First Impressions: The Drop Best
It does what it says on the tin
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The Drop Best may have the narrowest audience of any product I have ever reviewed. But that’s ok. Not everything I write about has to be click-baiting gold. Sometimes it just has to be interesting, innovative and, in this case, potentially life-changing. The Drop Best is the oddly named debut product from an oddly named Swiss startup called Fair. The brand’s name refers to their mission to focus on sustainability in all of their business decisions. I covered that in my story about Fair’s launch, but at the time I hadn’t considered another environmental benefit of the Drop Best: It may have the unique ability to breathe a few more years of life into your current bike, and that’s exactly what it’s done for mine.
The Drop Best positions your saddle 27 millimeters further forward to mimic the comfort and efficiency gains offered by modern steep seat tube angles. Those 27 millimeters effectively give you a 2-degree-steeper angle. But I opened with that bit about the Drop Best’s narrow application because this first version is only compatible with the RockShox Reverb, and only the hydraulically-actuated (not AXS) version. There’s no reason why Fair couldn’t port the design over to other posts with fundamentally similar saddle clamps, but they’re not saying whether any are in the works. I happen to have a Reverb on my main bike, but if I didn’t, I’d probably have bought one just to use a Drop Best.
Reason being, my main bike is more than three years old; a 2018 Scott Ransom. By the time it was released, the evolution of enduro-bike reach numbers and head angles had just about plateaued at where they are today, but the effective seat tube angle was still too slack. After reviewing several bikes with 77 and 78-degree seat tube angles, the Ransom’s climbing position is finally showing its age, especially at the lofty saddle height I run on my XL frame. There are countless otherwise perfect bikes that suffer from the same issue; Giant, Trek, Niner, Revel and Canyon to name a few.
When I finally received my Drop Best (it took exactly the four weeks to arrive in the U.S. that Fair said it would), I was immediately impressed with its quality and simplicity. The tolerances between its few individual parts helped justify the $140 (with shipping) that I paid for it. And not only that, everything was also lightly greased. An easy thing for a consumer to handle, but the fact that Fair does it already shows the care that went into the Drop Best from start to finish. It’s also deceptively light. My Drop Best came in at 128 grams, and ended up adding almost exactly the 51 grams that Fair Bicycle claims it does over the stock Reverb guts. It also very successfully avoids the fitment issues I had feared. Its overall 30 degrees of angle adjustment was enough to get my preferred nose-down saddle slope despite the Ransom’s rather slack actual seat tube angle, though just barely. If you’ve been able to get the saddle slope you want with your stock Reverb guts, the Drop Best will match it, but likely won’t exceed it. Also, I can confirm Fair’s statement that there is no increase in stack height. This wouldn’t have been an issue for me, but if your seatpost has to be slammed to reach your proper saddle height, you can still use a Drop Best. As for clearance between the saddle rails and the saddle itself, I have tried it on three saddles so far (Pro, WTB and Ergon) and have had no issues.
Also impressive is how cleanly and easily everything installs. I spent some time with a pre-production Aenomaly Switchgrade, which comes in a couple unique models to fit dozens of seat posts. There is some guesswork in finding the proper setup on a Switchgrade, and although I had no issues, it was clear that it is not made specifically for my post. Not the case on the Drop Best. Everything is clean and flush. And installing the saddle is far easier than the stock guts. There’s no fidget-puzzle antics to get the rails between the clamp like on traditional posts. My only complaint is that the saddle rail clamps are made to fit both the flat-oval rails sometimes used on carbon-rail saddles, as well as traditional round rails. The plates that pinch the rails are able to slide up and down in order to find a flush mount against whichever style rail you have, and they simply rely on the shear-strength of the connection between plate and body to stay in place. But after four weeks in the saddle, I haven’t managed to get them to slip.
As for what it’s like in the saddle, it has exceeded my expectations. That feeling I get when I hop on a modern bike with a 77-degree seat tube angle is now mine. Yes, the cockpit is not as roomy, but I don’t want my reach numbers to grow at all, I just want to be more on top of my pedals on the climbs. I do have my limits, though. If my bike weren’t already pretty long, sliding my seat forward by over an inch may have been too much. If your bike needs both a steeper seat angle and a longer reach, the Drop Best will solve one problem, but cause another. Even in my case, the Drop Best actually gave me the ability to move my saddle too far forward if I slam the rails like I was doing before I made this switch. It’s a wonderful feeling, actually. Maybe I’m an outlier, but I often find myself on the far end of some of my components’ adjustability range. Shocks often don’t offer fast enough rebound settings to suit my taste, and brakes can never shorten their free-stroke length enough for me. The Drop Best allowed me to find not just a steeper seat angle, but the right seat angle.
A big question, though, is how the Drop Best will hold up a year or two down the road. Its clean fit and tight tolerances offer a lot of confidence that it will not develop play or noise, but Fair is kinda playing god here. RockShox, like every seat post manufacturer, put thought into their saddle clamp design. They designed, tested, and probably broke a few iterations before they got to the one ultimately used, and they didn’t have the Drop Best in mind when they did. But in theory, cantilevering forces forward will put less stress on the post’s components than backward.
But I’ll absolutely be evaluating the Drop Best’s long-term durability. I plan on holding on to my Ransom for a lot longer now.
Photos: Anthony Smith