I realize I’m in the minority here, but I seem to be one of the rare people who prefer the three-step dropper post style over the infinitely adjustable. With an infinite, the saddle is always too high or too low and I just find myself fiddling with it a lot. The Pulse combines the best of both with a unique “stepped” adjustment system. A soft tug of the remote lever lowers the post 5mm. Want to go 10mm? Give it two clicks. A little lower? Five or six clicks is a perfect “trail” position. If you give the lever a full-pull, it allows the post to move freely up and down its entire 100mm range, so you can slam it for that big drop that’s coming up quick. I know, when we first heard of this design we were thinking “wait, what?” too, but after using it for several months, it strikes me as a pretty brilliant idea.
Made in Canada, the Pulse dropper is built with Swiss-style precision. Even the eco-friendly packaging is worth complimenting. I set it up, got the CNC-machined lever where I wanted it, rode the snot out of it and haven’t adjusted it since. There is virtually no side to side play at the saddle, and it doesn’t extend when you lift the bike by the saddle. When the bushings and seals wear out out you can order a user-serviceable rebuild kit and it even ships with a limited lifetime warranty.
It’s clear for many people the lever itself is going to be the biggest make-or-break element of the Pulse dropper. The mini-brake lever design can also be removed and installed without removing any of your other controls, and can be mounted on either the left or right. In early 2014 9Point8 will make a more conventional thumb lever standard with all seatposts.
It takes some getting used to, and requires you to lift your finger off the brake lever to operate it, but unless I was really pushing myself at race pace, I didn’t mind. In fact, the size of the lever makes it easy to operate over rough terrain, far more so than some smaller thumb levers on other dropper posts.
Not everyone was so forgiving of the remote lever. The first tester installed it on a Shimano brake equipped bike. The tall fluid reservoir rotated the remote up pretty dramatically, and a quick parking lot spin had him back in the shop removing it and handing off to another reviewer. Another rider was fine with it on brakes like Avids, with an inline reservoir, but found the set-up forced by Shimano-style brakes to be a big no-go for performance oriented riding. As you can see in the picture, I didn’t mind one bit.
Getting your saddle in exactly the right position is also easier, since it can be configured with a standard or 25mm offset head (sold separately) and two micro-adjust fore-aft clamp bolts a la Thomson seatposts. Another real plus are the height markings laser-etched on the post’s body. I don’t need to use them often, but it’s always irritating when they aren’t there. The main shaft is available in 30.9 (tested) and 31.6mm sizes and the you can also adjust the speed of the saddle return with the air pressure in the internal air spring.
For now the $500 Pulse is available only with an external, cable-actuated remote and is sold only customer-direct through the 9point8 website. Yes, it is expensive, but it is made by hand in the land of maple leafs and poutine, including the machining of most of the parts. The lever shape is polarizing, but I actually prefer it to many of the others on the market. Quirks aside, the build quality and reliability have made this my new favorite dropper post.