen two hilarious (hilarious because the riders were fine) incidents when an infinite post was lowered and the actuator stuck open so as the rider stood up the post came up with them... as they dropped in. Facial expression would have been amazing for my scare yourself article.

Reply

Brocklanders
+1 Andrew Major
yahs  - Aug. 7, 2020, 12:33 p.m.

Funny just installed this dropper yesterday. Easy to install, works great. Like the 10- 30mm adjustment

Reply

flattire2
0
Brian Tuulos  - Aug. 13, 2020, 8:52 a.m.

What’s the rebuild options for this post?  Is the cartridge throw-away?  

What I do like about my reverbs is free rebuilds.   I don’t even buy new seals just tear the post down, fresh oil and build it back up. Runs great for 18 months until the squish returns.

Reply

neologisticzand
0
Chad K  - Aug. 13, 2020, 12:56 p.m.

That's also how I feel about my bike yoke. Going on 3 years with the same internals, minus replacing major wear items like the stanchion wiper and brass keys every few seasons.

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