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Crankbrothers' Highline Drop Bar Remote is designed to work with dropper seatposts on your gravel bike. The neat two-way lever lets you actuate the dropper from the drops or the hoods, but it can be a bit of a faff to set it up to run smoothly.
I used the Drop Bar Remote alongside the new Highline XC/Gravel Dropper Post, and once set up correctly they work well together as a package.
The Remote is designed to work on the lefthand side of your handlebar, sitting just below the shifter/brake lever.
It's easy to fit, and uses a band like that typically found on an STI lever. Once I'd tightened it up I had no issues with it moving around the bar, even when I made a last minute 'panic press' as the ground dropped away beneath the bike.
Using the outer and inner cables supplied with the seatpost, installation was simple and straightforward. The Highline seatpost uses internal cable routing so that is probably the biggest headache of the whole setup – threading the cables through the frame – but the Drop Bar Remote will work with externally routed systems too.
Just like the inner brake or gear cables on your bike, this one doesn't like tight corners, and that's where I ran into my first issue.
Running the cable under the bar tape (which, let's be honest, is the only way it is going to be run) means you start off with quite a tight turn. As soon as I attached the outer cable to the handlebar with some electrical tape there was noticeable drag in the lever.
It worked fine, as in dropping the post or letting it pop back up, but the lever had some resistance when it was trying to centre itself. I had to knock it back the last couple of degrees myself.
Over time, as the cable settled, it did get better, but there was no way of getting rid of it completely.
In the grand scheme of things, it didn't really bother me. I don't use the dropper post a huge amount on most of my gravel rides, so a few seconds spent giving it a nudge wasn't an issue.
One thing to note, though, is that the PNW Components dropper lever does away with this problem by supplying a much more flexible section of outer cable for guiding the cable around the handlebar. After this, you switch to a standard outer cable.
This aside, the Highline lever works very well indeed. The shape of the lever makes it easy to use whether you are sat up on the hoods or hunkered down in the drops. Plus, its size means it's easy to locate when the bike is bouncing around.
The quality is also on the high side, with no feeling of slop anywhere in the system.
Priced at £41.99, it's £6 more than the £36 of the PNW version, but the two-way design of the Highline means it's easier to use, as long as you can put up with the drag of the cable.
Both are cheaper than other options for a drop bar dropper lever – the Wolf Tooth ReMote Drop Bar Dropper Lever is around £96, while PRO offers the Discover Dropper Seatpost Dropbar Lever, whose two-way design looks similar to the Highline, for around 50 quid.
Ignore the cable lag and I haven't got much issue with the Highline lever. I like the way it sits on the handlebar and its shape really helps the operation; it's not expensive either.
If you want a super-smooth action, though, you are either going to spend a lot of time meticulously sorting your cable run – or just learning to put up with it.
Easy to use lever with a neat two-way design, but getting the perfect setup is tricky
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road.cc test report
Make and model: Crankbrothers Highline Drop Bar Remote Kit
Size tested: n/a
Tell us what the product is for and who it's aimed at. What do the manufacturers say about it? How does that compare to your own feelings about it?
Crankbrothers says, "Dropper remote optimized for drop bar gravel bikes."
That'll cover it; it's ergonomically designed to work with drop handlebars and dropper posts.
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?
Single mounting bolt for left-hand actuation
Two-way drop actuation for use in multiple hand positions
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
Moves your dropper post up or down from wherever your hands may be.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
Shape and design of the lever give plenty of options.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product
Doesn't work well with tight cable bends.
How does the price compare to that of similar products in the market, including ones recently tested on road.cc?
It's a similar price to the PRO Discover and PNW Components options mentioned in the review.
Did you enjoy using the product? Yes
Would you consider buying the product? Yes
Would you recommend the product to a friend? Yes
Use this box to explain your overall score
The shape and position mean it's intuitive to use, and overall the lever works very well. The only downside is the drag in the cable, but it's minimal and, as I say in the review, it's not a deal breaker for me.
About the tester
I usually ride: This month's test bike My best bike is: B'Twin Ultra CF draped in the latest bling test components
I've been riding for: Over 20 years I ride: Every day I would class myself as: Expert
I regularly do the following types of riding: time trialling, commuting, club rides, sportives, fixed/singlespeed,
With 20 years of road cycling and over 150,000 miles in his legs it's safe to say Stu is happiest when on the bike whatever the weather. Since writing his first review for road.cc back in 2009 he has also had a career in engineering including 3D-CAD design and product development, so has a real passion for all of the latest technology coming through in the industry but is also a sucker for a classic steel frame, skinny tyres, rim brakes and a damn good paintjob.
His fascination with gravel bikes is getting out of control too!