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Crankbrothers Highline Review

The Highline is an impressive product that checked all our boxes and was among our favorite posts in the test.
crankbrothers Highline
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Price:  $359 List | $199.00 at Amazon
Compare prices at 2 resellers
Pros:  Ergonomic universal remote, easy to install, affordable, three-year warranty
Cons:  Not the lightest, non-adjustable spring rate
Manufacturer:   crankbrothers
By Jeremy Benson ⋅ Senior Review Editor  ⋅  Sep 26, 2017
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85
OVERALL
SCORE


RANKED
#2 of 10
  • Smoothness and Functionality - 25% 9
  • Saddle Clamp - 25% 9
  • Remote - 25% 9
  • Ease of Setup - 15% 9
  • Weight - 10% 4

Our Verdict

Crankbrothers has been in the mountain bike components game for well over a decade. They are primarily known for their pedals and multi-tools, but also for pushing the envelope of design with mixed results. The Highline dropper post is a new product offering from Crankbrothers and in our opinion is one of the most impressive products they have ever made. Not only does the Highline feature infinite travel adjustment, smooth and consistent compression and extension, but it also boasts innovative design features like a truly universal spherical remote and a unique saddle clamp. While it was edged out for the Best Buy Award, it is still one of our top performers, besting dropper posts that cost over $100 more. Plus it is backed by a three-year warranty.


Compare to Similar Products

 
Awards  Editors' Choice Award Top Pick Award Best Buy Award  
Price $199.00 at Amazon
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$375.00 at Backcountry
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$324 List$299.00 at REI
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$140.05 at Backcountry
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Overall Score Sort Icon
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Star Rating
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Pros Ergonomic universal remote, easy to install, affordable, three-year warrantyInfinite travel, smooth action, triggy remote, revive reset valveInnovative, easy compression, adjustable spring rate, six travel lengths, available partsLoam lever is excellent, reasonable price, smooth actionInexpensive, highly customizable, lightweight
Cons Not the lightest, non-adjustable spring rateLong extended length, expensiveFinicky installation-cable tension, poor performance if set up improperlySlightly grainy feelNot the smoothest, less refined lever
Bottom Line The Highline is an impressive product that checked all our boxes and was among our favorite posts in the test.The Bike Yoke Revive is without a doubt one of the best dropper seatposts we've tested.The 9point8 Fall Line is an interesting new dropper with many unique design features, winning our Top Pick for Innovative Design Award.The Bachelor is quality dropper seatpost at a reasonable price from the new(er) kid on the block, PNW Components.An inexpensive and adjustable post that delivers solid on-trail performance.
Rating Categories Crankbrothers Highline Bike Yoke Revive 9Point8 Fall Line PNW Components Bachelor IR OneUp Dropper
Smoothness And Functionality (25%)
10
0
9
10
0
10
10
0
8
10
0
8
10
0
7
Saddle Clamp (25%)
10
0
9
10
0
8
10
0
10
10
0
8
10
0
9
Remote (25%)
10
0
9
10
0
10
10
0
9
10
0
10
10
0
8
Ease Of Setup (15%)
10
0
9
10
0
8
10
0
7
10
0
8
10
0
7
Weight (10%)
10
0
4
10
0
10
10
0
7
10
0
7
10
0
9
Specs Crankbrothers... Bike Yoke Revive 9Point8 Fall Line PNW Components... OneUp Dropper
Measured Weight (length tested) 620g (125mm) 684g (185mm) 617g (150mm) 701g (170mm) 636g (170mm)
Positions Infinitely Adjustable Infintely Adjustable Infinitely Adjustable Infinitely Adjustable Infinitely Adjustable
Available Diameters 30.9/31.6mm 30.9/31.6/34.9mm 30.9/31.6/34.9mm 30.9/31.6mm 30.9/31.6mm
Travel/Extended Length (mm) 100/125/160mm, 345/400/465mm 125/160/185mm, 396.2/466.2/516.2mm 75/100/125/150/175/200mm, 325/350/375/440/500/560mm 150/170mm, 458/498mm 150/170mm
Drop length tested/Extended length, claimed 125mm/400mm 185mm/516.2mm(484.8mm not counting the actuator at bottom) 150mm/440mm 170mm/498mm 170mm/450mm
Saddle layback Zero offset Zero offset Offset or inline geometry, purchase of conversion kit required Zero offset Zero offset
Remote Universal, ergonomic, spherical adjustment Triggy 1x remote lever(2x, 1x I-Spec B, 1x I-Spec II also available) Thumb:(tested) universal with 1x adapter, Trigger: finger actuated, or Digit: 1x left undermount Loam lever Carbon remote
Cable Style Internally Routed, tool free quick connect system Internally routed, cable actuated Internally routed, tool free quick connect system Internally routed, cable actuated Internally routed, cable actuated
Stack Height/Ride height 47 mm compressed, 173 mm extended 42mm compressed, 226.7mm extended 59mm compressed, 209mm extended 60mm compressed, 225mm extended 37mm compressed, 207mm extended
Included Cable, housing, 3 year warranty cable and housing, Triggy remote, Air valve adapter, Quick Reset lever Torque key, cable, housing, 2 year warranty Cable and housing, 3-year warranty Cable and housing, travel adjust shims, one year warranty
Tested Diameter and travel length. 31.6, 125mm travel 31.6, 185mm travel 31.6, 150mm travel 31.6, 170mm travel 31.6, 170mm travel

