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

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.

The design of the system means that the routing of the remote's housing is greatly simplified since you don't have 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 actually 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 details of the arrangement other than mentioning the 20º increments, so I learned it while poking around with the clamping mechanism. The top of the post has six dimples, which mate into the bottom of the saddle clamp cradles 18 indentations, which offer a clever and simple way to rotate and then lock things in place. Since the bottom of my post was 40º left of center, I rotated the top cradle over two notches, so that the lower 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 saddle rail holder convex shaped 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 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 hook end- piece to the post. It took me a few times to get the hang of hooking the cylinder that connects to actuator, and I found that by pressing the cylinder upwards using a small screw driver simplified things, without getting my fingers greasy. An additional benefit of the design is there is no need for an adjuster barrel, since the spring-loaded system seems to deal with cable stretch and slop.

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 post that moved so nicely from the get-go and has always remained that way. I really liked that there was no housing moving up and down when I drop the saddle, and it certainly gives the bike a much cleaner look. Even when other manufacturers' adjustable seatpost systems are set up properly (trimmed and routed as needed), the housing still gets in the way when the saddle is dropped, and pokes you in the leg on occasion. It was also enjoyably to not have to do any cable adjustment or fine tuning to make the seatpost work as the only thing I have done is tweak the saddle tilt a couple of times.

One of the few weaknesses of the seatpost, is that when the air temperature hovers around freezing, the action 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 upper most positions without grabbing the saddle and pulling it upwards. From reports on other hydraulic posts, namely the Rockshox 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 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.

  • 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
  • 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)