Ritchey WCS Kite Dropper Post AndrewM
Teardown | First Look

Ritchey WCS Kite Dropper Post

Words Andrew Major
Photos Andrew Major
Date Feb 13, 2018

But Weight...

There is an ever-increasing number of aftermarket dropper posts available and many bikes come equipped with one right out of the box. With all the choice available there is a limited number of ways that companies can differentiate themselves: travel, price, function, reliability, appearance, and weight. 

 With the WCS Kite post, Ritchey is elbowing its way into the crowded 125mm dropper category with the cleanest looking post on the market. It hits my scale at a reasonable 473 grams (31.6) for the post itself, locks solidly into place at all three drop settings (0mm, 30mm, and 125mm), and return speed is simple to adjust via a Schraeder valve at the post head. No removal of post or saddle required. Nice.  

The post uses a very simple low-pressure air system to return the post to full extension and a ball bearing collet system to hold it in place. To boot, the whole system is easily torn down with a hex key set, a strap wrench, Slickoleum, and a pair of snap ring pliers. 

Ritchey WCS Kite Dropper Post AndrewM

I am in love with the ridiculously clean beveled T-25 post hardware. No big barrel washers required for silky smooth tilt adjustment. 

Ritchey WCS Kite Dropper Post AndrewM

The low pressure (max 10 psi) air system is easily accessed to adjust return speed. No post or saddle removal required. 

The clean look of the Ritchey Kite is an excellent example of form following function. Making a robust, reliable dropper post that is also lightweight Ritchey has kept the design as simple as possible. This is most apparent when the guts are removed. Really, that's all that's in there!?

Ritchey WCS Kite Dropper Post AndrewM

The 27-gram remote is light, light, light. The thumb paddle is large and heavily textured. Mounts are available for I-Spec I & II and MatchMaker in addition to this bar clamp. 

K.I.S.S.

Push remote lever. Lever pulls cable. Cable retracts ball bearing collet. Post compressed under body weight and rises via simple air system. On paper, it's the same as my experience with the coil sprung, 150mm travel, e13 TRS+ dropper but the Kite is easier to work on and I like the one piece head/shaft assembly. 

Teardown instructions: Let out air pressure and remove valve core. Loosen seal head with a strap wrench. Undo bolt under saddle clamps with a hex key. Unwind base using a hex key or screwdriver inserted through slots. Remove a snap ring. Lube it all up and reverse.

Ritchey WCS Kite Dropper Post AndrewM

No special tools required. Let out the air, insert a 4mm hex key or similar sized tool, and unwind. 

Ritchey WCS Kite Dropper Post AndrewM

No vice? No problem. Just like unwinding a stuck can on an air shock, mount the post in your frame and then grab the strap wrench. 

The head of the remote cable is oriented at the bottom of the post and it hooks quickly into a simple bell. Pull the cable, retract the bearings and the post is ready to go up or down.

Integration is high. The actuator is itself mounted to the bottom the air shaft. There is a limited number of parts but tolerances have to be precise for everything to work properly. The nature of the system is that the piston can become worn/pitted over time but Ritchey is committed to having excellent small parts availability. 

Ritchey WCS Kite Dropper Post AndrewM

Ball bearing collet at the bottom of the air shaft is retracted by engaging the remote. It's a great system as long as a rider's happy not having infinite saddle positions. 

As with most posts, twisting play is handled by brass keyways and fore-aft slop is handled by bushings. Both items are easily replaced as part of a service. 

On that note, Ritchey, bizarrely, does not prescribe any type of routine service interval for the Kite. They specifically state not to worry about opening the post unless it feels rough or play develops. In that case, order up a seal kit and have at it. They also encourage owners to service their own posts and provide a written how-to in their owners manual which you can read here

Maybe the nicest thing about the Kite is that it's so simple anyone can attempt to tear it down. As long as you don't attack it with Vice Grips or hard sharp tools your local mechanic should be more than happy to finish the job for you. 

Ritchey WCS Kite Dropper Post AndrewM

Wear items include the bushings and keyways. There is also an o-ring, eventually a shaft and perhaps twenty years from now some steel ball bearings. 

Ritchey WCS Kite Dropper Post AndrewM

Jeff's been busy lately. In addition to opening his high end service shop, called Wheel Thing, on Valentines Day he's forming a cover band called #JeffroTull. 

That Remote Though...

My theory on dropper post remotes is severe and requires a lot of blue language or "bike shop words" as my three-year-old calls them. For the purpose of this review let me just say that I think Ritchey should make like Fox Racing Shox and sell their remote separately from their post. 