Our Analysis and Test Results

Crankbrothers now makes two versions of the Highline dropper post. The Highline 7 is the same as the version reviewed here, although it is now offered in 100, 125, 150, and 170mm drop lengths. The Highline 3 retails for $199 for the post only, and comes in 60, 80, 100, 125, 150, and 170mm drop lengths. November 2019

Crankbrothers has long been pushing the envelope of design with mixed results. Consider the eggbeaters pedals, potentially the most polarizing pedal design ever, people either love 'em, or they won't even consider riding with 'em. Thankfully, Crankbrothers created a dropper post that will be nearly impossible not to love. Smooth, consistent travel, easy to install, ergonomic universal remote, innovative saddle clamp, low stack height, reasonably priced, the list goes on and on.

Performance Comparison


Getting way back while testing the Highline in North Lake Tahoe.
Getting way back while testing the Highline in North Lake Tahoe.

Smoothness and Functionality


Throughout our testing, the Highline proved itself to be one of the best dropper posts on the market. Crankbrothers put some thought into the design of this post and not just in innovative features like the remote and saddle clamp, but the most important aspects of the post like its performance and functionality during its primary task of lowering and raising your saddle.


The Highline has a sealed hydraulic cartridge that operates at a fixed rate of extension and tops out with a barely audible noise. We found the rate to be on the slower side of the posts in our test selection, but also to be tied with the Bike Yoke Revive and the Thomson Elite Covert for the smoothest in its travel. Even though it wasn't lightning quick to return to full height, it was consistent, reliable and precise. It was also buttery smooth both during extension and compression, notably so especially when compared to posts that had a less regular or sticky feeling travel. We did find the Highline post to require the most force to compress. This wasn't an issue, but you had to consciously weight your saddle to slam it down before descents.

Crank Brothers Highline shown compressed and extended.
Crank Brothers Highline shown compressed and extended.

There was the slightest bit of lateral play, or wiggle, in the saddle but it was barely noticeable in hand and not at all noticeable while riding. At 47mm compressed and 173mm extended, for our 125mm travel test post, the Highline has among the lowest stack height in our test, just 3mm lower than the KS LEV Integra, but roughly a full centimeter lower than most of the others. The stack height isn't typically a concern for the longer-legged riders out there, but 47mm is a welcome number for those with shorter legs hoping to squeeze a longer dropper onto their rig. We were a little underwhelmed by the 125mm travel length of our test post since we've grown accustomed to 150mm drop. After we received our test post, however, the 150mm and 170mm versions of the Highline were released and are sure to please a large number of riders who like as much drop as they can get.

The Highline also comes with top-of-the-line Jagwire cable and housing which may aid in its ease of actuation and smoothness. Pressing the remote actuates a small spiral driver within the quick connect that turns a rotary valve on the Highline's cartridge. The cartridge is sealed, but supposedly easy to remove and replace when necessary.

Saddle Clamp


The Highline features a zero-offset head with a typical two-bolt saddle clamp design, but Crank Brothers did something different when they designed theirs.


The rear bolt is attached on a swivel to the upper part of the clamp and slides into a slot in the head of the seatpost. The front bolt stays connected while the rear bolt swivels out, allowing the upper piece of the saddle clamp to rotate. This eliminates the need to ever fully remove the bolts or drop several pieces of saddle clamp all over the floor when installing or removing your saddle. (You know it has happened to you.) This design made life much easier during both installation and removal of our saddle from the test post. The saddle clamp also has angle markings to ensure that you adjust yours correctly every time.

