PNW Components Loam Dropper Review
Cons: Firm lever feel, average stack height
Manufacturer: PNW Components
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PNW Components Loam Dropper
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|Pros||Affordable, highly-adjustable, lightweight||short stack height, easy setup, great lever||Affordable, very short stack and extended length, adjustable travel with shims, lightweight||Very reasonably priced, comes in three drop lengths, adjustable air spring, smooth travel||Reasonably priced, decent remote lever, easy to install, available in 4 drop lengths|
|Cons||Firm lever feel, average stack height||Lever sold separately, above average weight||Remote lever sold separately||Longer overall length, no bling-factor||Awkward seat clamp bolts, not as smooth as competition|
|Bottom Line||An affordably-priced and reliable option with plenty of adjustability||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||Reliable and consistent performance at an unbeatable price||If you're on a budget, this reasonably priced model is a good option to consider|
|Rating Categories||PNW Components Loam...||Fox Racing Shox Tra...||OneUp Components V2||Tranz-X Kitsuma Air||SDG Components Tellis|
|Smoothness and Functionality (30%)|
|Saddle Clamp (20%)|
|Ease of Setup (15%)|
|Specs||PNW Components Loam...||Fox Racing Shox Tra...||OneUp Components V2||Tranz-X Kitsuma Air||SDG Components Tellis|
|Measured Weight (length tested)||640g (170mm)||733g (175mm)||662g (180mm)||732g (200mm) 611g (200mm post only) 51g (remote and hardware) 70g (cable and housing)||712g (170mm)|
|Grams per millimeter of travel||3.8||4.2||3.7||3.7||4.2|
|Remote tested||PNW Loam Lever||Fox Racing Shox Transfer Remote||OneUp 1x||Tranz-X Kitsuma 1x||Tellis remote|
|Positions||Infinitely Adjustable||Infinitely Adjustable||Infinitely Adjustable||Infinitely Adjustable||Infinitely Adjustable|
|Available Travel Lengths/Extended Lengths (mm)||125/150/170/200mm, 385/440/480/540mm||100/125/150/175/200mm,
|120/150/180/210mm, 360/420/480/540mm||150/170/200mm, 455/495/558mm||125/150/170mm, 390/440/480mm|
|Drop length tested/Extended length, claimed||170mm/480mm||175mm/475||180mm/480mm + 16mm actuator||200mm/558mm||170mm/480mm + 27mm actuator|
|Saddle layback||Zero Offset||Zero offset||Zero offset||Zero offset||Zero offset|
|Remote||PNW Loam Lever sold separately (SRAM MMX, Shimano I-spec II and I-spec EV, and standard 22.2mm clamp available||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||Tranz-X Kitsuma 1x lever||1x thumb remote|
|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||50mm compressed, 220mm extended(claimed)||38mm compressed, 213mm extended||33mm compressed, 213mm extended||55mm compressed, 255mm extended||61mm compressed, 230mm extended|
|Included||Lifetime warranty to original owner||1 year warranty||Travel adjustment shims, 2-year warranty||Cable and housing, 2-year warranty||Cable and housing, 1x remote lever, 2-year warranty|
|Tested Diameter and travel length.||31.6, 170mm travel||31.6/175mm travel||31.6, 180mm travel||30.9, 200mm travel||31.6, 170mm travel|
Our Analysis and Test Results
PNW Components is a fresh face in the mountain bike industry, but they've quickly gained a reputation for quality, affordable products. Founded on the idea that high-quality bike parts shouldn't be unreasonably expensive, PNW aims to help keep your bike running without breaking the bank, and that's exactly what we found when we tested the Loam. For a fraction of the price of the most expensive droppers out there, the Loam doesn't sacrifice much in the way of performance and durability.
Smoothness and Functionality
Out on the trail, the Loam doesn't leave much to be desired. The post drops quickly and easily without any need to wiggle or or apply any extra weight when you activate the lever. The drop is relatively low friction, but not quite as fast as the smoothest models in the test. Without testing the posts back-to-back we're fairly sure we wouldn't have noticed or thought twice about the added friction on the way down, but frequent swaps during testing teased out some subtle differences. When the time comes to pedal back up the hill, the saddle returns to full height with a nice, satisfying thunk at topout. The adjustable air spring allows you to fine tune the return speed to your preference. We tend to think that faster is usually better, and we were able to set the post up to return as quickly as any in the test.
When we first set up the post we had the cable tension set slightly too tight and there would sometimes be a slight notch in the lever throw when dropping the post. A quick turn of the lever's barrel adjuster solved the problem. Once the post was set up properly we didn't have any issues. We even tried over torqueing the seatpost clamp to see what we could get away with, and the Loam seems more resilient to clamp-related problems than many of the other posts we tested.
