There isn't a cable protruding from the middle of this post at a 90-degree angle, but that's about the only thing the e*thirteen TRS+ seatpost doesn’t have in common with the original Gravity Dropper. It makes the same familiar ka-klunk sound when the actuating pin engages a hole, although it doesn't come back up with the same level of scary determination.
So why would e*thirteen use a similar, seemingly rudimentary pin and hole (kind of like the height adjustment on crutches) concept for its dropper? I guess because it worked. It worked because it was rudimentary. And if you're going to copy a concept, it might as well be from the company that started the dropper post revolution, right?
Simplicity is the name of the game here—it's probably the simplest way in the world to create a mechanical stop. Pin goes in hole. Spring pops post up again. Add some bushings and a keyway to keep the nose of the saddle facing forward and that's pretty much it. It's a Gravity Dropper in prettier clothes, with modern day internal routing.
Since the e*thirteen TRS+ seatpost is so basic, it's not infinitely adjustable. On the 150-millimeter-travel version, there are stops at 150, 110, 80, and 0. They're surprisingly easy to find, too, which is not always the case with non-infinite posts. At first I didn't expect to use the 80 millimeter stop, and wondered why e*thirteen would even put it in, but it I actually find myself using it often. The stop at 110 millimeters is at a comfortable height as well, perfect for pedaling over technical undulating terrain that requires a little extra saddle clearance. The TRS+ seatpost is also available with a shorter 125 millimeters of travel, and comes in two diameters: 30.9 or 31.6.
So, does it work? Of course it friggin' does. It works the same every time, in the hot desert and in the frozen tundra. But it's, you know, clunky. Clicking a pin into a hole will never go smoothly. You won't get the buttery action that posts like the RockShox Reverb, Fox Transfer, or KS Lev will provide, but the thing is easily serviceable and decidedly un-finicky. If you're someone who appreciates elegance, refinement and precision, you won't find a ton of it here. The TRS+ dropper isn't the Snap-On ratchet of droppers, it's the Craftsman. Louder, sloppier, but it's dead reliable. While the $280 e*thirteen dropper offers significant savings compared to the RockShox Reverb, KS Lev, and 9Point8 Fall Line, it's actually $15 more expensive than the Fox Transfer. But in freezing conditions, it won't slow down like the Fox will, and you can work on it yourself.
Getting into the guts requires a normal Shimano HG cassette tool at the bottom of the post, however the tool interface on this particular post was too tight and needed the help of a hammer to get the tool rested in the interface enough to have good purchase on the part. Not something you should have to do to a $280 part. However, e*thirteen is aware of the tolerance issue and according to them it's been resolved. Other than that, the post came apart easily and was simple to overhaul. Despite it not being the most elegant post on the market, its field serviceability makes it a great choice for anyone who spends days in the backcountry, or for those who just don't want one more hydraulic part on their bike.
The dropper ships with its own shifter-style lever that's well made, with aluminum construction and a sealed cartridge pivot bearing. The ones we've monkeyed with at trade shows were nice, however our test post shipped without one, so I can't say much more about the lever itself. As with the Fox Transfer and Thomson droppers, the head of the cable on the e*thirteen TRS+ is at the seat post end, which means if you are shopping for a lever, it must have the ability to clamp the cable at the lever. I'm running the Wolf Tooth ReMote, which is a fantastic lever.
As for downsides, fans of infinitely adjustable posts might have reservations. The fixed positions take some getting used to. But once you do, it's actually pretty nice because you're not searching to find that perfect spot. Less choice is sometimes the better choice–but perhaps not for everyone. The other potential downside is the minimum insertion on the 150-millimeter post, which is a whopping 160 millimeters. That leaves just 70 millimeters of room for adjustment. I've got pretty long legs and found myself running the post just above the minimum insertion. Bikes are being designed with lower and lower seat tubes to accommodate for longer and longer droppers, and the e*thirteen dropper can't be run as high as some of its competitors. This isn't a problem for most riders, but it's something to look out for if you're tall or have stupid-long legs like I do.
All in all, the e*thirteen TRS+ seatpost gets high scores for its simplicity in design and function, and for its reliable service day in and day out. At the end of the day though, it's a tough choice between the TRS+ and infinitely adjustable Fox Transfer, which have proven to be pretty dang reliable as well. You're not about to rebuild one at your campsite, though.