CrankBrothers Highline 7 Review
Cons: Long overall length, above average weight
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CrankBrothers Highline 7
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|Pros||Very smooth, easy-to-use seat clamp, quick setup||short stack height, easy setup, great lever||Affordable, very short stack and extended length, adjustable travel with shims, lightweight||Affordable, highly-adjustable, lightweight||Very reasonably priced, comes in three drop lengths, adjustable air spring, smooth travel|
|Cons||Long overall length, above average weight||Lever sold separately, above average weight||Remote lever sold separately||Firm lever feel, average stack height||Longer overall length, no bling-factor|
|Bottom Line||A solid cable-actuated dropper with reliable, smooth action||A high-quality, easy-to-set up dropper with one of the best remote levers we tested||With a reasonable price and high performance, this post also helps you get the most drop possible||An affordably-priced and reliable option with plenty of adjustability||Reliable 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%)|
|Saddle Clamp (20%)|
|Ease of Setup (15%)|
|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 Travel Lengths/Extended Lengths (mm)||100/125/150/170mm, 367/417/467/507mm||100/125/150/175/200mm,
|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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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