With the TRS+ dropper post, e*thirteen continues to add yet more products to its ever expanding portfolio after being initially known to many riders as “the chain guide company”. Whilst best known for producing a wide range of chain devices to cover everything from full-blown downhill tensioners, through to lightweight upper guides for XC race bikes, e*thirteen has expanded its range to include chainrings, wide-range cassettes, carbon and alloy-rimmed wheels, and even tyres. And as of now, dropper seatposts too.
We first came across the TRS+ dropper post at last year’s Eurobike show. Not only is this e*thirteen’s first dropper post, it’s also the brands first real foray outside of its typical realm of producing drivetrain components. A big potential risk for sure, but one that I think is going to pay off.
Currently available with internal routing only, the TRS+ comes in two diameters (30.9mm and 31.6mm) and two travel options (125mm and 150mm). Unlike some other dropper posts on the market that offer infinitely adjustable travel (such as the RockShox Reverb and KS LEV), the post offers the rider the option to select from four pre-set travel heights, with the shorter travel option providing stops at 0-65-95-125mm, and the longer travel at 0-75-125-150mm. Strapped to my Stanton Sherpa test rig was a TRS+ dropper in a 30.9mm diameter with 150mm travel.
The TRS+ post uses an entirely mechanical design internally. No air springs, no hydraulic dampers or cartridges. The core premise behind this mechanical design is to make things simple, reliable and home serviceable. With the TRS+, there’s no need for bleeding, fancy tools, or bundling it into a postbag to send it back for repairs. Without the complex sealed hydraulic cartridges used by some other brands, not only is the cost kept down, but so to is the weight. The TRS+ comes in competitively compared to most popular posts, at a claimed weight of 490g for the 125mm travel option, plus an extra 65g for the lever.
Quite simply, the lever rocks. I’m not a fan of joystick style 360° levers and with many riders adapting old Shimano or SRAM front shifters for a nicer feeling dropper post lever, its clear that this has been a weak point on many posts. That’s not the case for the TRS+ post, the feel and action is spot on and the added grip tape is a really nice touch. In fact, it’s something I would like to see on my shifter!
I’ve always been a fan of infinite drop posts, and my first thought before riding the TRS+ was that I was going to struggle with the pre-set heights. But after one lap of the local trail loop, I was in tune. The four heights (150, 110, 80 and 0mm), should make this workable for almost everyone, but if the option for an infinite drop existed, I would still be tempted. Maybe this leaves room for a TRS R in the works, to fit in with the other products in their line up?
Being a mechanical post, the key role is played by a spring, rather than a complex sealed air/hydraulic system, which is the key to the post’s simplicity and low cost. The problem is that springs of the length required to fit inside the TRS+ can often be noisy, with an unwelcome knocking during compression. To prevent this, e*thirteen has updated the one single spring concept used in the original prototype shown at Eurobike, and now you’ll find two springs with a spacer, which has been employed to prevent both noise and wear.
On The Trail
The post arrived just in time for my first venture into short track racing, which saw the TRS+ post really come into its element. The race comprised of a short XC loop that included a 3-foot drop, half of a pump track, and a very steep climb that nudged 22.4%. Lots of changes in pitch that would allow me to make good use of the TRS+ post’s multiple positions, while seeing how easy it would be to use when red-lining at my max heart rate.
After a clumsy practice lap (having been acclimatised to a standard post on the Stanton Sherpa for way too long), using the TRS+ post became second nature. The lever paddle is large and easy to hit, and the actuation is smooth. However, one of the main differences of the TRS+ compared to other dropper posts I’ve used is how quiet it is. During the release stroke, there is no top out ‘clunk‘ to reassuringly inform you the saddle has returned to maximum extension. Whilst a quiet bike is nice, the silent operation does take some a little bit of getting used to. Personally, I’d like to see e*thirteen engineer in a more audible top-out clunk to notify you it’s returned to full travel.
The simple mechanical nature of the post means that there’s not a lot to go wrong with the post, and there’s very little fine tuning that needs to be done. The drop action is smooth, with minimal friction, though there is talk of tighter fitting seals being fitted in the future (more on that below). For the return, the tension of the mechanical post was not so extreme that it would put a vasectomist out of work, yet powerful enough to get the job done.
However, I have found that the post is susceptible to clamping forces. On my first few rides the post was struggling to engage into the top position, which required some fettling with the seat clamp, I was able to find a tension just tight enough to hold the post tight, without impacting the top out point, although personally I would like to be able to clamp my post a little tighter.
Being such a simple seat post, I didn’t feel a pressing need to strip down and service it. But after one of the muddiest rides I have had in some time, I thought I would strip it down to see just how good those seals were, while investigating e*thirteen’s claim of the post’s ease of service.
Needing just six tools that most riders should already own (T15 & T25 Torx keys, cassette lockring tool, M10 & M3 spanners and a vice with soft clamps), the strip down and rebuild was pretty quick. Just follow the 18-step process found on the e*thirteen website. As for the state of the internals, it was as you would hope after two months of riding – clean and ready to go. Take note industry, this is how we expect things.
After two months of hard use, the post if anything has improved, with the seals now fully bedded in, and there’s been no development in play. What’s reassuring to know is that if the performance does change, I can easily strip down, clean and re-lube the post’s internals myself, without having to send it away and be dropper post less until its return.
One thing worth mentioning is that in speaking with e*thirteen about my experience with the TRS+ dropper post, the guys mentioned that newer production models will be coming with a 20mm longer coil spring and slightly tighter primary sealing. The idea being to provide better protection for riders in really wet and muddy environments, whilst also delivering a snappier return to counter the stronger seals. We’ll keep you updated there when we receive one of the newer production models.
One of the biggest praises I have for the post, is that I have very little to say about it. Quite simply, it did everything I could ask of it, and other than serving me up a good cold cider after the ride (they don’t understand good cider in America – seriously!), I couldn’t ask for any more.
The star of the product is definitely that lovely remote, with the paddle-style lever feeling instantly familiar for anyone who’s ever used a front shifter. The lateral adjustment also means that set up is easy. The smooth familiar action was further boosted by the addition of grip tape, to make dropping the post just as easy when the going got sideways, or things got wet and muddy.
In conclusion, the e*thirteen TRS+ post works well, the lever is best in class, the price is very appealing, and for those that like to tinker at home, it is fully home serviceable. All wins in my book, and a great first dropper post from E13.
|Product:||TRS+ Dropper Seat Post|
|Tested:||by James Cornford for 2 months|