Zzzzzitt, zzzzzitt (not thunk, thunk) is the sound of the new KS LEV Circuit electric and wireless dropper post. Depending on who you ask it may or may not represent the future of getting your saddle out of the way on rowdy descents. The reason for the qualifier is simply this: The trend in droppers appears headed in two directions - high tech or simple tech. Read on to find out which manufactures are choosing which route and why.
KS LEV Circuit
Though not the first to bring wireless tech to the dropper post arena, KS looks to have the best option to date. The new LEV Circuit uses Bluetooth 4.0 connectivity to alert the post when it's time to rise or fall. The obvious beauty of this system is the end of tedious cable routing and exposed housing.
The post will come in three travel sizes: 100mm, 125mm, and 150mm, and two diameters 30.9 and 31.6. Exact pricing is not set yet, but a KS staffer said it would be between $500 and $600 with availability set for spring 2017. Claimed weight for a 150m 30.9 post is 605 grams. For comparison sake, the same size KS LEV Integra comes in at 510 grams.
Pairing is done at the factory so install requires nothing more than mounting the remote and saddle, dropping the post into the frame, and rolling out. The whole system is run by a actuator motor that is housed in an alloy waterproof case that sits just behind the seat collar. Lag time between lever input and action is indiscernible based on a quick show floor test. Internals are the same as standard posts.
The Southpaw remote is more button than lever, but it has a nice tactile feel. A quick tap raises the saddle incrementally. Hold it down and it goes all the way up to the climbing position. Lowering is the same, though the saddle must also be weighted just as with standard droppers.
The system is powered by a lithium battery that's claimed to be good for 600 cycles before the need for recharge. Charging requires that you remove the post from the bike, as the micro-USB port and battery are at the bottom. KS is also keeping open the idea of running off a Shimano Di2 battery via a spare eTube port, which would allow you to eliminate the dropper post battery. The Good: No routing headaches. The Bad: That price…
KS LEV Ci
KS is also taking aim at weight conscious riders with its LEV Ci, which features a carbon fiber mast, head clamp, and remote lever. Travel options are 65mm, 100mm, 125mm, 150mm, and 175mm. Claimed weight is roughly 100 grams less than the comparable non-carbon model, with the 30.9 150mm LEV Ci coming in at 420 grams. Pricing will also be in the $500 to $600 range. The Good: So light. The Bad: That price…
e*thirteen opted for an old school cable-and-spring design instead of the cartridges and hydraulics that presently dominate the market.
California's e*thirteen took the opposite approach with its new TRS+ dropper post, choosing the route of simplicity in an effort to increase affordability, reliability, and serviceability. That means an old school cable and spring design instead of the cartridges and hydraulics that presently dominate the market.
For now the non-infinite adjust post will only come in an 150mm travel option, which has four stops: up, down, 110mm and 75mm. The lever is a paddle style with a recessed logo with grip tape for better feel. There is also clocking and barrel adjustment. Price is $299. The Good: Simple and reasonably affordable. The Bad: Not infinitely adjustable.
Continue to page 2 to learn about dropper posts from Shimano PRO, Ritchey, X-Fusion, and Crankbrothers »
Shimano PRO Koryak
The internally routed Koryak is Shimano's first foray into the dropper post arena. It comes in 30.9 or 31.6 with 120mm of non-indexed travel. The main internal is a replaceable air cartridge. Two lever options are available, a regular up/down lever which can be mounted on the left or right side of the bars, or a Firebolt-style lever for those running 1x11 or a Shimano syncro shift drivetrains, which take advantage of the free left hand shift lever position.
Shimano's first foray into the dropper post arena has a 120mm of travel and is infinitely adjustable.
Saddle clamping is achieved by a one-bolt head. Claimed weight is 520 grams. Price is $225 and the post is expected to be available later this fall. The Good: Shimano is in the game! The Bad: Short travel, wonky saddle attachment.
Ritchey WCS Trail Dropper
Famed component maker Tom Ritchey has created a simple non-infinite dropper in 90mm and 125mm travel options.
The $350 Ritchey WCS Trail Dropper also takes aim at the durability target with a simple mechanical engagement system instead of hydraulics. The air-sprung, three-position dropper comes in 125mm or 90mm of travel, and is internally routed with a variety of shifter and brake lever combinations. It can also be integrated with Shimano I-SPEC I or II levers or mount using SRAM Matchmaker. Price is $350. The Good: Tom's talent for creating functional components. The Bad: No long travel option and not infinite.
X-Fusion trimmed 25mm off the overall length, meaning shorter riders may now be able to run a 125mm travel post and still achieve proper saddle height.
Also new for 2017 is the X-Fusion Manic, a internal only, 125mm dropper with a claimed weight of 630 grams. The new redesigned remote lever can be mounted under the bar, and the system is run via a replaceable cartridge. Most important of all is the price. The Manic will sell for just $199, or about a third the price of the new high-end offerings from KS.
X-Fusion also trimmed 25mm off the post's overall length compared to its predecessor, the Hilo. That means shorter riders who might have been forced to choose a 100mm dropper in order to achieve proper saddle height, may now be able to run a 125mm. The linkage at the actuation site delivers mechanical advantage, multiplying lever force to deliver a very light lever feel. The remote offers paddle angle adjustment via a ball-joint clamp. The Good: That price! The Bad: No long travel option and a little heavy.
Crankbrothers is making a point of stressing its new dropper post's reliability, and during three months of testing we've yet to experience anything but seamless operation.
Finally, a quick update on the Crankbrothers Highline, which Mtbr covered last year and will be publishing a full review on soon. We met with the Crankbrothers team at Eurobike 2016 to ask about the availability of options beyond the current 125mm of travel. The answer for now is that there is no exact time table in place, but they do expect to have a 150mm within the next 12 months.
The hold-up has to do with perfecting return speed. Already there are some who view the Highline at the slower end of the return spectrum, we were told, and at the 150mm length that could cause problems in performance. Right now Crankbrothers is working on ways to increase the speed before releasing a longer travel version.
As a refresher, the Highline uses a replaceable nitrogen spring cartridge system that is cable actuated. It's operated by a sleek ergonomic remote, which can be mounted in a number of different ways. Weight is 580 grams, including remote, cable, and housing. It has a three year warranty and costs $350. The Good: Best lever we've used. The Bad: Can we trust Crankbrothers?