Thomson Dropper

So I’ve spent enough time with my Thomson Elite Dropper to give everyone that is reading this a solid opinion. In one word, reliable comes to mind. It just plain works every single time I’m out on a ride. There’s no play in the head. It doesn’t click or creak. Action is smooth and responsive. It goes all the way down. It goes all the way up with a nice audible “snap”. And it goes anywhere in between. Let me expand a bit more below.

Thomson Elite External Dropper Route

When droppers first hit the scene, none of my bikes were A. capable of running a dropper cable routing wise and B. no one built a 27.2mm version. Fast forward to about 2015 or 2016 and with the formalization of “how” I make my mountain bike seat tubes, I was finally able to offer a mountain bike to clients that were built around a 30.9mm seat post. So droppers were finally possible for me, built the way I like my bikes to be built. That also meant I was able to finally give one a try (and by this time, Thomson was one of the few OE’s making a dropper in 27.2mm as well). But what I ended up getting was an Elite External 30.9mm dropper with 125mm of adjustment. Pretty standard fare. I opted for an external version simply because I wanted to have easy swaps for set up and maintenance. Aesthetically, I don’t mind the cable exposed up the length of the seat post (honestly, Fox’s Remote dropper’s external routing is pretty nice as well). But set up was fairly straightforward. I typically route the line down the drive side top tube and the line crosses over to the non-drive side as it travels up behind the length of the post. One upgrade I found SUPER helpful was replacing Thomson’s stock lever. The first couple rides I had with this dropper were a bit trying and I found out it was because of the actuation of the stock lever. It’s on the small side so it’s difficult to locate and then actuate. You have to be really conscious of where it is rather than a shift lever with it’s larger footprint making it a bit more easy to locate. The other piece of this part I found a bit difficult was how it was oriented. You press it down as it’s perpendicular to the bars vs parallel like a shift paddle. Once I swapped out the levers to a Wolftooth ReMote Light, it instantly was intuitive and I began getting in the flow with this new piece of equipment rather quickly now that the lever was no longer basically in the way. I was able to nab one of Wolftooth’s “stealth” versions…

Stealth Black

Out on the trail, simply stated: This dropper just keeps working. Some droppers I’ve had in the shop here have play out of the box. Not this one. No movement except up and down when you actuate the dropper. So your butt is where you want it to be! And no standing to get home because it happened to be stuck in the dropped position. I actually own 2 of these droppers and late in the 2017 season I noted one of them not going all the way back up. Turned out it just needed to be lubed up as it was getting a bit sticky from all the dust created by the dry conditions. A little bit of Slick Honey and it was back to normal action. But since June of 2016, I’ve put hundreds of miles on these droppers and countless hours of pounding. The more I used the dropper, the more I started to realize it’s full potential and on many downhills, I had it dropped just about to its full 125mm of drop while my butt was hovering just over the saddle. And of course, that lightbulb went off regarding just how much more speed I could carry downhill and through turns, since I was now able to use my legs and get nice and low effectively lowering my center of gravity to get good and IN the bike while descending.

Another point is how you can load both tires and compress the entire bike through the turn and then unload and POP out of turns. I was pretty excited by this little added bonus. And it’s a ton of fun. More fun I’d gander with a dropper… Not that you can’t ride without one! But a big, big advantage I found myself miles into longer rides was the amount of wear and tear on my already creaky lower back if I was NOT riding with one. I have one vertebra that has a bit of arthritis developing from some wear and tear. So on long downhills, my lower back starts to typically hurt and as the ride progresses, well so does my discomfort resulting in me getting a bit worn down. A welcome surprise was since my body positioning was changed, moving/flexing at my hips and using my legs/thighs now instead of my lower back really relieved that intense build-up of fatigue in my lower back that would routinely wear me down over the course of a ride. Now, I’m riding the whole ride much more fresh and with less fatigue. That was a huge net positive. So much so that both mountain bikes I own have a dropper and the next round of prototypes will have them of course. Last but not least I’ll also add one to my fat bike too which is fully rigid and dedicated just to snow… More on that at a later date! So my lower back is also happy with my dropper use.

Let’s take a bit of a closer look at the set up in 27 plus mode:

Marauder Ti // 27 Plus

Marauder Ti // 27 Plus

Now that same bike with 29″ wheels and nice and muddy as a mountain bike SHOULD be:

Muddied

Dirty

In summary, Thomson offers the Elite External dropper in 27.2mm, 30.9mm and 31.6mm post options with 100 and 125mm travel options (The 27.2mm version only is available in a 125mm drop version). They also offer their “Covert” version which is internal routing in 30.9mm and 31.6mm post diameters, both of which are available in 100, 125 and 150mm travel options. I chose Thomson’s 30.9mm Elite External dropper for ease of maintenance and set up swaps and upgraded the lever to a Wolftooth Remote Light lever (which I feel has a bit better feel and swing to the lever). Set up was straightforward. Use is pretty intuitive with the lever swap and getting used to pushing down on the post with my butt took a few rides but I was in-sync fairly quickly. But what a treat to use. And it just plain works! Thomson offers a 2-year warranty on all their droppers and any internal maintenance is done via Thomson so reach out if yours does develop an issue. One bonus was the lower back relief I felt on long rides with lots of tech and downhills which was a welcome surprise thanks to the different body positioning. Actually, I feel as though I’m poised a bit more natural on my bike headed downhill now using my legs more to carry my weight and compress the bike through turns. Simply stated Thomson’s Elite Dropper is incredibly reliable.