EMPLOYEE PROFILE:
  • Name: Seth Kendall
  • Age: 38
  • Rider Height / Weight: 5’9″ / 165lbs
  • Location: Pacific Northwest
  • Riding Style:  A bit of everything, but mostly trail to all mountain and DH.  Dabbles in BMX, pump track, and gravel riding.
  • Favorite Trail: Hard to choose, but currently loving trails with diverse terrain that varies from one segment to the next.

SOME HISTORY

When it comes to bike product reviews, some products garner all the limelight. It’s easy to get wooed by the clean lines of a new frame, the technical capabilities of a fork, or the lightweight strength of a set of fancy wheels. Other items are relegated to the background and we only think of them when they don’t work just perfectly or when they break. In this review, I want to look at one of those unsung heroes of componentry that should claim a much more prominent podium spot of our attention… the dropper post remote.

Let’s start off with a bit of history. While I can’t claim that I adopted the very first dropper post to hit the market, I did jump aboard the dropper bandwagon quite early and, despite many a limitation, questionable performance, and frequent service intervals, I was an instant fan. For me, dropper posts opened my world of riding to be filled with more flow, harder charging, taking on techier sections, and welcoming climbs. None of these things were off-limits before, but the necessitated act of having to stop and lower or raise my seat meant that I either had to interrupt the flow of my ride or to compromise my riding position. The advent of dropper posts meant I didn’t have to compromise… well, almost.

Early dropper posts all came with a lever found underneath your saddle that you had to pull to raise or lower the saddle.  If you’ve ever mobbed down a trail or been surprised by an upcoming trail feature, you’ll understand the challenge that could arise from having to remove one hand from your bars in critical scenarios.  Luckily, it wasn’t too far down the timeline before the first bar-mounted remotes were brought to market.  Unluckily, it seemed that no actual riders were consulted when the engineers designed these remotes.  They we’re rather clunky, had weird or no ergonomics, and next to zero adjustability.  Perhaps, even engineers weren’t consulted and, instead, these were just repurposed levers from some other application.  This is all to say that these remotes sucked, just not as bad as the saddle levers.  This left a rather large hole in the market for someone to do it better. 

The PNW Components Loam Lever is well suited for riding in the Pacific Northwest

Fast forward to the today, the options for dropper posts and remote levers has grown immensely, and the fit and function of both has improved so vastly that the issues of the past are starting to grow dim in memory… kind of.  Dropper posts continue to get more capable and more reliable and remotes have gotten better, but most of them aren’t amazing.  This doesn’t mean that they don’t work.  Just that, in the sea of well thought out, beautiful, and awesome components, these still seem like more of an afterthought of design.  Luckily, there are a few companies putting remotes at the forefront of their design work.   

Enter the PNW Components Loam Lever.  At risk of having this review spoiled early, this thing is so good!  And, before I get accused of my review being bought, the test lever that I am using was given to me for free, but I don’t get to keep it (in fact, we are giving it away to a lucky winner).  As I type this, I’m sad that I will have to remove this lever and am already planning on buying one to replace it.   

These accolades don’t come lightly from me.  I’ve ridden and tested nearly every lever/post combo out there.  The only exceptions to this, that I can think of, is the BikeYoke Revive post/lever (which has been garnering a lot of praiseand a couple electronic posts.  While I have found several competent levers from brands and one truly great lever from Wolf Tooth, the Loam Lever is my current top choice.  Now that you know how much I like this lever, let’s dig into why and how it stacks up to its main competition. 

PRODUCT DESIGN AND BUILD QUALITY

There were 4 key characteristics that were the main driving factors when it came to designing the Loam Lever; dialed machining, no slip grip and ergonomics, adjustability, and weatherproof capabilities.  Many levers before this seemed to aim to achieve 1 or 2 of these but compromised the others.  The Loam Lever checks off all the boxes.

Machining and packaging can be a thing of beauty

On its own, this lever is an immaculate piece of craftsmanship.  The CNC machining on the aluminum is clean and precise.  PNW Components made sure that the CNC work removed as much material as possible to attain a light weight (48g in 22.2mm clamp version) while still retaining a stout build that could hold up to some seriously hard knocks.  It is simple without being bland and the various pieces that make the complete lever continue a single design language of robust construction with a clean aesthetic.  You may be asking why aesthetics even matter?  After years of poorly executed levers that functioned so-so and looked worse, I welcome enthusiastically a lever that not only functions exceptionally but adds to the overall aesthetic appeal of my bikes.   

Craftsmanship from every angle

On that same note, let’s talk about the thumb pad.  This may or may not matter to some.  I, personally, love it.  For me, it brought a reassuring landing spot for my thumb that was both comfortable and grippy.  In the past, I DIYed several old levers with grip tape for a similar result and some of the Loam Lever’s competitors use textured surfaces for grip.  I don’t want to oversell this feature as revolutionary, but I kept finding myself thinking, “I really like this” and “this feels great!”  Plus, the fact that it is available in orange, grey, or teal (more colors coming soon) means that you can add some style points to your cockpit, if you’re into that kind of thing.  My bikes tend to be the ever-fashion-forward black with more black and notes of grey (sometimes I feel spicy and add some tan wall tires!!!), so I went with the grey on grey setup. 

