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Fast forward to today and dropper posts are commonplace on mountain bikes with even XCO bikes starting to get in on the action. We are now spoiled for choice with offerings from several big name manufacturers, but it was the launch of the RockShox Reverb that really stirred the market.

There are a number of Reverb models featuring varying travel lengths, post diameters and external or Stealth (internal) cable routing.
We rode a Reverb Stealth with 125mm drop with a 31.6mm diameter. Please note that this review is not of the newer updated Reverb announced in March this year.

While actuation of the original Reverb relied on the same type of plastic tubing used on RockShox's X-Loc suspension remotes, from 2012 onwards models were fitted with a hydraulic brake line with a new design to prevent disconnection under duress and to make fitment easier. Each seatpost also shipped with an Enduro Collar, which could clamp to the upper shaft and allow the rider to set a drop limit of the seatpost, and a bleed kit as standard.

Specifications (2012 - 2015 models):

  • Weight: 560g – 355mm, 30.9mm, 100mm; 570g – 380mm, 30.9mm, 125mm; 570g – 430mm, 31.6mm, 150mm
  • Lengths: 100mm drop - 355, 420mm; 125mm drop - 380mm, 420mm; 150mm drop - 430mm
  • Hose length: 2000mm
  • Remote: Discrete or Match Maker X, in left or right hand versions
  • Available Travel: 100mm, 125mm, and 150mm
  • Diameters: 31.6 and 30.9
  • Standover Height: 33mm
  • Adjustment Type: Infinite
  • Clampset: Zero offset, two bolt head


The Tech


What sets the Reverb apart from most other dropper posts, especially those that were around in 2012, is the use of hydraulic fluid rather than a cable to actuate the post. Even today there are few hydraulic actuated seatposts - certainly none that have proven themselves as tough and reliable as the Reverb.

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The post is activated using the XLoc remote which pushes 2.5wt hydraulic fluid down the line to open the main oil flow valve. A key design feature is that the hydraulic remote fluid and the seatpost's oil and air springs are all kept separate from each other. The remote fluid is contained within the XLoc trigger, hose and the Reverb's head, while the air spring is enclosed at the bottom of the outer tube. The post oil that allows the Reverb to travel up and down, and also holds it firmly in place, flows between the inner and outer tubes, and is backed up with an internal floating piston to keep the Reverb from becoming soft, if the saddle has to be raised by hand.

On the remote side there is an aluminium dial that is used to adjust the return speed. Turning the dial alters the oil volume within the remote system, raising or lowering the height of the main valve within the seatpost. Different heights use more or less of the taper on the valve, dictating the amount of oil flow that is allowed to move between the inner and outer tubes and with it the seatpost's return speed.

Another convenient design feature is the incorporation of the MatchMaker X-Clamp which allows the mounting of Guide or Level brakes, a Reverb remote and a gear shifter on a single handlebar clamp. This makes for a very neat, uncluttered handlebar. The only downside is that the adjustment of each control is limited and you will have to find a happy medium in how close or far away from your grips you want all your controls.


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One thing worth noting is that the levers are right or left hand specific and are designed to mount on top of the handlebar. Going that route means an awkward reach is required to get your thumb to the remote. I have found it better to mount the remote under the handlebar. Mounted upside down the remote is easier to push with a natural gear shifter like movement. With the advent of 1x drivetrains most users mount a right hand top lever on the underside of the handlebar where the left shifter would be.

On The Trail


There are several benefits to riding with a dropper seatpost. The main advantage is to get the saddle and seatpost out of the way on technical descents. This allows greater freedom of movement without having to worry about taking a hit from your saddle. You can easily move your weight backwards and forwards as dictated by the trail conditions, keeping your centre of gravity lower for better balance, more control and confidence.

This is a potential confidence boost to beginners or riders who are tackling technical trails for the first time. With a saddle at full extension, a rider's weight is pushed forward when descending which puts the rider at increased risk of an over the bar experience. If you need to stop mid trail, it is also a lot easier to do so with your saddle out of the way - and a major plus when getting back on again.

To drop the saddle, raise your behind, hold the remote in and sit back down. This will lower the saddle. Should you wish to not drop the saddle all the way down, simply release the remote at the desired height. To return the saddle to full height, press the remote again while standing clear. Remember, the speed at which it will extend can be adjusted with the dial at the remote.

Reliability


3 Years. That is how long my Reverb worked without any care or attention, other than one bleed between a bike change. Compared to other droppers I have owned and used, the Reverb has been as close to set and forget as they come. The Reverb's "Connectamajig" allows for several cable disconnects and reconnects before a system bleed is required and makes it a breeze to route the hose onto or inside the frame.

Over the years, there has been no increase in lateral play in the saddle. It appears to be exactly the same as the first time I fitted it with only the slightest sign of "lift" when tugged on at fully extension.

Recently the seatpost started returning to full height slower and slower until it finally refused to move upwards at all. I knew the day was coming and purposely neglected routine internal maintenance to see just how long it would last.

Should your Reverb need some love, the local agents have all the service kits required from basic interval services right up to full rebuild kits. To ensure maximum life, I advise servicing your Reverb at least once a year. I was present when mine was stripped down by the local distributor and it is not something I would leave to the untrained.

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Out with the old.

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In with the new.

Verdict


If you are in the market for a premium dropper seatpost, the RockShox Reverb is definitely the one to get. The Reverb has proven to be a fit and forget affair, operating smoothly for three years before needing any attention. The hydraulic lever performs well over cable operated competitors and there are enough seatpost sizes and travel options to suit most riders.

Pros
- Reliable
- Does not suffer the same fate as cable operated droppers that need ongoing adjustment
- Local back up and service
- Infinite travel adjust
- Design features make fitment and bleed a simple task

Cons
- Hydraulic lever actuation can be tricky to work with should something go badly wrong
- Premium quality comes at a price