Rock Shox Reverb Stealth Review
Cons: Performance affected by temperature, more difficult to install than others, field repair unlikely, history of unreliability
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Our Analysis and Test Results
The Reverb is a solid dropper post. It comes stock on a lot of bicycles, and it delivers impressive performance when it's functioning properly. It works well enough that it isn't a component that you will need to swap off your shiny new bike immediately, and recent updates like a Vent Valve should keep you out of the bike shop if/when your post develops sag. That said, if you are in the market for a post to replace your blown up dropper or if you're replacing a rigid post, we feel there are better options than the Reverb that are simply easier to deal with. This seatpost just cannot stand up to the best in any of the performance metrics.
Smoothness and Functionality
The Reverb is a smooth post that has a solid and quality feel. The hydraulic actuation, as opposed to the more common cable actuation, generally feels pretty consistent. The air spring works flawlessly, and the process of dropping the post down and raising it back up is beautifully smooth. There are no hitches in the stroke. Some mechanical posts can feel a little inconsistent throughout the motion. If there is one thing the Reverb does exceptionally well is delivering a buttery and consistent stroke.
When you hit the remote/lever with your thumb, the post reacts instantly. We will discuss lever-feel in more detail later on in the review. The main takeaway is the remote delivers a consistent stroke no matter where you are in the throw of the lever. Whether you are 25% into the lever throw or 80%, the feel is consistent. Put your weight on the saddle, and the post smoothly drops. When it is time to pop the seat back up, hit the lever, and the post returns to the raised position with an audible clunk when it tops out. The return speed of the post is adjustable, and it can be set anywhere from reasonably slow to pretty darn fast. This is done on an adjustment dial located under the hood of the remote. It should be noted that some posts do not react well with a super-fast top-out. As a result, we don't recommend using the highest speed setting.
Another noteworthy item is that the post height can be adjusted without consequence. This means you can adjust the height of the entire post within the frame (we aren't talking about the dropping mechanism) in small increments without consequence. If you need to achieve a higher pedaling height, you can simply pull the whole post up. Cable-actuated posts can have trouble with this maneuver as lowering or raising the whole post can throw-off the cable tension causing the system to temporarily not function. A quick pull or jiggle of the housing typically fixes this. Still, it is noteworthy. If you are adjusting the post height a significant amount, you will still want to pay attention to the hydraulic hose and feed it one way or the other as you move the post up or down.
A particular lowlight of this post is how poorly it functions in cold temperatures. We won't harp on this point too much as many riders will not be riding when the temperatures are in the 30s. The main takeaway is that this post has an extremely slow return speed in cold temperatures. Adjusting the return speed on the remote is useless; it simply doesn't perform well or consistently when temperatures dip towards freezing.
If you are researching the Reverb, you will undoubtedly read about the high rate of failure with this post. Everyone and their mother has a story about how this post has failed them or a friend while riding. These problems range from a little bit of sag at the top of the stroke to complete and total failure. There is no doubt this post requires more maintenance and attention than others. Many people find the service intervals to be too frequent, and it is a real concern. During our testing period, our Reverb worked flawlessly. We didn't even have to use the new Vent Valve feature, though we are glad it is there. That said, we have had plenty of experience with failing Reverbs of various generations. There is no arguing that they require more attention than other posts…but they also work quite well when they are well taken care of.
The Reverb uses a plain and simple two-bolt clamp with no offset. There is nothing special going on here, and we have nothing to complain about. The zero-offset aspect should work for a lot of riders. An offset post is one where the center of the saddle clamp is set back behind the main axis of the post. This is a way to tinker with the fit of a bicycle, and luckily it hasn't reared its head in the realm of dropper posts.
The clamp features two bolts. A lower cradle sits on top of the post. This is a rockered piece of metal that sits in a recessed spot. Lay the saddle onto the cradle, drop the upper clamp into place on top of the rails, and insert the bolts through the clamp into the nuts. It is exceptionally awkward to get the bolts into the nuts while having to reach under the seat. Unfortunately, it is more or less the same with most standard saddle clamp designs.
The Reverb has a dialed remote that has been improved drastically in recent years. Those familiar with the old model of this post will remember the plunger-style remote that resembled a short and stout rod with an accordion-looking rubber casing. This was historically awkward and difficult to use. Luckily, RockShox unveiled a new lever, a nice 1x-style undermount that is much easier to reach with your thumb.
The main body of the remote houses some of the Reverb fluid and resembles a reservoir on a brake lever. Protruding from this main body is the actual lever that operates the post. This paddle-style remote is relatively narrow where it connects to the remote body and tapers into a larger area where your thumb hits it. This is a user-friendly and well-thought-out design.
The remote is one of the highlights of the Reverb. Some of the cable-actuated posts can have a little bit of a lag at the very start of the stroke. Additionally, some of the cable-actuated droppers can have a hitch or inconsistent feel to the lever action. The Reverb remote is not plagued with any of these issues. From the first millimeter of push, the stroke is consistent and smooth. The lever has a bit of a heavier feel than other posts which means it can take a little bit more effort to push the remote. This isn't crippling by any means, but it is noteworthy.
There is a plastic hood on the end of the remote body where the hydraulic line exits the remote. If you pull this hood off, you have access to the return speed adjustment that can be adjusted with an Allen key.
The Reverb weighed 685-grams with the hydraulic line, remote, and saddle clamp in the 175mm length we tested. This puts the Reverb around the average weight of our selection of test posts. Interestingly, it is significantly lighter than the new wireless AXS version despite costing significantly less.
Ease of Setup
The Reverb is among the more difficult posts to set up. The hydraulic aspect of things makes it inherently more challenging. With a mechanical system, you simply feed the housing through, attach some ferrules, and run a shifter cable from the post to the remote (or vice versa). The Reverb isn't quite that simple.
The major challenge comes in the fact that you will most likely need to cut the hydraulic line. The actual connecting method from the hose to the post is pretty slick. RockShox calls this the Connectamajig. They say it can be connected and disconnected multiple times without getting air in the hydraulic system. This is fine, and it does work well. The challenge comes in the fact that the hydraulic line will likely be too long unless you ride an XXL frame. Any shortening of the line will likely require a bleed for optimal performance.
Most enthusiasts can figure out how to set up a mechanical dropper post. The Reverb is a horse of a different color.
The Reverb delivers a decent value. There is no denying that a whole lot of engineering has gone into this dropper post. During normal operation, this is one of the best seatposts on the market. Unfortunately, it does require significant levels of maintenance to keep it working properly, and it is nearly impossible to fix on the trail if it stops working.
The RockShox Reverb Stealth is a solid post that delivers high-end performance. The hydraulic actuation has a unique feel compared to the cable-actuated dropper posts on the market. The remote lever has a dialed design and delivers a solid and substantial feel, and the drop and rise action is consistent and smooth most of the time. That said, this post does not function well in colder temperatures, and it is quite a bit more complex than the cable-actuated options should things go wrong on the trail.
Other Versions and Accessories
The Reverb is available in quite a few flavors to meet your needs.
The Reverb is available in the 30.9, 31.6, and 34.9mm diameters. That covers all of the major sizes on your mountain bike. The post is also available in 100mm, 125mm, 150mm, 175mm, and an enormous 200mm drop length. The total post lengths range from 301mm to 519.55 mm. Yes, that is a lot of options. The main takeaway is that you can find a size that works for you.The new Reverb AXS is a wireless version that sells for $800.
— Jeremy Benson, Pat Donahue