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9Point8 Pulse Dropper Post

Infinite and Stepping Dropper Post

Words by Omar Bhimji. Photos by Morgan Taylor.
October 23rd, 2013

The dropper seat post market has exploded over the past few years, with the posts gaining in popularity and credibility to the point that many – or most? – mountain bikers consider them a necessity for aggressive riding. But despite the entrance of major players like SRAM, Fox, etc. into the field, no individual post has emerged as the clear front runner in or benchmark for the rest of the industry.

9Point8 is a small concern founded by a group of riders in Ontario who also happen to be design engineers. Earlier this year they threw their hat into the dropper post ring with the release of the Pulse, billed as the first, and so-far only, “stepping” dropper seatpost. Phil Szczepaniak of 9Point8 swung through Vancouver this summer and dropped a Pulse off for us to review; I’ve been putting the post through its paces in varying conditions for the past few months.

9point8, Pulse, dropper, post, seatpost, adjustable, infinite, reverb, doss, kronolog, cable

9Point8′s cable actuation lever works the opposite of most dropper posts: instead of pushing the lever like a shifter, you pull it like a brake. More on that below.

9point8, Pulse, dropper, post, seatpost, adjustable, infinite, reverb, doss, kronolog, cable

Another view of the quality machining on the Pulse lever.

The 9Point8 Pulse is a cable activated dropper post with a handlebar mounted remote, offering 100mm of adjustability with hydraulic internals and an air return spring. The seat angle and position are independently micro-adjustable, and 9Point8 offer both an inline and offset head for the post, allowing you to further fine-tune your saddle position to preference.

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The post’s stepping function is achieved by pulling the lever half way, while pulling the lever all the way – against, it should be noted, quite a bit of resistance – gets you infinite adjustment. In either case you’re giving up a primary braking finger.

Out of the box, the post oozes quality, with machined parts, laser etched graphics and an understated but attractive aesthetic. Even the box and documentation bear impressive design elements, with clear installation instructions provided and supplemented by online videos and support. It took me less than 10 minutes and a glance at the instructions to get the post installed and set up; the process was straightforward and the hardware tolerances precise.

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Quality machining and seals that have performed well over the past few months of testing.

9point8, Pulse, dropper, post, seatpost, adjustable, infinite, reverb, doss, kronolog, cable

With most dropper posts above the $400 range, good machining is pretty much expected.

Out on the trail there was no break in period. The dropper action is smooth and precise, and the return quick but not threateningly so. (The speed of the return can be adjusted by setting the pressure of the air spring, accessed from the base of the post.) Once set by the rider, the saddle height remains fixed in place – pulling up on the saddle won’t cause it to extend, which can be cited as a complaint about some other posts.

The Pulse’s 100mm stroke is both infinitely adjustable – you can depress the lever and use your butt to adjust the saddle to whatever height you wish – and accessible in 5mm increments, or “steps”. The stepping action is achieved by keeping your weight on the saddle and depressing the level slightly and repeatedly until the desired saddle height is reached.

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The cable affixes to the head of the post; not ideal in a world where internal routing is becoming commonplace.

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Gradations let you know exactly how high your horse is.

This dual functionality is achieved through a unique level design: depress the lever slightly to engage the stepping function, depress it completely to engage the infinite adjust option or to return the post to full extension. The lever boasts a clever and useful mounting system; installing or removing it is a breeze – but its unique design and function makes its use less intuitive and seamless than other designs I have used.

The lever has to be engaged with the index finger, which most riders usually reserve for braking. A quick move that can best be described as the hand equivalent of a climbing “foot switch” allowed me to activate the post without losing my ability to brake, but it took a bit of getting used to. It wasn’t a deal breaker, but any design that interferes with a mountain biker’s ability to brake has to be considered suboptimal.

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The head design allows independent adjustment of both angle and fore-aft movement.

9point8, Pulse, dropper, post, seatpost, adjustable, infinite, reverb, doss, kronolog, cable

Both zero-offset and setback post heads are available.

Perhaps the Pulse’s lever design is the only option that allows both stepping and infinite-adjust functionality. But if that’s the case, I would personally ditch the stepping function and go with a more conventional thumb-operated lever design. Though it worked exactly as advertized, I cannot honestly say I ever appreciated the utility of the post’s stepping function. On punchy, varying terrain or in the face of sudden grade changes, where dropper posts prove most useful, the gradual stepping process and requirement to keep the saddle weighted negated the function’s utility. Even during cross country rides, where speed and keeping your weight on the saddle aren’t issues, the Pulse’s infinite adjustability function was such a fast and sufficiently precise means of setting the saddle height as to render the stepping option unnecessary.

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If you’re on the brakes, you’re not going to be dropping your post…

9point8, Pulse, dropper, post, seatpost, adjustable, infinite, reverb, doss, kronolog, cable

That is, unless, you can perform some tricky finger work. Again, less than ideal.