HOW DOES IT STACK UP AGAINST THE COMPETITION? 

Out of all the dropper post and remotes I’ve ridden and tested, there are only 2-3 real competitors to the Loam Lever (Runners-up; SDG, OneUp) .  The closest competition comes from the Wolf Tooth Remote with its large bearing, versatile adjustment, and great lever feel.  Up until installing the Loam Lever, this was my go-to recommendation for riders.

Specs:

  • CNC machined for precision and weight reduction
  • Multiple adjustments for fit and function
  • No Slip Grip thumb pad for precise lever feel
  • Compatible with most every mechanical dropper
  • Weight: 48g (22.2mm clamp)

Features

  • Thumb lever reach adjust
  • Oversized and super sealed bearing for weather resistance
  • Multiple mount options
    • 22.2m hinge clamp
    • SRAM MatchMaker X
    • I-Spec II
  • 100% recyclable packaging

The other runners-up all have good points and lever feel, but just lack some of the refinement, beauty, adjustability, and robustness of the Loam Lever.  I have yet to spend time testing the BikeYoke Revive, which I hear a lot of great reviews about, but I have a hard time imagining that I would prefer that lever over this, after having held both in my hands. 

Both the Loam Lever and the Wolf Tooth Remote are awesome, but the Loam Lever edges out the win for me

I still think the Wolf Tooth is a stellar remote, but there are a few key points where it loses points to the Loam Lever.  I find the fit and finish to be nicer on the Loam Lever, adjustment is just a bit better, and I’m not a fan of the breakaway axle of the Wolf Tooth.  More than enough times to make me frustrated, I have had a minor fall or impact that knocked the Wolf Tooth into two pieces of uselessness.  It’s a super quick and easy fix, but it can end a ride if you’re not carrying a spare axle.  PNW’s Loam Lever feels robust enough that if you’ve broken it, you’ve got bigger issues happening from your wreck. 

PROS AND CONS 

Clearly, I’m a fan so the pros are going to outweigh the cons, but I have truly struggled to find much at fault with this lever.  Perhaps, that will change as I spend much more time using it, but my cons list is noticeably short.  Since I have already spent a significant portion of this article singing its praises, I won’t spend much time on the pros here.

The main negative point that comes to mind is that it is not a cheap remote at $69.  However, it is priced evenly with the Wolf Tooth and, in my opinion, is an overall better remote.  It may be hard for some to justify parting with $69 dollars for a remote.  I totally understand that.  For me, the lever feel and dropper actuation are such a critical component of flow while riding that I find that price easily justifiable.  Further, the craftmanship of this product is clear from the minute you crack the box open.  PNW Component’s dropper post bring some of the best value for the money.  When you pair the Loam Lever with one of their droppers, you are likely well under the price of most of the competition. 

My only other critique is likely tied into my highly particular personality.  I am extremely critical about my cockpit being setup just-so.  Any small changes or off positioning is really distracting.  As such, I found that the wide range of adjustments of this lever meant that I could spend a somewhat ludicrous amount of time fine tuning the exact position of the Loam Lever to my perfection.  Once I found that sweet spot, I haven’t even thought about it again.  So, for those of you like me, this lever will be both a curse for an afternoon of minute adjustments and a blessing of perfection from there on out. 

Like functional jewelry for your bars

RECOMMENDED RIDER

I love having dropper posts on almost all my bikes because I think they make my rides more fun.  However, this remote is specific to MTB handlebars and only works with mechanically actuated dropper posts (uses a cable from the remote).  If you have a hydraulically actuated post like the RockShox Reverb, this will not be compatible.  Also, if you are wanting a dropper for your gravel or CX drop bar bike, take a look at drop bar lever from PNW Components.

THE FINAL SPIN

There are quite a few options for aftermarket dropper post remotes, but I think that the PNW Components Loam Lever is the current champ.  Wolf Tooth’s remote gives it a solid run for its money, but, for me, it still ekes out the win with a more robust design and better looks.  With many dropper post and remotes selling separately, this lever should make your shortlist of dropper/remote combinations.

What we loved:

  • Beautiful and industrial design
  • Light but robust construction
  • Designed to face the elements without hesitation
  • Cool color options to choose from
  • Highly adjustable so you can find your perfect setup
  • Easy install and wide range of compatibility

What we didn’t like:

  • Multitude of adjustments can lead to long hours micro-adjusting the fit for perfection
  • Price is a bit steeper than some of its competition

Out of all the dropper post and remotes I’ve ridden and tested, there are only 2-3 real competitors to the Loam Lever

 

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