Early in 2016 I had built a new Marauder prototype for myself that ran gears and had an option for single speed. Mixed in there, I also wanted to give a dropper a try as well since I had finally been able to offer 34.9mm seat tubes for 30.9mm seat posts/droppers. This is something I had been working towards and refining for a while so with that next prototype, I definitely wanted to allow myself for a few different set up options to test out additional platforms. After speaking with friends and clients everyone pointed me towards Thomson as the choice for a dropper. Droppers have refined over the years, but Thomson’s Elite dropper was tried and true: It just plain worked and kept working when others would get stuck or stop working. Stock lever installed and first ride out… I felt like I was no longer “riding” my bike but rather “operating” my bike. I tried the stock Thomson lever first on the drive side / right but found that too crowded: Then over to the left side and while it was less crowded, the lever wasn’t working. It worked, but it was a bit tough to actuate. It was small and relatively hard to get at on the fly. Not to mention, it felt a bit like a car that had a hydraulic clutch. And if you know just how hard it is to learn how to drive stick with a hydraulic clutch… then you may start to know what I’m getting at. So after a handful of rides, I didn’t really mesh or become one with the dropper. No problem. Off it came with an easy swap of parts since it was externally routed and rigid post re-installed. But there were some points I really liked once the saddle was dropped 1-2 inches at the most: You can rotate the hips forward, bend more at the knees, sink you butt to get your center of gravity lower and just really carve through turns and tech down hill. That I liked. But operating it just wasn’t meshing. So a few months passed until this past spring I had my first Titanium mountain bike built up and I decided when I threw a geared drivetrain on the bike, i’d also give the dropper another swing. But this time, I’d identified that perhaps what the set up was missing was a good lever. Enter the Wolftooth Remote Light dropper lever. Simply put, this lever made me open my eyes and become one with my dropper. It’s essentially the same size and throw as a front derailleur lever. Smooth action. Good leverage. Lots of adjustability and is compatible with a lot of set ups including Shimano’s i-Spec II. So let’s roll up our sleeves and dive in deeper with this one… This particular lever happens to be Wolftooth’s “stealth” version. All black with no extra laser etching. But it’s identical to the stock version that was not a limited run. Take note of that lever paddle’s face: Some clever machining leaves a really nice tacky grip. No slip here. It’s large but has a nice shape to get tucked out of the way but not lost in the controls. It’s i-Spec II compatible in this case so it integrates easily with Shimano XT M8000 levers (it is also available in a lot of configurations). This gives you a lot of rotational adjustment to get the angle you want. Now for the business end: There’s a seal cartridge bearing pressed in place that ensures smooth rotation each time. Up and to the left you’ll notice there’s a stop and a clamp bolt for the cable actuator. This one’s not going to fray which is a sticking point on the stock Thomson lever. Also inside of the bearing you’ll see a second bolt. When loosened, this allows left/right adjustment of the lever arm so you can fine tune where the lever paddle lines up once you have your brake lever in place. This is the “just so” adjustment. I love this. Last but not least is the barrel adjuster to fine tune the actuation of your cable actuation for your dropper (in this case, it’s my Thomson Elite external cable version). Mate this up with dropper and a nice smooth teflon coated derailleur cable? You’re going to be in for a treat if you’re suffering dropper operation blues. Which I was, but not anymore. Every ride since adding this set up has been stoke filled. I will say I’ve found that dropping my post all the way down is too much-I lose some control since I use the saddle to hug and lean my thigh/leg on through turns and even in tech sections I’ll use it as a place to barely rest my weight before making a controlled effort up and over an object. Too far down and the saddle is missing for me. So most times, I’m really only dropping the saddle 1-2 inches at a pop. But after the first ride, I felt really in tune with my dropper and it really was indeed thanks to this improved lever solution from Wolftooth. So a question I get with this set up is why no stealth routing? Simply put: I can build you a bike with stealth routing if you want it. No problem there for me. But for my own set up and purposes, I wanted the ease and quickness of set up changes and having my dropper externally routed enables for quick set up changes so I can get back out on the trail to continue testing and comparing set ups. Remember, I only recommend what I have thoroughly ridden to my clients. SO if I am recommending something, it’s because I’ve used it and I know it works for me. Not to mention the cable actuator on the head of the Thomson dropper is small enough so it’s out of the way for a tool roll for example: I know some riders I have spoken with really have it set in their heads and opinions subsequently follow that all mountain bikes aren’t mountain bikes unless they have a dropper. I’m not of that mindset. There’s a time and place for everything. This is an investment and honestly you don’t “need” this in reality. A rigid post will still get you down the trail just AOK! What I can say is that we all have preferences and we all have styles in which we ride. With that in mind, I can say that a reliable dropper with a good lever solutions enables you to get a bit lower on your bike so you’re effectively dropping your center of gravity. The bike will perform a bit more efficiently beneath you because of this. You’ll be able to carve turns a bit harder. You can shift your weight subtly so you’re a bit more centered “IN” the bike which enables you to sink your butt and get less weight off your lower back and shoulders and have it sink more in around your core. Through turns you can weight your bike a bit more to get it to hook up in tech. I’ve never had a problem getting off the back of the bike, but this makes that a no brainer. And remember, getting off the back of the bike enables you to put all your confidence in the bikes wheels so they roll over objects as you head down hill. This allows the bike to become more of an extension of you on trail. Here’s my current set up: And from that classic side view: So if you’re looking for a better dropper lever solution with a lot of adjustability that runs tried and true and smoothly each and every ride, I’d personally recommend you take a closer look at Wolftooth’s Remote Light lever. I’m stoked on this set up. Hope you find this helpful. Keep pedaling..