Review: Brand X Ascend Dropper Post – First Impressions

Go easy on me, this is my first review. This is something that I’ve wanted to do for a while now and there is a dedicated section of my blog on the navigation bar marked reviews.

A while ago, I made the executive decision to purchase a dropper post for my hardtail. It was a tricky one for a number of reasons. Firstly, because it’s a simple hardtail frame, it has a 27.2 diameter seatpost which somewhat limits the choices of dropper posts. Secondly, because it’s a 2009 frame, it wasn’t actually designed to have a dropper post in the first place.

After some considerable thought and research, I purchased the Brand X Ascend Dropper post in a 27.2 diameter. The post is cable operated which keeps it simple in terms of fitting and maintenance. It has 105mm of travel, although the larger diameter ones have 125mm. Either way, it’s perfect for what I needed.

As my hardtail is essentially my second bike I didn’t feel the need to spend a lot of money on a dropper post as it doesn’t get used as much. That was definitely one of the main selling points to me. I managed to pick this up from Wiggle for £99. Pretty good when you consider that a Rockshox Reverb will set you back around £300.

Initial Impressions

As I stated earlier, this dropper post is cheap! Especially when you compare it to the more premium and expensive models, such as the Reverb or the Fox Transfer. In some ways this is great, it allows people with a lower budget to enjoy the benefits of a dropper post. On the other hand, you do tend to get what you pay for.

When it first arrived it was in a plain and simple cardboard box. No fancy packaging, no foam padding. Just exactly what you needed to fit the post and get on with using it. No complaints here, especially for the price. I know, I know, I keep badgering on about it.

If you have had exposure to more premium dropper posts, you’ll notice it doesn’t have quite the same feel. It’s also quite heavy in comparison. However, if you have not, you’ll still think it’s quite heavy. That was something I noticed about it straight away. The weight. Still, beggars can’t be choosers and all that.

I’d chosen the externally routed version. My bike, as stated earlier wasn’t really built for a dropper post. One thing that I really liked about this was the fact that the cable wasn’t going to move when you pushed the post down. There is a small rectangular box situated just below the start of the travel and housed the mechanism which operates the post.

It did look a little bit ungainly, but I like the concept. I remember almost catching the excess hose of my old Reverb with my heal once when the seatpost was dropped. Slightly scary moment when you’re whizzing downhill.

Overall, it looked like any other dropper post that I’d used and it looked like it would work well on my hardtail.

Fitting

20190209_161750It wasn’t hard to fit at all, given that everything was external and I knew the cable wasn’t going to move, I could measure both the inner and outer sections easily. Granted, getting the plastic covering off the mechanism box was a little bit tricky, but I got there in the end.

The post came with everything you need in order to get it installed and working. There was the post (obviously), outer and inner cables and a leaver. Mine came with one that is mounted to the handlebar but doesn’t sit underneath like a shifter. I think you can purchase this separately.

Once I’d got everything sorted, snipped the end of the cable and clamped it to the leaver, I tested it out. It worked perfectly. To be honest, I was pleasantly surprised. It looked great, and it hadn’t made too much difference in terms of weight as I thought it would have.

20190303_170048When it came to operating the dropper, I thought that it might be quite stiff and the post would be hard to compress and slow to rise. Nope. The leaver was easy to press, the design was ergonomic enough and worked well with where I had positioned it, allowing my thumb to easily press down on it. The post was smooth in both directions and seemed to work well. This was all looking very positive.

First Ride

It took a little bit of getting used to. I’m used to droppers with slightly more travel which really gets out of the way. That wasn’t really the fault of the dropper, but it was certainly something that struck me when riding.

I have to say, it did the job well. As I said before, I was a little worried about the leaver, but I really needn’t have been. It worked well, and once I started to get used to it, it was just as easy as having one underneath the handlebars.

The dropper was smooth and responsive and has really transformed the bike. As with any dropper post, it allows you to drop the saddle out of the way when you’re riding downhill. It’s also great because you know that your saddle is set at the correct height when you push that leaver for it to come back up.

Throughout the ride, there weren’t any issues, and I was using it a lot of the time around the 10-mile loop of single track.

Summary

In short, you can tell that it doesn’t feel as well made compared to the bigger brands, but then it’s at least a third of the price. The external version works well and the fact that the cable doesn’t move is a bonus. The small box on the outside of the post does look a little odd, but that’s just something I’ll have to get used to.

So far, I’m very happy with this dropper post; and I’ve since buying it, I’ve actually been out on my hardtail more this year than I have in the last 3 years. In my opinion, £99 is a small price to pay for that.

Until next time

Jack.

 

OTHER POSTS LIKE THIS:

Dropper Posts
The Orange Gets Some Upgrades
Hardtails
The Weekend Ride: Sherwood Pines

 

 

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