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

Components

Update: June 18

We’ve been using the KS Lev for the past few months on several bikes and we’ve had no problems to report. The post has been reliable and the action has been stiction free both activating the lever and on dropping the post itself. One thing we’ve realized is that the more seamless the operation of a dropper post is, the more it’s used.

The variable position is much preferred too over other 3-position designs because one does not have to find the middle position. That usually costs a few seconds or milliseconds every time until one finds the middle spot. The KS Lev locks in anywhere and micro-adjustments are easily performed.

An interesting variation of the KS Lev has popped up and it is a lightweight rider for the cross country holdout. The LEV Carbon is still in the testing phase and the new post won’t be available until some time in 2014. Target price will be around $600 and projected sizes will include 30.9mm and 31.6mm diameters. Weight will be around 380 grams without a remote so it will only be 200 grams heavier than a standard post. Travel will be limited to just 65 mm initially.

And 150 mm travel KS Levs are available now too in the larger diameters of 30.9 and 31.6 mm. This is a great development since as riders advance into more technical terrain and as they get used to dropper posts, they seem to need more and more drop. The only caveat is these posts need more exposed seatpost so make sure you frame has at least 180 mm of exposed seatpost before seeking out these 150 mm travel KS Levs.

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)

Dropper seatposts have become very popular with mountain bikers for a good reason, since the advantages of being able to move the saddle height up or down depending on the situation maximizes the trail riding experience. You can drop the post for descending, offering better control and balance with a lower center of gravity, and extend it for climbing and normal riding to get proper leg extension for pedaling.  There is a wide array of dropper seatpost models now, each with its own unique characteristics, and my illustrious compatriot and MTBR.com founder Francis has compiled a Dropper Seatpost Round Up article to cover most of the popular ones sold today.

The KS LEV is a superb infinitely adjustable hydraulic seatpost, with a plush and silky-smooth stroke and it sports  an innovative zero cable movement design. The post has travel options from four to six inches, and uses an ergonomic carbon lever remote. The LEV has performed flawlessly over the four-month test period, and has been trouble-free with the same buttery smooth operation since day one. Dirt, rain, snow, and general abuse haven’t affected the LEV whatsoever, and its ease of installation, usage and operation have complemented its outstanding reliability.

Kind Shock LEV
The KS LEV uses an air, oil and spring design for 100, 125 or 150 mm of infinite travel, and comes in 27.2mm, 30.9mm and 31.6mm diameters. The cable actuated hydraulic height-adjustable seatpost uses a handlebar mounted carbon fiber remote, and retails for $395. The zero-offset saddle clamp uses a 2-bolt attachment system that offers a micro-adjustable head for easy changes of the tilt, and fore-and-aft placement of the saddle. Most dropper seatposts available today use a one-bolt seat clamping system that is more difficult to tighten and adjust. The specific size options are a 335mm post length with a 100mm range in 30.9 and 31.6mm diameters, a 385mm post length with a 125mm range in 30.9 and 31.6mm diameters, a 435mm post length with a 150mm range in 30.9 and 31.6mm diameters, and finally a 400mm post length with a 100mm range in the 27.2mm diameter. The 27.2  mm post is only available in the shorter travel since the post diameter cannot withstand the stresses of a 125 or 150 mm travel post. As of press time, the 27.2 mm is not yet available.

Measured Specs (125mm x 31.6):

  • Post – 487 grams
  • Lever/parts – 30 grams
  • Cable/housing – 59 grams
  • Total (uncut cable/housing) – 576 grams
  • Total cut – 550 grams

Features
The very trick LEV has the cable directly attached to the main body or outer tube of the post instead of the typical position on top of the telescoping head of the stanchion. The attachment is at the post collar which means the cable connection remains stationary relative to the saddle’s up and down movement, avoiding issues with excess cable, such as interference with legs, tires, frames, etc. The new design also gives a cleaner and more direct routing line to the seatpost allowing better cable management for frame manufacturers. Another benefit of the lower connection is there is more room for the superior two-bolt seat clamp system.

The system still uses their same basic air return sprung and hydraulic locking internals, with the one-way self-adjusting bearings for play, along some newly updated engineering knowledge learned from their previous models. The remote cables hooked end piece attaches to a cylindrical coupler, which then connects internally to the actuation mechanism of the post. The remote cable system can be connected and disconnected from the post by popping the cover off, and pulling the small spring loaded hook out of the system. The carbon remote lever can be run alone or integrated with an ODI grip if desired for a cleaner handlebar layout.

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