Giant Contact Switch Review
Cons: Only available in 30.9mm diameter, cartridge cannot be serviced.
Our Analysis and Test Results
The Giant Contact SL Switch is a dropper post that is spec'd on mid to high-end Giant mountain bikes, but one that unfortunately may not be on your radar. We hope this review brings this post into consideration for many more riders seeking a reliable, adaptable and affordable dropper post. As the least expensive among the droppers we tested, if you have a bike with a 30.9mm seat tube diameter (the only size available), this post certainly warrants a look. This post can switch between being internally or externally routed.
This dropper post managed to score high marks in several of our metrics while also maintaining a low price, earning it our Best Buy award.
The black alloy remote with a hinged clamp is easy to fit on your handlebars without the need to remove grips. The cable ends at the remote and is pinched and held in place in a groove on the lever by a small grub screw. It can be mounted left or right and takes up little real estate on your bars. A flexible couple inches of housing exits the remote lever and allows the housing to "play nice" with the other various brake lines and shifter cables. In the chart below, you can see how the Giant Contact Switch measured up against its competitors in the remote category.
We particularly liked the ergonomics of this remote. Although similar in design to the other vertically actuated levers, this one was a tad wider. The shape of the lever seemed to come about by having someone press their thumb onto a piece of malleable aluminum. It just felt better than some of the others. Cable tension adjusts at the end of the flexible housing and can be used to take out any play or looseness in the lever action. When routed internally as on our test version, we found this dropper to be much more accommodating than some other models we tested - if your cable length wasn't absolutely perfect. Even with quite a bit of extra housing and cable length from a sloppy install, the in-line barrel adjuster took care of any problems.
This post just sorta works. It's difficult to describe the feel of this post in terms of quality of movement through its infinite adjustment range. However, a certain degree of appeal lies in the unremarkable. The Contact SL doesn't exhibit a super fast return like the Specialized Command. Nor is it silky smooth like the hydraulic Rock Shox Reverb Stealth. It gives a muted top-out noise rather than a harsh clunk. The proprietary air and oil cartridge gives a consistent return speed; return speed is set at what we can best describe as a medium speed. The post features an anti-twist mechanism that keeps lateral saddle play to a minimum. It just works. It goes up and down, and from our testing, appears to do so quite reliably.
Dropper posts are an invaluable tool and will definitely change the way you ride. The technology improves every year but is not yet what we would call "dialed." The simple fact that nothing malfunctioned, broke, needed breaking in, or needed servicing during our butt's tenure atop this dropper was its greatest feature. Buying a dropper post, mounting it on a bike and forgetting about it is hopefully where this technology is trending. The seals on this unit are protected by a threaded collar that screws over the actual seals. This collar serves to minimize ingress of foreign matter like sand, water or mud. Occasionally our post would feel a little rough. Unscrewing that collar, wiping things down, and slathering on some stanchion lube usually seemed to smooth things out.
Check out the chart below to see how the Giant's saddle clamp stacks up against the other dropper posts we tested.
The updated saddle clamp is a gigantic improvement over the one we started this test with. Our original Giant Reign 2 featured the previous version, which used a single bolt and heaps of plastic where metal would have been an obviously better materials choice; a spring was also involved in the whole mess. If you weighed more than 90 pounds and rode your bike on anything other than a freshly paved bike path, the nose of your saddle was likely to drop anytime you sat down with any force commonly encountered during mountain biking.
Then, our friend bought a new Giant during our test period. Just as we were getting into the whole, "sick bike, but the seat clamp is a piece of garbage" talk, we noticed the company had dumped the old version. The new two-bolt design was made of metal, not plastic. We immediately took turns jumping on the bike to test it out. The saddle held tight.
Ease of Set-up
The most noteworthy feature, and what presumably gives this dropper post its namesake, is the unique ability to change between external routing and internal "stealth" routing. Changing between the two is easy enough. First, remove the cable from the remote on the handlebar. Remove the saddle clamp hardware from the top of the seatpost and then remove the base assembly with an 8mm allen wrench. Pull out the hydraulic cartridge and then remove the base assembly to fully separate the cartridge. From here, you flip or "switch" the hydraulic cartridge (you see what they did there? How clever). Replace the base assembly on the other side. This switch will require that you use a new derailleur cable since it's probably a bit smashed and kinked from the previous external installment. Cut cable housing to length. Run the new cable through the small cable barrel that will insert into the base assembly and feed the cable through the housing. Replace the seatpost into the seat tube at your desired ride height. On the other end, feed the cable through the flexy housing and then run it through the remote. Clamp it. Crimp it. Ride it. That said, we still suggest the owner's manual or the plethora of online tutorial videos to guide you through this switch rather than our own crude instructions.
Characteristic of this post, the Contact SL Switch placed near the middle in the weight category at 617 grams. Incorporating the ability to be run as internally or externally routed (while still maintaining a competitive weight) impressed testers.
This dropper is a great choice for those late-adopters that have finally grown tired of their friends nagging them to buy a dropper post. If at the top of every climb, your crew has to wait for you to hop off your bike and lower your seat before screaming downhill, you've found the perfect solution in the Contact SL Switch.
Building up a new bike? If you ran this dropper post on your last externally route frame, New Bike Day doesn't have to mean New Dropper Day. Just follow the instructions above (actually, YouTube would be a better option) and set the post up for internal frame routing.
This post is only available in a 30.9mm diameter, so keep that in mind if you're in the market for a new bike frame. Apparently bushings have been used to retrofit the post onto 31.6 frames, but we did not verify these claims.
At $280, the Contact Switch was the least expensive post in our test. The updated seat clamp and no-fuss hydraulic cartridge make this post a great choice for the budget-minded buyer. Although the cartridge on this unit is non-serviceable, they are affordable and widely available online or through authorized Giant retailers. This post can also tag along if you decide to upgrade your bike (so long as the frame is a 30.9mm diameter) from external to internal cable routing. Maintenance on this post, aside from needing a new cartridge, often just involves the standard stanchion lube.
If your frame fits the one available size (30.9mm) and you're looking for a wallet-friendly, reliable, infinitely adjustable seatpost, we'd be hard pressed to recommend anything else over the Contact SL Switch. If you spent all your pennies on a new frame and new wheel size to stay relevant with constantly evolving "standards" and can't stomach the cost of a Thomson, our Editors' Choice award winner, or Reverb, look no further than the Contact SL Switch. It's not bling for your bike like the others, but you'll have money left over to dump into some carbon handlebars. Smooth operating and simple to maintain, this is a worthy addition to any bike, not just a Giant.
— Sean Cronin