Ritchey WCS Kite Dropper Post AndrewM
Review

Ritchey Kite Dropper Post Reviewed

Words Andrew Major
Photos Andrew Major
Date Oct 3, 2018

Clean Kite

The 473 gram Ritchey WCS Kite dropper post is the cleanest looking post on the market. From the beveled titanium seat clamp hardware to the minimalist and easily accessible Schraeder valve, not to mention the nearly seamless seal head transition, it's beyond smooth to behold. 

It's also simple and entirely user serviceable. It has three travel positions (125mm drop, 30mm drop, and no drop) locked in place by a ball bearing collet and it returns courtesy of a low pressure air spring. 

Ritchey WCS Kite Dropper Post AndrewM

Organic looking seal head area. 

Ritchey WCS Kite Dropper Post AndrewM

Beautiful beveled titanium hardware. 

The speed is easily adjustable via air pressure but even the slowest usable setting is FAST. In terms of usability, it reminds me of the original Fox DOSS, which was the product elite racers wanted. It has an 'inch for fun' drop setting and otherwise it's all the way down, or coming back up like a Space-X launch. Serviceability and cable routing aside, I loved the DOSS post. For riders who felt the same way, and for whom 125mm of travel is sufficient, the stealth routed and easily torn down Kite is a unicorn. 

Of Two Minds

If Ritchey made a 170mm or even 150mm version of the Kite it would be on the short-list for my personal bike. Please note, that is not the same as a recommendation for all. For me the best value dropper posts for performance, ease of maintenance, and low cost of ownership are cartridge-style posts. My two favourites remain the Crankbrothers Highline and X-Fusion Manic. On my personal bikes, I prefer the coil-and-collet e13 TRS+. The posts have many more moving parts and not surprisingly they have required more routine maintenance. 

Ritchey WCS Kite Dropper Post AndrewM

Check out my teardown with Jeff at Bikeroom. 

The Kite is essentially an air-sprung version of the TRS+ and while coil sprung products generally excel in terms of simplicity, Ritchey's effort is a brilliant homage to Occam's razor.

Even the service interval, which beyond greasing a seal is a 'when the post needs it, it will tell you, leave it until then' affair, speaks to a bold attempt at simplifying the mountain bike experience with no performance loss.*

*Except for riders who love infinite adjustment - in which case stick with a cartridge post. 

Ritchey WCS Kite Dropper Post AndrewM

Simple tools. 

Ritchey WCS Kite Dropper Post AndrewM

Easily replaced wear parts. 

Ritchey WCS Kite Dropper Post AndrewM

Fully user rebuildable. 

Steeper seat tube angles require longer dropper posts on aggressive bikes, so the light, shorter travel Kite can be seen as an XC product. Aside from a couple of issues I'll mention below, I'd like to see a longer travel version. A year ago I would have been happy with a 150mm option and a stop in between but if Ritchey lets me choose the three settings will be full-extension, 30mm drop, and a full 170mm drop. Heck, make it 180mm just to be different. 

Ritchey WCS Kite Dropper Post AndrewM

The Kite remote binds up 1/90th of a turn past the point where the single bolt keeps the bar clamp from slipping. Even with exactly the right tension, it is not an ergonomic winner. It's the fingernail floating in otherwise excellent soup - easily removed, not easily forgotten. 

Issues

The Ritchey remote truly sucks. I've replaced much better remotes with my preferred aftermarket options from Wolf Tooth and e13. I'd like to see this post sold without a remote. I used it with a Wolf Tooth ReMote, e13 TRS+, and a Crankbrothers Highline remote and I was happy with all three. 

The post is very nicely made. The 370 USD price tag looks high on paper compared to 200 USD for the Manic or 280 USD for the TRS+, both of which include good remotes, but if Ritchey could call it 350 USD without a remote I'd say that's fair. I wish the remote was the only issue I had but a couple of others did come up.

Ritchey WCS Kite Dropper Post AndrewM

The exposed valve means no saddle removal is required to adjust air pressure.  

Ritchey WCS Kite Dropper Post AndrewM

Oops. 

The first issue I had was sizing. Oh, bike industry. The Ritchey WCS Kite was a beautiful fit in every bike I tried it in except for one. That bike has a perfect fit with every other post I have except the Kite, which I wasn't willing to twist and crank into the frame to prove a point.

