Remote Adjustable Seat Posts

Posted by SuperClydesdale on December 13, 2010 under Mountain Bikes | 2 Comments to Read

Recently, I was going down a nasty steep and rocky trail with my seat fully extended – normal height.   This is a situation where you have to get back over the seat to keep balanced and stable.   I didn’t want to take the time to actually lower the seat.  Even if my bike had a quick-release seat post clamp, I would have to stop, get off, lower the seat, then get back on.  I’m far too important to spend time on that.  My time is so incredibly valuable that stopping — even for an instant — is a significant blow to me.  Think of the possible economic output of a workhorse like me with 30-120 seconds of time on his hands.   People could lose their jobs if I stop to lower my seat.  Just the opportunity cost to me personally is huge.

Seriously, look at the number of things I could do later if I saved the time that it takes to lower my seat:

  • I could be in & out of a stock in my day-trading account.
  • I could change the channel on my DirecTV box.  Probably only once though – that thing is incredibly slow.  Do even try to scroll down in the guide screens – that’s a couple of seat lowerings.  I should have never switched from Dish Network.
  • I could write a haiku.  If I enjoyed haiku.
  • I could check my e-mail.
  • I could check my bids in eBay.
  • I could decide what stock to buy next  – that’s about how long it takes me.   I should probably stay in mutual funds, but where’s the fun in that?

Clearly, there are so very many things that I can do with two minutes of extra time.  Some of those have economic value, others cultural.    This clearly demonstrates that time is, indeed, of the essence.

In addition to opportunity cost, laziness is a factor.   My new mountain bike (Specialized Stumpjumper 29er hardtail)  came with a seat post clamp that requires an allen wrench to lower the seat.  That pretty much seals the deal on the raise-or-lower question.  Having to stop and use a multi-tool to lower my seat isn’t going to happen.  I know myself.  I would gladly fly over the handlebars and break my collarbone than stop and lower the seat post.   Actually, given the choice, I’d  pick lowering the seat post over a broken clavicle — but only after the fact.  My hindsight is 20/20.  I would  – nearly 100% of the time — choose to take my chances with a higher-than-optimal seat than spend a couple of minutes lowering it.

So, despite my total lack of ability and experience on a mountain bike, I recognize that the ability to quickly lower my seat post might be a good idea.    I’ve determined that perhaps what’s holding me back is that I haven’t got enough gadgets on my bike.

Of course, I could replace the seat post clamp with a quick-release version for less than $20, but why would I spend $20 to solve a problem when I know that a better, substantially more expensive solution exists?  At Interbike 2010, I took a look at the new Crank Brothers Joplin 4r, which is a remote-adjustable seat post.   For those of you new to the concept, a remote-adjustable post has a lever on the bars that allows you to lower the seat while riding.

Some adjustable seat posts have a lever under the seat.   Just reach down, pull the lever, and your body weight lowers the saddle.   I don’t want to have to take my hand off of the bars to lower the saddle.  Again, my time is just too valuable for that sort of thing.  Also, I think it would look like I’m scratching myself all the time.   I’ve got enough problems — I don’t want to be associated with that sort of thing.  “That Jack is an okay guy, but I think he’s got some hygiene issues – every time I ride with the guy, he’s scratching himself.”

.   For those of you new to the concept, a remote-adjustable post has a lever on the bars that allows you to lower the seat while riding.

Some adjustable seat posts have a lever under the seat.   Just reach down, pull the lever, and your body weight lowers the saddle.   I don’t want to have to take my hand off of the bars to lower the saddle.  Again, my time is just too valuable for that sort of thing.  Also, I think it would look like I’m scratching myself all the time.   I’ve got enough problems — I don’t want to be associated with that sort of thing.  “That Jack is an okay guy, but I think he’s got some hygiene issues – every time I ride with the guy, he’s scratching himself.”

The Crank Brothers Joplin 4r

The Crank Brothers Joplin 4r

What I wanted was the remote-adjustable seat post.  Although I considered four options for the seatpost, I got a sweet deal on the Joplin 4r, so I decided to go with that.   The others I considered, in addition to Crank Brothers, were Gravity Dropper (the highest rated of all on mtbr.com),  Specialized’s Command seatpost, and KS (Kind Shock).  Ironically, the Joplin was the lowest rated of all of these options on mtbr.com at 3.53 stars, but most of the reviews were for older models that Crank Brothers said the Joplin 4r addresses.

The Joplin 4r installs very easily — if you have any mechanic skills at all.   I put it on in about 20 minutes.   I understand from research that the Joplin – or any other adjustable seat post – will require routine maintenance, much like a fork.    Dirt and debris will get into the mechanism.  Some of the seat posts come with a rubber sleeve to impede dirt getting in, like a “shock sleeve,” and you can also buy them aftermarket pretty inexpensively ($8-$14).

I’ve been using the Joplin 4r on my last several rides, and although they have been pretty tame rides, there are a couple of stretches where I benefit from a lower seat.   One of these is a short but steep solid rock face with some boulders at the end.  One bad move there, and I’m over the bars onto solid granite (see my last post for the photo of my knee after I did just that about a week and a half ago).

The ability to lower the seat on the fly has made a huge difference.  I have been able to descend much faster and with more confidence.

With the Joplin 4r, I was able to press the lever just before I climbed onto the rocks, all while still pedaling along.   The seat lowers in a fraction of a second, and then when you’re done, you just press the lever again and the seat returns to the full extension, and at optimal height for ripping down single-track cross country trails, and for climbing.  Incidentally, I’ve heard that the Specialized Command has a bonus feature of springing back to full height very rapidly, sometimes with attention-getting results.  The Crank Brothers Joplin 4r returns at a safe & sane pace.

A Gravity Dropper seat post - with the boot to keep out dirt and debris. That comes with it, unlike the Crank Brothers posts.

The Joplin 4r has 4 inches of adjustability, and you can stop it anywhere along those 4”.   And, while 4 inches may not seem like a lot, it make a huge difference, and keeps the saddle high enough to allow you to still stabilize yourself my grabbing the saddle with your thighs as you descend.   While four inches may be a bit inadequate for… some things, it’s just about right for seat post adjustability for the cross-country trails I do.

Before buying the Joplin 4r, I researched four of the primary options on the market:

  • Crank Brothers Joplin – 3.53 out of 5 stars on mtbr.com, mostly on older versions.  Newest version seems to get better marks overall.
  • Gravity Dropper – the consistently highest-rated one on mtbr.com, with 4.44 out of 5 stars.   The one comment on mtbr.com that concerned me with Gravity Dropper was, “The 10-32 cap screws that secure the seat post to the seat frame rail are not strong enough for heavy riders. I broke one of the bolts on the first big drop. Also the cap screws require a english allan wrench to tighten, your multi tools will not work.”   If you go to http://gravitydropper.com/products , you can see all models and options.
  • Specialized – the Command is Specialized’s entre into the remote adjustable seatpost battle. A thorough review at .
  • KS (Kind Shock) – 3.95 out of 5 stars on mtbr.com.   KS has the largest range of adjustability at 5 inches.  Does size matter?   I guess if you’re doing big downhill, that extra inch could help.
  • Clydesdale not Fat Pony said,

    What is the weight limit for the Joplin?

  • Clydesdale not Fat Pony said,

    What is the weight limit for the Joplin?

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