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Hands-on Gear Review
Race Face Turbine Review
Cons: Expensive, finicky setup, harsh top out, sticky travel, inconsistent.
Bottom line: The Turbine is a new dropper post offering from the Canadian mountain bike industry giant, Race Face.
The Turbine is an all-new dropper post from the well respected Canadian parts manufacturer Race Face. The Turbine features a clean look and design and uses a mechanically actuated system known as DropLoc that they have licensed from another Canadian company, 9point8. DropLoc is a cylindrical brake that expands and contracts within the post to stop it anywhere within its infinitely adjustable travel range. We were excited to try out this new product and see how it stacked up against a whole new crop of dropper posts. While we loved the lightweight, adjustable air spring, and appearance of the Turbine, we felt that it was finicky to set up, had a harsh top out, and performed inconsistently. Ultimately, the Race Face was beaten out in this test by many dropper posts that delivered more consistently smoothly, had more user-friendly features and also cost less money. Read on for a more in-depth look at the Turbine and how it compared to the competition.
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Our Analysis and Hands-on Test Results
We tested the Turbine extensively both on the trail as well as side-by-side with the other posts in a controlled environment. The Drop Loc system is mechanically actuated and uses a tool-free quick connect system for easy removal and installation of the post from the frame. We initially struggled with the setup of the extremely finicky quick connect system as it was the most challenging of all the cable actuated systems to install. Once we got the post installed, the Race Face continued to lose ground to its competitors due to its worst-in-class universal remote lever, basic saddle clamp with extra long over Loctite-d bolts, as well as inconsistent and unpredictable performance. In the end, it was very apparent that the Race Face didn't meet our expectations, and was outperformed but all the other posts in our test. Read on to see how the Race Face stacked up.
Smoothness and Functionality
The Race Face Turbine presented us with a mixed bag in the smoothness and functionality department. The post was quite easy to compress, much like the 9poin8 Fall Line that shares the same DropLoc internals. The factory pressure setting, however, made for lightning fast extension and a loud thunk at the top out. We found the speed to be a little faster than we liked, so we took a little pressure out of the air spring to ease the fear of seatpost-inflicted pain to our undersides. Once we dialed in the speed of the post, we still found it to top out somewhat harshly. We thought the post felt smooth in its travel for the first few rides, but it quickly started feeling sticky in its extension, it almost felt as if it were under-lubed from the factory. Interestingly, the 9point8 Fall Line sometimes had a similar feel as it returned to full extension.
We also noted these issues in our side-by-side testing. The Race Face Turbine topped out the hardest of all posts in our test, even after dropping the pressure from 40psi down to 20psi. This was quite the task due to the difficulty of unscrewing the saddle clamp bolts and the minor challenge of taking the valve cap off the Schrader valve hidden under the seat clamp. While we were testing for smoothness, we could easily see the stickiness of the travel, especially when compared to the smoothest posts like the Crank Brothers Highline, the Thomson Elite Covert, or the KS LEV Integra.
The Turbine has a very slight amount of lateral play, or wiggle, in the saddle. This play was extremely minimal and never bothered us in any way while riding. Our Race Face dropper post functioned normally for the first several rides; the DropLoc held the posts securely anywhere within its range of infinitely adjustable travel. At one point, the post began to act like there was too much cable tension and the post felt like a pogo stick or bouncing on a trampoline. Interestingly, there was no more cable tension than the previous rides where it was working correctly; we hadn't adjusted that in any way. From our multiple attempts at dialing the cable tension while installing the quick connect system. we knew it was incredibly finicky. We didn't expect it to be this finicky, however, and start acting up after working regularly for several days. We had adjusted our saddle height though, and that is apparently enough to affect the cable tension and make the post start riding like a thud buster.
When our Turbine worked, it worked quite well, when it didn't function correctly it started without warning and for seemingly no reason. We were dismayed by this considering the price of the Turbine, the second most expensive post in our test.
The Turbine features a zero offset head with a standard two-bolt saddle clamp design. The simple but effective head design has arrows marked on it to get everything lined back up when you've taken it apart, as well as angle markings, to line it up your saddle the same every time. A Schrader air valve sits hidden under the saddle clamp to adjust the pressure of the post's air spring. We found the saddle clamp of the Turbine to perform its function of holding our saddle exactly where we want it utterly flawlessly once the saddle was installed.
