PNW Components Bachelor Review
Cons: Lever ergonomics could be improved, heavy
Manufacturer: PNW Components
Our Analysis and Test Results
If you've never heard of PNW Components, that's because they are a relatively new manufacturer of mountain bike componentry. This Pacific Northwest (PNW) based brand operates under the philosophy that they "hate how expensive bike parts are". According to their website, PNW Components aims to create quality products at lower prices, and the Bachelor dropper post is an excellent example of that. PNW Components currently makes a line of dropper posts for mountain, adventure, and gravel bikes, as well as a few cockpit components like handlebars and stems.
In a market where quality dropper posts often retail upwards of the $400 mark, the $320 retail price of the Bachelor is appealing. When testing the Bachelor, however, we didn't concern ourselves with how much it cost, we were more interested in how well it worked out on the trail. Once we installed this post on our test bike, we took it for hundreds of miles of trail riding throughout the northern Sierra, from South Lake Tahoe to Downieville and all points in between. We soon discovered that, despite the reasonable price, PNW Components didn't skimp on the quality of their craftsmanship or the performance of the Bachelor seatpost. We liked it so much that we chose it as our Best Buy Award winner.
Smoothness and Functionality
Once we started testing the Bachelor it quickly became apparent that we didn't want to stop using this dropper post. The consistent and reliable performance it delivered meant that it barely went noticed out on the trail, which is as good as it gets in our book. We like parts that we put on our bikes and don't ever have to mess with, and the Bachelor fits that description.
The Bachelor features a sealed damping cartridge and has an adjustable air spring so that you can set the rate of return to your liking. During testing, we kept the post at the factory air spring pressure, which allowed it to compress relatively easily and fully extend at a nice medium rate. The post tops out with a light but audible thunk, which our testers like as a cue to know when it is all the way back up. You can also modulate the rate of return by pressing lightly on the remote lever, or you can press the lever fully to make it return at top speed.
The Bachelor is impressively smooth in its infinitely adjustable travel. It tied with our other top performing models like the Bike Yoke Revive, Crank Brothers Highline, and the Thomson Elite Covert in our smoothness testing. It is not the easiest post to compress, and testers found it to be in the middle of the pack in this regard. This is in contrast to the very quick and easy dropping of posts like the BIke Yoke Revive and the e13 TRS+. On the trail, we barely notice this since we compress the seatpost with our body weight, but we notice it when compressing it by hand.
There is the absolute slightest amount of lateral play in the saddle, just noticeable if you wiggle it side to side in your hand but not enough to notice while you're seated out on the trail.
We took some measurements and the length from the bottom of the collar to the middle of the saddle rails, known as the ride height, is 225mm which is what PNW Components claims. We also measured the length with the post fully compressed from the bottom of the collar to the middle of the saddle rails, known as the stack height, at 60mm. By doing some simple math, we found that the Bachelor has 165mm of travel, as opposed to the 170mm claimed for the model we tested. This 5mm difference isn't a deal-breaker for us since the post works so well, but is worth noting if you're looking to maximize your seat drop.
The Bachelor has a relatively standard zero offset two-bolt saddle clamp design. There is nothing especially noteworthy about the saddle clamp, but it performs its duties well with no noise or headaches. While we liked the simple and solid design of the saddle clamp on the Bachelor, it was outclassed in this rating metric by posts with more innovative and user-friendly designs.
The entire clamp must be removed to access the air spring Schrader valve at the top of the post. The saddle clamp also has angle markings to ensure proper adjustment if/when swapping out saddles or adjusting air pressure.
The Bachelor comes with their Puget 1x style remote lever, which is machined from 7075 alloy and has a distinctive look. Our testers are fans of 1x style remote levers since most of us haven't had a front derailleur in quite some time. The Puget lever fits neatly in the space under the bar on the left side where the front shifter used to live.
The Puget remote that comes with the Bachelor works well. There are a number of angled lines machined into the thumb paddle, which help keep your thumb from slipping off it when things get wet. It wasn't our favorite remote in the test, but our gripes are nit-picky.
