We’re a varied bunch here at Singletrack Towers. We have riders who prefer carbon and others who prefer steel. Some of us ride on flat pedals and others ride clipped in. There are even riders in the office who don’t have any suspension at all! But with all of our differences, there is one item that each of us runs on our bikes, and that’s a dropper post.
Dropper posts have improved significantly over the years, with pretty much every modern post offering predictable and reliable performance. While the posts themselves are generally good, there are some changes that can be made to a dropper to boost the usability though and the most effective is a lever upgrade.
PNW Loam Lever Review
We’ve tested a couple of lever upgrades over the years including some really nice examples from Cane Creek and Wolftooth, but if you’re after something that adds a little creative flair as well as function to your bike then take a look at the PNW Loam Lever.
PNW, or Pacific North West, is a U.S based component company that specializes in designing a range of dropper posts, dropper post accessories, and even the odd stem or two.
The Loam Lever is a £66, CNC machined custom aluminium lever that’s designed to replace the stock lever on pretty much any cable actuated dropper on the market. The PNW website lists 19 dropper post makes and models that the Loam Lever is guaranteed to work with, but they can also add the X-Fusion Manic to that list as it works perfectly on mine.
As a large majority of riders are running a 1x gear system these days, the Loam Lever is designed to sit where a front mech shifter would have once been. An underbar design means it gives your cockpit a nice clean finish and is easily actuated with your left-hand thumb.
The large paddle design is extremely comfortable to use, and thanks to a non-slip, injection moulded thumb pad, you don’t need to worry about slipping off the lever even in the sloppiest, greasiest conditions. If you like to match your components you’ll appreciate the colour options available on the non-slip grip too. I’ve got an orange version on my Transition which matches the Fox Factory 36 very nicely, but black and teal options are available too.
In addition to colour options, there are also fitting options too. We’ve got the standard 22.2mm clamp version to keep it on the bars, but there are options that use Shimano I-Spec or Matchmaker fittings for integrated setups.
PNW have been smart enough to design its lever with a cable clamp bolt rather than relying on the cable head that we see on some designs. This makes the Loam a universal fit for all cable operated posts, and speeds up installation time too.
Installation is a doddle, and the only ‘specialist’ tool you’re going to likely need is a cable cutter or good quality set of snips. For my install on the X-Fusion Manic dropper I first removed the old lever, thankfully it was a split clamp design like the PNW so I didn’t need to remove my brake lever or grip, then I chopped off the cable end as the PNW doesn’t need it.
Before installing the Loam Lever I did need to remove an inch or so of outer cable. If you’re careful you won’t even need to remove the internal cable to do this. With enough cable showing to install the lever all that’s needed is to bolt it all up and fasten it to the bar.
Adjustments are limited to the angle of the lever dictated by the bar clamp and the reach, adjusted by mounting the control in one of 2 positions. There’s also a grub screw behind the lever that lets you set have par away the lever is from your thumb, similar to how reach adjusters on a brake lever work. In comparison, the original Manic dropper lever has a ball joint style clamp for a lot more adjustment to get the position just perfect. You may or may not miss this, I personally didn’t.
Once installed you’ll quickly appreciate the oversized sealed bearing that the lever runs on. Not only does it promise long-lasting, maintenance-free usage, it also eliminates any play from the system. With a wobble free, smooth operating lever, you’ll be surprised just how much better your dropper post feels.
In addition to much smoother operation, I find that the Loam Lever offers a little more precision than the original lever. Whereas the original lever simply pulled the cable out for an on/off operation style, the Loam lever pulls the cable around the large bearing body meaning “feathering” the control is a little easier. This is especially nice when you just want to adjust the saddle height by an inch or two on those trickier sections of trail.
PNW Loam Lever Review: Overall
At £66.00 the Loam Lever is approaching the price of the cheapest complete dropper posts on the market, but obviously, this lever is leaps and bounds ahead of what you’ll get on that cheap complete system. Actually, the Loam Lever is better than the majority of stock dropper levers we’ve tried, meaning that it’s a great upgrade to anyone running a cable dropper post.
The ease of installation and the overbuilt nature of the Loam Lever also promises years of trouble-free use, and the fact that it’s compatible with the majority of cable operated dropper posts means you’ll be able to switch from bike to bike for years to come. Oh, and it looks damn smart too!
|Tested:||by Andi Sykes for 2 months|