The Loam's saddle clamp is a fairly standard two-bolt system with no rearward offset from the post. Among all of the two-bolt clamps we tested, however, the Loam's resides on the less-fiddly end of the spectrum. The bolts are long enough that you can finagle the saddle rails into the clamp without fully unthreading them, and the nuts that fit into the upper half of the clamp fit securely and easily into place when tightening everything down. Like most saddle clamps, installing a seat on the Loam was a two-handed operation that required a little bit of finesse, but at least we didn't have to worry about loose parts.
The clamp is relatively low-profile, which allows for the Loam's 50mm compressed stack height. Among the posts we tested, the Loam's stack is roughly average. For reference, the shortest stack heights in our test were in the 30mm range, while the longest were in the low 70mm range. We would be more excited about Loam's stack if its budget-friendly competitor, the OneUp Components V2, didn't have the lowest stack height in our test.
We tested our Loam post with the matching Loam Lever from PNW Components. The shifter-style lever has a large thumb paddle with a textured, injection molded pad and uses a sealed bearing for a smooth feel when pressing the lever. The thumb pad is available in five different colors, and the lever has two forms of adjustment to dial in the lever position. We found that the lever has a solid feel without any of the flex or mushiness that we've experienced with some other cable levers. It has consistent action with a crisp stopping point at the end of it's travel, but we did find it slightly more firm than most levers when paired with the Loam post.
The lever is available with a standard clamp or in Shimano Ispec and Sram Matchmaker configurations. We tested a lever in the Ispec configuration, and, while we enjoyed the clean cockpit that the single clamp provides, we found that the lever sat a little bit further from our thumb than we like. Even in the closer of the lever's two mounting positions we felt like we had to reach a little bit to get to the thumb paddle. Our favorite Ispec levers included a lateral slider to adjust the lever's position relative to the brake clamp, but the Loam Lever is fixed at the two mounting positions. We would recommend using this lever with a standard clamp if you don't mind the extra handlebar clutter.
As is the case with most cable-actuated droppers, the Loam Lever is sold separately from the post. The upside is that you can use pretty much any dropper remote that clamps the cable at the handlebar end, but the downside is that you'll need to pile the price of a remote on top of your dropper purchase. The Loam Lever comes at a similar price to most of the levers in our test, and, although we liked it, we think there are a couple better options out there.
Our 31.6 diameter 170mm Loam weighed in at just 640 grams including the lever, housing, and cable. At 3.8 grams per millimeter of travel, this is one of the lightest posts out there. Again, though, its budget-friendly competitors, the OneUp V2 and Trans-X Kitsuma Air, both came in just slightly lighter at 3.7 grams per millimeter.
Ease of Setup
Like most cable-actuated dropper posts, the Loam sets up relatively quickly and easily. As long as you have a set of hex wrenches, cable cutters, and some pliers for the crimp, anyone should be able to set this seat post up in short order. The barrel end of the cable fits into a mechanism at the bottom of the post using a cylindrical bushing while the other end is clamped in place by a small bolt at the lever. Like any internally-routed post, the most difficult part of the process is usually routing the cable housing through your frame.
Beyond the standard setup, the Loam also allows you to easily fine-tune the post's travel with 25mm of total adjustment in 5mm increments. If you sit right in between travel ranges that you can run on your bike, you can go with the longer post and take off a few millimeters of travel to make the fit perfect. All you need to do is unthread the midcap by hand and slide up the DU bushing. The post is engraved with travel numbers to make the adjustment process foolproof.
Seeing as how it's one of the most affordable fully-featured droppers available, we heartily recommend the Loam. PNW packed a ton of value into this post and the travel adjustment makes it a great option for riders seeking the perfect fit. Despite its great value, this post just barely missed out on our Best Buy award. The OneUp V2 offers a lower stack height, similar performance, and its own version of travel adjustment for the same price, while the Trans-X Kitsuma performs admirably at an even lower price point.
During our test session, the Loam impressed us at pretty much every turn. It isn't quite as smooth and frictionless as the top posts on the market, but it performs impressively for a reasonable price. It is among the lightest and easiest to setup posts we tested, and it doesn't have a true weak point.
Other Versions and Accessories
We tested the 31.6, 170mm version of the post, but PNW offers a variety of options. The post available in 30.9, 31.6, and 34.9mm diameters as well as 125, 150, 175, and 200mm travel lengths.They also offer a variety of other dropper posts at slightly lower price points that aren't quite as full-featured as the Loam.
— Zach Wick
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