Installing or removing the saddle, however, is where our beef with the Race Face saddle clamp lies. The long bolts are coated with so much blue Loctite that they feel almost seized up and were by far the most difficult to turn in all the posts we tested. Finger tightening isn't even a consideration; you are in for the long haul using an Allen wrench for every single thread of tightening. It took approximately three times longer to install the saddle than on any other seatpost in our test. As for accessing the air valve to add or remove air in the spring? Better crack a beer and set aside a good 15-20 minutes
The Turbine comes with their standard Universal remote lever. This large paddle shaped lever is hinged for easy installation and can be mounted on either side of the handlebar and is compatible with any drivetrain configuration. The Universal remote is positioned vertically, perpendicular to the handlebar, it is similar in design to the remote with the Thomson Elite Covert, the KS LEV Integra, and the 9point8 Fall Line with the Thumb lever positioned vertically, just much larger. The nicely machined beaver tail shaped paddle of the Turbine lever is hard to miss with your thumb because it is quite large and sticks out pretty far from the handlebar.
We found the size of the lever to be a little disconcerting because it seemed like you could injure yourself if you were to slam your knee or any other body part into it in a crash or awkward move. We also found the size of the lever to require a longer throw, meaning you have to press it farther than shorter levers, before actuating the mechanism. Couple the length of the throw with the fact that the Turbine required the most lever force to actuate and this was our least favorite remote in our test selection. We didn't test the aftermarket Race Face 1x lever ($51) but have heard good things about it, and we wish you were given the option to order one or the other.
At only 609g including cable housing and remote, the Turbine was the second lightest dropper post in our test selection. Heavier only than the KS LEV Integra, and around 80g lighter than our heaviest dropper post, the Thomson Elite Covert.
Ease of Setup
The same parent company owns Race Face and Easton, and both brands offer the same dropper post under a different name. The Race Face Turbine and the Easton Haven are essentially the same product, and both dropper posts use DropLoc technology that they have licensed from the Canadian company, 9point8. Therefore, the Race Face Turbine also shares its internals with the 9point8 Fall Line. The cable actuated system features a tool-free "quick connect" that is significantly more tedious to set up than other cable actuated systems.
Everything you need: seatpost, cable/housing and remote, are included in the box. A standard set of Allen wrenches and a set of cable/housing cutters are the only tools you will need to install the Turbine dropper post. Our description here is not meant to be a set of instructions on how to set up the Turbine. Instead, you'll want to watch and follow along to the Race Face Turbine installation video. Believe us, you really should.
The Turbine only comes in an internally routed configuration, so your first step is routing the included housing through your frame. This can be the most challenging part of any seatpost installation and should be approached with patience; a housing coupler is quite handy if you are removing old housing as well. The Turbine remote is hinged, which makes installing it straightforward and painless and doesn't require the removal of your grips.
The "quick connect" assembly involves several pieces which when installed correctly allow you to remove the seatpost from the frame without the use of and tools. Basically, in the simplest description possible, the housing connects to the assembly, as does the cable, and the assembly then threads into the bottom of the seat post and actuates the DropLoc mechanism. Follow the instructions carefully and get it right the first time, and this process is relatively quick and painless. Get it wrong the first time, which is easy to do since the tolerance for the cable length and tension is incredibly slim, and you may find yourself repeating the process several times until you get it exactly right. For us, the third time was the charm, and when we had to deal with this system again on the other DropLoc post, we had practice and nailed it first try. This process is a little more involved than other cable actuated systems we tested and took about an hour with numerous guesses and checks to install.
As for trailside serviceability, the Turbine's mechanically actuated DropLoc brake style system still supposedly works even if you lose air pressure in the chamber or if your cable breaks. We didn't experience it in our testing, but we are told you can manually position the post and it will stay in locked in place. If the cable breaks on a ride, good luck replacing it out on the trail with the quick connect system, and if you do, you'll need a set of cable cutters to complete the task.
Is your Rocky Mountain bike is clad in 100 percent Race Face because you wish you were Canadian? Now you can finish the job with the Turbine dropper post. Seriously though, Race Face makes great stuff and the Turbine is adding to that list.
With a retail price of $470, we have mixed emotions about the value of the Turbine dropper post. Our primary issue is that it costs $70 more than the 9point8 Fall Line, our Editors' Choice award winner. The Turbine and the Fall Line share the same internals, but we believe the 9point8 has more innovative and user-friendly features, simply functions better, and it's more affordable. Couple that with the fact that it costs $51 more for the remote lever that you want and the Race Face costs $522.
The Race Face Turbine is most definitely another in a long list of quality products from a well respected Canadian mountain bike parts giant. The post is lightweight and well made as we have come to expect from Race Face. Unfortunately, our dropper post test was very competitive this time around and the Turbine, even though it is a great product, couldn't match the performance, innovative features, or price of several of its rivals. Would we use or recommend the Turbine to a friend? Of course we would; it's a good dropper post that does its job. The fact of the matter is there are several other posts that we would recommend first because they function more consistently and cost less.
Other Versions and Accessories
The Race Face Turbine is available in 30.9mm and 31.6mm diameters and is offered in 4 lengths, 100mm, 125mm, 150mm, and 175mm. The 1x lever is available in 6 anodized color options for $51.
— Jeremy Benson
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