Words & Photos by Drew Rohde
Sponsored by SDG Components
A few weeks back SDG Components announced their Tellis dropper post. The project has been years in the works with countless hours of testing, design and toiling. SDG is a company that has made seat posts before, but never ones that go up and down. In fact, over the years they really haven’t made much of anything besides saddles, posts and a couple grips because, as they put it, “We only make things we know we can execute well, and receive 100% of our attention. We’re not here to just sell products to make a buck,” said SDG owner, Tyler Anspach. So, you may ask, why a dropper post now, in a market already full of dropper post options? According to SDG’s North American sales director and chief tester, Devyn Pelley, the reason is, “Dropper posts still suck!”
I can still remember the days of manually dropping my post before hitting my favorite descents back in my teenage years. While I’m beyond thankful for the brilliant minds that have created this often-overlooked component, I can’t say I disagree with Pelley. Chances are, if you haven’t personally had a dropper post issue, at least one person in your riding group has.
Improving durability was a driving factor for SDG when it came time to develop the Tellis, but it was only one of four tenets the company held close. Simplicity, feather light actuation and affordability complete the mantra SDG engineers hummed every morning on their way to work. So how did they achieve their goal? Let’s take a closer look.
Simplicity – The Tellis parts list is impressively short. In fact you can count them all on two hands, and still have a free thumb to actuate the lever. SDG firmly believes in the less is more philosophy when it came time to making the Tellis work– so just in case it stops working, you’ll have an easy time repairing it.
Durability – Some of the same features that make the Tellis so simple are what make it durable. Less moving parts means less things to break. A sealed cartridge (which can be easily replaced as a unit) has been tested for over two years around the world and in all types of conditions. The actuator is also a very easy and quick job with minimal tools needed should that need servicing or repair.
The thankless goalkeeper of the entire system is the engineered wiper seal. SDG’s seal tightly hugs the sliding portion of the seat post to block as many of the nasty contaminants you’ll find on the trail as possible. Less bad stuff inside means more good times for you, outside!
This homemade, I mean, professionally engineered test rig subjected the stanchion and seal to a lateral load combined with vertical movement through a grimy mix of muddy, rock water in temperatures down to -20 degrees Celsius.
Actuation – SDG claims the Tellis has the lightest thumb actuation in the industry, and we’d have to agree. It may not be something that seems like a big deal, but after riding it and going back to other thumb levers, it truly is something we love about the Tellis. SDG achieves this light actuation with two key features. First is the length and shape of the lever. The second is the design of the actuator. It provides extra leverage, which decreases the amount of force required, which is a nice thing after a long day with lots of techy riding.
Affordability – Despite what you may think, SDG is a small company run by a passionate few. While they have a robust distributor and technical network around the world, SDG actually has a small home office and minimal staff so overhead is rather low compared to much bigger competitors. Since they lack some of the big expenditures of other big companies, SDG can pass those savings on to their customers.
If you’ve been a mountain biker for any period of time, chances are you’re aware of Kamloops B.C. and the unique riding it has to offer. The region has been featured in everything from video segments to magazine photos for decades. For me, Kamloops has been a bucket list destination since I saw Matt Hunter and Thomas Vanderham shredding the region in The Collective films over 10 years ago.
When Tyler Anspach called to tell me that he wanted to link me up with his chief tester and head of North American sales guy up in Kamloops I was all in. Rather than just send me a post for review, Tyler wanted me get some behind the scenes-ery (you can have that) with Devyn Pelley to learn a little bit more about how and where the Tellis was developed and tested for the last two years.
Three flights later, I walked off the plane looking at the 360-degree view of mountains. After all these years, I’d made it and I couldn’t wait to get on the trails. Devyn picked me up and drove me straight to District Bicycle Company to pick up my loaner for the week, a Devinci Spartan. We had just enough time to get the bike dialed in before the weekly Wednesday night KBRA bike club ride. Devyn is a member of the club and after meeting some of the crew I can see why.
The long day of travel was quickly erased as we pulled up and saw more than 30 people geared up and ready to ride Harper Mountain. The mosquitos were out in force so after some quick handshakes we were on our way.
Once we reached the top it was time for the fun. We caught our breath, hydrated and dropped into some of the most fun trails I’ve ridden in recent memory. I don’t remember all the names, but I know we finished on an insanely fun, steep trail called Nate’s that dumped us right back into the parking lot where KBRA members were grilling hot dogs.
The two days were packed with morning and afternoon rides that showed me the great variety of trails Kamloops has to offer. During my quick trip to Kamloops we descended over 7,000 feet. It was far from enough time to test the long-term durability of the Tellis post, but it was plenty of time to get to know the product well and learn a bit more about where it came from.
Between Devyn’s daily two-hour rides, his custom test rig and the 120 test riders who had been riding the post all around the world, it’s safe to say SDG has been putting in the work. It’s great knowing all the man hours that went into this post so that people like me can show up for a ride and not have to think about their dropper post. I’ve since installed a Tellis on one of my personal bikes and have been riding it for a month without any issues. I plan to keep riding it for a while yet and we’ll be sure to update you with a full report.
Installing the post was a breeze, we even made a little video, and aside from some internal routing frame-related hiccups, it was the easiest dropper post I’ve ever installed. Since installing the post I haven’t had to make any adjustments and continue to enjoy the wiggle-free saddle and feather light actuation.
If you’d like to learn more about the tech specs, check out the press release here.