Support road.cc

Like this site? Help us to make it better.

review

Crankbrothers Highline XC/Gravel Dropper Post 80mm

8
£225.00

VERDICT:

8
10
Top quality dropper post that is simple to set up, and its smooth operation makes it a joy to use
Excellent quality
Smooth action
Short travel allows for saddle bags
Handlebar remote isn't included
No external option
Weight: 
450g

At road.cc every product is thoroughly tested for as long as it takes to get a proper insight into how well it works. Our reviewers are experienced cyclists that we trust to be objective. While we strive to ensure that opinions expressed are backed up by facts, reviews are by their nature an informed opinion, not a definitive verdict. We don't intentionally try to break anything (except locks) but we do try to look for weak points in any design. The overall score is not just an average of the other scores: it reflects both a product's function and value – with value determined by how a product compares with items of similar spec, quality, and price.

Good scores are more common than bad, because fortunately good products are more common than bad.

  • Exceptional
  • Excellent
  • Very Good
  • Good
  • Quite good
  • Average
  • Not so good
  • Poor
  • Bad
  • Appalling

The Crankbrothers Highline XC/Gravel Dropper Seatpost is the latest addition to its line-up. It comes in a number of drop lengths to suit a whole range of adventure bike sizes, and the quality is excellent, as is the motion. You'll need to factor in an extra £43 for the drop bar remote, though.

The dropper post. Another of those components that comes into the category of, do you really need one on a gravel bike? On the whole I'd say probably not, though others might disagree; I'd say it really comes down to what kind of terrain you ride on a regular basis. Gravel and adventure riding has so many more variables than your standard road ride.

> Find your nearest dealer here

> Buy this online here

If you do decide you need one, the Highline would make a very good choice as the operation is so smooth; it feels a really top-notch piece of kit. That's also backed up with a four-year warranty.

Many gravel bikes are set up to use 1x groupsets, so there is often a spare internal cable routing point, and this is how the Crankbrothers post is designed to work.

Running the included Jagwire inner and outer cable through the frame, it connects to the base of the post from inside the seat tube for a smooth and clean look. It also keeps everything out of the way of mud and dust.

2021 Crankbrothers Highline dropper seat post 2.jpg

It's very easy to set up, provided your frame is relatively straightforward to thread cables through internally.

For testing I was also using Crankbrothers' new Drop Bar Remote Kit (review to come), which allows you access from wherever you are riding on the handlebar.

2021 Crankbrothers Highline dropper seat post 4.jpg

The XC/Gravel post uses the externals of Crankbrothers' Highline 3 model and the internals of its range-topping Highline 7, which means a hydraulic IFP (internal floating piston) cartridge with the gas and oil being separate.

The operation of the dropper post is very smooth in both directions, and quick too. It's a real pleasure to use.

> How to make your bike more comfortable – check out our 14 tips

One of my main testing loops for gravel bikes takes in many different terrains and there are a couple of steep singletrack downhill sections that have eroded over time, leaving plenty of exposed tree roots.

My gravel bike is set up like my road bike, with a low front end and plenty of exposed seatpost, which puts plenty of weight over the front when descending technical sections on the brakes. Add in a loaded bar bag and handling can become a little tricky.

Being able to drop the post, even by just the 80mm achievable on our test sample, is enough to allow you to comfortably place your bodyweight over the rear of the saddle. For me, with the post fully dropped, that still allowed enough clearance when using a decent sized saddle pack.

There are other options available too, starting from 60mm of drop up to 125mm, with 80mm and 100mm in between.

A few dimensions for you...

The total post length is 407mm, with the minimum insertion length being 100mm and the maximum being 264mm. The stack height (the distance between the collar and the rail when dropped) is 60mm and there is zero setback.

2021 Crankbrothers Highline dropper seat post 3.jpg

The diameter is 27.2mm only, which will fit the majority of gravel bikes. If yours is larger at 31.6mm, like mine, then you'll need a shim – they're cheap and easy to locate.

