As evidenced by our experience with the PRO Koryak, we’ve come a helluva long way since the first mass-market dropper posts. While not all posts are created equal, it appears that in 2017 (*voice lowers to a whisper*), it isn’t too difficult to get yourself a relatively solid dropper post that won’t cost you the same as a decent wheelset.
The Koryak dropper post was first shown off at Eurobike in 2016, though it took a few more months before it became available to the public. Selling for a lick under 200 squids, the PRO Koryak comes in considerably cheaper than better-known options from RockShox, KS and Fox. And given that PRO is owned by Japanese giant Shimano, that makes it an appealing option that comes with lofty expectations for durability and ease of use. Indeed PRO certainly took its time to deliver a dropper post to a hungry mountain bike market, though the company made it clear that it wanted to produce something reliable, and something well priced before getting too ahead of itself. As such, the Koryak is limited in options. Right now it’s only available with 120mm travel option with internal routing.
PRO Koryak Dropper Post Features
- AL-7000 Alloy construction
- Air sprung with sealed hydraulic cartridge
- 120mm of infinite travel
- Cable actuation
- Internally routed
- Single bolt saddle clamp with zero offset head
- Available with 1x or Universal Lever options
- Diameter: 30.9mm, 31.6mm
- Claimed weight: 520g (30.9mm) – 536g (31.6mm)
- RRP: £199
Since the Koryak was first released earlier this year, we’ve had two test posts on rotation. One has been fitted to a Whyte T-130, while the other is aboard a Pace RC127+ steel hardtail. Both have spent most of their time being ridden locally around Calder Valley, as well as being relied upon for riding trips further afield to Wales and the Lake District. As such, they’ve seen more than their fair share of putrid weather and excessive bike washing.
The test post I’ve been using is of the 30.9mm diameter, and measures 400mm long from top to tail. Setup is pretty easy due to the cable-activated design, though we weren’t stoked to see the cable pinch bolt located at the base of the seatpost. While other posts (such as those from as Bontrager and Fox) have flipped the cable orientation around, the PRO Koryak requires you to fiddle with a 2mm and 3mm hex key to tighten a small barrel over the cable, which loads into the lever arm at the base of the post. It isn’t impossible to do, it’s just far easier when the pinch bolt is up at the lever end.
As for the lever itself, you can get the Koryak with both a universal remote for use with 2x and 3x drivetrains, or with the left hand lever, which is designed for use with 1x setups. Both of our test posts came with the left hand lever option, which can either mount to the bar via a hinged clamp, or directly to one of Shimano’s latest brake levers with an I-Spec II bracket.
For the post with a full length cable and the remote, the Koryak came out at a weight of 642g.
On The Trail
During the first ride home from the workshop, there was a huge ‘CRACK!’ that rocketed out of the saddle as I rode over a pothole. I instantly knew the saddle clamp had slipped, as the saddle nose began to perform an unsolicited prostate examination on me. This is one of the downsides of the clean single-bolt head of the Koryak post – it requires a butt-load of torque to lock it down securely. Although I levelled off the saddle and retightened, this occurred again on the second ride. It may have just been the mating surfaces bedding in, because fortunately after tightening it down again, it hasn’t budged since. That said, I’d much rather see a twin-bolt clamp to avoid this issue in the first place.
In use the Koryak has been pretty smooth in both the upwards and downwards directions. It’s infinitely adjustable, so you can set the saddle height anywhere in the travel, and when the saddle returns to full height, there’s a nice audible top-out noise.
Initially I did miss the 150mm of drop that I gave up to test the Koryak, but with the exception of riding really steep valley descents, I kind of just got used to it. I guess from Shimano’s perspective, the engineers would rather ensure they could deliver a durable post first, and one that’s going to fit more frames and more riders. After all, there have been test bikes I’ve jumped on where the stock dropper post is just a tad too long for my legs, and that becomes a real problem that can only really be solved by replacing the entire post (save for a couple of exceptions that allow you to reduce the post’s travel). When you’ve only got 120mm of travel though, you’re far less likely to encounter that issue in the first place. Don’t get me wrong, I’d always go for as much travel as you can possibly run. And if I was a betting man, I would guess that we may see something longer travel from PRO in the future. But as of right now the Koryak’s 120mm of travel works absolutely fine.
At the handlebar, the lever does what it’s meant to do, but it doesn’t feel particularly solid. There’s wobble in the pivot and flex through the paddle, and the smooth profile means your thumb needs to hit it more forcefully to avoid it from sliding off in wet and/or challenging conditions. Once on the trail you don’t really notice the flexy lever though, and the long leverage means it feels reasonably smooth even if the cabling is getting a bit tatty. I rode the bike for well over a month with a dirty split in the cable housing, but despite the added stiction, the lever continued to operate without issue.
After 6 months of riding through awful, filthy, gritty conditions, the Koryak is still sliding up and down admirably, even if itt isn’t as low-friction as higher-end droppers out there from Fox, RockShox, KS or BikeYoke. Impressively, there’s still no rotational wiggle in the post, and I can’t detect any notable fore/aft flex either. The sealing has done its job, though some of the anodizing has started to wear on the back of the upper tube. It doesn’t seem to be affecting anything yet, and to be honest, I don’t expect it to be anything more than aesthetic.
Internally, the Koryak shares much in common with other dropper posts on the market like the Giant Contact SL Switch-R, Bontrager Drop Line, Syncros Dropper 2.0, and the Brand-X Ascend. All rely on a similar cartridge system to control the post height. This cartridge is sealed and isn’t designed to be serviced, but it is designed to be easy to remove and replace should anything go wrong with it. Replacement cartridges are available through Madison for £49.99.
Like those aforementioned posts, the Koryak is easy for most folks to service and clean out the seals and bushings, with the whole process requiring little more than a 2mm hex key, an adjustable wrench, and some replacement grease. Madison sells the grease to do so (£19.99), along with replacement seal & bushing kits (£14.99). Outside of routine maintenance, the Koryak comes with a 2-year warranty that covers manufacturing defects should you encounter any.
I didn’t, but I did have the lever’s alloy barrel adjuster crack on me. Given how thin the alloy is, it wasn’t a complete surprise, especially as I’d had a few bar-twisting moments that had seen the cable tugging hard on the remote. While the barrel adjuster is replaceable, I decided to fit an aftermarket Cane Creek lever for shits ‘n’ giggles, which ended up being a worthwhile upgrade for the Koryak. The Cane Creek Dropt lever is still quite new, and we’ll have a separate review coming on that soon, but it’s sturdier construction and slick actuation improved the Koryak’s ease of use, somehow making the post action feel better too – possibly due to their being less flex through the paddle. If you end up with a Koryak dropper post, the lever may be something to consider upgrading down the line.
For the going price, the PRO Koryak dropper does everything a dropper post should do in 2017. It’s been smooth, reliable and free of any catastrophic mishaps. Some further refinement of the saddle clamp and lever would be welcome, and of course a longer travel option would also make the Koryak more appealing to more riders. That said, PRO has delivered a solid post in the Koryak, and one that is straightforward to service and backed up by a generous warranty from the biggest name in the business.
Want to check out more dropper post options? Then head here to read all of the dropper posts we’ve tested and reviewed!
|Product:||Koryak Dropper Post|
|Tested:||by Wil Barrett for 6 months|