In almost no time, the dropper seatpost has sentenced its rigid forebear to the spares box of history. Few other products, in fact, have had such a profound impact on the lives of everyday riders in every corner of the planet. It’s only been in the last couple of years, though, that there’s been what could be deemed as a decent cross-section of products to choose from, particularly in terms of price.
Now, though, several mid-level component makers are cracking the code for producing a decent dropper product at a price that can’t be used to scare children on Halloween. SDG – Speed Defies Gravity, if you didn’t know – has been in the mountain bike business for around 20 years, producing the first Kevlar-covered saddles in the late 1990s.
Built with titanium rails, those seats were nigh-on indestructible, and preceded one of the best loved models of all time, the Bel-Air. Fast forward into this century, and SDG still produces a line of saddles and rigid posts, including a proprietary direct bolt-style to save weight. It’s also decided to leap into the fray of the dropper post, but not before doing its homework.
A dropper post takes a bit of punishment, and not all posts are able to take said punishment without constant maintenance. SDG was determined to avoid all that, spending two years developing and field-testing its newest creation, the Tellis. SDG wanted to simplify and refine the dropper without imparting a severe financial penalty on the end user. When it came to the durability side, it went down an increasingly well-trodden path by sourcing a cartridge unit from an outside supplier and marrying it with its own notions of durability and longevity.
For example, the two-bolt head is forged into the inner seatpost’s upper end to eliminate an interface where creaks can develop. It also added a keyway system to keep both halves of the system from developing sideplay, while also making sure it used good quality forged alloy in the rest of the build.
The cartridge is cable-actuated, and requires the cable head to be slotted into the base of the saddle before feeding the cable through the frame and pinching it off with a grub screw on the thumb-actuated trigger. It takes a bit of faffing and fiddling to secure the cable without the outer trying to escape from the bottom of the lever, but there are two tricks to adhere to. The first is to insert the Tellis into your frame just enough to clamp it before affixing the cable to the lever, which adds the necessary tension to keep things in place.
The second is to ensure that your dropper cable outer can be pulled through the frame, and isn’t restrained by a frame plug. I actually found this out the hard way by adjusting my seat height by literally 5mm during a ride. Suddenly, my cable tension at the lever was shot, and it was impossible to maintain a seat height consistently. A friendly mechanic loosened the cable clamping router on my frame, popped the cable end back in and bingo… all sorted.
Once it’s in, the numbered scale on the rear of the post simplifies height setting, while the saddle is easy to install on the forged head. One mechanic’s whinge is that the forward-most clamping bolt is angled in such a way that it needs careful wrangling from a 5mm allen key to add tension to the nose of the saddle to avoid marring the black finish on the dropper upper. In use, SDG claims the lever is the lightest-action unit out there, and I’d concur – in fact, I prefer my levers with a more precise action than the very easy, very slick Tellis item. It’s not that it didn’t work; quite the contrary, in fact.
The post’s travel is moderate in its speed and infinitely adjustable for height, and its action is smooth and consistent. After three months of general riding, a couple of crashes and a bit of cack-handed heavy saddle landings, the Tellis is unblemished, needing only a twist of a tension barrel to take up some cable slack to sharpen its action. I’d like to see a better angle of attack for the forwardmost bolt, and maybe a switch to 4mm bolts instead of 5mm.
Perhaps a narrowing of the port that retains the cable end might assist to hold the cable more firmly in place during installation, and it would be great to see the post sneak below the mythical $400 barrier. It comes in 30.9mm and 31.6mm diameters with a drop of either 125mm or 150mm, and weighs between 500g and 560g.
MBA says The SDG Tellis is a well thought out and thoroughly tested dropper post that’s worthy of your consideration should you decide to update. ￼Head to Lusty Indtrustries' website for more.