The Brand-X Ascend XL is a well priced, nicely made and cleanly designed cable-actuated dropper post that works reliably. It's simple to fit and has a good remote lever, while the seat clamp is similarly no-nonsense. The long lower section won't suit small or kinked seat tubes, however, and it's relatively heavy.
Built from sturdy-looking aluminium, its simple looks – sandblasted outer and smooth inner, all in black – create a functional, stealthy vibe. It's available in 30.9mm or 31.8mm diameters, and in 170mm or 200mm drops, for internal routing only.
Installation is simple enough, though the internal section is quite long at 260mm, which could cause issues with bottle cage bosses on small or kinked seat tubes. At the other end, the inline seat clamp looks a bit bulky, but is solid and works reliably.
The remote is smooth and easy to use thanks to a cam that increases leverage, while the lever is robust with a textured finish on the contact area. I found it easy to hit quickly. The grub screw that holds the cable needs to be firmly tightened, however, which quickly frays the cable if you need to adjust it.
The Ascend XL drops smoothly through its infinitely-adjustable travel and returns at a good, slightly damped speed to lock with a nice ‘thunk’ on topping out. It’s been consistently smooth throughout the test period, in fact, regardless of conditions.
At 670g (post and remote, no cable) it’s not the lightest option out there, but it’s strong, reliable and – alongside being priced at the lower end of the range – easy to service, work on and repair at home. It even comes with a two-year warranty, making it an easy choice for a budget trail build for anyone with room in their frame.
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