Product Review Brand X Ascend II dropper post and remote

What’s the one thing that turns a good bike into a great bike? It’s the one item on trail and enduro bikes now that is so common that it’d be strange to see a bike without one. I totally hate the saying “game changer” but yep, dropper post’s have changed the way we play this game. There’s so many to choose from nowadays that it can almost put a new buyer off spending that much money for something they haven’t used. Make no mistake, a top of the line dropper post is a real pleasure to have underneath you but can you achieve the same result with your riding from something bought on a budget? Yes, yes you can. Read on to check out the Brand-X Ascend II dropper seat post with the Brand-X Ascend lever kit V2.
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Item: Brand-X Ascend II dropper seat post with the Brand-X Ascend lever kit V2.
Purchased from: Chain Reaction Cycles (Post and lever)
Purchase price: $167.99 for the Ascend dropper post and $74.99 Ascend lever kit
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I’ve tested, trialed, reviewed and purchased a lot of dropper posts and am a self confessed addict; I love what dropper post’s do for mountain biking. They aren’t a complicated addition to a bike and can be maintained quite easily. The range is huge and each promises to do something better than the next. Like anything, you can spend big bucks on supposed high end gear and thankfully you can achieve the same on-bike experience of a dropper post by spending a little less. I set out to upgrade a dual suspension bike in my stable that is comparatively outdated now being a 2015 model frame. Crazy huh! The tech that was “in” in 2015 is now talked about as old school. I wanted to modernise this particular bike and the first step was a dropper post but wanted to do so at a lesser cost than what I have spent on other vessels. The problems I faced when choosing a post were an alloy frame with heavily butted tubing, lots of curves and the idea of drilling holes to run a stealth dropper wasn’t appealing. This narrowed my search to something that had to be externally routed, 30.9mm clamp and not too long that it wouldn’t slide into the frame appropriately. To my liking, the Brand X Ascend ticked every box for this project and that was before I looked at the price, under $200? Yep, $168 gets you in the game.
The Brand X post is such a simple fit too. Being an external cable, you only need to slide the post into the frame, bolt the remote lever to your bars and double check the cable length. The bulk head of the cable sits snug underneath a well sealed rubber cap on the post and is routed along your frame to the remote lever where it is tightened with a firm fit to the lever body. The Brand X Ascend lever is a perfect match with the trigger point of the lever sitting under your bars; in my case on the left hand side. There’s a simple barrel adjuster on the remote body to get the feel you need and take out any slack from the cable. And to make the whole setup even more hassle free, the Ascend lever kit is a hinged clamp so you can fit it to the bars without needing take your grips and brake levers off. You know what? The length of time it’s taken to read this is about how long it takes to have your Brand X dropper fitted, it’s that easy!
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Now let’s get to the point. This post and lever setup is pretty cheap when compared to a set up that can be upwards of $600. I own those posts and they’re bolted to bikes that are ridden on trails that your Mum chews her fingernails over. The bike I’ve grabbed the Brand X dropper for isn’t being entered in round 3 of the Enduro World Series, it’s a trail bike ridden on medium grade trails and primarily XC style laps. The post needs to stay up & firm and be reliably out of the way for the fun bits without slapping your backside and launching you over the bars. I’m happy to say that it achieves that without fail and in the months I’ve been studying this post, it hasn’t varied in feel from the day it was installed.
The lever action is a positive cable pull and exact response from the post on the drop and on the return. The return speed doesn’t stamp the brand of your saddle into your butt cheek, it’s a direct predictable motion. It does feel light to touch though, meaning you don’t punch it in angst to get it moving and doesn’t have that “I’m about to break my lever” feel. Not to harp too much on comparing it to other posts but it is a softer touch to the lever to activate the drop and return so my advice is not to cover the lever with your finger as it is that responsive that it will activate the mechanism.
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I’ve had a gripe in my time with seat clamps that need to be tightened so much to avoid that dreaded saddle creak that it near snaps your allen key doing so. The saddle clamp on the Brand X has the same tight fit under your saddle as you’d be used to with any other post but so far, no creaking! I have been known to lightly grease saddle rails to avoid some creaks and do nasty things to seat clamp bolts but this is straight forward with no fuss.
The post I have fitted to the bike is a 125mm drop alloy dropper post. It’s slid into a 30.9mm frame and clamped up with a quick release seat post clamp. This isn’t super common as you can’t get an exact number on what clamp tension you should have but follow your nose and you’re just fine. The post in full is 400mm long and weighs 600 grams without the lever and cable attached. It’s sold new with a 2 year warranty and is part of the Brand X dropper post range with varying clamp sizes and longer post drop options with internal and external routing available. Not many (if any) other brands offer both cable routing options so it’s nice to see a well priced and well functioning dropper aimed at almost every kind of bike.
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To paint the simple picture, the ideal market that would suit the Brand X Ascend dropper post is those looking to get a great feeling dropper post on their bike without the expensive price tag. By all accounts during my review process, this post has been just as capable as rival posts and hasn’t developed any slop or knocks that make it feel under engineered. In my last dropper post review I had refrained from saying that I wonder why some dropper posts are so expensive when this one kicks butt for less money. I’m definitely echoing those thoughts with this post and at almost a third of the price, why wouldn’t you look at the Brand X Ascend?
As this is part of an upgrade path on this particular bike, stay tuned for more!
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Comments

