Jordi Villares and Ricard Bages are the co-founders of a new Spanish mountain bike component brand called Vertical, launched this week with their debut component; the Vertical Helium Dropper Seat Post. It has two locking positions; up and down, with the 30.9mm x 60mm option weighing just 304g, the Helium dropper claims to be the World’s Lightest.
No lighter options spring to mind.
Inventor of the Helium and co-founder of Ride Vertical, Ricard Bages (left) and co-founder Jordi Villares (right)
The Vertical Helium is also available in a 90mm drop length, with both 30.9mm and 31.6mm seat tubes catered for. There are four overall lengths to choose from satisfying a range of rider height-seat tube length combos. The Helium’s svelte weight comes down to its use of a carbon post combined with a unique two-position locking mechanism and of course, titanium bolts. We got the details from Ricard, the inventor.
The Vertical Helium is said to require little maintenance; a rebuild cartridge that includes a wiper seal, bushings and key-pins retails at € 25
Trying to compare the weight of dropper seat posts is like trying to compare apples with oranges; the variations that exist in drop length, overall length, and diameter have made it a time consuming process to find anything directly comparable to the 320mm x 60mm Vertical Helium Dropper in its 30.9mm diameter.
It weighs a claimed 304g, which is 38g lighter than the most comparable post; a 30.9mm x 75mm Fox Transfer SL, though it is admittedly 35mm shorter in overall length. Like the Transfer SL, the Vertical Helium is limited to just two positions – up and down; it is not “infinitely” adjustable as most other dropper seat posts on the market.
The 320mm x 60mm is the smallest option of the four sizes available.
Vertical Helium Dropper Seat PostDimensions30.9mm Weight31.6mm WeightS320mm x 60mm304g313gM350mm x 90mm322g331gL380mm x 90mm334g345gXL410mm x 90mm346g357gThe Vertical Helium has a minimum insertion length of 80mm
The Helium’s hydraulic cartridge is cable-actuated. The actuator mechanism at the base of the post accepts the cable-end, with tensioning taking place at the remote. The Helium launches without a remote, but Vertical is working on a very lightweight option called the Ignitor which is coming soon. It could weigh as little as 26g without a clamp and will be compatible with SRAM Matchmaker.
The return speed of the Vertical Helium dropper can be adjusted via the pressure of the air spring. The valve is very easily accessed, protruding out of the head of the post, just underneath the clamp; a far more user-friendly design than those that require removal of the clamp. While the post’s return is not damped, its depression is, thanks to the presence of 9mm of suspension oil to prevent the abrupt, jolting bottom-out that other lightweight dropper posts suffer from.
Vertical Helium Dropper Seat Post on a Scott Spark XC Race Bike
It is the locking mechanism of the Vertical Helium that makes it unique. The main telescoping tube of the Fox Transfer SL dropper post has grooves on its surface that allow it to lock into place along its length. Thus, that tube has a minimum thickness to allow for the presence of those grooves.
The main tube of the Vertical Helium is groove-free, and can be a lot thinner and lighter therefore. So, how does it lock into position?
An exploded view of the Vertical Helium Dropper Seat Post
The locking mechanism is located elsewhere, inside an Independent Locking Cartridge that utilizes a set of concentrically-positioned tubes deep within the post. Vertical is in the process of patenting this design, and so exact details are a little thin on the ground. However, the following image does provide some insight.
Vertical’s Patented Independent Locking Cartridge; two partially recessed balls look to be able to slot into one of two possible positions on the inner face of the outer tube of the ILC
Vertical tells us the design of this Independent Locking Cartridge (ILC) “withstands compressive stresses in isolation, leaving bending and twisting to the main tubes. This allows the sliding tube to be smooth on the inside, making it stronger, lighter and more reliable”.
Engineer, Ricard Bages, assembling the ILC – inserting the head of the piston into the locking cartridge
Elsewhere, Vertical are saving weight with the use of carbon fiber for the post itself. It is made from a Toray fiber laminate optimized to withstand bending and twisting, and to prevent the seatpost clamp from deforming the tube excessively. Vertical also considered using carbon fiber for the internals but the idea was scrapped due to the poor wear resistance or usability. Thus, all of the other major parts are made from 7075 T6 aluminium, including the very neat-looking, heavily-machined clamp. Its hardware is 6Al-4V Titanium, and the bolt heads are tightened with the use of a Torx 25.
The Vertical Helium post runs a standard rail clamp compatible with both round and oval saddle rails
Pricing & Availability
For now, the Vertical Helium Dropper Seat Post is available now in 60mm and 90mm drop lengths both in 30.9mm and 31.6mm options, in black only, retailing at € 399. Each post is sold with a three year warranty.
The brand may also produce a 120mm option in future, but this will also be dedicated the XC and Downcountry bikes with the focus on simplicity and lightweight.