Review: KS LEV Dropper Seatpost, 150 mm and Carbon Models

Components

After the four months of use, the seatpost is feeling a bit more sloppy and wiggly in its play than when it was fresh, though I wouldn’t call it out of the ordinary for movement in these types of posts. I have added Slick Honey on the shaft sometimes to keep things running smoothly, but it rarely needed anything. Even when wet and dirty, the post has been as smooth as silk, and when the temps are above freezing, there were no stickiness or stiction issues, and the infinite travel was great to have. I just started to get a small amount of cable stretch, and I am sure a slight tweak of moving the cable in the end hook will do the trick, but otherwise it has been fine. The seals have been durable, and I haven’t had any issues with them.

I never adjusted the pressure for the return air spring, as I found it to be just the right speed, not too fast and not to slow. The recommended pressure is between 150psi and 250psi, although I never did check what the default setting was? It’s a pain to get to the air valve anyway, since it requires dismantling the entire saddle clamp system, so it wouldn’t be something I would want to do very often.

I have swapped the seatpost back and forth between a couple of bikes, and it was a pretty easy task. The LEV design also makes it easier to use on another bike, since cable management issues are greatly reduced. Pulling the cable connect cover off is just a little annoying, even after you have some practice, although it pops back on effortlessly. Unhooking the cable hook was simple, but it was more finicky putting it back on, and using a small flathead screwdriver made it easier to scoop up the internal cylinder. I usually didn’t need to unhook the cable hook for swapping, and all that was needed was attaching the remote and snagging down the cable on the top tube. Having the cable connection all covered makes for a dirt-free environment, and even after four months, the grease on the hook and cylinder coupler was still clean and uncontaminated. I certainly like how nice the cable lines are with this design, and I loved not having the housing poking out and hitting anything when lowering the saddle. If you lifted the saddle really hard while it was down you got some lift, or if it got caught while hike-a-biking, otherwise it was mostly stable, and I rarely noticed any issues in regard to that, since it took quite a lot of force for it to happen.

I have had to re-tighten the saddle clamp, as it has loosened up a few times, but that can be common on many 2-bolt designs. Using it in a bike stand can be difficult if the cable connector section isn’t pointing directly forward or backward, but you can loosen the seatpost clamp on the bike, and rotate it to the front and re-tighten the clamp and place it into the stand. It is not advisable to clamp the stanchion of the seatpost. And to clamp the body of the post, the cable needs to be aligned with the forward-facing notch on most bike stand clamps.

I wish I had gotten the 150mm of travel version for testing, as I sometimes wanted the saddle to be lower, and I was right past the insertion limit on my Mojo HD, so the longer post length would have been more functional (385mm vs. 435mm). Another great thing about this post (and KS in general) is that it comes in 27.2mm, 30.9mm and 31.6mm diameters, and the 27.2mm size is usually missing in line-up of most brands.

Bottom Line
I am mighty impressed with the KS LEV, and the cable-actuated hydraulic dropper seatpost which uses oil and an air spring for movement and locking, is full of innovative designs and features. It has buttery smooth operation without any stiction or notchiness, and its cable connection design which resides at the bottom of the post instead of the stanchion head, means there is no housing movement, making for excellent cable management and lack of interference with the rider or rear tire. To get the bottom connector in the proper alignment in relation to the saddle, they use a creative design that mates some dimples on the top of the post with indentation’s on the saddle’s clamp system, offering 20º increments of rotation. The carbon remote has a nice ergonomic feel, and the lever and cable offered smooth and friction-free movement, without any notchiness. The cables end hook connects with a covered cylindrical coupler at the base of the post, which actuates the hydraulic lock. This cover kept the internal mechanism environment containment free, for increased longevity and smoother operation. The multiple travel lengths of 100, 125 and 150mm, and the diameters of 27.2, 30.9 and 31.6mm, really covers the gamut of bikes and rider requirements.

