The Highline 7 tops Crankbrother’s range of dropper posts. It’s very nicely made, incredibly smooth, and is well proportioned. It’s tough to find a fault, although the Highline 7’s equally awesome remote isn’t included in the asking price.
On test, we have the Crankbrothers Highline 7 with 150mm of drop and a 30.9mm diameter. This particular model weighs in at a very reasonable 475g.
It's built from 7075-T6 aluminum and comes with a host of cool tech, such as Trelleborg seals (a vast multinational which describes itself as a 'world leader in engineered polymer solutions that seal, damp and protect critical applications in demanding environments') and Igus LL-glide bearings and keys.
The LL-glide bearings are self-lubricating and dry-running, so dirt doesn't stick – they're plastic plain bearings with no moving parts, which Crankbrothers says give a much longer service life for real-world mountain biking.
In the box you get the post, of course, plus a length of Jagwire cable, a little pouch of grease and the best bit... a Crankbrothers sticker.
Installation is as simple as it gets. Rather than fitting a barrel to the cable to engage with the post – as is common – the Highline 7 uses the nipple end of a gear cable directly onto the post's lever. To attach the other end to the bar lever, you just nip a grub screw tight.
The Highline is a well-proportioned post, being rather short with a 242mm max insertion length and a total post length of 417mm. The stack height – the distance between the bottom of the collar and the rail clamp – is 47mm.
Lets you down gently
From my first ride with the Highline 7, I've been impressed how smoothly it moves through its travel. It carries a real high-end feel that makes me even more excited for my next descent, if only to experience that lovely smooth drop.
Better still, that buttery feel continued throughout my four-month test despite some pretty harsh, wintery conditions.
Three months in the post slowed down a little, but was easily sorted with a blob of the (included) grease under the collar. Speaking of the collar, there's no need for strap wrenches here – it's easy enough to break free using just your hands.
I tested this with the Highline Remote, which is sold separately. It's just as nice as the post itself and, usefully, is compatible with any dropper with a similar cable setup.
The beauty is the lever sits in its bracket like a rose joint, so it can articulate to just the right angle before you clamp it all solid. In many cases, it allows positions you can’t get with a traditionally designed lever, and it can mount either above or below the bar – a useful option, then, for those with bar-mounted suspension lockouts or other gubbins bolted to their bars.
The paddle is a great shape and the size is spot on too. The throw is pretty short, which gives the Highline a really positive feel. As standard it's not that heavily textured, though, and while it's not a particular problem in the dry, it can be less than ideal when wet and muddy.
Get a grip
Sticking on some of Crankbrothers' Remote Traction Pads – as you see in the picture above –makes a considerable difference. Unfortunately, the Traction Pads (a fancy name for ‘bits of grip tape’) are pretty quick to slip off, as the glue isn't tacky enough. If you don’t mind, a drop of superglue keeps them in place.
One neat little feature is that you can swap the pad's colours about, as I have, to match your bike. Alternatively, you can choose from either the outer or inner part of the logo to slap onto your lever to tune the grip.
Unfortunately (again), they don’t come with the dropper post and the Highline Sticker Kit will set you back another £7.
The worse news is the lever doesn't come with the post either and is an extra £55, though it does at least feel a very worthy investment.
Even without the remote, the Crankbrothers Highline 7 offers a lot of performance and reliability for a really reasonable price, and considering how great that lever is it makes for some serious competition against the bigger brands.
At £340 for both the dropper and lever, it’s £5 cheaper than a RockShox Reverb with a plunger remote, but £10 pricier than a Fox Transfer Performance Elite... though the Transfer's remote will set you back an extra £70.
Of course, there’s nothing saying you can’t use the Highline 7 with a cheaper remote, which makes it even more serious competition to RockShox and Fox’s offerings.
While it doesn’t provide the sheer value for money that posts such as the £155 Brand X Ascend do, if you’re after something upmarket you won’t be disappointed with the Highline 7.
It offers Crankbrothers’ usual stellar build quality, its action is super smooth, and it stays smooth through terrible weather and serious hammering. It would just be really nice if the remote came as part of the package.
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