PNW Components is a relatively new entry into the bicycle components market. As industry veterans, Aaron Kerson and Emily Stevenson saw an opportunity to create great products at a more affordable price point. By working directly with manufacturers and selling direct (though also available in your LBS) they were able to lower costs while having exactly the product they wanted. Because the bike industry doesn’t have to be expensive. The Bachelor is their latest and greatest mountain bike dropper post.
There are a whole load of dropper posts on the market now, and most of them come out of the same factory. Look at a few dropper posts around this price point (Race Face, OneUp, and X-Fusion for example) and you’ll notice that there are parts such as the saddle clamp that look very similar. PNW have decided to do things a little differently though, because the devil is in the details.
Where it wasn’t worth changing things, they haven’t, however they have a few differences over their competition that make the Bachelor much more appealing. First up, the Bachelor is a cable-operated post with an adjustable air cartridge. Some of the other droppers at this price point do not have this feature, and so as the post ages and loses air, cartridges will need to be replaced rather than inflated. It also means that you have a degree of control over the return speed.
The post is available in 25mm travel increments from 125mm to 200mm and in three different diameters – 30.9, 31.6, 34.9. This is more than most other brands are able to offer. Compare this to the RaceFace Aeffect R which is only available up to 170mm and in two diameters. Other changes include an additional bushing to reduce play and a higher grade (7075) aluminum to save weight and increase stiffness.
The Bachelor post does not come with a lever, so you can use your old one if you like it, or you can buy the excellent PNW Loam Lever.
Installation was a breeze with the PNW Bachelor. It’s much the same as most droppers, however I like that the cable clamp is at the lever end rather than the post end which means no messing around trying to get the correct amount of cable showing at the post end. Make sure the cable is tight, clamp it up on the lever, dial your tension in and you’re good to go.
The seat clamp is no more fiddly than any other post, as it’s a simple two-bolt design and it’s both super reliable and super strong. Before installing the saddle, it is worth checking that the air pressure is correct when installing the post. It’s supposed to be around 300psi so you will need a shock pump, though mine was roughly there anyway.
Operation and reliability
Operation of the post is as expected. As with any modern dropper it’s pretty much a given that it’s infinitely adjustable, meaning you can stop it anywhere in its travel. Straight out of the box there was very little play in the post in any direction. It feels solid and I never feel it moving around. Two months in, with some decent miles put on it, I can say the same thing: there’s little play, and no weird noises. The post drops with minimal effort, and while it doesn’t come up quite as smoothly/reassuringly as a higher-end post, the adjustable air pressure means it comes up quick enough and with a bit of a top-out thunk to let you know that it’s there.
This post is pretty unremarkable really, as it should be, however this isn’t the experience that I’ve had with some other seatposts from the same factory. I’ve had others develop play due to poor bushing design, develop a knocking noise due to being too flexy, rubbing on the inside of the frame for the same reasons, losing air, etc. None of these things have been an issue, because PNW designed it right, right from the get-go.
Admittedly a few weeks in, the post did get a little sticky, so I removed the collar and put some grease under it. This was after a few wet weeks with a lot of bike washing and not lubing the main seal, so I’m going to chalk that one up to poor maintenance.
PNW is also one of the few brands producing posts in a 27.2mm diameter and with drop-bar specific lever options. The brand’s Rainier dropper post uses a coil spring rather than an adjustable air spring and is made of a lower quality alloy so it weighs a little more and is less stiff than the Bachelor, but it comes in at a lower price point and doesn’t have quite the same travel/diameter options.
The Loam Lever almost deserves it’s own article, partly because it’s a standalone product, and partly because it’s so good. In theory it would work with any cable-operated post, and it’s a damn fine upgrade for many.
The Loam differs from many dropper levers out there thanks to its huge cartridge bearing pivot that provides smoothness and longevity, and the rubber textured pad for grip in wet conditions. It also has a grub screw to adjust where the lever sits. All this means it’s super easy to find and operate and isn’t at all slippery in the rain.
Additionally, the lever looks smart with it’s CNC machined construction and a bunch of pad color options. PNW offers a variety of different mounts for the loam lever including SRAM matchmaker, Shimano I-Spec II and EV, and a standard bar mount. You should be able to get it exactly where you want it on almost any cockpit.
The Loam Lever retails at $69USD so it’s not cheap, but it’s probably one of the best dropper levers out there. If this sounds a bit pricey, their Puget 1x lever retails for $29USD. It’s nowhere near as nice, but it’ll get the job done.
The Bachelor might not have the effortless drop of the new C1 Reverb, or the fast return and reassuring clunk of a Fox Transfer, but it’s half the price and head and shoulders above most of the competition within the same price bracket. Paired with their Loam Lever, the Bachelor is an easy to use dropper post that’s set and forget. The fact that I’ve barely had to think about it is testament to the work the folks at PNW have put into making this a quality, reliable part at a good price.
It’s worth mentioning that the Bachelor has a 3-year warranty (again, much better than most competition) and their customer service is excellent. I contacted them about some technical questions regarding spec and it was a genuine pleasure.
Thanks to PNW for providing the Bachelor dropper post and Loam lever for review.