To alter the pressure on the return air spring requires dismantling the saddle clamp system, making for arduous experience, but fortunately the default speed is adequate. When the temperatures dropped below freezing, the movement got sluggish and occasionally sticky. It’s an expensive seatpost, but I think the price of admission for the LEV’s features and functions are well worth it.

I have thoroughly enjoyed my time with the KS LEV, and its smooth plush operation and trouble free usage from the get-go have been fantastic, and the lack of interfering housing and cable management due to innovative connection design makes for a superb dropper seatpost.

Strengths

  • Silky-smooth movement
  • Easy operation and installation
  • No housing movement to deal with
  • Easy and clean cable management
  • 27.2, 30.9 and 31.6 diameters
  • 100, 125 and 150mm of infinite adjustment

Weaknesses

  • Expensive
  • Air adjustment port is under saddle
  • Hooking the cylindrical coupler can be finicky
  • Slowness/Stickiness in extreme cold (common to other hydraulic posts)

MSRP: $395

Overall Rating: 4.5 Flamin’ Chili Peppers

 

KS Lev Specs:

  • MSRP: $395
  • Visit the KS LEV website
  • Diameter – 31.6mm, 30.9mm, 27.2mm
  • Post Length / Travel – 335mm / 100mm (30.9 and 31.6mm dia), 385mm / 125mm (30.9 and 31.6mm dia), 435mm / 150mm (30.9 and 31.6mm dia), 400mm / 100mm (27.2mm dia)
  • Actuation – Carbon fiber remote lever
  • Head / Rail – Zero offset standard rail
  • Color – Black anodized mast and head w/ hard anodized stanchion
  • Weight – 510-580g (30.9 and 31.6mm including remote and cable), 538g (27.2mm including remote and cable)

 

Photos:

About the author: Brian Mullin

Brian has been part of the Mtbr team since 2007, where he has become an integral member of the review and test staff, specializing in technical articles. He likes to push the limits in all the sports he obsesses in, whether it's mountain biking, whitewater kayaking, extreme skiing, or sport climbing. He takes those same strengths and a good dose of insanity to his reviewing and writing on mountain biking products, creating technical, in-depth and hyperbolic articles. Whenever he's not on the bike, he might be found watching MotoGP racing, otherwise look for him out on extremely technical singletrack.


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  • Cliff Swanson says:

    I prefer having the remote for a dropper post mounted on the right side of my handlebar. The LEV remote appears to be compatible with mounting on either side of the bar but all of the KS videos and user info show the remote on the left side. I’d like to get the issue of whether the LEV remote is compatible with mounting at the right side grip sorted out before I buy one. I’ve checked the user manual for the LEV online but there is no mention of this issue. I’d be grateful for an informed answer. Thanks.

    • albert says:

      It’s fine. I have mine mounted on the right side.

    • Barrett Lawson says:

      Cliff,

      I just looked at my LEV remote and I think that the clamp is symmetrical. I’ll have to pull the grip off to double check, but it looks like the notches for the ODI grip tabs are on both sides.

      I’m also interested in finding out if (and which) other companies’ grips fit. Loaded Precision has a new grip on the market and I asked them by email and they said they didn’t know.

  • PG says:

    I’ve had a 27.2 mm LEV on order for a couple of months now. My LBS says that KS says they had some problems with this diameter and therefore have not released it to the market yet. Has anyone heard anything about the 27.2?

    • Brian Mullin says:

      PG: I spoke with the KS rep, he said there are no issues with the 27.2, the demand is exceeding production. Just have your LBS place the order so that your in line for one, they can get it backordered with the distributors

  • Brian Mullin says:

    Cliff: either side of the handlebar is fine. I ran it once on another bike that way without any issues.
    PG: I hadn’t heard that, but we’ll check with our KS contact for further info.

  • Sluggy says:

    Brain… did you try increasing the air pressure in the post to off-set the post getting sluggish in colder weather ?

    • Brian Mullin says:

      I didn’t try that as yet since changing the air pressure is a pain. I doubt that increasing the air pressure would help when it gets down to 25 and the post sticks, but it might help when it gets sluggish. I will test altering the pressure and see what happens. The problem is that when the temps are normal the return speed will be too fast for my personal tastes?

