We Go Behind the Scenes of the SDG Tellis V2 Dropper R&D.

Take a look behind the scenes at how SDG developed their first dropper post, the Tellis, taking the second generation from concept to reality.

Pete sits down for a chat with SDG’s Aftermarket Sales Director Devyn Pelley to chat all things SDG Tellis V2.

What was the inspiration for updating the Tellis?

With the Tellis V1 we had no prior experience with dropper posts, but knew there was a gap in the market at the time for a post that simply worked and was easily user serviceable. So to this point we worked with a premium vendor to chose the most reliable off-the-shelf options to build the Tellis, but then tool our own head and add premium features like an IGUS bushing, Trelleborg seal and quad seal design.

This gave us exactly what we were looking for in our first dropper and it became a well-loved option for those looking for a simplistic post that just worked. As we’ve built a deeper understanding of what we can improve on the Tellis, we have spent the last 3+ years looking at everything that we loved about the original Tellis, but seeing where we can elevate it. We wanted to keep the main principles of durability and simplicity a core focus of the V2, but then elevate the offering.

Once you have made that decision, what happens next?

Once we decided that we wanted to upgrade the Tellis, we first start with a competitive analysis on what the Tellis V1 offered and what other competitors in the marketplace were doing which we felt we could improve on. In addition to our internal competitive analysis, we utilize feedback compiled from our athletes, OEM partners and aftermarket partners to get a complete picture of where we should head with the next iteration of the post.

Once we have a complete list of where we want to take the Tellis, we work with our vendor to narrow down our list to ensure all list of improvements is feasible given the price point we’ve determined we want to hit. Then comes the long process of sampling, testing and constant revisions to get us to the product that you see today.

How many people are involved at developing the Tellis and what do they do?

There’s myself who builds the competitive analysis and helps with the testing and development of the post. In addition, there’s the owner, Tyler Anspach, who works with our key OEM partners and our team in Taiwan as well as our vendors. As well as Chris Han who handles the product management and testing side of things. For the engineering of the post we utilized an ex-Race Face engineer who worked with our internal team to help bring our ideas to reality.

Devyn says “The larger collar was one of many options we tested for adjustable travel. This specific kept blowing apart mid ride, so needless to say it didn’t make the cut. You can also see a machined silver section below the large collar, this was another adjustable travel option that ended up causing too much stiction so also didn’t make the cut.”

Was there anything you wanted to keep from the outgoing post?

We absolutely wanted to keep the Wintek cartridge and our quad seal system as it’s at the foundation of why the post is so reliable. There was a brief time when we considered tooling our own cartridge in order to shave off additional overall post height, but the entire team agreed that ensuring durability was at the forefront of the pillars that the Tellis stands on so we simply couldn’t risk compromising that.

How did you arrive at the parts of the post that needed to be improved?

To be honest, it was quite simple since the Tellis V1 utilized many off the shelf parts that we figured we could improve on every aspect of the post (other than the cartridge and quad seal system) by tooling our own parts given the solid foundation of knowledge we had acquired from the 6 years that the Tellis V1 had been in circulation. The head design took the most revisions as we initially started with a more traditional design with front and rear bolts.

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However, we ultimately decided that utilising our proven I-Beam cradle had far too many benefits and allowed for future proofing the design that we simply had to pursue it. Getting the cradle to pass our internal standard (double ISO standard) and our large field of external testers took multiple revisions, but we’re stoked we pursued it in the end as the side access bolt head design is simplistic, compact and allows for a future of I-Beam rails to be utilized on it.

How many prototypes did you use before settling on the production Tellis?

I was going through my bin of non-production samples and I had at least 15 samples. Modifications included changes to the angle architecture of the cradle, multiple keyways and broach designs, a handful of railed clamps and a handful of non-traditional rail clamp designs. The changes that were made were relatively minute, however the all contributed to the elevated finished product we were able to finally bring to market.

Devyn says “3 versions of our head design. While they all look similar they all have minute differences in the angles and architecture of the I-Beam cradle that is used on the Tellis V2. All 3 (and all samples prior to approving the tooling) had the existing head cut off of a Tellis V1, the Tellis V2 cradle and cap CNC’d and glued to the top of the V1 stanchion for testing. Glad the production version looks way better than the CNC’d and glued on samples”

Was there a point at which you knew you’d got it right?

To be honest I was a bit pessimistic of the design in the testing phase solely because the samples all had the new heads CNC’d from aluminium and then glued to the top of an off the shelf tube. So it was hard to be in love with the design when all I could see was this massive block of aluminium glued to the top of the post.

However, once we approved the design and moved to 3D tooling I was absolutely sold on it when I saw the first production level samples. The design was so clean and because I wasn’t distracted by the blocky head I could fully appreciate the simplistic and clean design. Now every time I’m in my local bike shop, I can’t help but admire the design when it’s spec’d on a build on the shop floor.

How important is it when SDG develop a new product to introduce new features?

One of SDG’s core principals is “products for a purpose” so brining something new to the market or doing it better than anyone else is part of our foundation. Especially in the dropper post segment where it’s so competitive and there are so many incredible options out there. In order to continue the evolution of the Tellis, we had to ensure we had a product that has features which elevate it over any other competitor in all of the categories we’ve identified that should be incorporated into the ethos of the Tellis.

Devyn says “Despite the M6 hardware passing 2x the ISO standard, we made a late decision to move from M6 to M7 hardware, so this was the only bolt we could source for ASAP testing of fitment and torque. In the background you can see various versions of the clamp that were tested throughout production.”

Do you have a favourite moment from developing the new Tellis?

Likely it was when we moved into production ready samples and I received my first 230mm dropper. With the previous samples I was limited to only being able to run a 200mm dropper, but with the production one I could fit a 230mm slammed to the collar of my IBIS Ripmo. It looked so clean, but other than that, having access to even more drop really made a difference when I dropped into any steeper & technical trails.

Any disasters?

During the sampling and development period we had probably over 250 posts in the field and we didn’t have a single one slip. However, about 2 months before we were supposed to go live we had 1 tester where his clamp slipped slightly on the cradle.

Despite the post passing 2x the ISO standard and having so many in the field with zero issues, we decided to change the clamp hardware from M6 to M7 in order to increase the torque spec to eliminate any risk of slippage from inadvertent under torquing.

You can read Pete’s full review of the SDG Tellis V2 on our Gear Reviews page here.

You can check out the new SDG Tellis V2 dropper post over on their website here.