PNW makes components up in well, the Pacific Northwest, primarily for mountain and adventure bikes. They only make a handful of parts: stems, a new line of handlebars, and their bread and butter—dropper posts and dropper post levers. Full disclosure, a year or so ago I bought their externally routed Rainier model for my old bikepacking rig with a 27.2mm seatpost. It worked fine, felt solid, and looked terrific. Had no issues whatsoever with the dropper, a finicky part to be sure. Then I (stupidly) sold that bike. I’m sure the post is smoothly dropping and raising for the new owner this very moment. The point is PNW knows how to make a dropper.
And now they’ve waded into the world of suspension posts with their “Coast” model. It’s a suspension dropper post at that.
The Coast is the first air-sprung suspension dropper post to hit the market. At least, according to PNW. And Bikepacking.com. A company called Redshift crowdfunded their way into production of their ShockDrop last year, a dropper with a pivot/bearing setup that will allow 35mm of suspension travel, but which a strange-looking bend in the seatpost.
In the past, there have been plenty of goofy-looking suspension seatposts, none of which ever seem to really catch fire, but dropper posts are clearly here to stay. And your author has ridden a few dropper posts that had accidentally become suspension posts, as they sagged for no obvious reason. But that doesn’t exactly count.
PNW’s air model looks like a standard dropper post—you’d never know it was built with suspension just by looking at it. Comes equipped for internal or external cable routing. The Coast fits gravel or road bikes with a 27.2mm seatpost, or beefier dirt rigs with a 30.9 or 31.6mm seatpost. Regardless of seatpost size, you get 40mm of suspension travel and either 100 or 120mm of dropper travel.
This probably isn’t the post for mountain bikes that already have plenty of squish. In fact, PNW says they made it for bikes loaded down with lots of gear that might have lots of awkward starts and stops. Less so, the get it down and out of the way needs when hightailing it down bouncy singletrack. It’s easy to imagine a post like this adding enough bounce to serve as a poor man’s rear suspension setup on a hardtail. Much lighter setup, that’s for sure.
Now then, we haven’t actually had the chance to test ride one of these puppies, we were just intrigued by the offering. Suspension seatposts can be a bit wonky, and the merger of a dropper and suspension, well that’s sorta got our knees confused just thinking about it. So we asked a few of our adventure biking expert buddies for their takes on the idea.
“Though I haven’t ridden one, in theory, it sounds like it’d help take the edge off the rough stuff when bikepacking or dirt touring,” said one. “Though I’m not sure I’d find a need for it on my go-fast gravel racer due to weight and the variable seat height situation.” This rider was concerned that a dropper plunging and climbing would constantly change leg length, putting stress on the knees, too.
“I’ve spent a lot of time poring over dropper design and durability,” said another rider. “Possibly gimmicky but I think it’s worth trying. Anything comfort-oriented could potentially help some folks find more enjoyment in riding. I could definitely see hardtail riders being interested. In fact, I was telling a friend about this yesterday on a ride, and despite being a retro-grouch, he said he was hoping someone would come out with a dropper with a bit of suspension for his hardtail. So that’s one buyer right there.”
Finally, the least wordy of our consultants, had this two say: “Personally saving my pennies for two of ’em. That’s long been the grail for multi-day trips, IMO.”
We hope to get the chance to try one out ourselves in the coming weeks. Hopefully on a lovely multi-day ride with just enough rough stuff to give those 40mms a good workout. If you want to try one yourself, they run $200 for the 27.2mm option and $179 for the larger diameters.
Top photo: PNW