  • Izzy says:

    I’m seriously hoping this design trickles down to lower price points. USD395 is just too expensive for me.

  • TeeEss says:

    I loved the idea of the cable not moving. Installation was easy and could almost be done in the dark. (don’t…I said almost) I got it in September and have loved it since the first ride. I put my remote on the left, but it can easily go either side. Great post.

  • rob says:

    How do you know whether you need the 125mm or the 150mm. Im 6’2. My climbing seatpost length is about 9in. From collar to rails on seat

    • Barrett Lawson says:

      KS has said you need 50mm of stack height plus the travel from top of the seat tube to the center of seat rails.

    • Fabricio says:

      measure your full length and buy the closest to your actual seatpost, also check where is the mark of the frame in your post. I measure 5’11 and use the 385-125 in my Ibis size M and is @ 4″ from top of seat collar in the frame to top of the outer barrel of the seatpost, hope this help

    • mike says:

      You will need the 150. I have a 125 with an overall length of 385. I’m 6’0″
      If you need a longer seat post you will need the 150. It is 435 total length

      • rob says:

        Does it matter if I don’t completely slam my seat to the frame when I drop it? Its only 5in collar to rail in the lowest position

  • Dude says:

    Brian,

    Does it work to press the lever while weight is seated, or do you need to unweight the saddle for the trigger to work? (how about on the other droppers you reviewed)

    Thanks

  • john says:

    I have a Ritchey WCS Streem seat with 8mm rails and want to know if this seat post will work with 8mm rails

  • Shoji says:

    Don’t bother the seat bolts stripped after a dozen rides. Very poor product if you ask me.
    And no I’m not some 300 lbs Clydesdale.

  • b5280high says:

    I own another KS but not the LEV…I’m tagging on this string b/c it’s active.

    I would like to attach a tag-along bike (for kids) that clamps on your seat post. Does anyone have feedback if dropper posts (KS or otherwise) are less durable than a standard post? Obviously I could not lower the seat but when pulling kids behind me it wouldn’t be needed. Posts can take pressure of my fat a** sitting on it, but not sure if lateral pull would affect it differently.

  • stampers says:

    I’ll take a stealth reverb personally if my frame allows cause of the actuator being hydro compared to a cable on the LEV. I just like the smoothness with the button. Without stealth routing though the decision gets more difficult. You can’t deny that the smaller integrated actuator on the LEV is attractive and no housing management to deal with if frame isn’t stealth compatible is nice.

    I’ve gotten 3 bikes in the last 3 years and have put a height adjust post on each, including my hardtail 29er. Once you get one, you’ll never want to have compromise on seat height again.

  • Brett says:

    Absolutely loving the LEV. My best accessory purchase so far, ever.
    Yeah, it’s kinda expensive but I ride an expensive bike so it goes hand in hand (Orbea Rallon 30).
    I ride 25-50km every weekend for the last 6 months and had no issues what so ever.
    Love the LEV!!!!!

  • mankind says:

    im a 250lbs guy do you think LEV can take my weight?

  • Mike says:

    My KS Lev 150mm/31.6mm failed today during a ride. Its only 2 months old. About 5 miles into AM trails I noticed that it felt like the post dropped some. So I actuated it and it popped right back up. It did it again, and I completely unloaded the inline cable adjuster just to be sure it wasn’t accidently actuating it. It dropped again. Got off and checked it and I was able to push the seat down by about 20mm; it felt spongy like it was compressing air. Tried to call the KS tech line in California, no answer, just voicemail; maybe they were at lunch. Filled out an online warranty return form and was emailed a RA#. Shipping is on me, nice :-( I weigh 230# and I have to admit that I belly flopped (embarrassing) on the seat on a 4 ft drop cuz my pants got caught on the rear of the seat. But I would think that this thing should be able to handle that. Maybe I just got a defective unit. I hope so, because I loved the post when it was working. I have it on a Full Suspension GT Force.

