Long-Term Test: Fox Transfer Performance Elite 200-Millimeter
Ye Old Faithful, now with 200 millimeters of butt clearance
-Redesigned seat head
-200-millimeters of drop
-New 1x lever
-Reliable to a fault
-200-millimeters of drop
-Smooth as coconut oil
-Solid “thunk” on top-out
-Some side to side play
-Not very user-serviceable
-Clamp bots are proprietary
-Doesn’t come in external routing or 34.9-millimeter diameter
None of the frame-up builds I’ve done in the past five years have featured a Fox Transfer. For a while I ran 9point8 posts, then it was the PNW Rainier and most recently a OneUp V2. But let’s be honest, as good as all those droppers are, I really wanted to run this post—the Fox Transfer.
The Fox Transfer has the reputation for being one of the most reliable droppers on the market. But unfortunately, Fox didn’t release the Transfer in a 200-millimeter drop option until just late last year. I’m 6’4” so even a 175mm post isn’t enough. Getting that extra inch is invariably worth any sacrifice in longevity, which is a risky wager for me given that I somehow tend to run my components into the ground sooner than most riders. It seems my reputation made me the prime candidate to test the Transfer’s reputation.
While there are thankfully plenty of other long-travel droppers to choose from, every single one I’ve ridden has had issues. From binding to occasional actuation failure to just regular old all-over failure, it seems that making a 200mm-drop must be a tough nut for the bike industry to fully crack, a story we told here at Beta just a few months ago.
In discussions with other riders, I know I’m not alone in long-travel post frustrations. Which is a problem, as the demand for more drop is only increasing as seat tubes are shortening and insertion depths are lengthening, allowing more riders to run longer posts. It’s not uncommon to see 175mm posts on size-medium frames these days. Long posts are being made, but long-term durability is sometimes sacrificed in the process.
But not the Fox Transfer. The demand for a 200mm version has been there for years, but Fox took its time to ensure that its 200mm Transfer would not suck. In fact, it’s part of what inspired the post’s total redesign in early 2020. The original chassis was never meant to go to 200, so Fox went back to the drawing board. Now, it’s 2021 and we finally have our 200mm Transfer—and you know what? It seriously doesn’t suck.
Since I started testing the post late last fall, I have had exactly one instance of an inkling of an issue with it. I’ll cover that later, but first let’s talk about design. For 2021, Fox changed a few things about the Transfer in general that, reliability aside, really make the Transfer one of the easiest posts to get along with.
Every rider who has swapped a saddle knows how frustrating dealing with poorly designed saddle clamps can be. There’s still no agreed-upon ‘best design,’ but the two-bolt layout popularized by Syncros and Thomson back in the day of fixed posts seems to be the most trouble-free. Fox uses this type of design on the Transfer, taking things a step farther in innovation with the newest iteration by angling the bolts outward. This allows more clearance for the 4mm Allen wrench needed to tighten and adjust the clamp—it’s a small touch but it makes a world of difference during setup. In addition, those angled bolts, which also use a fairly coarse thread, adjust seat angle more aggressively. Instead of making four or five turns of the wrench, a single turn will do the trick in most cases to dial things in. And as icing on the cake, everything is captured so you won’t be searching the garage floor for tiny parts every time your hand slips in setup. However, if you do happen to lose (or break) a clamp bolt, it’s not something you can just go down to the hardware store to replace. The redesigned clamp is slick, but the bolts are very proprietary.
Another change to the saddle clamp is part of what made the 200mm Transfer possible in the first place. The clamp hardware is designed to sink deeper over the seal head before bottoming out. This effectively ‘shortens’ the overall length of the Transfer for a given travel amount.
That being said, the Transfer has never been the shortest post out there. The 200mm Transfer has a 320mm (including actuator) insertion depth, which is good, but not class-leading. The 210mm-travel OneUp V2 Dropper requires just 297mm of insertion depth. Luckily, many larger frame sizes these days can accommodate a post that long. I should also note that the Transfer uses a longer actuator piece than some shorter posts, which more securely captures the cable housing. A small touch, but one that is appreciated during setup or when adjusting seat height—the housing is very secure and not likely to be pulled out by accident.
If you can fit it, though, the Transfer is worth springing for—it’s buttery smooth. Be it covered in mud or grime, the Transfer is largely resistant to binding and slides through its travel the same on ride 50 as it did on ride one. I’m 230 pounds and under normal riding conditions (which, in coastal Washington State, are often cold, wet, or both), I haven’t been able to get the Transfer to skip a beat. With most posts, I’ve needed to frequently relube, retighten or otherwise reassure dropper seal heads as mud, dust and time worm their way in and grease worms its way out. Not the case with the Transfer—it required zero attention for the duration of the test period.
Speaking of winter, when it comes to temperature, the return rate of the Transfer remains constant. Even in sub-freezing temps and caked with snow, the Transfer makes the same, reassuring ‘thunk’ on top-out. On the flip side, it never get’s too fast in the heat. The return rate seems to remain more constant through temperature swings than the competition. You don’t have to worry about checking air pressure as the temperature fluctuates—something I’ve found I needed to do with other posts.
I’ve also found that, at least in my 31.6mm-diameter version, the Transfer can be clamped right below the seal head without causing any binding issues. I mention this because if you’re getting the maximum drop for your frame size, that’s probably where you’d want to clamp your dropper post, slammed all the way into the seat tube, nice and flush. Some long-travel posts bind when clamped right below the seal head, which pretty much renders a dropper post useless.
Really, the only thing I can fault the Transfer for is some side-to-side movement in the keyways. It’s not usually noticeable, but it will sometimes, very slightly, rattle in chunder. Under someone with a very sensitive posterior, that can be felt while riding. For reference, it’s the same play found on the original Transfer. But, also, every dropper in the world has some slop.
Fox also released a new 1x lever for 2021, one that pairs nicely with the sleek but slightly angular look of the Transfer. In comparison with the old Fox lever, the new one stands head and shoulders higher—the paddle is actually large enough to be called a paddle and has a sturdy, robust build to it. As dedicated as I am to my craft of destroying parts, I haven’t had the opportunity to impact test it, but the build quality leads me to believe it can take a punch.
The Transfer lever has a good, but not outstanding, feel to it—it’s not quite as silky smooth as the Wolf Tooth ReMote, but it’s also not far off that high benchmark either. The throw feels solid, like the Transfer itself, and I never had any issues. The textured, metal paddle is large and easy to find, but not so big that it gets in the way.
That being said, I tend to wear out the left thumb of my gloves when using metal dropper paddles, so in the latter half of the test, I swapped the Fox lever for the new Shimano dropper lever, which has a plastic paddle. The Fox lever then went onto a bike with a PNW Rainier, and actuates that post just fine, as the Shimano lever actuates the Transfer without issue. Considering that the Transfer doesn’t come with a remote, keep in mind that it’s up to you to decide (and buy) whichever of the growing number of aftermarket levers suits your needs the best.
Regardless of lever preferences, I would prefer to run a 200mm Transfer over most of the other long-travel posts out there—its performance and reliability have been unshakeable during testing. At $300, it isn’t the least expensive post out there, but it’s also not the most expensive. All things considered, it’s entirely worth that price tag. Try as I might, there’s really not much about the Transfer to find fault with, other than it had a release date about three bike-builds too late. Fox certainly took their sweet time in making the 200mm Transfer, but it was worth the wait.