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Apr 20 2013

Product Review #1: Kronolog Dropper Seat Post

Ok, enough photos of me. It’s time to get back to the things I’d intended to write about. So I’ll start with one, which turned into two, that I was interested in from the start.

Dropper seat posts are nothing new, they’ve been used by all-mountain and enduro riders for a few years now. As the technology has improved and the weights have come down these parts are now showing up on more bikes and are more readily available at your local bike shop. The basic idea is this: there is a remote control on the handlebar to allow you to drop the seat for descending and then pop it back up for trails or climbing.

I did some online research, read reviews and product specs and did a small poll of rider I know to see which one to try. It came down to a short list which had two strong recommendations so I had to pick between the Rockshox and Crank Brothers products. I picked the Kronolog from CrankBros.

The Krono is an air-suspension dropper with 5 inches of travel. It has the cable connection at the bottom front (most have a cable that goes up to the top of the seat post to activate) and I thought this made for a very tidy installation. The remote trigger can go on the top or bottom of the bar on either left or right sides, very flexible. The lock/release action comes from a pair of plates which get released by pulling the trigger and lock in place when there’s no cable tension. The inner shaft has flat sides so it doesn’t rotate and avoids any saddle nose movement.

Seat post with cable mount shown

Release mounted below the bar

All of the reviews indicated that the Krono is sensitive to be adjusted correctly and that it must have 4mm of play in the cable or it can be prone to slipping. I set it up as per spec, made sure the cable had smooth curves and the right play and gave it some test rides around home before we headed out. It looked and felt great.

Test Ride #1:
Our first ride was with Robin and Jouko on some trails near Almond NC. It had been wet for a few days before but the sun came out that morning and it looked like a great day for riding.

Robin and Jouko

The trails were in great condition, still wet in places but perfect for a first ride. Not too technical but lots of fun sections.

I would guess about 20 minutes into the ride I became aware of the saddle height not being right and sure enough it had slipped down. A press on the trigger and it was back up, good to go. Or so I thought. It turned into a frequent event and we stopped a number of times to try to correct it.

One of the common conditions people have written about is that the Krono will slip down a bit and then be happy to stay there so I went with that theory and tried raising the seat post without releasing the trigger. It seemed to help and we were able to do our ride. I gave it a 7 out of 10 at that point and hoped I’d be able to tweak it and get it to co-operate fully. A successful day of riding though and good fun, followed by great beer, food and company before we got on the road.

Test Rides #2, 3 & 4:
Andrea and I then headed on to the Pisgah Forest to meet up with Jeff, Jen & Jamie for the next week. The next test ride was just bopping around the trails a little the first morning to make sure everything was working right. I found the Krono seemed to be slipping more so I decided to take it in to Jimmy @ The Hub to give it the once over and see what might be causing the problem. I wanted to make sure it wasn’t just my mistake and he’s a great mechanic (a great rider too) so I thought he might be able to work his magic.

Jeff

Jimmy tried a few things and it seemed to be better while we were at the shop but even on the ride back to the campground I could feel it slipping again. This didn’t bode well for the week ahead. But our plan was to head to Dupont Forest for the afternoon as it drains well (it had been raining for days) and I figured I could deal with the Krono.

We had a blast riding, the trails there are awesome and I was really getting comfortable having a seat I could drop out of the way for the descents. I didn’t like the loss of power as it slipped down while I was trying to power my way up climbs though. That was probably the worst part.
Krono Rating: 6 out of 10

At the end of the private airport runway

The next big ride was the Pink Beds loop we had done before. It starts with an hour long climb and then gets into a descent, some nice flow along a river, a tough climb followed by a long and moderately technical descent. By this point I was using the Krono so it only had about an inch to drop (seat post almost fully extended to compensate) and with the exception of the final descent I didn’t use the dropper function much. I did lower it for that last descent though. And it felt great.

I’ve always had a problem getting my weight far enough back to be stable on drop-offs and such and the Krono did enable me to overcome that and tackle some tricky bits I wouldn’t have tried before. Although to be fair I’m sure the 29″ wheels on Stumpy were part of that too!
Krono rating: 4 out of 10

Final ride: not worth writing about in the context of the Krono but it was some great trails back in Dupont. When I put together the report on the GoPro Hero3 I’ll talk more about the trails.
Krono rating: 2 out of 10

After trying the Krono for a week and trying everything I could, I gave up on it. It looks great, doesn’t work for me though. If it’s so sensitive to adjustment that a reputable mechanic in a reputable shop can’t get it to work then I believe the design is flawed.

Stay tuned for more details of the rides. And what I finally did to “fix” the problem!

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