Besides the slightly awkward lever, the only other quibble I had with the Pulse was that the cable attached to the head of the post, meaning its housing would move around when the post was adjusted. This didn’t cause me any problems during the review period, but in the past I’ve had housing rub paint off frames or buzz the tire during suspension compression; attaching the cable at a static point on the post seems a much tidier design.

At $499 USD (you can buy the Pulse directly through 9Point8′s website) the Pulse sits at the high end of the dropper post market. But for your money, you are getting a premium, incredibly well designed and executed product that is made right here in Canada and backed by a lifetime warranty. If the post’s stepping function appeals to you, its a unique feature of the Pulse that provides precise and reliable adjustment.


Another entry in the dropper post market and it does look like a quality piece of kit – but do its idiosyncrasies make it a hard sell?

  • GladePlayboy

    That remote and stepping function are no sale…

  • nouseforaname

    Proof that engineering expertise in one field does not transfer to another.

    Dumb design. Nice execution.

    Pretty sure throwing that gang sign as i try and brake and drop my post will get me shot in Maple Ridge.

  • shoreboy

    I would disagree with the statement that there are no ‘front runners’ in the dropper post market.
    This post looks beautifully made, but fails at the lever design, the hose attachment location and price point.

    • Bryce

      I kinda disagree as well – I think the Lev is head and shoulders above the others. Cept for price maybe.

    • boomforeal

      interesting. shoreboy, which post would get your vote?

      • shoreboy

        The LEV would get my vote. While no post is perfect, it ticks pretty much all the boxes. 4″, 5″ or 6″ travel, actuation cable at the collar (or stealth), best remote in the business (I even modified my Gravity Dropper on one of my bikes with a KS remote). Can be had for ~$320-340 if you look around a bit as well.
        I have also dealt with their CS in the past, and they have been very good, though I cant speak for it as of late as I haven’t had to use it.

      • boomforeal

        huh. never tried one but the lev does sound promising. but see there i thought you were going to say the reverb. so i stand by my contention that there is no clear front runner in the market

      • shoreboy

        The LEV is the clear front runner in my opinion. The Reverb still has the cable attachment point issue (unless you can go stealth). Also the Reverb is fully hydraulic which I think is a drawback. I prefer the cable actuation of the LEV, and it is much easier to fix if/when your cable gets snagged. I wont ever have to bleed my LEV. I have ridden both, and the LEV beats the Reverb hands down.

  • GladePlayboy

    It seems this design is daring to be different to make an impression in this market segment. But come on, who the hell wants another brake lever on their bar. Way too dicey for most situations other than smooth trails where you wouldn’t use the post anyway.

  • boomforeal

    now this article has as many comments as the point-of-boob video :)

  • nouseforaname

    Yup. But 4 of them are by the same 2 genius product designers.

    Now you have one more than the boobie video Omar…

  • jitenshakun

    A brake lever shaped adjuster, near a brake, that isn’t my brake? Props for being Canadian but being this late to the game a few things should have been easy wins, like eliminating a bnuch of housing dangling off the rear.

  • dorse

    I have tried the lever operated with an index finger and it’s a deal breaker for me. With the LEV I can brake and lower my saddle at the same time. 4 inches and $500 bucks. I’m out.
    I have used the Joplin the black momba the gravity dropper a couple of i900/i950′s and reverb. I use a KS LEV now and no one has any thing better. The switch on a ODI grip clamp works great. I have been using the Lev for a year and it has been bomb proof. Unlike the reverb.

  • walleater

    Front shift cable needs a bit of work!

    • morgman

      Bwahaha nice catch! We’d just finished putting that bike together to snag the photos for this article, guess the kinks weren’t all worked out…

  • clarklewis

    fail

  • morgman

    I think it’s worth noting that the lever could be redesigned; something like a more ergonomic version of what Gravity Dropper does could work.

    • boomforeal

      totally. if the cable orientation wasn’t reversed (and i hadn’t been too lazy to figure out a mod) i would have tried a gravity dropper remote on this post, as i’m quite comfortable with that design and i imagine it has enough throw to activate both the stepping and infinite adjust functions

  • GladePlayboy

    I had a LEV on my Intense Carbine last week. Brand new out of the box and it shit the bed after one ride. Had to go back for warranty. No post is perfect, although I will agree the zero cable movement and overall function were amazing, at least for the first hour. :-) I have a Reverb which is still going strong after 3 full seasons with only a few bleeds and have had a GD Turbo in the past. The GD still trumps them all for reliability.

  • bkbroiler

    I’ve had two demo rides now with the Pulse and it works flawlessly. Is stepping absolutely necessary? No but it works well and I’ll take it if it’s included. The lever seems very odd in the first five minutes but is more intuitive than my Reverb’s push-button as it turns out. Perfect? I dunno, never tried the KS. Also, never had to brake (front lever) and lower the post at the same time. Not once

    • morgman

      Based on the conversations this article spurred for me this week, I’m guessing maybe you don’t ride super technical terrain?