RockShox Reverb AXS Review
Compare prices at 2 resellers Pros: No cables, easy installation, more consistent performance than regular version, excellent remote
Cons: Very expensive, you have to remember to charge batteries, heavier weight, not compatible with saddlebags
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Our Analysis and Test Results
SRAM has recently ushered in a new era of mountain bike technology with their AXS wireless shifting and dropper posts. The Reverb has been around for a long time and is one of the more common droppers out on the trail due to its prevalence as an OEM spec on complete bikes. RockShox ditched the finicky hydraulic hose and actuation on this version in favor of their cutting edge wireless technology. The result is the best Reverb we've ever tested, with outrageously easy installation, an outstanding remote, and very smooth and consistent performance. It's expensive to travel to the future, however, which is why the Reverb AXS earns our Top Pick When Money is No Object.
Smoothness and Functionality
The Reverb AXS impressed our testers with its smoothness and functioned flawlessly throughout our test period. We unboxed it, installed it on our test bike, paired the wireless remote with the post, and off we went. There are no hoses to deal with or cable tension to worry about. Simply press the paddle on the remote, and the dropper drops or extends as expected. It is impressively smooth in its travel both up and down, with only light force needed to compress it.
The Reverb AXS requires less force to compress than older versions of the standard Reverb, but a bit more than some of the competition which drop like a rock beneath your weight. That said, you don't need to consciously weight the saddle for it to go down. It returns quickly, but not scary fast, and it tops out with an audible thunk. The Reverb AXS is infinitely adjustable, and it can be stopped anywhere within its 170mm of travel. Making micro-adjustments to saddle height was especially easy thanks to the ease of pressing and releasing the remote paddle compared to a cable-actuated system.
It may sound super obvious, but to keep the Reverb AXS functioning, you will eventually need to charge the battery. SRAM claims 40 hours of riding time for the AXS battery, and up to 2 years for the coin cell battery in the remote. Checking the battery charge is as easy as pressing the small button on the side of the seatpost. A green light means close to full, a solid red light is around half, and a blinking red light lets you know that it's getting low and it's time to charge.
One of the biggest complaints about the original Reverb was its tendency to develop unwanted sag or squishiness. Recent updates to the standard Reverb and the new AXS version have tried to address this problem. A redesigned internal floating piston (IFP), should theoretically do a better job of keeping the air and oil separated and prevent sag in the first place. In the off chance your post does develop sag, a new Vent Valve has been placed at the bottom of the post that should allow you to bleed the unwanted air out of the system. This is quite similar to the Revive valve found on the Bike Yoke Revive.
The other primary complaint about the Reverb is that cold temperatures impacted its performance. We didn't have the chance to test the Reverb AXS on any below freezing rides, but we did leave it sitting outside for an extended period with temperatures right around 35-degrees F. The colder temperature didn't seem to have any impact on the rate of compression or extension, and the dropper worked exactly as it should.
The Reverb AXS has a unique saddle clamp as a result of the electric actuator being mounted at the top of the post. It has a single bolt on the right side of the post that tightens and loosens the rail clamps. Unlike some single bolt seat clamps, the fore/aft tilt of the saddle is controlled by another screw at the front of the post. Attaching a saddle to the top of the Reverb AXS is surprisingly easy and user-friendly, and adjusting the tilt is super simple using the tilt adjustment screw.
During testing, we experienced no issues with the saddle clamp coming loose, nor did it creak or make any noise to speak of. Making on trail micro-adjustments to the tilt of the saddle also proved to be especially quick and easy thanks to the user-friendly tilt adjustment screw.
The remote of the Reverb AXS is unlike any other remote on the market. This is because it doesn't use a cable or hydraulic fluid. Thanks to wireless technology, actuating the AXS system is just like pushing a button. Instead of just a tiny button, RockShox has made a large paddle on the remote that is very easy to find with your thumb. Unlike lever designs that have throw to pull a cable, the AXS remote only needs to move a millimeter or two and requires very little force to depress. The ergonomics are excellent, and hitting the dropper lever has never been easier.
While seemingly a somewhat trivial aspect of the post's performance, the ease of actuating the Reverb AXS is quite revolutionary. Simply tapping a paddle is much easier and requires far less attention than a longer throw lever. Full length and incremental adjustments are much easier to come by. We never knew what we were missing until we tried it, and now every other lever feels archaic in comparison. It is worth noting, however, that the AXS Remote uses a standard CR2032 coin cell battery which hs a claimed life of two years, but will eventually need to be replaced.
In the cycling world, the more something costs, the less it typically weighs. In the case of the Reverb AXS, the ultra-premium price is related to its cutting edge technology and not a reduction of weight. In fact, the AXS version of the Reverb is the heaviest dropper post that we've ever tested. Our 31.6mm diameter 170mm travel test post weighed in at 768-grams, including the post, battery, remote, and handlebar clamp. This comes out to approximately 4.5-grams/millimeter of travel.
For comparison, the Reverb Stealth in a 175mm length weighs 685-grams, 83-grams lighter than the AXS. That's a relatively significant weight penalty, especially when you consider the roughly $400 price difference between the two posts. Interestingly, most of our testers said they would overlook the weight for the performance the Reverb AXS provides.
Ease of Setup
One of the most significant benefits of the wireless system is the super-easy setup that comes along with not having any cables to deal with. You don't have to fuss with complicated internal cable routing, connecting cables to the remote, or any cables at all. Simply install the seatpost on the frame, clamp the controller on your handlebar, and that's pretty much it.
Ok, so that's not everything, but installing the dropper and remote on the bike is as easy as it gets. To get the Reverb AXS working, you will also need to install the AXS battery on the seatpost and pair the post and controller wirelessly. This is as simple as following the instructions and pressing and holding a button on each. Of course, due to the battery-powered nature of the system, you must also be sure to charge the battery as it has a claimed life of 40 hours of ride time. It comes with a charger and cable.
With a retail price that is roughly double that of the most expensive models on the market, it's hard to call the Reverb AXS a good value, but this is not a value purchase. Bear in mind, you can buy three of our Best Buy Award winner for approximately the same price as the AXS and probably never notice the performance difference. That said, it does bring cutting edge wireless technology on the market to the table, and this post performs flawlessly and couldn't be easier to install and remove. We feel it represents the best value to the rider who likes the coolest new technology, and for whom price isn't an issue.
The Reverb AXS is an outstanding new dropper seatpost and our Top Pick When Money is No Object. Yes, it is really expensive, but RockShox has taken a good product and made it an amazing one by incorporating their AXS wireless technology. It does not appear to have the same issues as the original, and this post performed smoothly, consistently, and flawlessly throughout testing with one of the best remotes we've ever used. Plus, without hoses or cables, it couldn't be easier to install or remove. Sure it's a touch heavier, and you'll have to charge the batteries occasionally, but if you can justify the expense, we doubt you'll be disappointed.
Other Version and Accessories
The Reverb AXS is available in 4 drop lengths, 100, 125, 150, and 170mm, and 3 diameters, 30.9, 31.6, and 34.9mm.The Reverb AXS controller is also sold separately for $200. The AXS battery is also sold separately for $55, as is the charger for $45.
— Jeremy Benson