XC bikes have evolved a fair bit over the past few years, becoming a little closer to the bikes that many of us ride day in day out. Bigger tires, more travel and dropper posts are all now fairly commonplace, whereas not too long ago they were heavily discussed and controversial topics – if a racer broke out a dropper post at a race the internet lost it a little bit.
Diameters: 30.9mm & 31.6mm
Lengths: 420mm, trimable to 305mm
Weight: 309g – 345g depending on version, 27g for remote
Price: €580 without remote, €620 including remote
Availability: From March 15th 2022
More info: Yep Components
But, despite the shift in XC bikes and mentality they remain true to their roots and still have both feet and arms firmly in the featherweight camp. The advantages of a dropper are clear on the downs, but the added weight was, and still is in some cases, a hard pill to swallow for a lot of racers and enthusiasts.
Enter Yep, a brand who we’re now familiar with after reviewing and admiring their Uptimizer 3.0 dropper. The small Swiss brand prides itself on making and assembling nearly everything in-house from their Ticino headquarters.
Yep sought to capitalise on that descending advantage that can be had from a dropper but wrap it all up in a package that weighed in at nine-tenths of naff all. All the while peppering the design with the features and details that went on to impress us in their Uptimizer. What now emerges after a lot of work behind the scenes, scrutinizing and redrawing every single component multiple times to shed as much weight as possible, is the Podio dropper. A mechanically actuated hydraulic dropper that gives 80mm of drop in a package as light as 309g.
Features & Details
As is often the case when looking to shed grams, Yep turned to carbon fiber composite as a material and manufactured the main post cylinder and seat clamps out of it. But they didn’t just stop there. Titanium is used for the seat clamp bolts and the stanchion tube and head are machined from one piece of 7075 aluminum to ensure a strong and stiff structure that is also efficient on the stack height. And that’s not all. If you try hard enough you can shave grams off, and Yep employs a smaller diameter inner and outer cable that everything might seem excessive to some, but a gram here and there adds up to quite a few when everything is tallied up.
The carbon post of the Podio can be trimmed down by 115mm to tailor the post to different frame and rider needs. The cartridge is also trimmed down for weight savings, but follows the same design as the Uptimizer 3.0 and uses an air spring that can be user adjusted between 150 and 220psi to change the drop and return feel of the post. Further adjustment is available with snap-on volume spacers to tune the large volume air spring feel. It’s something commonplace in air suspension and Yep saw no reason not to put the same adjustability into a dropper post. Travel can also be limited, if you find the dizzy heights of 80mm to be too much, but you do have to delve a little further inside the post to adjust the travel and also air spring progressivity.
That trimmed down cartridge does require the use of a special tool to assemble the actuator, but it uses a standard 4mm Allen key and even includes a small grub screw to ensure that the tool doesn’t fall off when you’re assembling the post and actuator. As is the case with the Uptimizer, the Podio is absolutely littered with tiny details that either make using or working on the post a dream, or show the crazy attention to detail that is present in every single component, no matter how small.
The design of the cartridge includes one of Yep’s signature details, the ability to be user serviceable. In a current climate of wild lead times, having components that you can work on at home with easily available tools and knowledge can pay dividends right now. The cartridge can be re-bled in around 5 minutes with only allen keys and the supplied syringe, and also opens up the door to experimenting with different oil weights to get different feels or to adapt the post for really hot or cold climates.
The air spring acts as the pressure on the internal floating piston and so needs releasing when you delve into the post, but much of the work to keep the post in tip top shape can be done with it on the bike. This includes cleaning, greasing or replacing the main bushing, as the top collar is only done to hand tight and quickly grants access into an area of the post that can see a lot of dirt ingress. Spare parts are also available right away for the Podio and there’s a large library of service information and tutorials, meaning that you can keep the post running smoothly for a long time to come.
Yep decided to stick with the hydraulic cartridge to allow the post’s travel to be easily micro adjusted to any point in the 80mm window. It also means that the post can be released without needing to unweight the saddle, a problem that some fully mechanical posts have.
And while the Podio can be actuated by means of any other mechanical dropper remoter, Yep’s own Joystick remote still remains as one of the better remotes on the market. The lever can be pushed or pulled in any direction, giving some help in crashes, and can be mounted anywhere on the bars thanks to the reversible design. And if you like to customise your bike, it’s available in 8 different anodized colours, along with select pieces of the dropper itself.
The Podio is available in 30.9mm and 31.6mm diameter options, with weights ranging from 305g for the trimmed, 305mm long, 30.9mm diameter version up to 345g for the un-cut 31.6mm diameter version. Even in the bigger diameter version uncut, that puts it much lighter than hydraulic competition like the BikeYoke Diving SL and KS Lev Ci Carbon, and lighter still than the mechanical Fox Transfer SL and DT Swiss D232 One Carbon.
Prices start at €580 for just the post and go up to €620 with the remote included. It’s available to buy right now from Yep’s website, or other web shops that are listed on the site.
Assembly & Ride Impressions
Assembling the Podio is no more complicated than any other mechanically actuated post. Included in the box are the syringe for bleeding, the actuator tool, outer cable and two inners along with cable ends and the remote, if you choose that option.
Trimming the cables to length along with getting the post on the bike are all a doddle, but one point to mention is that on the Podio it’s the outer cable that moves when you press on the remote, rather than the inner. Down at the actuator on the base of the post, the inner cable is essentially fixed to the post and it’s the moving outer cable that pushes the actuator, and so the button on the cartridge to open the valve. It’s only a small point, as most XC frames with internal routing will suffer no problems to use the post at all as they all have ample room for the outer cable to move through the few millimeters of pull needed.
Assembly of the cables is done into the actuator with it off the post. You then use the included tool to screw the actuator and cable into the bottom of the cartridge.
There are clear markings on the back of the post for height adjustment, along with the minimum insert mark of 100mm.
While XC isn’t my forte nowadays (long gone are the famous Scott lunchtime World Cups) it’s very easy to understand the need for only a small drop in XC. When the majority of race time is spent pushing damn hard on the pedals, any lost moment from dropping down the 240mm drop elevator is time not putting out the power. 80mm might sound like a gnat’s whisker in today’s big drops, but it really is horses for courses and the Podio’s drop is bang on for modern XC. It’s just enough to free you from the weird leg out high post antics on the downs, but it’s never far away when you need it to return. And even if you do sit down with the post slammed, you’re still in a fairly pedalling focused position to get you through a quick technical section before you’re back up to full height and back on the gas.
So far the Podio has once again been a joy to use. Yep really seem to have nailed the light feel of both the lever actuation and post movement. It’s soft and gentle to use but also positive and audible. You know when it’s up at its max and when you slam it down it’s not like slamming your ass down into a concrete block. Lever feel is perhaps the highlight, with the Joystick being light to prod in every which way suits you, but a lot of that light lever feel is also down to the post internals. Since the first ride the post’s action has been smooth and solid, there’s little to no play in the stanchion and the whole post never gives off much hint of flexing, even with the post fully out at the minimum insert mark.
Out of the box the Podio is an impressive approach to the lightweight XC dropper. Its fit and finish are top notch and its feel on the trail in rides has been smooth, sturdy and controlled. Added to that, all the adjustment options give the rider avenues to tune parts of a dropper that other brands simply don’t offer. And the ability to keep the post running without specialist tools, six pairs of hands and two degrees is again a welcome detail, especially right now. It’s no surprise that this was the go-to post for some select XC racers when there was gold, silver and bronze on the table last year.
Photos by Gaëtan Rey / Shaperideshoot