Reviews You Can Rely On

CrankBrothers Highline 7 Review

A solid cable-actuated dropper with reliable, smooth action
CrankBrothers Highline 7
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
Price:  $299 List | $268.99 at Competitive Cyclist
Compare prices at 2 resellers
Pros:  Very smooth, easy-to-use seat clamp, quick setup
Cons:  Long overall length, above average weight
Manufacturer:   CrankBrothers
By Zach Wick ⋅ Review Editor  ⋅  Mar 19, 2021
  • Share this article:
Our Editors independently research, test, and rate the best products. We only make money if you purchase a product through our links, and we never accept free products from manufacturers. Learn more
79
OVERALL
SCORE


RANKED
#7 of 12
  • Smoothness and Functionality - 30% 8
  • Saddle Clamp - 20% 9
  • Remote - 25% 7
  • Ease of Setup - 15% 8
  • Weight - 10% 7

Our Verdict

Crankbrothers seems to have conquered the reliability issues that plagued their early dropper post offerings with the sturdy Highline 7. This post delivers smooth, consistent action out on the trail, and it survived our test period without issue. With Trelleborg sealing, Igus bearings, and a four-year warranty on the self-contained IFP hydraulic cartridge, Crankbrothers pulled out all the stops to keep you on the trail and out of the shop. The Highline 7 has a relatively long overall length and is on the heavier end, but the stack height is competitive with our favorite droppers. We were pleasantly surprised with this post, and we think it's a good option for riders looking for consistency.

Compare to Similar Products

 
Awards  Top Pick Award Top Pick Award  Best Buy Award 
Price $268.99 at Competitive Cyclist
Compare at 2 sellers
$309.00 at Backcountry
Compare at 2 sellers
$195.99 at Amazon
Compare at 2 sellers
$199.00 at Backcountry$176.00 at Amazon
Compare at 2 sellers
Overall Score Sort Icon
79
87
85
81
78
Star Rating
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
Pros Very smooth, easy-to-use seat clamp, quick setupshort stack height, easy setup, great leverAffordable, very short stack and extended length, adjustable travel with shims, lightweightAffordable, highly-adjustable, lightweightVery reasonably priced, comes in three drop lengths, adjustable air spring, smooth travel
Cons Long overall length, above average weightLever sold separately, above average weightRemote lever sold separatelyFirm lever feel, average stack heightLonger overall length, no bling-factor
Bottom Line A solid cable-actuated dropper with reliable, smooth actionA high-quality, easy-to-set up dropper with one of the best remote levers we testedWith a reasonable price and high performance, this post also helps you get the most drop possibleAn affordably-priced and reliable option with plenty of adjustabilityReliable and consistent performance at an unbeatable price
Rating Categories CrankBrothers Highl... Fox Racing Shox Tra... OneUp Components V2 PNW Components Loam... Tranz-X Kitsuma Air
Smoothness And Functionality (30%)
8.0
9.0
9.0
8.0
8.0
Saddle Clamp (20%)
9.0
9.0
8.0
8.0
7.0
Remote (25%)
7.0
9.0
8.0
8.0
8.0
Ease Of Setup (15%)
8.0
8.0
8.0
8.0
8.0
Weight (10%)
7.0
7.0
10.0
9.0
8.0
Specs CrankBrothers Highl... Fox Racing Shox Tra... OneUp Components V2 PNW Components Loam... Tranz-X Kitsuma Air
Measured Weight (length tested) 696g (170mm) 733g (175mm) 662g (180mm) 640g (170mm) 732g (200mm) 611g (200mm post only) 51g (remote and hardware) 70g (cable and housing)
Grams per millimeter of travel 4.1 4.2 3.7 3.8 3.7
Remote tested CrankBrothers Highline Remote Fox Racing Shox Transfer Remote OneUp 1x PNW Loam Lever Tranz-X Kitsuma 1x
Positions Infinitely Adjustable Infinitely Adjustable Infinitely Adjustable Infinitely Adjustable Infinitely Adjustable
Available Diameters 30.9/31.6mm 30.9/31.6mm 30.9/31.6/34.9mm 30.9/31.6/34.9mm 30.9/31.6mm
Available Travel Lengths/Extended Lengths (mm) 100/125/150/170mm, 367/417/467/507mm 100/125/150/175/200mm,
308/363/418/475/531
120/150/180/210mm, 360/420/480/540mm 125/150/170/200mm, 385/440/480/540mm 150/170/200mm, 455/495/558mm
Drop length tested/Extended length, claimed 170mm/507mm 175mm/475 180mm/480mm + 16mm actuator 170mm/480mm 200mm/558mm
Saddle layback Zero offset Zero offset Zero offset Zero Offset Zero offset
Remote CrankBrothers Highline Remote Fox Racing Shox Transfer Remote 1x (comes with standard clamp, MMX, and I-Spec EV mounts), 2x option available Not included. 1x, SRAM Matchmaker X, Shimano I-Spec EV or I-Spec II available for $49 PNW Loam Lever sold separately (SRAM MMX, Shimano I-spec II and I-spec EV, and standard 22.2mm clamp available Tranz-X Kitsuma 1x lever
Cable Style Internally routed, cable actuated Internally routed, cable actuated Internally routed, cable actuated Internally routed, cable actuated Internally routed, cable actuated
Stack Height/Ride height 47mm compressed, 217mm extended 38mm compressed, 213mm extended 33mm compressed, 213mm extended 50mm compressed, 220mm extended(claimed) 55mm compressed, 255mm extended
Included Cable and housing, 4-year warranty 1 year warranty Travel adjustment shims, 2-year warranty Lifetime warranty to original owner Cable and housing, 2-year warranty
Tested Diameter and travel length. 31.6/170mm travel 31.6/175mm travel 31.6, 180mm travel 31.6, 170mm travel 30.9, 200mm travel

