KS LEV Review

by Brian Mullin on December 22, 2012

The KS LEV is a superb infinitely adjustable hydraulic seatpost, with a plush and silky-smooth stroke and an innovative zero cable movement design. The post is light, 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 it’s ease of installation, durability, usage and operation have been outstanding.

Kind Shock LEV

The KS LEV uses 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 the industry standard 2-bolt attachment system, and it offers a micro adjustable head for easy changes of the tilt, and fore-and-aft placement of the saddle. 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.

Measured Specs (125mm x 31.6):

  • Post – 487 grams
  • Lever/parts – 30 grams
  • Cable/housing – 59 grams
  • Total (uncut cable/housing) – 576 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 movement, removing issues with excess cables, such as interference with legs, tires, frames, etc. The new design also gives a cleaner and more direct routing line to the seatpost, and it allows greater flexibility with different bicycle geometries and manufacturers, and hence, better cable management. Another benefit of the lower connection is the redesigned saddle clamp, which is a micro adjustable two-bolt system, making for more precise and easier saddle changes.

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 innards of the post. This actuation ability frees and locks the seatposts movement. The remote cable system can be easily 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 can be run alone or integrated with an ODI grip if desired, and the latter makes for an excellent option.

Installation

The design of the system means that the routing of the remotes housing is significantly simplified since you don’t have to cable movement. On my Ibis Mojo HD, I ran the housing down the right side of the top tube and then crossed it over to connect around 40º left of center, to miss the seatpost QR clamp lever. After positioning the bottom cable connector per routing requirements, you end up rotating the saddle clamp system for the final alignment, and not the main body. You adjust where the saddle resides in relation to the cable connector by dismantling the saddle clamp and unscrewing the return air spring valve cap located on the top of the stanchion and rotating the saddle clamp bottom cradle in 20º increments.

The installation manual doesn’t have any in-depth details of the arrangement other than mentioning the 20º increments, so I learned it while poking around with things. The top of the post has six dimples, which mate into the bottom of the saddle clamp cradles 18 indention’s, which offer an intelligent and straightforward way to rotate and then lock things in place. Since the lower portion of my post was 40º left of center, I rotated the top cradle over two notches, so that the bottom lip of the cradle was pointing towards the front of the bike. I then screwed down the air valve cap, which locks the cradle in place.

The bottom portion of the saddle clamp floats (its free to rotate), and what locks everything together is the lower rail holders convex shape mating with the cradle, along with the final bolting together of the bottom and top clamp pieces. The robust two bolt saddle clamp worked decently, and I was easily able to screw it together and insert the saddle’s rails, and then perform the usual pitch adjustment of the saddle for personal taste. It was easier to work on the clamp since there was no cable attachment mechanism at the top.

I cut the housing and cable to length and attached the spring and grappling hook end piece. It took me a few times to get the hang of hooking the cylinder that connects to an actuator, and I found that by pressing the barrel upwards using a small screwdriver simplified things, without getting my fingers greasy. An additional benefit of the design is there is no need for an adjuster barrel since the system seems to deal with cable stretch and slop.

Impressions

I have used the LEV for four months now, and the lever action, seatpost actuation, and movement have been silky smooth. Using the system is quite easy, just press and hold the lever, and either weight the saddle into the lower positions, or unweight, and let it pop up to the desired location, and then release. The actuation of the lever was smooth, and I didn’t feel the usual cable roughness or friction issues, and it locked into position and remained there. I haven’t suffered any stickiness or notchiness, and the stroke has been smooth the entire time. I tested their i950-R model, and I dealt with repeated issues with the post getting stuck in certain positions, so it was pleasant to have a dropper post that moved so nicely from the get-go and had always remained that way. I liked that there was no housing moving up and down when I hit the lever, and it certainly gives the bike a much cleaner look, without a gob of additional housing sticking out. Even when other manufacturers adjustable seatpost systems are set up correctly (trimmed and routed as needed), the housing still gets in the way and pokes you in the leg on occasion, which is always annoying. It was also enjoyably to not have to do any cable adjustment or fine tuning to make the seatpost work, and the only thing I have done is tweak the saddle tilt a couple of times.

One of the few idiosyncrasies of the seatpost is that when the air temperature hovers around freezing, the travel starts to feel like it’s running in molasses, and when it drops below 25° it can stick and won’t fully return to the uppermost positions without grabbing the saddle and pulling it upwards. From reports on other hydraulic posts, namely the Reverb, this same sort of problem happens at below freezing temperatures, so I can only assume it has to do with the hydraulic fluid?

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 type of posts. I have added Slick Honey on the shaft 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 temp is 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 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 since it necessitates 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 an easy task. The LEV design also makes it simpler to use on another bike, since cable management issues are significantly 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 necessary was attaching the remote and snagging down the cable on the top tube. Having the cable connection 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 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 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 regarding 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 in 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 on the stand.

I do 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 that 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 most major brands lineup.

Bottom Line
I am mighty impressed with the KS LEV, and the cable actuated hydraulic height adjustable seatpost which uses oil and an air spring for movement and locking, is full of innovative designs and features. It has a 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 indention’s on the saddles clamp system, offering 20º increments of rotation. The carbon remote has a nice ergonomic feel, and the lever and cable provided 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, and the 27.2mm coverage is especially helpful.

To alter the pressure for the return air spring requires dismantling the saddle clamp system, making for difficult experience, but fortunately, the default speed is adequate. When the temperatures dropped below freezing, the movement got sluggish and occasionally sticky, but that can happen with hydraulic based adjustable seatpost. 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 has been fantastic, and the lack of interfering housing and cable management due to innovative connection design makes for a superb adjustable 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

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)

 

 

 

 

 

 

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