The Crank Brothers Highline saddle clamp.
The Crank Brothers Highline saddle clamp.

Remote


The remote is sold separately of the Highline droppers for $60. This way the user can choose any remote they want, or just add the Crankbrothers remote in when they purchase the post. It is a quality remote, a truly universal shifter style lever that is attached to a spherical clamp. The hinged clamp of the remote is simple to install and can be mounted on the top or the bottom of the handlebar on either side and is compatible with any drivetrain configuration. The only way this lever can't be mounted is vertically, like the KS LEV Integra or the Thomson Elite Covert, but this didn't upset us in the least.


The remote is paddle-shaped, and we set it up with our 1x drivetrain like a shift lever under our handlebar on the left side. The spherical clamp, think ball and socket, is incredibly adjustable and allows you to articulate the lever into virtually any position, but most importantly the exact position you want it, before tightening it down on the handlebar. The lever action is smooth, and we found the Highline remote to require moderate force to actuate the mechanism. It fell exactly in the middle of the actuation force range in our side-by-side testing. The rate of extension of the Highline can also be modulated by feathering the remote lever.

The spherical clamp of the Highline remote allowed for nearly infinite ergonomic adjustment.
The spherical clamp of the Highline remote allowed for nearly infinite ergonomic adjustment.

Weight


At 620g including the cable, housing, and remote lever, in the 125mm travel length we tested, the Highline is the heaviest post in the test based on grams per millimeter of travel.


While it appears to weigh less than some of the other competitors, it's important to remember that it has 25mm less travel than most of them. The e13 TRS+ and the Thomson Covert Elite are the next heaviest posts. The KS LEV Integra weighs notably less, a full gram per millimeter of travel, than the Highline. Bear in mind that the Highline we tested was the 125mm length version, and the longer drop lengths will weigh slightly more; exactly how much more we can't say because we haven't tested or weighed them.

The 125mm travel Highline tipped our scales at 620g.
The 125mm travel Highline tipped our scales at 620g.

Ease of Setup


The Crank Brothers Highline was among the fastest, and tied for the easiest, dropper post to install in our test selection.


As for every dropper post we analyzed, the most challenging part is running the housing through the frame. After that, all you to do for the Highline is feed the cable through the housing to the remote, tighten the set screw, then cut and crimp the cable which hides in a slot on the backside of the remote lever. The cable is already connected to the bottom of the seatpost at the quick connect. The saddle is easier to install than other two-bolt saddle clamps due to the ingenious slotted head design that allows the upper half of the saddle clamp to rotate without fully removing either bolt. Installation of the remote is simple due to the hinged design of the handlebar clamp, but it did take us a while to adjust the lever to the perfect angle. The only reason it took us time to adjust the lever was that we had the option to position it in exactly the ideal spot for a change, so we took our time and dialed it in.

The internals of the Highline's quick connect system and the rotational actuation mechanism.
The internals of the Highline's quick connect system and the rotational actuation mechanism.

Value


At $359 retail, the Highline is relatively reasonably priced. This price is the combination of the $299 post along with the $60 remote lever. The Highline also happens to be one of our favorite posts, checking nearly all of our boxes and performing more consistently and reliably than dropper posts that cost much more. The Highline was a contender for our Best Buy award due to its intelligent design features, consistent performance, quality construction, and reasonable price. It also comes with a three-year warranty!

Railing a huge berm on the Demo Flow Trail outside of Santa Cruz  CA while testing the Highline.
Railing a huge berm on the Demo Flow Trail outside of Santa Cruz, CA while testing the Highline.

Conclusion


The Highline is the most impressive product we have seen from Crank Brothers in a long time. They took their time in the development of this dropper post, and that is evident in thoughtfully designed features like the remote and saddle clamp, as well as the impressively smooth and consistent performance. Not to mention the fact that the Highline is reasonably priced, comes in 100mm, 125mm, 150mm, and 170mm lengths, and is backed by a three-year warranty. The Highline is one of the highest-rated posts in our test, we think it is a great dropper post option.

Other Versions and Accessories


The Highline is available in both 30.9mm and 31.6mm diameters and comes in 100mm, 125mm, 150mm, and 160mm lengths, all for $299 as a post only, remote lever are sold for an additional $60.

The Highline 3 is a less expensive version that is offered for $199 as a post only. The Highline 3 has a standard 2-bolt head and comes in 30.9, 31.6, and 34.9mm diameters in 60mm, 80mm, 100mm, 125mm, 150mm, and 170mm drop lengths.


Jeremy Benson