Our Analysis and Test Results

Crankbrothers has been making high-end mountain bike components since 1997, and today they offer everything from apparel and shoes to carbon wheels and multi-tools. Their products have a reputation for stylish and functional design, and the Highline 7 is no different. This post has a clean, sturdy finish along with some nifty design features that make life easier for the rider. Setup is a breeze with their quick-connect cable mechanism and user-friendly seat clamp, and the on-trail performance allows you to keep your mind on the ride.

Performance Comparison


High-quality housing and ferrules contribute to this post's smooth...
High-quality housing and ferrules contribute to this post's smooth, consistent feel.
Photo: Zach Wick

Smoothness and Functionality


The Highline 7 is one of the smoothest posts we tested. It doesn't take much pressure to drop the saddle once the lever is engaged, and we never had any issues with the post sticking at top out. The drop is relatively fast and frictionless, and the return is reliable. We didn't notice any side-to-side play or rattling from the saddle, and our test post didn't develop any sag at top out throughout our test.

While it's smooth and reliable, the Highline 7 isn't the fastest-returning post that we tested. We tend to think that a faster return—within reason—is usually better when it comes to dropper posts, and the Highline 7 takes just a split second longer to top out than we prefer. We're splitting hairs here, but after riding a faster post and swapping over to the Highline we found ourselves accidentally letting off the lever before the seat had a chance to top out. As a consequence of the slightly lower speed, the Highline 7 makes a softer thunk at the end of its travel than many of the posts we tested, which can make it hard to tell if the post has returned to full height or not. Some of our favorite posts feature an adjustable air spring that allows the rider to dial in the return speed to their preference. We found ourselves wishing for a similar feature on the Highline 7.

The saddle clamp's rear bolt can detach from the lower clamp to make...
The saddle clamp's rear bolt can detach from the lower clamp to make seat installation easier.
Photo: Zach Wick

Saddle Clamp


Seat installation can be a pain, but the Highline 7's saddle clamp makes the job a little bit easier. It's a relatively standard two-bolt clamp system, but a slotted bolt hole allows the forward bolt to swing out and let the upper portion open. With the upper portion opened it's fairly straightforward to set the saddle rails in their grooves and close the clamp back up. It isn't the easiest operation in the world, but it's considerably easier than having to worry about loose nuts and bolts when installing a seat.

With the easy-to-use clamp also comes a 47mm compressed stack height that measures up well with the competition. A short stack height is crucial for riders to squeeze the most travel possible out of their dropper post, so we pay close attention to this number with every model we test. At 47mm compressed, the Highline 7 doesn't have the shortest stack in the test, but it's not far off.

