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The Coast Suspension Dropper Post from PNW Components is designed primarily for the gravel/adventure market, and it works pretty well. The dropper works quickly and smoothly, while the suspension element takes out the worst of the hits.
The Coast comes in a range of sizes. Diameter wise that means 27.2mm, 30.9mm and 31.6mm, and there are both internal and external versions.
Here we have the 27.2mm external set up, which comes with 100mm of drop – the 30.9 and 31.6 posts get 120mm. All posts give 40mm of suspension travel, and there's a choice of lever styles too.
Ours comes with the Drop Bar Lever, which is designed to sit in the drops just below the brake lever/shifter. Other options are the Loam Lever which can sit up near your stem, or the Puget, which is for mountain bike stuff.
The lever comes with an inner cable, two sections of outer and all the various bits needed for installation. You need to remove your bar tape to slide the lever on, and once everything is in position you can nip it up with a small hex key.
PNW shows the lever positioned inboard of the handlebar in all of its pictures, but I found a position that felt more natural – plus I could activate it from both the hoods and the drops.
However you position it the cable run looks tortuous, but PNW gets around it by supplying a much more flexible outer for the tight bend at the lever. It's bendy enough to thread through the internal run of the Vitus' Prime handlebar, exiting with the other controls before wrapping around the bar to the lever.
The seatpost itself is obviously easy to swap. Tolerances are good and I tried the Coast on a few frames, finding no issues with slippage.
The only thing you need to watch out for is if you have a wide top tube where it meets the seat tube. The external cable exit of the post doesn't give a whole amount of room, and it's not like you can move it. Things are tight on the Vitus frame.
The saddle clamp is also easy to set for position and angle, but there's a small amount of play at the saddle where the dropper part moves around inside the main post. It's not something you really notice though, unless you're on very smooth roads.
The movement drop is quick and easy, and even with that tight cable run at the bar, the action feels unhindered in both directions. If you do have any slack in the cable, there's an in-line cable adjuster.
Do you actually need a dropper post on a gravel bike? If you spend your time on bridleways and non-technical tracks and trails, then probably not.
I like gravel bikes because they remind me of 90s mountain bikes – rigid with relatively skinny tyres – which means I also like a blast around the local woods on some pretty technical trails. Parts of them are steep downhill, and it's here I find the 100mm of drop very useful indeed.
The suspension is different than the likes of the coil spring Redshift ShockStop post I've previously used, as the Coast uses air. It comes preloaded to about 200psi, but you can add or reduce pressure for weight or preferences with a shock pump.
PNW's recommended pressures seem about right. It says that on smooth surfaces you shouldn't get any sag, and after a bit of trial and error, I settled on 260psi. Whereas the Redshift moves over even a slightly rough surface, the Coast is just designed to take out the big hits rather than the small ripples.
I like this set up, as I like a firm ride from a bike. It is only when hitting a pothole, large rock or tree root that you notice the movement. When shifting on the saddle there can be a few 'false alarms' where the post dips, but they are few and far between.
One consideration is the weight penalty. At 611g on the road.cc scales it's about 300g heavier than a standard post. Take the lever out of the equation, though, and it is close to something like the Redshift.
The Coast on its own is £179, and the Drop Bar lever increases that to £215. The Redshift ShockStop is £229.99 while another suspension post we've tested, the Cane Creek Thudbuster ST G4, is £169.99. These obviously don't offer the dropper capability, though.
There aren't really any other combined suspension droppers (although Redshift has shown some prototypes), especially in a 27.2mm diameter. Our sister site off-road.cc tested various regular droppers in this size, with the X-Fusion Manic coming in at £200 and the Merida Expert costing £140.
I didn't know how much I would even use the dropper element of the Coast, but I've become a big fan, especially on the technical stuff.
It doesn't look out of place on the bike, and the weight penalty is marginal. It's not a bad price either when you take into account the dropper and suspension attributes – plus the all round quality is very good indeed.
Well designed, easy to use dropper post with the added benefit of suspension
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road.cc test report
Make and model: PNW Coast Suspension dropper post
Size tested: 27.2, 100mm, external routing, road lever
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?
PNW Components says, "The Coast dropper is the world's first Suspension Dropper Post, combining ride smoothing suspension and the benefits of a dropper into one seat post. This dropper is designed to help riders on all types of bikes, from packed up trekkers, to the cross country wanderers, even the weekday commuters."
It works well and makes a lot of sense if your gravel riding is on the technical side.
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?
Diameters: 27.2, 30.9 or 31.6mm
Drop Travel: 100 (27.2) or 120mm (30.9/31.6)
Air Suspension: 40mm
Weights: 31.6/30.9 External routing - 615g, 31.6/30.9 Internal routing - 610g, 27.2 External routing - 540g, 27.2 Internal routing - 535g
Cable Routing: Available with internal or external cable routing
Dropper post does not come with a cable/nut kit. Cable kits only come included when a lever is selected
Cartridge: 2-chamber hydraulic and adjustable air
Perfect for commute, gravel or hardtail bikes
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
As a dropper post it is smooth and quick, while the suspension takes the edge of the bigger impacts.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
Easy to use and set up.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product
A bit of play fore and aft, plus side to side at the saddle.
How does the price compare to that of similar products in the market, including ones recently tested on road.cc?
It compares well to many dedicated suspension posts or dropper posts, but it's the only one to combine those attributes in one place though.
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
I found the Coast a useful addition to my gravel bike. The fact it is well made, easy to set up and combines suspension with a dropper means it's worth a solid four stars.
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,
As part of the tech team here at F-At Digital, senior product reviewer Stu spends the majority of his time writing in-depth reviews for road.cc, off-road.cc and ebiketips using the knowledge gained from testing over 1,500 pieces of kit (plus 100's of bikes) since starting out as a freelancer back in 2009. After first throwing his leg over a race bike back in 2000, Stu's ridden more than 170,000 miles on road, time-trial, track, and gravel bikes, and while he's put his racing days behind him, he still likes to smash the pedals rather than take things easy. With a background in design and engineering, he has an obsession with how things are developed and manufactured, has a borderline fetish for handbuilt metal frames and finds a rim braked road bike very aesthetically pleasing!