SDG Components Tellis Review
Compare prices at 2 resellers Pros: Reasonably priced, decent remote lever, easy to install, available in 4 drop lengths
Cons: Awkward seat clamp bolts, not as smooth as competition
Manufacturer: SDG Components
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Our Analysis and Test Results
SDG stands for "Speed Defies Gravity," and this small component manufacturer is known primarily for its line of mountain bike saddles. In addition to saddles, SDG also makes the Tellis, an affordable dropper seatpost. We've used the Tellis as an OEM spec on several complete bike builds in the past couple of years, but we went ahead and bought one for head to head testing to include in our review. With its affordable price tag and good all-around performance, it was a contender for our Best Buy Award, but in the end, it was bested by the smoother and more refined competition.
Smoothness and Functionality
The Tellis performed consistently and reliably throughout our testing. It has a sealed hydraulic cartridge with a fixed rate of return. It's relatively smooth in its travel during compression and extension, though not quite as refined feeling as our top-rated models. While we felt a little hitch-iness when compressing the Tellis by hand, this is not something we noticed out on the trail or that affected its overall performance in any way.
Unlike most of the competition that have adjustable air springs, the Tellis has a sealed hydraulic cartridge with a fixed rate of return. While we like the option of having an adjustable air spring, the rate of return of the Tellis worked just fine for us during testing. It's fast enough that your saddle returns to full height as fast as you need without fear of any bodily harm. A sealed cartridge is also quite easy to replace on your own, and SDG sells replacements for just $45.
The Tellis is relatively smooth in both compression and extension. On the trail, it drops with a slight amount of force under your body weight, not quite the free-fall feeling of some other models but not terribly far off. When running this post through hundreds of compression cycles by hand, however, we noticed that it had a bit of a hitch-y feel to it during its stroke. It was subtle, but certainly noticeable compared to the smoother competition. We figured that perhaps we'd overtightened the seatpost clamp, so we backed it off a little and found that it was still there. On the trail, the less smooth nature of the Tellis went unnoticed, and it performed as expected otherwise.
The Tellis has a standard 2-bolt zero-offset saddle clamp design. Installing and removing a saddle is relatively easy because it has long bolts that can be loosened enough to slide the saddle rails into the clamp without removing them completely. Once tightened, our test model never made any unwanted noise to speak of, and our saddle clamp bolts remained tight throughout testing.
It is worth mentioning that the angle of the saddle clamp bolts makes them slightly less user-friendly than other 2-bolt clamps we've tested. On the Tellis, the clamp bolts are positioned straight up and down while other designs have them angled. The bolts are also very close to the stanchion, and when adjusting them, we found ourselves making frequent allen key to stanchion contact. It can be avoided; it just requires a little more attention than with other posts.
The remote that comes with the Tellis is pretty good, but far from the best we've tested. The 1x style lever mounts on the left side of the handlebar with a hinged clamp. The ergonomics are relatively good, and it works well enough. Currently, the handlebar clamp is the only mounting option, and it is not compatible with matchmaker or I-Spec. You are not limited to the SDG remote only, any aftermarket lever where the cut end of the cable is at the remote should also work with the Tellis.
Thanks to the hinged clamp, installing the Tellis remote is very easy and doesn't require you to remove your grips or take any extra steps. It is easy enough to position it wherever you like horizontally to optimize the thumb reach for your preferences. Testers found the ergonomics to be relatively good and were always able to find and press the lever. Press the lever all the way to drop or raise your saddle all the way, or feather it for a modulated return. The throw of the Tellis remote is a little longer than some of the best remotes we've tested, although when the cable tension is adjusted properly, you don't have to push it far to actuate the dropper. It requires a little more force than our favorite models, but that difference is really only noticeable when testing them side by side. That said, it works pretty well, and there was little to really complain about.
Our test post in the 31.6mm diameter and the 170mm length weighed 596 grams for the post only, and 712 grams with the remote, cable, and housing. This puts the Tellis right about average in terms of weight. It's a far cry from the lightest dropper out there, but its weight is certainly respectable for its drop length and price. In our calculation, the Tellis came out to be 4.2 grams/millimeter of travel.
Ease of Setup
The Tellis is among the easiest cable-actuated droppers to install that we've ever tested. This is due to the fact that the barrel end of the cable attaches at the bottom of the post, and the cut end of the cable is at the remote. We timed our installation, and it took approximately 10 minutes and required only a set of allen keys and a pair of cable cutters.
Once the tedious task of routing the housing through the frame is completed, feed the cable through with the barrel end at the post. Slip the barrel end of the cable into the actuator lever and through the slot in the large green actuator at the base of the post. Pull tension on the cable and fit the end of the housing into the base of the actuator then insert the post into the seat tube. Insert the other end of the cable into the barrel adjuster of the remote and feed it through the hole in the remote lever. Tighten the small set screw on the lever and secure the cable. Cut the excess cable and crimp the end. Attach the hinged clamp around your handlebar in the desired location and angle, and you're done.
The Tellis is a very reasonably priced dropper seatpost. At retail, it is one of the least expensive models in our test selection, just twelve dollars more than our Best Buy winner. It's easy for us to call it a good value considering its good all-around performance and reliability. It may not have taken our Best Buy Award, but if you're looking for a dropper and don't want to break the bank, this is certainly a good option to consider.
The SDG Tellis is a quality dropper offered at a very reasonable price. While it falls a little bit short of the high bar set by the competition, we feel this post is easy to install, offers good all-around performance, and it comes with a relatively good remote lever. It may not be the best in the test, but we feel it is another in a growing list of affordable options for riders on a budget.
Other Version and Accessories
The Tellis comes in 100, 125, 150, and 170mm drop lengths and in 30.9 and 31.6mm diameters.
— Jeremy Benson