Normally, I wouldn’t dedicate a whole review to something as simple as a dropper remote. Not even a drop-bar dropper remote. That’s why, last year, I collected four of them for a little shootout. Yes, I know there are more than four ways to string your post up to your curly bars, but I wanted to focus specifically on “rocker-style” levers. They feel the most familiar to someone accustomed to flat-bar controls: From the hoods, you pull up with one of two fingers just like you’re pulling a brake lever. And from the drops, you push down with your thumb just like you’re pushing a shift lever. Problem is, one of them were perfect, even though there was a clear winner. The Easton EA90 AX (AKA the Fox Transfer Drop-Bar) had the best ergonomics by far. It stayed on my bike until I bit the bullet and switched over to an AXS dropper. But when I heard Wolf Tooth’s new drop-bar lever would feature a similar shape to Easton’s, I tore myself away from my AXS dropper for a couple weeks and went back to a cable-actuated dropper. I tell ya. The sacrifices I make for journalism.
- MSRP: $64.99
- Cable, housing, and in-line barrel adjuster sold separately
- Designed for 24mm drop bars
- Aluminum clamp and lever, steel hardware
- Dual 11 mm cartridge ball bearings in pivot
- Individual replacement parts available from Wolf Tooth
- Made in Minnesota
I’ve added my impressions on the Wolf Tooth to that round-up review, but if you just need a quick refresh, here was the lineup:
The Crankbrothers Highline Drop-Bar offered light action, but crowded the space my hand was in when using the brakes from the drops.
The PRO Dropper Post Lever was compact and out-of-the-way, but required superhuman strength to operate from the drops due to poor leverage and a side-loaded pivot.
The ENVE G-Series was optimized for deep-drop bars. So, on the shallow bars more common on aggressive gravel bikes, it was nearly impossible to actuate from anywhere but the hoods.
The Easton EA90 AX was almost totally out of the way in the drops, and was actually still easy to reach and actuate. It was also the only one with a ball bearing in the pivot. My only complaint was that the forward-facing lever made actuation from the hoods a little tricky. But this was the clear favorite heading into the Wolf Tooth ReMote review.
The Wolf Tooth ReMote Drop Bar takes Easton / Fox’s design and improves upon it in almost every way. The most important thing the two have in common is the position of the rear-facing thumb lever. It is drastically offset inboard, so the base of my thumb was given ample room to rest behind it when I was gripping the drops. This is especially important on shallow drop bars like the ones I’m partial to. There’s not a lot of room back there, even when I’m not tucked tight behind the brakes, feathering the levers on a technical descent. And at the same time, it’s angled downward, so it doesn’t take a strained, unnatural motion for my thumb to reach around and push it down and forward. It’s just hanging out there, waiting for me to grab it.
The potential problem with this solution is that you’re side-loading the lever pivot because the force is originating from so far inboard from it. Where Wolf Tooth nails it here is their use of two cartridge bearings. Not only did that make for a noticeably stiffer, more positive-feeling connection with the cable action, it also helped my peace of mind that this lever will last a long time.
Another way it edges out the Easton is that the forward-facing trigger is slightly longer. It made pulling from the not-so-strong ring finger pretty easy, but also made it less of a stretch if I wanted to use my middle finger. The only disadvantage there was that it made positioning rather critical. I had to twist that nose just slightly inboard so that, when I was braking from the hoods, my fingertips wouldn’t contact it. But I couldn’t twist it tooI far, or the thumb lever would crowd my hand in the drops. But I found a balance and clamped it down.
Speaking of the clamp, the ReMote has a very Wolf Tooth build quality. Lots of angular, chamfered black aluminum punctuated by shiny steel. I might give an edge to the Easton for its use of a flexible band-style clamp, which was a few fractions of a millimeter slimmer, but I never managed to feel the ReMote clamp since it’s tucked pretty far away from any gripping surface.
I appreciated some of the thoughtful design touches like the cute little recess to house the cable end, or the lazer-straight housing entry angle some levers struggle with given my bar setup. And of course, I liked the fact that WolfTooth is a small U.S. brand who manufactures all their own stuff in Minnesota. Not just for the feel-good factor. That structure allows Wolf Tooth to make available any small part you might need. If you strip out the cable pinch bolt or the clamping barrel nut, you can buy those components individually. And somehow, the $65 price sneaks just under the most expensive end of this category of dropper levers, though that doesn’t include the cable and housing, or an in-line barrel adjuster which I strongly recommend using.
Meanwhile, there are more and more drop-bar controls that are integrating dropper remotes into their levers. But that still won’t work for everyone. For one thing, a lot of us have perfectly good drop-bar controls already. Seems silly to spend hundreds of dollars replacing them when the industry has finally started figuring out a good alternative. And as we often forget (me more than most), double-ring drivetrains are still a thing. If you’re in either of those camps, I can confidently tell you Wolf Tooth has come up with the best way to integrate a dropper into your life.
- Out of the way but easy to reach from the drops
- Powerful and comfortable from the hoods
- Dual cartridge bearing pivot
- Individually replaceable parts
- Made in the USA
- Will take some careful trial and error to find the perfect setup
- Still not as easy to use as an integrated dropper lever, but nothing is.
See more at Wolf Tooth