PNW Components is known for offering a line of affordable mountain bike dropper posts, with most priced under $200. I’ve been running the externally-routed PNW Cascade dropper post for more than a year and it’s still going strong, so I was interested to see how another PNW dropper post, the Rainier IR, compares.
The PNW Rainier IR
The PNW Rainier IR ($199 MSRP) is an internally routed dropper post that PNW offers in three different diameters: 27.2, 30.9, and 31.6mm. Depending on the diameter, there are multiple travel options ranging from 90mm all the way up to 170mm. As a tall rider who rides extra-large bikes, I chose the 30.9mm post with 170mm of travel, knowing I would have no problem fitting it into my frame. I recommend running the post with the most travel that will fit a bike’s frame, but be sure to check that your seat tube is long enough. PNW provides a very clear chart showing the measurements for each size.
The Rainier seatpost uses a coil spring which is generally more reliable than an air cartridge which can be susceptible to leaks and temperature swings. The downside to a coil mechanism is it weighs a bit more than air, but you already know that. My 30.9mm/170mm post weighs 622.4g, and the included 1X, lever-style remote adds another 101.2g.
The post head features a fairly standard 2-bolt configuration for saddle attachment. Like most internally-routed posts, the Rainier IR utilizes a barrel nut connection at the actuator.
Overall, the PNW Rainier IR is solidly constructed, with a smooth, large-diameter stanchion. PNW says the post features an added DU bushing to prevent seat wobble, and I can confirm the post neither wobbles nor twists, even under significant pressure.
Either I’m getting better at installing dropper posts, or the Rainier IR is a really easy post to install. Everything is included in the box, including the lever and cable, and the only tools required are a set of hex keys and a side cutter.
I chose to upgrade the stock remote to a PNW Loam lever ($69 MSRP) based on high praise from Chris at Marin. Honestly I thought Chris was exaggerating how great the lever is; after all, there isn’t much to it. But it turns out the lever truly is great, and much nicer than any other I’ve experienced, beginning with the installation.
The Loam lever is machined from aluminum and features a generous throw, resulting in a satisfying feel and a decisive tug on the actuator every time. The split bar clamp means the lever can be installed easily without sliding the grips off, and routing the end of the cable is a cinch.
On the trail
I immediately fell in love with the PNW Rainier seat post. The action on this post is so sweet, and it’s easy to set the height — and maintain it — anywhere within the travel. For really steep stuff, naturally the post gets slammed all the way down. But sometimes I find myself looking for a middle ground on twisty, pedally sections where I can benefit from a lower center of gravity for cornering without going full-on bowleg. And the Rainer delivers.
Even at full extension when I’m really hammering, the post remains solid and complaint-free. An annoying squeak during testing turned out to be coming from my saddle, the Rainier silent and immovable throughout.
The post returns medium-fast to fast on the trail, which is something I haven’t found with other dropper posts in this price range. Not only that, sub-freezing temperatures don’t seem to affect the return speed, thanks to the coil-spring action. The seals appear to be high quality, and the stanchion is quite smooth, which no doubt contributes to its speed and reliability.
The Loam lever really stands out among levers I’ve used over the years thanks to its oversized, rubber, no-slip pad. Honestly I don’t know why all levers don’t feature a grippy material on the lever, but that’s not the only thing that makes the Loam great. The action on it is just so smooth thanks to the high-quality construction. My only concern is that the generous throw on the lever might be a bit too long for the actuator on the Rainier. (My cable slipped out of the barrel nut recently, but it’s possible that was caused by the cable being snagged on a branch and not the lever trying to pull the cable beyond the limit of the post actuator.)
The PNW Rainier IR is easily one of the best sub-$200 dropper posts on the market today. The only compromises buyers are making compared to much pricier posts are the weight and the lack of a tunable air cartridge. However, by giving up the latter, buyers are actually getting a post that should be more reliable in varying conditions and over time.
Thanks to PNW Components for providing the post and lever for review.