Dropper posts are often claimed as one of the greatest innovations in the Mountain Biking world and have totally revolutionised the way we ride. Perfect saddle height can easily be achieved depending on the terrain and riding style, all with the press of a lever. Its one of those bike upgrades that has become so pivotal in my riding that I have no idea how I ever managed without one. So the stoke was pretty high when I was offered a Rainier dropper post and Loam Lever from PNW Components to review on my Evil The Offering.
Why a dropper post?
The benefits are massive once you become familiar with using a dropper and it quickly becomes a subconscious action that youll find hard to go without. Freedom and confidence is quickly found with the saddle out of the way. Before you know it confidence grows, skills increase and theres simply more fun to be had, which everyone wants, right!? Whether it be a gnarly descent, a sweet jump line, hooking into some corners, or even technical climbs, your thumb will be always reaching for that lever to get the saddle out of the way.
Back when I got my first dropper post there wasnt a whole lot of choice. Premium offerings proved cost-prohibitive and the cheaper alternatives were often plagued with reliability and/or performance issues. Even in this regard though the benefits did outweigh the negatives and we all lived with these compromises.
Fast forward to today, and we are totally spoilt for choice when it comes to posts. There are various price points to pick from that will help all riders find a suitable option. It can be somewhat overwhelming now with different designed cartridges, cable actuation, levers and travel options to pick from. We now even find ourselves taking a bikes seat tube length into consideration when buying to ensure we can get those saddles slammed lower than ever. If you do need any guidance hit up the friendly & knowledgeable customer service team via email@example.com and theyll point you in the right direction.
Out Of The Box
Anyway enough about the why of dropper posts and lets dig into the Rainier. This internally routed and infinite adjustment post from PNW Components comes in 125mm, 150mm and 170mm travel. So no matter if you are vertically challenged or towering over your rivals like Paul Van Der Ploeg youll find a length to suit. There is an option for the most common 30.9 or 31.6 seat tubes to ensure itll fit the majority of bikes out on the trails today. Keep in mind though that PNW have other models that extend outside of this range, including a 27.2 model.
The Rainier comes packed neatly in a box promoting Do Bikes, as hell yeah, thats why we are here, right! A basic lever along with an inner and outer cable is included. The lever appears perfectly suitable, though for this review Ive opted for the optional Loam Lever. No fitting instructions are included, but weve all got the Google machine these days and in no time at all youll find all the details needed online. The 150mm 30.9 post weighs in at a respectable 585g or 683g with the lever and uncut cable.
Before we get into the dropper post details, Ive just got to get this out of the way first. Its not often that you would get to use the word Engineering Marvel or as PNW put it Techy AF in the same sentence as a dropper lever. But remember, its the first thing youll look at when using the dropper, its the main touchpoint for your finger to smash when you hit the gnar. So its important that it looks and feels great.
The Loam Lever is seriously all that! The CNC machined lever pivots around a massive bearing which feels smooth and free of any play. The teal, grey or orange silicone-blend pad is grippy and feels great against a gloved or ungloved thumb, plus it has the benefit of adding some bling or helping colour match those components.
With a 22.2mm bar clamp, Shimano I-Spec and SRAM matchmaker MMX options available I would even recommend this as a wicked upgrade if you are in the market for a new lever. PNW lists all compatible droppers on the website which is super handy. I would highly suggest giving this lever a run!
Now back to the dropper post. Installation on the Evil The Offering was super easy, the included Jagwire (nice touch!) cable comes with a barrel that slides into the base of the dropper and the open end of the cable is threaded through the lever where a grub screw clamps down on it. I had a small mishap and broke the cable end cap that came included, so be wary with those, they are pretty small and thin and a little more care needs to be taken.
A little bit of slack was taken up with the adjuster on the lever, the seat clamp torqued to spec and we were away! The first thing I noticed was there was barely any side to side movement in the saddle, this thing is pretty rock-solid in that regard which is a welcoming change. A quick pedal around the street had the dropper feeling damn good in no time at all.
How does it perform?
Out on the trails the PNW Rainier behaved exactly as it should. A push on the Loam Lever and the 150mm post slides down smoothly with minimum resistance. There are no apparent delays waiting for the dropper to start its downward travel like some that I have experienced. This is really a major dislike of mine, as you never know when a feature on the trail is going to come up and you want that saddle out of the way like, right now! So I was well excited that the Rainer didnt suffer this snoozy delay and was always ready to get out of the way for a shred.
Once your weight is off the saddle, it returns to full extension at a moderate pace. No concerns here of smashing the saddle into those ouchy bits at supersonic speeds. It probably falls a touch on the slow side as to what I am familiar with. This can be considered a positive or negative depending on how quickly you like the post to return. The return speed is mainly apparent when testing in the workshop or a driveway shakedown. Once out on the trails, it wasnt as noticeable. I found that if I was having a sprint out of the saddle and needed the post back up it was always there in time and didnt leave me hanging. There is a soft, yet audible thud to let you know when the post has hit full extension. Its actually a quiet post to operate and those who long for the zen of silent bikes should be pretty stoked with this.
The Overall Impression
The Rainier simply fits right in and quickly disappears into the ride, it just works. There is something appealing about not having to adapt or get used to a new component and this post achieves that perfectly. I wont say its the most buttery smooth post Ive ever used, but its definitely up there with the best of them.
When I first started writing this review I hadnt had much trail time on the new dropper so I wasnt sure how I could comment on reliability. Though its now been doing its thing for over 2 months of extensive riding without any issues at all. So all I can say is that my initial impressions are nothing but positive. PNW Components offer up a really generous 3-year warranty so if there are any issues that arise you can be confident theyll be addressed. Would I recommend it? Totally! The Rainier Ive decided will remain on the Evil which is one of the best testaments in my opinion of product satisfaction. As Ferris Bueller (who has no relation to Mountain Bike riding, though was a cool dude) once said, It is so choice. If you have the means, I highly recommend picking one up.