Dropper post on Gravel Bike ... a "must" have or a "nice" to have?

I’m loving the adventure of learning more about gravel bikes and the many options available in this category. I’m currently exploring many brands and configurations and a few 2019 models, the new Norco Search XR Force 1, for example, now integrates a dropper post in their configuration.

My primary use will be long fire road rides, perhaps some backpacking adventures, longer, endurance-focused activities. I love how Nate, Jonathan and Chad discuss the merits of a dropper post, and the benefits it provides.

In your opinion is a dropper post a must have in a “off road” gravel bike experience, or a nice to have option?

It depends on how gnarly the trails are that you’ll be riding. None of the gravel riding I have done would merit a dropper post - but I’ve been riding gravel roads or reasonably smooth Jeep trails.

If you plan to bring your gravel bike on MTB trails, then possibly yes - although if the trails are such that you need a dropper, you may also need MTB volume tires, and maybe even a low travel suspension fork.

Also, if you are very tall like Nate, then possibly yes, or if you plan to get aero and bomb down some steep hills :grin:

All this said, the penalty of a dropper is a slightly higher cost and weight, but not a whole lot of either, so may be a cheap addition.


I agree with DaveWhelan’s comments. I would not let a dropper post influence your bike choice. If the bike you select has one, give it a try to see if it helps with your riding. You can always replace it with a standard post. I have one on my mtn bike but do gravel rides with a standard road bike and never wished I had a dropper.

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if your gravel race has fast technical descent then yes.

Otherwise, no.

I’ve ridden thousands of midwest gravel miles. The answer has always been no. Not sure it would be if I ever road mountain gravel.

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Thanks so much for the great feedback! Yes, I’m tall … haven’t you heard? :slight_smile: 6’4" … so Nate has me beat. I think that dropper post might be a great addition for those steep descents. However, I wonder how dropper posts work if your bikepacking and hauling gear off your post? :expressionless:

I discovered this great video from The Path Less Peddled, worth a watch if you’re new to the gravel bike category.

If you go bike packing, it generally means you’ll be riding any “technical” descents slower due to all the gear on your bike. Meaning less need for a dropper.

Seat post bags can work on droppers, but the dropper range is usually limited as a result.

Given your height, the main reason for a dropper would be if it makes you feel more stable on descents. I’m 5’9”, and don’t think I’d ever need a dropper on a gravel bike.

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I think you will hit the limits of your bike in other areas before the need for a dropper comes in. I’ve ridden pretty technical stuff on either my Cannondale Slate or Marin Cortina and I’ll run out of grip or the steep geometry will have an impact way before the ability to lower my ass without a seat to negotiate comes into play.

Personally I wouldn’t even put it in the ‘nice to have’ category. It’s unnecessary and adds a layer of complexity and weight.

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