The remote's unique spherical adjustment allows for precise lever...
The remote's unique spherical adjustment allows for precise lever placement.
Photo: Zach Wick

Remote


We tested our Highline 7 with the matching Highline Remote from Crankbrothers, but any lever that clamps the cable at the bar should be compatible. The Highline Remote is a short, compact lever with a unique spherical adjustment that does the job nicely. It isn't Ispec or Matchmaker compatible, but we managed to find a good spot for the small clamp next to our brake levers. The spherical adjustment system allows you to clamp the lever exactly where you want it, and a small set screw offers a clean solution to clamping the cable.

The Highline Remote works well, but it didn't quite stack up with the best levers we tested. The action is smooth without any flex, but the thumb paddle itself is short and low-leverage giving it a relatively firm feel. Additionally, the small grip tape sticker that Crankbrothers provided for the thumb interface lasted until our first damp ride before falling off somewhere out on the trail. Without the grip tape, we didn't have any issues with our thumb slipping off the lever, so we tend to think that Crankbrothers should probably just leave it out.

It's not the lightest post on the market, but we're not overly...
It's not the lightest post on the market, but we're not overly concerned.
Photo: Zach Wick

Weight


With all of the effort Crankbrothers seemingly devoted to ensuring the Highline 7's durability, the weight doesn't match up with the lightest posts we tested. At 696 grams with remote, housing, and cable included the total weight is actually comparable to most posts we tested, but the 4.1 grams per millimeter of travel is on the higher end of the spectrum.

Realistically, the weight difference between the Highline 7 and the lightest posts we tested is fairly insignificant. If given the choice between saving a few grams and having a reliable dropper we'll go with the reliable option every time. For that reason, the weight metric is less significant in the calculation of our overall scores. Gram-counting riders and XC racers looking for the lightest kit possible may want to look elsewhere, but for the vast majority of mountain bikers, the Highline is a good option.

The activation mechanism doesn't require a cylindrical bushing. Just...
The activation mechanism doesn't require a cylindrical bushing. Just slot the cable end into the cradle and you're set.
Photo: Zach Wick

Ease of Setup


One of our favorite aspects of this post was how quickly and easily we were able to install it. Taking the post and lever from in-the-box to ride-ready didn't take us longer than half an hour—even with frequent stops to snap photos along the way. The remote clamp hinges open so that you can mount it without having to remove grips or brakes from your bars, and the quick-connect cable mechanism at the bottom of the post doesn't require a cylindrical bushing like most cable-actuated posts. You simply hook the barrel-end into the mechanism, run it through the housing, and clamp it at the lever. Depending on your frame, running the internal cable housing could require some fiddling and will likely be the most difficult part of the installation process.

The setup differences between the Highline 7 and the rest of the cable-actuated posts we tested aren't huge, but we greatly appreciated the small design features that made our lives easier. Considering that we were frequently swapping between posts during our test session, we were happy for anything that made the process faster and easier.

numbered markings on the front of the post help with saddle height...
numbered markings on the front of the post help with saddle height adjustment.
Photo: Zach Wick

Value


The Highline 7 is competitively priced within our test field, and we think it has value for the right rider. With durable construction, a low stack height, and a user-friendly setup it's a good option for those who appreciate Crankbrothers' thoughtful design. There are multiple posts we tested that come at a lower cost and offer useful features like travel and return rate adjustment. Riders looking to squeeze all the value they can out of their dropper post purchase will be better served looking at those options.

Conclusion


We were dubious about the Highline 7 before we got our hands on it, but we were pleasantly surprised by what we found once we got it on our bikes. Crankbrothers seems to have overcome their early reliability struggles with this sturdy, easy-to-use model. It doesn't pack the same level of adjustability as some of our favorite posts, but we think it's a solid option.

Crankbrothers provides a small grip tape sticker for the remote's...
Crankbrothers provides a small grip tape sticker for the remote's thumb pad, but ours quickly fell off on our first damp ride.
Photo: Zach Wick

Other Versions and Accessories


We tested a 31.6 diameter, 170mm Highline 7 post, but Crankbrothers offers a range of options. The Highline 7 comes in 30.9 and 31.6 diameters and 100, 125, 150, and 170mm travel lengths.

Crankbrothers also offers the Highline 3, a lower-priced option, in lengths from 80 through 200mmm.

Zach Wick