I measured the 31.6 Kite at 31.64 at the widest point which is ever so slightly oversized. I put the Kite into random bikes and only a couple high-end steel jobs were a no-go. It's probably the best fitting post your frame has experienced but don't force it if it doesn't slide in.  

Another early issue was a cracked valve stem which caused all the air to leak. The beauty of a collet system is the post was still manually adjustable, which works surprisingly well, and the part was quickly and easily replaced. This only happened once, but crashes happen. Is being able to adjust air pressure without removing my saddle worth the possible headache?

Kite Dream

This good looking post scores points for being externally adjustable,* relatively light and having a long service interval. If you don't need more than 125mm of travel or infinite adjustment, this could your best option on the market. 

*ideal if you paid for a bike fit and don't want to fiddle to get your saddle back to the right spot.

For more information on the, 370 USD, WCS Kite check out Ritchey's site

Comments

morgan-heater
+2 WasatchEnduro Andrew Major
Morgan Heater  - Oct. 3, 2018, 9:08 a.m.

I have an old command post on my hardtail that has long since stopped working as an automatic dropper, but still works great manually. I actually really like that I don't "have" to get it fix it if I don't want to.

Reply

AndrewMajor
+1 Morgan Heater
Andrew Major  - Oct. 3, 2018, 9:18 a.m.

I think collet posts are the best option for trips, bike packing, etc for exactly that reason. TRS+ isn’t perfect but it’s hyper-reliable, has 170mm drop, is reasonably priced comparatively, and includes a great remote. 

If the spring were to break or the temperature drops and your stupid mechanic (me) used too heavy grease last rebuild and it gets cold and won’t return (entirely my fault) it still works manually. 

Same with the Ritchey when the valve broke. It was still entirely usable up and down.

Reply

morgan-heater
0
Morgan Heater  - Oct. 4, 2018, 12:41 p.m.

Reply

Applesauce
0
Applesauce  - Oct. 3, 2018, 10:30 a.m.

Nice toolbox, Jeff.

Reply

AndrewMajor
0
Andrew Major  - Oct. 3, 2018, 12:25 p.m.

If you’ve never been by Wheelthing/Bikeroom, Jeff has a very sweet collection of vintage tools, including SnapOn stuff, that’s still in everyday use.

Reply

Applesauce
0
Applesauce  - Oct. 4, 2018, 6 p.m.

That’s because it’s all still perfectly good! I run a shop (working mostly out of an 800-lb 60” 1980s Smiths Falls Gray box...that’s red).

Tool junkies are unreasonably rare in the bike-wrenching world. We don’t use our tools very hard, in the being scheme of things, but it’s still nice to have nice ones.

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alexdi
+1 Jerry Willows
Alex D  - Oct. 3, 2018, 1:15 p.m.

Nice post, though expensive. My own endgame is a BikeYoke Revive. I can't see a reason to buy anything else in this price range.

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AndrewMajor
0
Andrew Major  - Oct. 3, 2018, 2:13 p.m.

As the high end (high priced) dropper posts go the Revive is certainly the bench mark.

The manufacturing quality of the Ritchey is also premium and the system is bomber. If they made a similarly long travel option it would come down to a choice between fixed position and infinite travel to me.

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Captain-Snappy
0
Merwinn  - Oct. 3, 2018, 1:28 p.m.

Does Jeff play jazz flute?

Reply

Thunderbear
+1 IslandLife
Thunderbear  - Oct. 3, 2018, 1:36 p.m.

How is almost $400 for a dropper justifiable now that there are so many cheaper options? OneUp, PNW, SDG to mention a few.. and of course the E13 and X-fusion offerings. What am I missing?

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AndrewMajor
0
Andrew Major  - Oct. 3, 2018, 2:20 p.m.

Bontrager Line and RaceFace Aeffect (etc) posts are good pricepoint options as well. There are lots of more-affordable options on the market now.

Manufacturing quality on the Ritchey is high and the design is very well thought out. It’s going to be easily justified, remote aside, by the same type of rider who can justify a BikeYoke ReVive or one of the other bigger money options on the market. It’s a long term investment. 

I’m not disagreeing with you, personally I think in a 150mm or less post the Manic is the standard by which value and performance should measured. It does the job well, is easy to service, and the price is very reasonable.

I’m a big fan of the TRS+ as I noted.

