Gravel bikes are built far tougher than their on-road cousins and as we tackle steeper stuff the Brand X dropper posts make a lot of sense.
Brand-X dropper seatposts have gained a decent reputation over the past few years for durability and reliability at an affordable price. Some other brands will charge you several times the cost of the Brand-X, so is this one cheap and nasty or a genuine bargain?
The one I tested is the 27.2mm diameter option, so it would fit my ageing cyclocross frame that I used to test the (also inexpensive) Microshift groupset – the one with the dropper post actuator built into the gravel bike-drop bar brake lever. As well as being old-school narrow, the cable is also old-school, non-stealth, externally routed. It doesn’t look as tidy but I’m not going to start drilling holes in a 15-year-old aluminium frame for anyone.
The seatpost is completely aluminium and is 390mm long in total, with a 105mm drop. 30.9 and 31.6mm diameters are also available in 400 and 450mm flavours, each with 125 or 150mm drops, so there’s something there for most frames. If you’re digging an ancient relic out of the loft-like I did though, the 27.2 x 390 x 105mm is most likely what you’re going to need.
The saddle clamp is a fairly standard 2-bolt, zero-offset job and the post weighs about 550g.
The cable exits from the side of the post from a plastic housing at the collar. The plastic cover pops off so you can attach the end of the cable to the linkage in the same way you’d install an internally routed post. The cable then needs to be zip tied or taped to the frame, assuming your frame doesn’t have any cable/hose guides precisely where you want them.
The cable outer supplied isn’t long enough to route anywhere other than along the top tube, unless you’re fitting it to a really small frame.
There’s a paddle lever supplied that allows you to secure the end of the cable with a grubscrew. I didn’t use the lever because I was connecting it to the Microshift drop bar lever, which unfortunately requires the ‘barrel’ end of the cable, so I spent some time bodging that one with a spare adjustable barrel from another seatpost. It works but the two systems aren’t 100% compatible out of the box.
In use, the seat post has been completely reliable. The return is a bit on the eager side and knocks when it reaches full extension but it’s not offensive and if that sort of thing bothers you, you’re probably not going to entertain the idea of a Brand-X post anyway.
What we would like to see:
- Longer drop options in the 27.2mm diameter
What we love:
- Excellent value for money.
- Outstanding reliability, perfect for UK winters and/or bad bike maintainers.
Unfortunately for this poor Brand-X Ascend seatpost, it’s been installed on a bike that gets almost no love whatsoever. Hammered in winter, rarely washed and it’s the bike that gets wheeled out for wet and gritty night rides when I don’t want to trash something nicer. But while other, more expensive and posher dropper posts on other (well maintained) bikes frequently need a tweak or start doing weird stuff mid-ride, the Brand-X just keeps on going.
It’s not the lightest and with that cable sticking out of the side it doesn’t look too pretty but for the money it’s brilliant. Much like the Microshift gear that came with it, it has breathed new life into a bike that would probably have otherwise gathered dust for the next few decades.
- Brand-X Ascend II Externally Routed Dropper Post
- Price: £139.99 | From: Hotlines
- Tested: 10 months