Fox Transfer Dropper Post Review: The Short-Long Game
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After countless trail rides on the 2021 Fox Transfer Dropper Post and hundreds more miles using it to hoist a loaded seat bag while bikepacking, we’re pretty excited about it. Find out why in this long-term review…
The Fox Transfer dropper post has been around for nearly five years now, all the while maintaining a solid reputation for reliability and a position near the top of our favorite droppers list. For 2021, Fox made some major updates to the Transfer. And while there wasn’t much fanfare when it was released, you may have noticed that it made an appearance in our Gear of the Year awards and got a mention in my top 12 gear picks for 2020. So, with dozens of great options on the market, you might be wondering what makes this dropper post so special. Read on to find out.
2021 Fox Transfer Updates
Like the previous model, the 2021 Fox Transfer dropper post comes in either a 30.9 or 31.6mm post diameter in a variety of travel lengths (100, 125, 150, 175, to the new 200mm). There are also two different models to choose from: the “Factory” model with a bronze-ish Kashmina coated upper and the “Performance Elite” with a glossy black upper. The $350 Factory model is the pricer of the two by about $50.
Short Stack, Long Travel
The 2021 Fox Transfer was almost completely overhauled and the end result is quite different from its predecessor. For one, it got about 25 grams lighter (according to Fox). Sure, 25 grams isn’t a lot, but I like the fact that they achieved that savings by decreasing the minimum insertion depth and shortening its overall length—the 150 and 175mm versions lost 15.7 and 8.6mm of insertion length, respectively. The more interesting structural difference is the Transfer’s revamped upper. Fox was able to significantly increase the amount of exposed post available for travel by designing a relatively flat lower clamp head with hardware that droops below the top of the stanchion. It’s a little odd looking, but as you can see in the photo below, you can really slam this post.
When dropped completely, there is about 4cm (1.57″) between the center of the saddle rail to the bottom lip of the head (the maximum insertion point). Essentially, Fox greatly reduced the post’s stack height. The exact differences vary based on post length, but as an example, the 150 and 175mm versions are 38.7 and 30.6mm shorter, respectively. The best part is, this compact design maximizes the amount of travel you can have and makes the Transfer much more friendly to shorter riders. For example, Virginia was able to easily get away with a 150mm travel Transfer on her Why Wayward, where with other dropper designs she was limited to 125mm. I was able to clear a 175mm post on an XL frame, and could have gotten away with a 200mm post!
Aside from those smart tweaks, the most visible change to the new Transfer is the completely revamped saddle rail clamp, which I absolutely love. There are several intrinsic pains-in-the-asses when it comes to general bike maintenance, and my biggest pet peeve in that regard is hands down the saddle rail clamp. With most of them, you have to almost completely back out the clamp screws in order to swap a saddle. That often results in an explosion of bolts, nuts, and anodized aluminum flying across the shop floor, followed by a string of profanity. The new clamp on the Transfer removes 95% of that distress.
Like most saddle rail clamps, the Transfer’s clamp mechanism is comprised of two plates: a lower rocker plate and a more flat top. The top plate has two open-sided conical recessed bolt pockets. The bolts that hold it all together thread into a pair of integrated alloy cylinder nuts that need not be fully removed in order to free the saddle rails from the two plates. You simply loosen them with a 4mm hex key until they can pivot outward from the upper plate. You can then rotate the cylinders and bolts and the entire assembly comes apart. It’s equally simple to put back together, no cursing or fumbling required.
The Transfer also allows a pretty frustration-free installation. It comes with a small cylinder that slides onto a standard shifter cable. The cylinder sits in the actuator trigger and the trimming and adjustments are made at the lever, which is how most good posts do it these days.
Another major revision came in the form of a new Transfer dropper lever. Unfortunately, the new lever isn’t included with the post, so you have to purchase it separately for $65. That’s nothing to blink at, either. My guess is that after spending a significant amount of dough on a premium dropper post, most people will likely use a lever they already have. Otherwise, it’s a pretty good lever, all things considered. Similar to other premium levers, it has a fairly smooth action and a large ergonomic, textured thumb paddle with good leverage. But I don’t think it’s as smooth or solid feeling as the PAUL dropper lever or PNW’s Loam Lever, my two favorites. It also seems a little more fragile. Virginia’s bent pretty badly during a recent crash; the portion of the aluminum lever between the thumb paddle and the pivot is fairly thin. I managed to bend it back (kind of) with a pair of pliers and it still hasn’t broken, so that’s a good sign.
Different But The Same
One major thing remains largely unchanged in the new Fox Transfer dropper post: the internals. And that’s a good thing. The Fox Transfer’s sealed cartridge is one of the most solid and powerful posts on the market. It’s fast and has the perfect speed that pops up with a nice “chunk” sound that lets you know it has reached maximum extension. In addition, it has zero problems hoisting a medium-sized seat bag laden with clothes and other items.
Like its predecessor, it has proven to be incredibly reliable. I have at least 1,000 miles on this post, 350ish of which were bikepacking with a semi-heavy seat pack strapped to it, which can be pretty hard on droppers. I’ve had no problems thus far. Even so, Fox claims to have made the 2021 Transfer easier to service. Apparently, that’s if you’re a service technician, however. Fox recommends a regular service every 125 hours of use, or yearly—a full rebuild with new seals and a damper bleed with new damper oil. That’s a steep proposition. To put things in perspective, this would mean that it needs to be rebuilt every 12-15 days on an aggressive touring/bikepacking pace. That said, I have way more hours on it than that, and there are zero signs of wear or fatigue. I’m pretty hard on gear, notorious for ignoring service intervals, and as mentioned, have quite a bit of mileage on this post, with no service. We’ll see how it plays out, but I’m not too worried about it.
- Model Tested: 175mm travel, 31.6mm wide
- Actual Weight: 641 grams
- Place of Manufacture: Taiwan
- Price: $349
- Manufacturer’s Details: RideFox.com
- One of the more powerful and fast posts available
- Extremely durable and reliable
- Well-designed seat clamp makes it easy to swap saddles
- Compact design maximizes travel
- Expensive compared to some dropper posts on the market
- The lever isn’t completely bombproof
As you’ll have noticed, there aren’t many cons mentioned in this review. Aside from being at the higher end of the price spectrum for dropper posts, there’s not much to complain about. The Transfer pretty much works flawlessly and it’s clear that Fox put a lot of thought into the redesign. The revamped upper and shorter stack means that many riders will be able to upsize and run a longer dropper post than they normally would, and the new saddle rail clamp is fantastic.
I put dropper posts through a lot of hard use while bikepacking, and even during mundane rides I would consider myself a power user. They see action on everything from small up-down transitions to gravel descents, and even on any given trailside photo pause. As such, a fast and responsive post is a must for me, and it’s hard to beat the Transfer’s near-instantaneous extension, and solid, audible thuunk as the post reaches max height. In addition, the Transfer has garnered a reputation as being one of the more reliable posts on the market. This is particularly important in the dropper post market where many products have been prone to failure or plagued with ongoing problems.
Over the years, I’ve had the fortune of trying a lot of bike components. There are only a few parts that come along that make me think of that old saying, you’ll have to pry it from my cold, dead hands. But my 175mm Fox Transfer dropper post is definitely one of them.