Yep, reason I don't use them

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They all develop some play. I’m running 4 now. None have any more than other brands. Less than some posts that cost 3x the price.
Your sample size of one is irrelevant...and you never keep anything more than a week anyway.

Edit. @SF Trailboy that sounds different to the usual play. The shaft not moving at all? You sure? It’s hard to see on a small shaft as opposed to the larger seat.
 
Anyone noticed any play in the seat clamp. Ie moving left to right and right to left about 10 degrees?

Just asking as I fitted mine today and there is a definitive movement. It’s not that big of a concern but it’s there.

The actual post doesn’t move just the seat clamp section

Anything under 20 degrees is considered normal.

20 degrees rotation is a lot and even 10 is, my worn out KS is lucky to have 3 degrees. 10 degrees is like an inch of movement on an average saddle nose
 
Anyone noticed any play in the seat clamp. Ie moving left to right and right to left about 10 degrees?

Just asking as I fitted mine today and there is a definitive movement. It’s not that big of a concern but it’s there.

The actual post doesn’t move just the seat clamp section
10 is too much. 3-5° is normal.

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So after singing it's praises I've had a failure. The cartridge pissed oil and no longer getting full travel.
Having said that, have just received a warranty replacement from Wiggle, no questions asked.

I've taken the old one apart and here are some of the internals for anyone who wants to service (the cartridge is sealed so non-serviceable) but the rest of the post looks like it would be easy enough to clean and re-lube... Just need to undo the grub screw at the collar (under the actuation mecahnism) as well as taking the bottom off.
Looking for a replacement cartridge to get this one working again, I have been doing some investigating and the post looks to be the same as a TranzX JD - YSP19, it seems that TranzX make a lot of different posts that a re-branded. Finding a cartridge is alluding me at the moment but looking at the seat clamp area, it looks like it would take a couple of different types of cartridge. The search continues...
 

Attachments

Don’t tell @Hipstar. He hates BX, loves PNW.
That might get tricky for the brand snobs as this post is everywhere! It's a good thing though so hard to complain. The BX lever is a POS however (tried a mate's the other day), the post paired with a top dog like the Wolf Tooth is definitely the go.

@PJO good to see you were covered by warranty, always a sexier option. Having said that, I remembered that I actually found a place selling replacement cartridges here, though not sure on compatibility.
 
Reactions: PJO
@PJO good to see you were covered by warranty, always a sexier option. Having said that, I remembered that I actually found a place selling replacement cartridges here, though not sure on compatibility.
Is ridewill.it a genuine online business or a scammer??
Having a look through their list of droppers and cartridges can't see a dropper that looks the same, and it's hard to tell with their cartridges...
 
@PJO is there any fine scoring marks on the piston shaft of the cart. ?
Nothing obvious but I wasn't looking for any, will have another look later today, why do you ask?
The oil was coming out between the body and piston shaft though...
This dropper had only been used for about 4 months and was pretty clean inside, had been involved in one OTB crash, but can't be sure whether that was a contributing factor or not.
 
The PNW 125mm and 150mm droppers are different to each other. 150mm is a thicker shaft and a few other differences.

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Nothing obvious but I wasn't looking for any, will have another look later today, why do you ask?
The oil was coming out between the body and piston shaft though...
This dropper had only been used for about 4 months and was pretty clean inside, had been involved in one OTB crash, but can't be sure whether that was a contributing factor or not.
If the bushing is too loose or the dropper post flexes a lot it can make the piston shaft bind and mark the rod which will make the seal leak.
 
Reactions: PJO
Is ridewill.it a genuine online business or a scammer??
Having a look through their list of droppers and cartridges can't see a dropper that looks the same, and it's hard to tell with their cartridges...
Honestly have never used them but website seems legit enough. I guess there's always PayPal for gambles like this one.
 
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