XC or 'cross racer deciding whether or not to run a dropper post? Ritchey's 27-gram remote is ergonomic, light and has a big paddle that's hard to miss in the heat of battle. The post itself has a large return spring on the actuator to pull the remote back into position and the barrel adjuster is inline for a clean look. But, it still sucks. 

Ritchey WCS Kite Dropper Post AndrewM

The big paddle is hard to miss in the heat of battle. The cable is tensioned at the lever and excess is behind the paddle. 

Ritchey WCS Kite Dropper Post AndrewM

A single bolt tightens the remote's handlebar clamp onto the bar and binds the lever blade to its pivot. Binding is the operative word. 

My main issue with the Ritchey remote is that it comes down to 1/93rd of a turn on the bolt to hit the point between no-slipping of the clamp and the introduction a ton of binding friction into the system. Once I hit the sweet spot there's still the fact that the remote isn't great by any metric. 

As with the Fox Transfer post, the obvious choice is to buy a Wolftooth ReMote and never look back. Just ask Jesse Melamed. I bought one for my own dropper and I may run it on the Kite for a while just to say I did. In the meantime I'm running a Crankbros Highline remote and it's a huge improvement for 9-grams. 

Ritchey WCS Kite Dropper Post AndrewM

27-grams is light for a dropper post remote. I'm running the Kite with a 36-gram Crankbrothers Highline remote and it's the best 9-gram upgrade I've made. 

Wolftooth ReMote AndrewM

For an extra 10-grams, I could have a meaty bearing pivot, significantly improved cable management, built-in tension adjustment, and a more ergonomic lever blade. 

The Kite is 25mm travel short of having the potential to unseat my favorite dropper, the Crankbrothers Highline, so I'm not going to let the remote get me down. It looks great and works great out of the box and I have access to a few different remotes that will be significant improvements including the ReMote, Highline remote, X-Fusion Manic remote, and e13 TRS+ remote. 

For the purpose of this review, I'll be considering the value of the post without the remote against the retail price with remote included. Ritchey has the price reduced 35 USD on their site so call it 315 USD sans remote. It's like getting a ReMote for 1/2 price. 

Wolftooth ReMote AndrewM

Dropper manufacturer, if your post feels significantly better with a Wolftooth lever either redesign your remote, rebrand a ReMote, or sell the post without one. 

Wolftooth ReMote AndrewM

If you are redesigning your remote consider that bearing pivot points are better. It's the defining feature of SRAM brakes and will make your remote better too. 

With that bit of ugliness out of the way, the Kite is back together and ready to ride. Cabling up any remote with a cable pinch bolt is a quick and easy affair.   

Ritchey WCS Kite Dropper Post AndrewM

We briefly interrupt our scheduled teardown...

Ritchey WCS Kite Dropper Post AndrewM

...so that Jeff can show off...

Ritchey WCS Kite Dropper Post AndrewM

...his new toy. #nepros

Simple 

When it comes right down to it dropper posts have a really simple job to do. The out of the box action of the Kite is excellent (with my remote) and it's so simple inside I'm inclined to trust Ritchey's don't-fix-what-ain't-broke take on maintaining their dropper. The finish is second-to-none clean and the slightly textured outer should stay in place admirably in carbon frames. 

The three positions work very well for me and they're easy to find in the heat of battle. The head unit is the cleanest on the market. Service is really easy and should be very infrequently required. 

Ritchey WCS Kite Dropper Post AndrewM

I'd love to see a 150mm version of WCS Kite. Time will on reliability but as it sits, Ritchey's first dropper ticks all my performance boxes otherwise. 

The Highline is an easier post to clean and lube but the cartridge itself is non-serviceable whereas the Kite combines the ultimate mix of being easy to work on and fully user serviceable. 

Now to grind out the wet Shore rides and report back about reliability as well as try a few different remotes. 

For more information on the Ritchey WCS Kite please check here. Current pricing is 315 USD. 

Comments

fartymarty
0
fartymarty  - Feb. 13, 2018, 6:08 a.m.

When will companies start making dropper post levers to match RH shifter levers.  I'm running a modded XT LH shifter for my dropper and it's great.  It matches the feel of my RH XT shifter.  The only downside is that it's a little hefty.

Reply

AndrewMajor
0
Andrew Major  - Feb. 13, 2018, 7:29 a.m.

e13’s remote is a dead ringer for a SRAM shifter.

The Wolftooth feels like a dead ringer forba shifter as well ergonomics wise.

Reply

skooks
0
Skooks  - Feb. 13, 2018, 8:41 p.m.

I am also running a hacked XT shifter. Works amazing and I would take it hands down over any remote on the market.  It also cost me nothing!

Reply

AndrewMajor
0
Andrew Major  - Feb. 13, 2018, 8:56 p.m.

