Over the past few years it has become increasingly difficult for me to ride comfortably without a height-adjust seatpost. On both rough and smooth trails, height-adjust seatposts allow me to bunny hop higher, pump harder through rollers, dips and berms and to lean the bike more aggressively into corners without messing up the flow of my ride. The only real downsides to them currently are price and reliability.
X-Fusion’s height-adjust seatpost, the Hilo, is one of the more wallet-friendly offerings at $250. The Hilo for this review came stock on the GT Distortion bike I'm testing for the August issue of Bike magazine and uses an under-saddle activation lever. I prefer remote, bar-mounted activation levers, as they are better for on-the-fly use, and don't require taking a hand off the bars–thankfully, the retail Hilo comes with a remote lever kit, which is pretty easy to install.
Riding the Hilo was a mostly pleasant experience. The little bit of rotational play at the saddle remained the same throughout the test, and I didn't have any ongoing issues with it slipping down in its travel while pedaling. The overall action was smooth for the most part, too. I expected the seatpost’s clamp head to rotate a bit on big, seated hits, but it never budged, which was nice.
I did, however, have some problems with its activation. Every once in a while the activation mechanism would get stuck open--I'd grab the lever and drop the post to start a descent, and it would slide right back up to its full height when I stood up, and sink down when I'd sit back down on it. A bit of fiddling with the lever and the post's height fixed this issue whenever it happened, which was roughly once every third or fourth ride for me.
Even with this frustration-inducing quirk, I'd still rather have a Hilo than a fixed post. Saying that, there are more refined and more reliable models of height-adjust seatposts on the market, but those are generally more expensive.
While I tested the 125-millimeter drop, 31.6-millimeter diameter version of this post, the Hilo is also available in a rare-for-height-adjust-seatposts 27.2-millimeter diameter (100-millimeter drop)--a saving grace for riders with older bikes, or those with steel frames.