Testers didn't love the ergonomics of the lever, sure it is easy to use and within thumb's reach, but it could be better if you could rotate the angle to your preference. Testers found themselves reaching out slightly with their thumb to depress it, and while this isn't a deal-breaker, it could be better. Our other concern is that our test model's remote isn't matchmaker or I-Spec compatible, which is a problem if you like a super clean handlebar setup.
Again, the Bachelor's remote is good, but other models in our test like the Bike Yoke Revive, the 9point8 Fall Line, and the e13 TRS+ all featured similar levers with better ergonomics and greater adjustability.
The Bachelor tips the scales at 699g for the 170mm travel version we tested. This is on the upper end of the weight spectrum for all of the models in this review. It is important to bear in mind that it has 20mm more travel than most of the other competitors. It stands to reason that the 150mm travel version would weigh slightly less, we didn't test or weigh one, however, so we can't say exactly how much. In another online review of the Bachelor, we saw that the 150mm travel version weighs 652g with cable, housing, and remote lever, 47g lighter than the 170mm travel length.
A weight of 652g puts the Bachelor right around the middle of the road in this metric. It's a little heavier than our lightweight competitors like the KS LEV Integra, RockShox Reverb Stealth, and 9Point8 Fall Line. That said, it's a little lighter than the heavier options like the Fox Transfer Performance, Thomson Covert Elite, and the e13 TRS +. We feel this weight is respectable, especially considering the reasonable price of the Bachelor.
Ease of Setup
Setting up the Bachelor is a relatively simple process. The hardest part is routing the cable housing through the frame. After that, it takes only a few minutes and a couple of tools to complete the setup.
The Bachelor comes with a standard shifter cable and housing. The only tools required to install it are a cable/housing cutter and 2, 3, and 5mm Allen keys. There are no printed instructions in the box. Instead, PNW Components has chosen to save paper by putting their owner's manuals online only. The online instructions are thorough and easy to follow.
This cable attachment style is very similar to other posts we tested like the Bike Yoke Revive and the KS LEV Integra, which also have the cut end of the cable at the base of the post. Seatposts with the cut end of the cable at the remote are slightly easier to set up, but the Bachelor didn't make us swear even once during the installation process.
The cable routes through the remote lever, through the frame and terminates at a small barrel with a locking screw that sits in a cradle in the post's actuator mechanism. The setup process is as simple as trimming the housing to length, threading the cable through the housing, and tightening the lock screw on the cut (post) end of the cable at the appropriate length. Once you put the barrel into the actuator, you pull the cable through the slotted cable stop and seat the housing in the base of the seatpost. You can use a barrel adjuster on the remote lever to take up any slack in the cable and achieve the appropriate tension.
The remote lever is also easy to install, with a hinged clamp that doesn't require removing your grips to get around the handlebar, saving additional time and annoyance.
With a retail price of $320, the Bachelor isn't the least expensive dropper post on the market, or in our test selection, but it falls on the lower end of the price spectrum. It offers quality craftsmanship and performance that is as good or better than many of the more expensive posts we tested. In fact, the price to performance ratio of the Bachelor earned it our Best Buy Award.
A newcomer to the OutdoorGearLab dropper seatpost test, we weren't quite sure what to expect of the Bachelor. Testers found themselves continually surprised by the consistent and reliable performance of this post, especially considering the price. The Bachelor's smooth and infinitely adjustable travel, easy setup, simple yet solid saddle clamp, and affordable price are our favorite aspects of this Best Buy Award-winning post. Is there room for improvement, sure, but we feel you'd be hard-pressed to find a better performing seatpost at this price.
Other Versions and Accessories
PNW Components makes a line of dropper seatposts and accessories including two lengths of the Bachelor, 150mm, and 170mm (tested). Their range of seatposts includes the Cascade, Pine, Rainier, and Bachelor and are available in a variety of lengths and diameters including 27.2mm, 30.9mm, and 31.6mm.
— Jeremy Benson