  • Tom R says:

    I have a 125 mm travel 30.9 mm KS LEV. When fitted as low as possible in the seat tube of My orange Alpine. It tops out 10 mm higher than my comfortable riding position. Is it possible to restrict the travel of of the seatpost. 110mm travel would be fine for me.

  • Randy Vaughan says:

    My ks lev has been sticking in bottom position after left there for 5 min or so and sometimes won’t go all the way down maybe half then sticks

  • Mike says:

    Followup to sag problem with the KS Lev. Ok, shipped it out to Cali on Oct.7, they received it Oct.12. They shipped it to me on Oct. 29, I received it on Oct. 31. So they had it 17 days to do warranty repair. That’s longer than what I have read from others, but still respectable in my opinion. It works better now than ever; no hesitation anywhere along the stroke. Very smooth. No idea what was wrong with it, because there was no paperwork with it when it returned. It is my original post, so they did actually repair my post. Overall I am happy with KS’s warranty time frame and the seatpost is excellent. I would definitely recommend.

  • Mike says:

    Randy, make sure that the torque on your seat collar is within spec. Too tight and you can distort the post and it may stick. Mine was doing the same thing then shortly after that it failed and sagged about 20mm or so. KS warranty repaired it w/o incident. Just go to the KS website and fill out the warranty request. they will immediately email you a RA#. Ship it to them and they will fix it.

  • Mike says:

    Just wanted to chime in about the adjustability range of the seat angle on the KS Lev. I have a Cobb DRT Plus seat and my bike is a 2009 GT Force. I’m not sure what the seat tube angle is, but with the seat clamped in the KS Lev it is not possible to get the seat level. It is nose up and I am not comfortable with it that way. The 2 bolts supplied with the Lev are special spherical head bolts which allows the bolt to pivot, however the bolts are not fully threaded and the top spherical nut bottoms out on the front bolt. I ended up getting a 6mm x 1.00mm die and threading the bolts another 5/16 of an inch or so. Now I can adjust the front of the seat down enough. KS needs to re-engineer the supplied bolts with fully threaded bolts. I doubt I am the only one that is running into this problem.

  • JMan says:

    Looking to but a dropper for my 2012 Jekyll 2
    This so far seems to be the most recommended by owners.
    Anyone owners out there who have had it for a year or possibly two still recommend it?
    The other two contenders are thompson, and fox DOSS

    • Brian Mullin says:

      Still loving mine after almost 2 years. No issues other than a need to replace the cable. I haven’t tried the Thompson as yet. I like my DOSS, but do like the infinite travel settings on the LEV, and how it simplifies the cable routing.

      • JMan says:

        Is the cable replacement maintenance that you can do yourself, or does it have to be send out to KS?

        • Brian Mullin says:

          Its easy to do, just a simple swap out of the housing and/or derailleur cable and hooking it back up to the cable hook.

        • Jason Soh says:

          If you know how to service your fork, then servicing is a piece of cake.
          After 1 year 3 months of hard riding in singapore, the post develop slow rising and step dropping when lever is pressed. I did a full servicing using KS youtube guide but it did not solve the problem. So I decided to dismantle the internal shaft, the oil inside is filled with bubble. I done a oil change using fox green fluid and now the post is working perfectly like brand new.

  • JMan says:

    Correction= Looking to buy*

    Most droppers out there seem to have so many issues and unreliable..
    Any thoughts on these 3 droppers I’m considering

  • JMan says:

    Thanks Brian, that’s good to hear. Yeah the fixed cable is a very attractive feature, as well as the infinite setting. The DOSS I figured was just reliable and durable by simply being a Fox product. From the little research I’ve done through the internet I think I’m almost sold on the LEV though.

  • BobP says:

    My brand new Lev won’t drop if I engage the release lever with weight on the seat. I have to hold the lever in, remove weight from the seat, then it will drop when I sit back down. Can someone confirm that this is not how the dropper is supposed to work. Thanks.

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