It's pretty widely accepted that the dropper post is hands down one of the most important innovations in mountain biking. Over the past decade and a half, the dropper post has evolved from being a fringe extravagance to a must-have component on even entry-level mountain bikes — and for good reason. The ability to lower your saddle out of the way on-the-fly is a huge advantage that makes the dropper, when properly used, an asset for riders of all skill levels.
Here are 6 ways to best use your dropper:
1) When riding downhill. Lowering your saddle out of the way makes descending safer, more comfortable, and ultimately, more fun, because you can keep your center of gravity low and centered over the bottom bracket (or slightly rearward on steeper pitches) for more stable handling. Also remember that, while your bike's suspension is awesome, your arms and legs have a great deal more travel, so when the saddle is out of the way, you can better use your limbs as shock absorbers.
2) For bike-body separation. When the saddle is low and out of the way, it is much easier to move the bike underneath you (side to side, and fore and aft) when cornering, navigating technical sections, etc.
3) When going up. On technical climbs, lowering your saddle even just a touch allows your body to better absorb the bumps, which improves traction and helps keep you on on the chosen line.
4) On rolling terrain. Trails with elevation profiles that look like a saw blade are perhaps the BEST time and place for using a dropper. You'll be off and on the lever constantly, but having the saddle at the ideal height makes this type of terrain way more fun!
5) When stopping. Lowering your saddle out of the way as you come to a stop allows your feet to touch the ground comfortably, and you can sit on the saddle to rest once stopped.
6) Restarting on hills. Consider lowering your saddle to get started in the middle of a climb. A lower center of gravity will help you feel more stable and balanced. Get a pedal stroke in, raise your saddle, and off you go!