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Thunderbear
0
Thunderbear  - Oct. 3, 2018, 4:38 p.m.

This comment has been removed.

Thunderbear
0
Thunderbear  - Oct. 3, 2018, 4:38 p.m.

I get it, sleek lines and titanium bolts... I still can't help but feel it's a bit of a joke, releasing a short-drop post in 2018 for 370 bucks with an inferior remote, and other issues you mentioned.

Do they really only give you a 1 year warranty? X-fusion, BikeYoke and OneUp has 2 years, E13 I believe 5?

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AndrewMajor
0
Andrew Major  - Oct. 3, 2018, 11:19 p.m.

I could write an article about manufacturers' warranties against defects in manufacturing and materials but the conclusion would just be to stay on top of your service interval and consider the service cost when buying a product. I wouldn't use the warranty as a factor when considering a dropper post purchase unless if there was a company with a no-fault guarantee new-post-in-the-mail-today-if-you-have-an-issue policy (Crankbrothers Highline is the closest thing to that on the market and it's a great post).

For example, if I owned this Ritchey post for three-to-five years, riding as much as I do, the cost over that time (including the initial purchase price) would be notably lower than a Reverb or Transfer. One of those posts I can service myself but it requires expensive seal kits if I have all the tools and the other one I'm sending away to get serviced.

Now, again, if the Manic works for you and you're handy it's a relatively easy post to service as well and the cartridge is cheap and easy to replace and it has a lower purchase price. It's still the value leader in an infinite position post. Crankbrothers Highline is even easier to take apart with tools every one owns (even non-cyclists) for basic service and cartridge replacement.

Personally, I prefer an, albeit more complex, collet style post with fixed positions. My Command post experiences have been poor, my Fox DOSS died and wasn't serviceable, my e13 TRS+ experiences have been good but I have had to do a fair amount of labour to keep them running tight and smooth (although not to keep them running), and the Ritchey has been flawless to date. When I factor in time and cost of service parts the Ritchey has the potential over time to be the best value on the market in my preferred style of post.

The big reason, as I noted, the Ritchey wouldn't be my go to is the lack of travel. I've replaced much better remotes with my preferred pieces from Wolftooth or e13 so for me, personally, the remote isn't actually a big deal but it bore noting.

Anyways, it's obviously not the post for you but I don't think it's a joke at all. It's a great product and the cost of ownership will be comparatively low compared to the market average if it's amortized over a few years of hard riding.

Reply

JVP
0
JVP  - Oct. 4, 2018, 10:11 a.m.

If you're talking about amortization, you should probably factor arbitrage into your formula.

Reply

AndrewMajor
+2 James Vasilyev Niels
Andrew Major  - Oct. 4, 2018, 10:17 a.m.

I’m one of those weird ‘total net benefit’ people who likes to buy stuff from businesses that pay taxes in, and otherwise support , my local community so that isn’t really a factor for me.

But, yes, it is insane how much the price of some products range from one market to another.

Thunderbear
0
Thunderbear  - Oct. 4, 2018, 1:31 p.m.

Good points about ease of service - I could see how it's better value than some competitors. I don't think the Reverb or Transfer represent good value either, though... same price range, more difficult and/or costly to service.

I maintain that longer warranty is a major selling point. Manufacturing issues are common, especially with the first iteration of a new product. I've had many warranty claims over the years. Pedals, dropper posts, frames, shocks, hubs, cranks.. you name it.

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earleb
0
earle.b  - Oct. 4, 2018, 11:28 a.m.

Let's also talk about real manufactures defect warranty vs you broke your stuff and think it's somehow the manufactures fault. 

All too often I don't think people really understand what a warranty is and covers vs something like a crash replacement policy.

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mzro
+1 Andrew Major
mzro  - Oct. 6, 2018, 2:24 a.m.

Seems to be great dropper for winter fatbiking - many hydraulic droppers start to fail when it is freezing outside. e13 TRS+ has weak lifting power and has issues popping up with bikepacking dropper-friendly saddlebags, unless you pack them very lightly. I wonder how powerful WCS Kite is.

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AndrewMajor
0
Andrew Major  - Oct. 6, 2018, 7:31 a.m.

Way more juice than the e13. No posts are made for lifting more weight that a saddle - that I know of - but I have lots of pumps to go before max pressure on the Ritchey.

Only concern I’d have is valve vs. saddle bag if it’s a monster.

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