This post compares the advantages and disadvantages of suspension seat posts and dropper posts in regards to one another.
Suspension seat posts and dropper posts serve two different purposes.
Dropper posts are telescopic seat posts allowing the user to control the height of the saddle via a button on the handlebars. To lower the seat post, the rider presses a button and sits on the seat until the desired height is reached. Then, the control lever is released.
To elevate the saddle, the rider has to stand up (unweighing the seat post) and then press the control button again.
Dropper posts are a fundamental part of modern MTBs because they make it possible to quickly lower the seat post before a technical descent or a trick and then elevate it back again so that the rider can pedal more efficiently on climbs and flat sections.
Some riders consider dropper posts as fundamental to modern MTBs as the suspension fork. Hence why you’re very likely to see dropper posts on expensive trail MTBs.
Meanwhile, the function of suspension seat posts is to reduce the vibrations reaching the rider when the rear tire passes over a road irregularity. Suspension seat posts can be adjusted to perform a certain way but the rider can’t control their height or performance in-real time.
Dropper posts are designed to improve MTB performance whereas suspension seat posts increase comfort.
The Advantages of Suspension Seat Posts
Suspension seat posts are a cheap way to add suspension to the rear of the bicycle.
If you want a softer ride, suspension seat posts give you that opportunity without having to buy a full-suspension bike.
The requirements for installing a suspension seat post are not difficult to satisfy.
1. Suspension seat posts cannot be used unless the suspension part is showing above the seat tube.
This could be a problem if the frame is somewhat large for the rider and doesn’t have a sloping top tube.
2. The diameter of the suspension seat post should match that of the original seat post or be slightly smaller. In the second scenario, the user will need a shim to secure the suspension seat post.
The Disadvantages Of Suspension Seat Posts
- No Advantages On Technical Terrain
The main function of a suspension seat post is to increase the rider’s comfort. Unlike a dropper post, it cannot be lowered to get the saddle out of the way when covering technical descents or performing a stunt.
- No Effect On Rear Wheel Traction
When the tire meets an obstacle, the suspension of the bicycle (fork and/or reach shock) compresses. As a result, the tire remains on the ground. The extra traction allows riders to pass over tough terrain with confidence.
Suspension seat posts, however, have no effect on the rear wheel and thus do not increase the bike’s traction.
The Advantages Of Dropper Posts
- Convenience and Speed
A dropper post allows you to quickly change the saddle’s height without having to get off the bike. Subsequently, the rider can cover diverse terrain and perform a multitude of tricks that would otherwise require him to get off the bike and lower the saddle manually.
The Disadvantages of Dropper Posts
Dropper posts can cost as much as a high-quality fork. This makes them a luxury accessory.
- No Suspension
Some dropper posts have a small suspension travel, but it’s not very noticeable. Thus, if your primary goal is comfort, a dropper post is not a product that will help you.
What To Choose?
The most important factors when making a choice between a suspension seat post and a dropper post are your riding style and the bike that you have.
For example, if you use your bicycle primarily for commuting, a dropper post is of no value because you won’t be taking advantage of its primary function.
Meanwhile, if you have a full-suspension bike, it’s redundant to add a suspension seat post because there’s a rear shock already.
The cyclists that would benefit from a suspension seat post have the following profile:
- A preference for rigid bikes or hardtails
- The bicycle is used for commuting or light trails rather than extreme descents and tricks.
- The rider wants to soften the ride without buying a new bicycle.
- The rider can’t or does not want to add larger tires to the bicycle.
The cyclists that would benefit from a dropper have the following profile:
- Riding an MTB on diverse terrain
- A desire to perform stunts that can only be done with a lowered saddle
- A need to remain competitive (dropper posts give MTB riders an edge over those that don’t have them.)