What is it?
The Koryak is produced under the Pro component brand (which is owned by Shimano) and is their first foray in the dropper post market. It is mechanically actuated and offers 120mm of infinite travel via a hybrid air/hydraulic cartridge. The cartridge is a self-contained unit that is not serviceable, but replacements parts cost $60 and take 15 minutes to install. You can see videos of that process on the PRO website.
- Infinitely adjustable travel
- Single bolt saddle clamp easy to adjust
- I-Spec II lever option for cleaner cockpit
- Shimano reputation
- Difficult to install
- Only available in 120mm travel
- No external routing option
- Single bolt head clamp can slip
Shimano is well regarded in the cycling (and fishing) world for the durability and quality of their components. They may not be the world’s flashiest company, but you know that regardless of price point, you’re getting a well-engineered product that offers tremendous value. At least that is usually the case.
With that reputation in mind, we couldn’t have been more excited to get our hands on the Koryak, Shimano’s first foray into the dropper market. Priced at very reasonable $270, the post ships with everything you need in the box. Total weight for the 30.9 version (including lever, cable, and uncut housing) was just over 630g.
The post is available in 30.9 or 31.6 diameters. Travel is limited to 120mm and there is no externally routed option. According to Chris Jacobson, the PRO product manager, there are no plans to offer either a shorter or longer travel option in the immediate future. That’s a bummer since we’ve grown spoiled by the 150mm and 170mm options offered by some other dropper post makers.
On the lever front, there are two options. The first is an I-Spec II version that mimics the ergonomics of a front shifter and pairs seamlessly with Shimano brakes. The second, pictured here, is a bar clamp that was not our favorite.
Our first challenge with this post was installation. Instead of capturing the head of the shifter cable at the bottom of the seat post, Pro flipped things around. When the cable clamps at the base of seatpost, as it does here, you have only one opportunity to get cable tension right before you cut it flush.
After that, the cable frays, so you can only make adjustments with the barrel adjuster. There’s no further room to adjust your housing length. Until we all go wireless (and Shimano does hold some interesting patents in that department), installing a stealth routed dropper will always be a tedious affair. But this configuration makes it more difficult than necessary.
Once done with installation, mounting the saddle is downright simple due to the single bolt head clamp. For long time riders, though, this configuration will raise red flags, as it’s notorious for slipping. We’ve had no issues so far, so we’re giving Shimano the benefit of the doubt for now.
On the trail the post worked well. The saddle had no side-to-side play and we had zero issues with the dropping mechanism. The post does require a hair more input to drop than other mechanical posts we’ve tested, but that could be because the seals hadn’t fully broken in. The return speed is not adjustable and it is a touch slow compared to a Reverb, but that’s hardly noticeable after a few minutes. What did bother us was the lever, which digs into your thumb a little more than we’d like.
Overall, the new Koryak dropper post has been a mixed bag. While it works fine, it lacks the polished feel we’ve come to expect from Shimano. We had high hopes coming into this review, but the difficult install and mediocre lever were disappointments.
Read the Mtbr review of the Fox Transfer dropper post.
Considering you can pick up a Fox Transfer or Bontrager Drop Line for virtually the same price, it’s hard to recommend this post. Both the Fox and Bontrager are easier to install, offer better levers, damped travel, and have proven to be reliable. The big issue that has always plagued dropper posts is reliability and Shimano doesn’t mess around when it comes to long-term durability. If the Koryak proves to be the most reliable post we’ve ever tested, then we’d be willing to overlook some character flaws. Stay tuned for a longer-term update.
In the meantime, we reached out to Shimano to relay some of our concerns. Here’s what they had to say:
“This post was developed as a Koryak-level product which means that value, performance, and an affordable price point was the goal. Rather than initially introducing a Tharsis-level product, which would assume top-tier performance at a premium, the goal of the Koryak dropper post was to create a post that is reliable and easy to live with (replaceable cartridge) while being relatively affordable. As that product outlook informed many of the specific decisions made during the development of the post (non-adjustable return speed, limited travel and diameter options).”
Rating: 3 out of 5
More Info: www.pro-bikegear.com