Comparing the TranzX Kitsuma Air and Skyline Dropper Posts, Starting at $99 [Review]

TranzX Kitsuma Air and Skyline
TranzX Kitsuma Air 150mm and Skyline 125mm

The TranzX brand is part of JD Component Company, a business that creates parts for a wide range of big brands like Diamondback, Raleigh, and Lapierre. But, unless you work in the industry, you would be forgiven for never having heard of them, even if you may have ridden a bike using their components.

TranzX recently introduced multiple dropper posts in a direct-to-consumer lineup, drawing on its extensive manufacturing background to cater to cost-conscious riders, with some posts starting at an impressive $99 in the US. We have been testing out the Kitsuma Air and a Skyline dropper to see if they can match up to more established, albeit more expensive, competitors.

Tech

The TranzX Skyline is a cable-actuated dropper with internal routing, built from 6061 aluminum alloy with a sealed hydraulic cartridge. At present, it only comes in a 125mm stroke, but it is available in two common diameters: 30.9 and 31.6mm. The Skyline features a fairly standard  2-bolt saddle clamp and weighs a respectable 585g. With a 235mm full insertion length, the Skyline is on the longer end up of the spectrum compared to many of the more mainstream dropper posts. It is not the lightest dropper, nor does it have the shortest minimum insertion length (90mm) but it is comparable with other more expensive options. Priced at $99 without a remote (available at JensonUSA and Amazon), it’s definitely one of the least expensive. 

Skyline dropper with its helpful notches
The Skyline dropper, with handy marks at the back.

If you have an extra $60 to spend, you could purchase the internally-routed TranzX Kitsuma Air dropper instead (available at Backcountry and JensonUSA) . It is offered in a broader range of stroke lengths (150mm, 170mm, and 200mm), is made from lighter 7075 aluminum, and includes sealed hydraulics and adjustable air cartridges for adjusting the return of the post. The Kitsuma weighs less than the Skyline, with a 150mm dropper weighing a claimed 555g, which makes it lighter than the equivalent length Fox Transfer. The 150mm dropper tested came in at 250mm at full extension, which is comparable with the competition, though still slightly longer than the class leaders from OneUp and PNW. The Kitsuma Air also comes with better quality bushings than the Skyline, which could be important for those out riding in wet conditions.

It is worth noting that neither of the droppers includes a lever as standard, and if you don’t already have one, the lever will only set you back another $29 and it’s compatible across the TranzX range. The TranzX lever mount works with 1x or 2x shifters or even a drop-bar lever for gravel fans. The 1x tested has multiple adjustability points to make sure that it sits exactly where your thumb needs it. However, you could probably run either of the TranzX levers with a third party lever if you prefer. 

TranzX lever on test.

Installation was quick and straightforward. Both droppers are internally-routed and cable-actuated, and are fairly similar to other dropper post setups.  

The two bolt-saddle clamps are as fiddly as any other brands, but on the plus side, the post comes with handy marks at the back to help you maintain the right saddle height, a feature not always found on more expensive dropper posts.

Operation 

The main job of a dropper post is basically to go up and down consistently when required. Therefore, I find that the best dropper is the one I forget I have on my bike. Both the Kitsuma Air and Skyline fall into that easily forgettable category. 

It is probably fair to say that the Skyline does not run as smoothly as some other, more premium, dropper posts out there but after a ride or two it is pretty hard to tell the difference and it certainly isn’t sluggish in its response. I never felt like I was going to be caught off guard with my post up heading into an unseen steep chute. The Kitsuma Air is a refined beast and definitely benefited from the greater level of adjustability.

I rode both of the droppers through the fleeting warm summer days and on rainier colder days, and at no point did either dropper give up, get stuck, or let me down. It is hard to say how these might hold up over a longer period, for example after a full year of riding. The two-year warranty is reassuring, and should help limit the impact of any potential problems in the future. 

The Kitsuma Air dropper post with a longer stroke.

After riding the posts back-to-back for a while, I don’t see a significant difference between them apart from the apparent difference in stroke length and adjustability. It is fair to say that the Skyline may not tick most riders’ boxes with its limited stroke range, but smaller riders or those not too concerned with tucking their saddle completely away should seriously consider it as an affordable option. The Kitsuma Air is built lighter and offers a greater range of options which should suit all but the tallest of riders. It’s worth noting that some of the leading players in the dropper post market still don’t offer a 200mm dropper post. 

I found the lever to be quite reliable, with grooves on the face of the paddle to add grip on wetter days, though not quite as effective at doing so as levers from Race Face or PNW. It was definitely preferable to my KS Lev lever, which will usually cause my thumb to slide off as soon as it’s wet. The lever was not my favorite as the paddle has a slightly bent profile, which means I have to clamp it closer to the grip to avoid the slippage, though that could be a result of my seemingly short thumbs. Whilst the TranzX lever will be perfectly suitable for most riders using it, if you are looking for something more ergonomic and with greater grip then there are other options out there to consider. 

TranzX Dropper Lever
1x TranzX dropper lever.

Closing Thoughts

It is great to see that purchasing a dropper post for a bike is no longer a significant expense, which provides value to consumers and lowers the barriers to entry for those wanting to get out and ride. Both the Kitsuma Air and Skyline dropper posts offer excellent value for the money. While the Skyline only offers a 125mm stroke length, the Kitsuma Air offers a range of post lengths to fit bikes and riders of all sizes. Similarly, the weight and insertion length of the post is close to that of established brands in the industry, which, coupled with a two-year warranty, makes me question the need to buy a dropper post at two or three times the price. 

Thanks to TranzX for providing these posts for testing and review.

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