Many posts orient the cable head at the post so unless if you have a tiny clamp-on end, that's reliable, the shifter hack really limits the choice of posts.

I have a hacked Shimano front shifter (from an old 3x9 set) and its ergonomic (and as you note it was free) but it doesn't work with many posts that have come across my desk as I have yet to find a reliable bolt-on cable end.

For example it doesn't work with my Highline, the Kite or the TRS+. It does work with the X-Fusion Manic and Race Face Aeffect.

Reply

fartymarty
0
fartymarty  - Feb. 14, 2018, 9:50 a.m.

My old Thomson had the cable head at the shifter end and a clamp at the post which worked well with the XT.  The new one was the other way around and I got a tiny barrel cable clamp to hold it at the shifter.  This also seems to work fine.

Plus you get matching shifters which satisfies my mild OCD.

Reply

AndrewMajor
0
Andrew Major  - Feb. 14, 2018, 1:52 p.m.

Interesting, where did you pick up the barrel cable clamp? It’s reliably stayed put?

You tension the system with the shifter barrel or do you have to run an in-line adjuster as well?

Reply

fartymarty
0
fartymarty  - Feb. 15, 2018, 12:19 a.m.

Andrew, 

This is the one https://www.sjscycles.co.uk/cables/solderless-barrel-nipple-55-mm-x-7-mm/

So far so good in terms of staying put.

The Thomson has a slit in the cable holder on the head of the post so I took it out, got the cable to roughly the correct tension, clamped the cable at the shifter and took out any further slack with the barrel adjuster at the shifter.

I didn't bother with the inline adjuster to keep it simple but I guess you could if you really needed it.

rnayel
0
RNAYEL  - Feb. 13, 2018, 8:43 a.m.

Cool, they reinvented the Specialized Command Post.... 6 years later.

Reply

AndrewMajor
0
Andrew Major  - Feb. 13, 2018, 8:52 a.m.

Because it uses an air spring to go up and down and mechanically locks in place?

Yes, more similarities to 2014+ Command Post IR (external air valve, basic layout) but significant differences in how the collet system works, integration of internal components, actuator, and most importantly simple user serviceability. 

I especially like that Ritchey encourages owners to have a go at servicing the product.

Reply

rnayel
0
RNAYEL  - Feb. 13, 2018, 10:32 a.m.

"Because it uses an air spring to go up and down and mechanically locks in place?"

Yes. That.

Cool aspect to user servicing.  I like my 3 position command post, it's been on my hardtail since 2014 and has never given me any issues. Only one rebuild in that time too.

Reply

AndrewMajor
0
Andrew Major  - Feb. 13, 2018, 10:36 a.m.

I won’t go into my Command Post experiences in great detail but once you have a couple of post heads debond on the trail comparing anything to a Command Post sounds like an insult. 

I haven’t ridden their newest posts for enough hours, or taken one apart, to comment on the current generation.

Reply

rnayel
0
RNAYEL  - Feb. 13, 2018, 10:15 p.m.

I have the Wu on the bike you saw on Saturday. first ride was awful, second ride was better.

Reply

cam@nsmb.com
0
Cam McRae  - Feb. 14, 2018, 9:22 a.m.

The Command Post uses a collet as well so that's another similarity.

AndrewMajor
0
Andrew Major  - Feb. 14, 2018, 1:57 p.m.

I mentioned the Command Post collet system above.

Other than both being retracted by a cable the collet systems are totally different animals. At least compared to the Command Posts I’ve seen apart.

alexdi
0
Alex D  - Feb. 13, 2018, 9:18 a.m.

Great article. I can't speak to this product, but I can say that Ritchey has excellent support if it ever breaks.

Reply

AndrewMajor
0
Andrew Major  - Feb. 13, 2018, 9:56 a.m.

Thank You,

It's been years since I've owned a Ritchey product just given their product focus. Remote aside, I'm really impressed with the Kite and would definitely consider other products based on my short experience thus far. 

Great to know re. after sale support.

Reply

bart
+2 chachmonkey Andrew Major
bart  - Feb. 13, 2018, 9:19 a.m.

external air valve - worth its weight in gold.

Reply

GladePlayboy
0
Rob Gretchen  - Feb. 13, 2018, 10 a.m.

GravityDropper comes to mind.... easy to service and pretty damn reliable... often finicky.   But generally never left you stranded on the trail.   I like the simplicity of mechanical posts.

Reply

AndrewMajor
0
Andrew Major  - Feb. 13, 2018, 10:13 a.m.

