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Crank Brothers Joplin 4
MSRP:$285 (w/ remote, $250 w/ lever)
Weight: 590-grams (claimed and actual)
Drop: 4 inches/~100mm
Sizes Available: 30.9mm and 31.6mm
As a hydraulic system, saddle height is infinitely adjustable within the four-inch range. Compressing the post into position is smooth and easy, offering enough resistance to get the desired saddle height right on the first try — short of bad timing with a waterbar, of course. Rebound speed is damped well, too, keeping your nether-regions safe upon return to full saddle height.
The remote lever itself can be easy to install on bar sections that aren’t tapered, is easy to operate from almost any angle of approach, and even offers the potential of running an extension via the threaded shaft that doubles as the cable stop. But you’ll have to come up with something clever on your own, as Crank Brothers doesn’t actually offer an extension. (I’ve seen some riders simply thread a bolt into the shaft and use that as an extension). The remote also uses a standard shift cable, which is easy to find at any shop if you happen to roach the one it came with. Adjusting cable tension is also very accessible via a standard barrel adjuster on the remote. Cable routing itself is fluid into the post, forgoing any odd bends, and the cable pinch bolt is accessible without adjustment of the saddle, too.
The latest Joplin 4 has a touch less side-to-side shimmy compared to last year’s model, which is mostly due to adding another guide block, thus doubling stability points internally. Less-obvious improvements include switching the main seal to a U-seal instead of the original O-ring, which is said to provide a better barrier for the oil, and rounder, smoother inner tube surfaces that should help with durability as well.
Saddle install is painless, and the rail clamps seem to hold strong as long as the clamp bolt is properly torqued. Cable routing from the stop to the pinch bolt is very fluid, and installing a remote retrofit kit to the lever-version took all of about five minutes on the first try.
The remote is difficult to install on handlebars that have limited real estate between the grip and the beginning of the taper. There really isn’t any wiggle room with the clamp diameter of the remote, and that can really limit position selection for it.
Seat clamp pressure can affect how the Joplin 4 rebounds, as if it’s a little too tight, the post won’t return to full extension without manually pulling the saddle up into position. It took a bit of trial and error to find the correct torque on my seat clamp that would allow the post to rebound, and keep the post itself from slipping down.
While Crank Brothers added another guide block to improve stability between the upper and lower post, side-to-side shimmy is still quite noticeable and somewhat annoying.
When the Joplin 4 is in any position lower than maximum height, the saddle can be easily pulled up to said height. This is more of an annoyance than anything, but occasionally during riding the saddle has been pulled up by either my shorts or leg. It does drop back down to correct position once freed from whatever it was that pulled it up out of position though.
Last year’s version of the Joplin reminded me of an old high-maintenance girlfriend I had years ago. When she was ready to go out, her exterior beauty was truly awe-inspiring, but the price paid to get her to that point almost never seemed worthwhile. Likewise, I’ve run a Joplin for the last couple of years, specifically for Super D racing, and feel like it’s almost cheating compared to running a standard post. At the same time, I’ve also had to go through the Crank Brothers’ warranty department about as many times a year as there are seasons, which has turned the post into a raceday-only tool that gets put back on the shelf the following Monday to avoid such hassle.
Hopefully the improvements to their latest version will drastically improve its reliability and durability.