With little else to do this winter, there has been a lot of up and down: hills, mountains, pushups, jumps, moods, and of course dropper posts. One of the quality posts I tested during the cold months is the Highline 7 from Crankbrothers.
The 30.9x170mm dropper weighs 583g without the remote, and it’s a whopping 504mm long at full extension. At that lanky size it’s 11mm shorter than the X-Fusion Manic post we recently reviewed, and a whole 34mm longer than a OneUp V2 dropper with the same travel measurement.
The Highline 7 post comes in 100 to 170mm lengths and 30.9 or 31.6mm diameters for €/$299 (available at JensonUSA and Wiggle). The Highline 3 model comes in lengths ranging from 80 to 200mm, in 30.9, 31.6, and 34.9mm diameters, for €/$199 (find at Performance Bike and JensonUSA). Apart from the size options, the main difference between the two posts is that the Highline 7 comes with a 4-year warranty on its smoother, self-contained IFP hydraulic cartridge, where the Highline 3 uses a conventional sealed cartridge and the warranty only lasts two years. They both share the same 47mm stack height for shorter inseams and a 100mm minimum insertion length for longer ones, and they use the same bearings, pins, and seals.
In short, if you are good at breaking dropper posts, the Highline 7 might be worth an extra €/$100 for two additional years of worry-free use. If you don’t regularly have issues with droppers that Highline 3 should do the trick.
Up top, the saddle clamp adds a step of simplicity with its quick-release rear bolt head. Instead of removing the bolt completely, requiring an eleventh finger to reinstall, you can simply loosen it until the nut can slide out of its aluminum saddle. Then slide your saddle off for cleaning or changing and swing it back into place. While this isn’t a monumental innovation, it does clean up this more annoying bits of bike wrenching. The head is easy to adjust and it has remained quiet throughout my time on the post.
Keeping with the quick and simple install theme, Crankbrothers opted for a cable clamp at the lever. This system requires far less faff than the old, perfectly-spaced knarp-clamp method at the base of the post. The cable head has plenty of space to notch into its home in the tiny lever, and if the lighting is good enough in your workspace you may be able to insert the cable into an existing housing without pulling the housing up to the top of the seat tube. When it works just right, the post can be installed and fully functioning in just a couple of minutes. Even when it doesn’t, and you have to pull the housing through and insert it into the base of the post this cable clamping method is still far faster and cleaner than using a knarp.
I first tested the Highline 7 with a Highline Remote. The remote (€/$59) came with a chunk of grip tape for added traction and generally feels good to use. The thumb lever can be mounted above or below the bar on either side, and the angle of it can shift by 22° in any direction, so there are few hands it won’t fit well with. The cable-end clamps in place with a 3mm hex that seems sturdy enough to wrench it down tight, and I didn’t have any issue with the cable slipping after install. I also tried the post with a favorite Wolftooth ReMote and it worked just as well as with its intended lever.
The lever action is smooth without being so sensitive that I hit it accidentally and raise the post at inopportune times, and the return action is as smooth and fast as most others. It doesn’t seem overly sensitive to cable routing issues, despite the tighter angles that my frame requires. It has also worked noticeably well in cold weather, without any lag on days when the rain slowed down and turned white. Post action on the Highline 7 is fully linear, with no faster segments or compression as it nears the frame.
After several months of riding, and a number of hard bailouts where the saddle slid across rocks, the Highline 7 has less than 1mm of lateral wiggle, and feels smooth enough that I won’t bother tearing it apart for service until this fall at the earliest. It’s doing the simple job of silently moving my saddle out of the way quite well, and apart from the usual complaint that it weighs more than a rigid post, I don’t have any gripes to share. Weight might be one place where dropper posts will continue to improve from this point, however, I would rather carry around the extra grams of a post that lasts, than have a lighter one that needs more frequent attention. Overall, this one seems worth its asking price.
It’s easy to look at a post like the Highline 7 or the X-Fusion Manic and think they are too long, but for taller riders that perspective is flipped. Some leggy folks need the longest dropper possible to ensure that they have enough post in the bike to withstand the leverage forces they put on it. On the flip, shorter legged riders, like myself with a 30″ inseam, can now find bikes with super short seat tubes, allowing us to use 170mm travel posts like this one. As seat tubes continue to shorten we will need a variety of dropper lengths, irrespective of their travel numbers, so that everyone can ride the bike they like with the amount of travel they prefer no matter when their body decided to stop growing its legs.