Value

When it comes to the price, the Highline will set you back £225. Not cheap, but not extortionate either.

Brand-X's seatposts tend to review well, partly down to the price. Its Ascend CX Dropper has a similar amount of drop as this Crankbrothers but will set you back around £139.99, and that includes the handlebar remote control too. It's about 80g heavier.

The Highline really shines through on quality and operation, though, which goes a long way to justifying the price.

At £263 when you include the lever, the Crankbrothers Highline does still look quite good value when you compare it to something like the Ritchey WCS Kite Dropper post at £345. Yes, the WCS does have a few tricks up its sleeve, but I'm not sure that justifies the extra cash.

Conclusion

Overall, the Highline has really proved itself on my gravel riding. Something I thought would just be a passing fad during the test period has become a real part of my off-road adventures. The small amount of drop works really well on this type of bike while allowing you to still ride loaded up, and the overall quality of the build means it's pretty much a fit and forget component.

Verdict

Top quality dropper post that is simple to set up, and its smooth operation makes it a joy to use

If you're thinking of buying this product using a cashback deal why not use the road.cc Top Cashback page and get some top cashback while helping to support your favourite independent cycling website

road.cc test report

Make and model: Crankbrothers Highline XC/Gravel Dropper Post 80mm

Size tested: 80mm

Tell us what the product is for and who it's aimed at. What do the manufacturers say about it? How does that compare to your own feelings about it?

Crankbrothers says, "The all-new Highline XC/Gravel delivers infinite adjustment, smooth feel, and easy installation."

It's a quality dropper post that works smoothly and should stand the test of time.

Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?

Crankbrothers lists:

27.2mm seatpost diameter to fit most XC and gravel bikes

Jagwire® cable and housing

Self-contained IFP hydraulic cartridge

Internal routing

Quick connect mechanism for ease of cable installation

Linear actuator for quick return speed

2-bolt standard head

SPECS

material 7075-T6 Aluminum

max extended length 280mm

max insertion length 264mm

min. insertion length 100mm

min. stack height 60mm

seat post diameter 27.2mm

setback 0

total post length 407mm

travel adjustment 80mm

warranty 4 years

Rate the product for quality of construction:
 
9/10
Rate the product for performance:
 
8/10
Rate the product for durability:
 
9/10
Rate the product for weight (if applicable)
 
7/10
Rate the product for value:
 
5/10

Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose

Reacts very smoothly and quickly.

Tell us what you particularly liked about the product

Absolute quality in looks and function.

Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product

No external cable guide option.

How does the price compare to that of similar products in the market, including ones recently tested on road.cc?

There are some on the market that can undercut it, but the Highline post is a quality piece of kit that can justify its price tag. It comes in a lot cheaper than the likes of the Ritchey model mentioned in the review too.

Did you enjoy using the product? Yes

Would you consider buying the product? Yes

Would you recommend the product to a friend? Yes

Use this box to explain your overall score

You can't fault the quality or the operation, it really is a lovely bit of kit, although you do need to take into account the price of the lever too. Internal routing means it won't work on 2x groupset-equipped bikes.

Overall rating: 8/10

About the tester

Age: 42  Height: 180cm  Weight: 76kg

I usually ride: This month's test bike  My best bike is: B'Twin Ultra CF draped in the latest bling test components

I've been riding for: Over 20 years  I ride: Every day  I would class myself as: Expert

I regularly do the following types of riding: time trialling, commuting, club rides, sportives, fixed/singlespeed,

With 20 years of road cycling and over 150,000 miles in his legs it's safe to say Stu is happiest when on the bike whatever the weather. Since writing his first review for road.cc back in 2009 he has also had a career in engineering including 3D-CAD design and product development, so has a real passion for all of the latest technology coming through in the industry but is also a sucker for a classic steel frame, skinny tyres, rim brakes and a damn good paintjob.
His fascination with gravel bikes is getting out of control too!

Latest Comments