Have you been considering getting a dropper post but fear the price tag? Well, PNW recently began making a number of awesome and affordable dropper posts. Our friend Doug picked up one of the PNW Cascade Dropper Posts and wanted to share his thoughts, check it out below!
Like many of you, I love my bike but it is a few years old and a bit behind the most recent standards. When my current dropper post started having issues I looked into servicing it. A rebuild cost about as much as some posts and was a tedious test of patience and mettle. Nope. I then started looking at other dropper posts. My bike was made prior to the internal cable routing revolution that happened around 2015. This means options were limited, and frankly not that great. I had to spend upwards of $400, settle for 125mm of travel, or both. The options for internally routed dropper posts were far more plentiful and affordable, I even considered drilling my carbon frame to accommodate one (Santa Cruz was very quick to say, in no uncertain terms, this was a bad idea). So I continued to use my squishy Reverb for another few months hoping to find the mythical 30.9, external, 150mm+, reliable dropper post under $250.
Enter the PNW Cascade. PNW Components is a relatively small and new company out of the Pacific Northwest (See what they did there…). I stumbled upon the Cascade External dropper while looking at the PNW Loam Lever (amazing remote for your dropper!). The Cascade is not like most other dropper posts out there. It is ideally suited for older bikes from before 2015(ish) like mine. It is externally routed, which means the cable runs on the outside of the frame. This means it will work on most any bike with a 30.9mm or 31.6mm seat post. You do need to make sure there is adequate insertion depth for the post. Check out Worldwide Cyclery's blog on "How To Choose The Correct Size Dropper Seatpost" for more details on this.
Despite this “old school” external routing, the PNW Cascade is actually available with as much as 170mm of travel. Most external posts are limited to 150mm or just 125mm. It may be the only dropper that offers the combination of external routing, 30.9mm size, and 170mm of travel.
Another distinguishing feature of the Cascade is, it's coil spring. Most dropper posts are air sprung. This means it is potentially more reliable as there are fewer seals and points of potential mechanical failure.
The remote is a typical cable actuated 1x style remote. It gets the job done, but is not as nice as the Loam Lever that PNW makes and sells separately. However, it is far better than the plunger style Reverb remote or the remote found on most KS LEV droppers. For a $200 dropper post, the remote is nothing to complain about. It just feels cheaper, is not as ergonomic or adjustable, and is a bit harder to install compared with their top tier remotes.
The Cascade functions quite well. A dropper post need only do three things: go up, go down, stay in place. The Cascade does each, and only when it is supposed to. I have not detected any slipping, sagging, squishing, creeping up, or any other problems that seem to plague dropper posts. It is possible to adjust the speed of compression/return with how much cable pull you use at the remote. However, I don’t find it is necessary. It goes up and down plenty fast but not so fast you should be careful what parts greet the seat first.
Many of us are currently riding in temperatures below freezing. How does the Cascade do? Just fine. The coil spring and cable remote mean that it is far less affected by temperature compared to others (notably the Reverb which is noticeably slower under 30°F).
The Cascade uses a replaceable cartridge. They will cost $75 when available but are not yet available because PNW offers a 3-year warranty. Any failed cartridges will be covered by this warranty for a while. These are also the same cartridge used in their internally routed cable dropper, the Rainier. I’ve been impressed with the level of communication and support that PNW offers. It's always good to know there are helpful people an email or phone call away.
I had nearly given up hope that I could find a reliable, affordable, 170mm, externally routed dropper. The Cascade has checked all those boxes. I was so pleased with it, I got a Rainier for my Fat Bike (yes…droppers are great on Fat Bikes!) and I even got two loam levers.