Still have a couple GD posts kicking around my place but they're pretty shagged at this point after multiple rebuilds. Swapped out the sh*t remotes for Fox DOSS remotes (use a nut & bolt to clamp cable at remote end) and performance is good. Replacing the guide keyways is hilarious (shaving to size!) but all in all they are bone simple to work on and who cares if they're ugly.

Plus Gravity Dropper knew from day one that having the cable moving with the post is silly. 

I'd love to see a next-gen GD that uses magnets to pull a collet instead of the pin system to run a boot-less setup that's cleaner looking but still uses the coil spring. They're no longer confined by the space of a 27.2 post and looks aside they need to produce a product with more travel. 

.

e13 is reliable in the way you describe except that I had issues with the head coming loose until I used Loctite to hold it in place and I don't love the keyway system for the head. If e13 came up with a way to load all the guts into their post from the bottom - as Ritchey has done - it would basically be a coil sprung Kit and that's a win to me. 

Moral of the story is that there are a lot of great dropper posts on the market today. I really like my 160mm Highline but I'd be happy to ride any of the posts I've tested in the last couple years: X-Fusion Manic, e13 TRS+, this Kite, and the Race Face Aeffect that I'm also riding right now.

Reply

metacomet
0
Metacomet  - Feb. 13, 2018, 10:17 a.m.

Any reason why the max insertion is so far below the seal head?  The post head looks really compact which would otherwise make this post a great option for someone short or with a bike with a too-long seat tube or similar situation, but that max insertion line seems to negate that potential benefit.

Reply

AndrewMajor
+1 Metacomet
Andrew Major  - Feb. 13, 2018, 10:30 a.m.

Great question. I'm nowhere near max insertion so it's not something that came to mind. 

There's nothing in Ritchey's literature about it so I've sent the question to them. I assume over-clamping the post in that spot affects performance - most likely can cause binding - but I'll reply as soon as I have an official answer.

Reply

metacomet
0
Metacomet  - Feb. 13, 2018, 5:06 p.m.

That’s what I was assuming as well. When you did the tear down was the bushing in the seal head, or was it located right there in that space, and in effect thinning the wall out enough to cause it to squeeze the stanchion if you clamp it there? That would be a whole lot of unfortunate lost real estate if that’s the case.

Reply

DemonMike
0
mike  - Feb. 13, 2018, 7:12 p.m.

My bet is not to bind the bushings and potentially damage the shaft.

Look at the image to the left of Jeff , you can see the bushing and guide pins. Those are the parts could be crushed by the seat post clamp.

Reply

AndrewMajor
0
Andrew Major  - Feb. 13, 2018, 8:53 p.m.

Haven't had an official answer yet but my guess is the same. The question is whether there's a risk of damage from overtightening or just poor performance. If it's just poor performance then a diligent rider wanting to run it lower could probably find the right tension to keep performance maxed and the post from slipping. 

Hopefully hear back officially tomorrow!

Reply

AndrewMajor
+1 chachmonkey
Andrew Major  - Feb. 14, 2018, 9:33 p.m.

So the official answer is, as expected, that high clamping force in this area can compress bushing and cause binding hence the maximum insertion. 

cough

Iway absolutelyway idday otnay insertway ethay ostpay otay ethay  ysicalphay axmay, ithway arboncay astepay, andway ensiontay ethay eatsay ampclay untilway ethay ostpay on'tway opdray orway isttway otay ovepray atthay itway orksway inefay ullyfay insertedway asway onglay asway ouyay aren'tway away amhay istedfay oronmay. YMMVAY. 

cough

Reply

metacomet
0
Metacomet  - Feb. 15, 2018, 5:35 a.m.

Ahay ahay ahay.  Ank'sthay orfay atthay.  Ouryay ecretsay isyay afesay ithway emay.  Eythay illway evernay owknay.

Reply

Hector
0
Hector  - Feb. 14, 2018, 5:49 a.m.

Hi,

The weight of this seatpost (473 grams) includes the remote and the cable?

Thanks,

Héctor

Reply

AndrewMajor
0
Andrew Major  - Feb. 14, 2018, 7:42 a.m.

Hi Hector, no the 473-grams is a real weight for the 31.6 post itself.

Stock remote is 27-grams. Cable and housing is Bike dependant.

Thanks,

Reply

DemonMike
0
mike  - Feb. 14, 2018, 7:34 p.m.

was just checking out the site , only one post that is a dropper , was hoping they did a 150mm version .

Reply

AndrewMajor
0
Andrew Major  - Feb. 14, 2018, 9:19 p.m.

To be fair, this is their first effort and everyone seems to start around 125mm. There is nothing about the design that can't be scaled to longer and I'd hope to see a 150mm version of the Kite within the next year.

Reply

Please log in to leave a comment.

Trending on NSMB